The Magic of Magic
I’m still sedating myself with supernatural TV in between bouts of honest work, and I’m trying to figure out why. I’m not a fan of horror at all (not trashing it, good horror is a thing of beauty, it’s just not my thing), but Dr. Who and his monsters are still my go-to drug of choice (tried three episodes of Farscape and I’ll go back for more but really, it’s the Doctor for me). Some of it is just good storytelling (“Love and Monsters” not withstanding; Davies must have been on drugs when he wrote that awful episode) but it’s more than that. I just can’t figure out what it is.
I was thinking it might be in the truly great Monsters: the best seasons of Buffy had the best Big Bads (there will never be a villain as wonderfully awful as the Mayor again). But then I look at the Daleks, possibly the worst antagonists ever designed–for many years they couldn’t climb stairs which is a big flaw for those multi-storied interior battles–and think “maybe not.” The Cybermen, the Silence, the Slitheen . . . there’s not a supernatural Hannibal Lecter in the bunch. Okay, the Master comes close, but still, it’s not the antagonists.
Then I thought maybe it was the ‘shipper in me: the Doctor and Rose, the Doctor and Martha, the Doctor and Donna, the Doctor and Amy, those intense relationships that are rarely romantic, at least not reciprocated romantic, but are completely, intensely devoted in a simple, up front way. When the Master turns everybody in the world into a clone of himself and only Donna is left unchanged, he rages at the Doctor, “What did you do?” and the Doctor says, “Did you think I’d leave my best friend unprotected?” and it’s lovely in its simplicity and truth. They were never lovers but they loved each other and that’s incredibly powerful. (Don’t get me started on the Doctor’s farewells to his one real romantic love, Rose; those leave me weeping helplessly every time.)
But now I’m thinking it’s the heroes. Farscape’s matter-of-fact everyday astronaut hero who rolls with whatever the universe sends him, Sam and Dean fighting the unworldly and breaking for a beer when the demon battle’s won, Jack Carter of the normal IQ keeping the world safe for geniuses, the everyday guy with otherworldly powers. I think the Doctor is That Guy with 900 years of experience fighting the Big Bads of every galaxy, still with enough enthusiasm to yell, “Fantastic!” every time he sees something new.
But I’m guessing. I’ll have to watch all the Whos again to be sure, plus Farscape and Warehouse 13 (YAY a new series!) and everything else on the list (must make that list). In the meantime, I want to know why you respond to the supernatural stories (or why you don’t; that’s good, too). I know it’s a lot more complex than the stuff I’ve sketched above, and I know you have answers because The Truth is Out There. (Gotta rewatch those, too.)
What is it about this stuff that’s so powerful?