by Francesco Lami
Ok, two premises:
1) Of course everyone knows that, while Doctor Who is a sci-fi show, science in it makes absolutely no sense (and it doesn’t pretend to make sense), and the Doctor is basically a wizard with an high tech wand.
2) I’ve watched only series 5 and 6 (with the awesome Moffat/Smith couple); I don’t know anything about RTD, and all I’ve seen of David Tennant makes pretty clear that, while he is somehow the most popular Doctor of all time (lords?), his “acting” makes Tommy Wiseau look like fuckin’ Orson Welles by comparison.
Series 6 ended just a few days ago, and while I still prefer series 5, it was awesome. But why are we talking about DW on a biology blog? Simply because I think that the Doctor (or at least this incarnation, I know nothing about the others) is a rare example of a positive scientific role model for kids on television. He’s extremely creative and inventive but he also pays a lot of attention to the details of the world around him, using them to make logical hypothesis about the situation he’s in. On many occasions, he had to fight creatures that appeared to be supernatural, like vampires and sirens, but every time they turn out to be scientifically explainable phenomena (well, at least in-universe). In “A Good Man goes to War” the main baddies are the Headless Monks, a religious order whose memebers behead themselves (surviving the process), so they can listen only to their heart and not to their mind. Those guys are unequivocally presented as evil, and I think that it’s a really powerful and unique message about the importance of logical thinking and reason: usually on most shows the message is reverted, and the bad guys listen only to their brain and not to their heart, while the good guy somehow triumphs thanks to his emotions. DW has the balls to tell people what they NEED to hear, not just what they WANT to hear. In “The God Complex” (SPOILERS AHEAD) people tries to face their worst fears by clinging to their faith, but in the end is revealed that that’s exactly what makes them targets for a monstrous minotaur-like alien, and the Doctor saves his companion Amy by destroying her faith in him and forcing her to face and accept reality. Another powerful message about the importance of reason and the possible evils which could result from blind emotion and faith.
Long story short, you should watch Doctor Who: not only it’s an awesome, epic, funny and creative show with great storytelling and great actors, it’s also unexpectedly one of the few shows that present a scientific-minded hero in a really positive and captivating way. A refreshing change after all those heroes that solve everything thanks to their “heart” and “faith”.