Friday, 10 July 2009

Day Four

I shall keep this brief, since Day Five is almost upon us. Firstly, I was totally right yesterday, getting rid of Torchwood entirely would have made this much better. Secondly, even with them in it, it's very good. The moral dimensions of deciding whether to hand over 10% of the world's children in exchange for not being burnt to a crisp (or however it's going to happen, my money is biological warfare given the nature of the original encounter and Jack and Ianto's meeting with the Ambassador) are fascinating. Watching the PM and the Civil Service discuss the specifics; referring to children as "units", arguing over the manner in which selection will be carried out, it's horrible, and it's vicious, and it's actually (incredibly) believable (arguing over whether less "socially useful" children should go first was particularly chilling in its plausibility). It's like watching the Wannsee Conference, only this time round you can actually understand that it might just be necessary. I don't even want to try and form an opinion on the whole thing, which given my track record will give you some idea of how difficult a choice the audience is being offered.

Of course, we're not through yet. Such a monstrously difficult dilemma, such a catastrophic choice, needs to be resolved properly. If RTD has learned this (or remembered it, perhaps would be more fair), then this could genuinely be some of the best television the BBC has offered this year.

To quote the Doctor himself: time will tell. It always does.


Tomsk said...

(Warning: I've seen part 5, but I'll try not to spoil it here...)

It's certainly been a good bit of telly, but I didn't think much of the government scenes at all. The audience has not been offered a difficult choice here: the PM and pals have been portrayed as cartoon villains, as well they might given that they've not considered for a moment any alternative to decimating the world's children. It's a shame because there was a potential for agonising choices - consider how much more powerful it would be if they'd refused point blank, attempted to resist, had their army wiped out by the aliens and only then as a last resort given into their demands. At that point the decisions about the "units" would come across less like moustache-twirling villainy and more like a genuine dilemma.

SpaceSquid said...

See, a lot of people agree with you about the PM, but I didn't read it that way. I can see the argument that the government didn't test the power of the 456, but considering what they'd already seen, it's not impossible to understand (not least because if they can cure a killer disease, they can probably create one, which of course proved to be the case in any event). What I think is that most of the government officials were portrayed as detached from the choice, but that's not the same of villainy. It is, as my Day 5 post will argue tomorrow morning, the "banality of the lesser evil".

Not to mention the fact that the manner in which the decisions are made do not affect whether the choices themselves are right.

Chemie said...

I also found the PM and the cabinet meeting cartoony. And also quite ridiculous. We weren't shown the scientists exhausting their efforts to understand or counteract. They want children, why not ask why? if they *need* them, then you have vital information about the enemy. stupid stupid stupid. They just ploughed to their eventual decision without a good look around. And if you want to go the atrocious and unnecessary route of saving the most 'useful' children (i.e. upper/middle class), why not just spare all the kids on the 'gifted and talented' system and send the 456 all the ill/dying/mentally disabled ones? It makes little sense.

If you take out one part of society, society will change. If you take out a percentage from every part of society, the society is likely to change to a lesser extent. I tried to think of it in a 'lost generation' sort of way. And one of the lessons there was you don't collect all the canon fodder in the same place.

Why didn't one state object? Are you seriously telling me the uncontactable tribes or people in technology-less areas around the globe were going to get their quota to the co-ordinates in time? Why was no-one trying to buy time to think up an alternative? You see what the world needs is me in charge.