Doctor Who shouldn't really be called science fiction, says author Terry Pratchett. It's "ludicrous and breaks most of the laws of narrative," he adds, in a tongue-in-cheek but fairly bracing critique. Guards! Guards?
Writing in SFX, Pratchett says:
The unexpected, unadvertised solution which kisses it all better is known as a deus ex machina – literally, a god from the machine. And a god from the machine is what the Doctor now is. A decent detective story provides you with enough tantalising information to allow you to make a stab at a solution before the famous detective struts his stuff in the library. Doctor Who replaces this with speed, fast talking, and what appears to be that wonderful element "makeitupasyougalongeum". I don't know about you, but I don't think I would dare try to jump-start a spaceship that looks like the Titanic by diving it into the atmosphere… but I have to forgive the Doctor that, because it was hilariously funny.
People say Doctor Who is science fiction. At least people who don't know what science fiction is, say that Doctor Who is science fiction.
There's loads more, and though his criticisms are a wee bit broad-brush, there's certainly at least a grain of truth to some of them. (I've never quite heard the argument that the all-knowing, ridiculously overwhelming Doctor himself is, in fact, a deus ex machina.) Plus you have to love someone who stands up for the much-overlooked and frequently amazing Star Cops.
Top image by Neill Cameron. [SFX]