The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Monster Love



Out now and available from all good newsagents, the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine includes a feature by me all about the Doctor’s redoubtable foes, the villainous Daleks. The feature is called ‘We are the Daleks’ and attempts to explore and explain why Daleks have proved such effective monsters, what makes them work, why they are scary, what they represent and what they never won’t represent. It seems to have gone down quite well so far, which is a relief, as I was worried that one or two of my points may have been a little controversial, or make some readers uncomfortable.

Because, of course, the whole point of these articles, and the magazine, is to share the joy. To make fans of the show feel re-enthused, to make them think ‘Yes, Doctor Who is a bloody brilliant show, I am completely right to love it so much and dedicate so much of my time and money to it’. To hopefully make them dig out their DVDs, CDs and books and re-enjoy the show afresh.

I mention this because a couple of people have accused the article of ‘hyperbole’. I refute that. To answer that point, I only write what I genuinely believe. If I thought something was mediocre, either I wouldn’t write about it or I’d write about how mediocre it was. Which would be miserable as hell to read. It’s why I’ll probably never write a ‘Fact of Fiction’ on Black Orchid or certain 21st century stories I’d rather not name*, because it wouldn’t be fun, it wouldn’t be upbeat. And that’s what people read Doctor Who Magazine for. They don’t want to read articles about how crap the show (sometimes) is. DWB did that back in the 1980s, and it was thoroughly depressing. Accentuate the positive and if you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all. That doesn’t mean being uncritical or mindlessly on-message, it’s just an attitude, a mindset, of trying to write something that will put a big silly grin on people’s faces.

And secondly, regarding the Daleks, come on! They are bloody amazing and yes, they are up there with Dracula and Frankenstein in terms of cultural impact. The article goes some way to explaining why.  It’s hard to think of any other monsters or villains created in the last fifty years that have had a similar cultural impact – Darth Vader, Lord Voldemort, the Alien? Maybe, but they’ve only managed a dozen or so films between them, where the Daleks have been going for fifty years. What other TV monsters from the 1960s were still around in the 1970s, never mind now?

Anyway, for a much more detailed, rigorous and cogent explanation of the appeal of the Daleks, buy the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine, out now. For more information, visit the magazine's website.

* Yes, partly out of  a sense of diplomacy, I’m not a total idiot, but also because I reserve the right to change my mind and decide I like something after all and I’d feel a chump if I’d publically slagged it off.

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