Sunday 22 May 2011

The Rebel Flesh

This one comes a little closer than previous efforts to being a decent story. However, it still threatened to send me to sleep.

On the positive side, the look of the gangers was great. It was also good to see an attempt to create a more futuristic look. That was a little spoiled by the unexplained decision to set the story in a medieval monastery for no apparent reason (other than saving money). It is also interesting to see the Doctor knowing more than he is letting on, just like the Seventh Doctor.

This is let down by a sense of predictability. Inevitably, we get the gangers going rogue, lots of running around, all the menace of a base-under-siege and most tedious of all, a load of moral dilemmas about the rights of duplicates. Something done to death on Star Trek and sort of inevitable in a science fiction show. It just does not interest me. Maybe it's because I am so confident in my rejection of a physicalist view of human consciousness. I believe the mind is not something that can be located purely in the biological organ of the brain. I am confident that a duplicate of that sort would be a mindless zombie. Likewise, I am confident that genuine artificial intelligence is an impossibility, so I hate stories about evil computers like Face of Evil. This is a genuinely Doctor Whoish story, but that does not make it good in itself. The Troughton demonstrates how boring a run of base-under-siege stories can become.

One thing which was very much missing was scene setting. It was quite unclear how far into the future this was, why acid was being pumped around, what was generally going on in the world or why this was being done in a monastery that ought to be subject to conservation efforts. Despite the slightly slower pace, we still needed a bit more time to get a feel for this future society.

One thing on my mind is why the gangers wear the same clothing as the originals. I know they don't expect the gangers to go rogue, but they must surely be prepared for them to become unstable. It's like they are just gearing to re-enact The Thing.

Am I never satisfied?

I have read some fans speculating that this is story is the 'Genesis of the Nestenes.' That would be a total contradiction of what we have been told in Spearhead from Space (set before this story) that the Nestene Consciousness began its conquest of space a thousand millions ago. The novels also tell us that the Nestene Consciousness was born from the Great Old One Shub-Niggurath when the universe was still young. Then again, I am not sure that Moffat cares that much about Doctor Who continuity, so you never know.


  1. The Nestine genesis is too obvious. I think you might find the planet is Mondas; the acid suits becoming another kind of casing.

    Well, that's my theory.


  2. Thanks for visiting. Your idea makes a lot of sense in the light of The World Shapers, which identified Mondas with Marinus, the planet with the acid sea.

    Personally, I hate origins stories. They are lame and pointless.

  3. Good article and as you know, I agree with many of your feelings on this one, including the fact that it is much closer to a traditional Doctor Who story. Regarding the moral dilemma over the clones, it all goes back to questioning individuality and uniqueness. The gangers are precise duplicates, lacking only consciousness that the solar storm somehow grants them. The gangers are then not just copies, but the same but different; the Cleaves ganger shows a softness that her original lacks while the Jennifer ganger is much stronger and fiercer than her source. At least that's what I got from it.

    I'm pretty sure that they established The Rebel Flesh is set on Earth in the 22nd Century, though. Why a monastery was running through my mind as well.

    And if you need anything to be happy about, just be thankful that it's not part two of the Doctor's Wife!

  4. Thanks.

    The Doctor's Wife might have worked better as a two-parter. Maybe.

  5. I think it is more likely that this is the genesis of the Sontarans than anything. Clones, after all, with similar looking cloning tanks and whatnot.

    I enjoyed "The Rebel Flesh" but not enthusiastically. I liked "The Doctor's Wife" a lot, though.

  6. I hope it is none of these ideas- origins stories are naff.

    Thanks for commenting, Matt.