Doctor Who Story 131 – The Awakening
What’s It About?
The TARDIS materializes in Little Hodcombe, a small English village where Tegan’s grandfather lives. The residents are reenacting the English Civil War, but as the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough look for Tegan’s grandfather, they realize that the residents are taking the reenactment extremely seriously.
We’re Running Out of Places to Run
I will admit up front that “The Awakening” didn’t resonate with me. That doesn’t, however, mean that “The Awakening” is bad.
I’ve been taking a class on Advanced Non-Fiction. Basically, it helps us develop our writing on a creative level within the creative non-fiction genre. (Creative non-fiction is a bit of a nebulous term and it covers a multitude of forms. For my anecdotal purposes, let’s just say it is non-academic non-fiction.) We are in the workshop phase of the semester, and each day we have about 3 – 4 pieces to read and critique. With a class of 24 or so people, it is understandable that not every essay will resonate with every reader. Whether the essay does or does not resonate is only one facet of the process; it gives an indication of audience. The primary purpose is to evaluate craft and effectiveness. In this way, we can read a work that may not interest us based on style or subject, but still appreciate and evaluate the craft.
And this is how I view “The Awakening.” It didn’t really resonate with me, but it was an effective piece. If anything, it reminded me of New Who. In fact, I think “The Awakening” may be one of the most forward-looking stories of the Davison era, not because it is forward-looking in a Bidmead way, but because it is forward-looking in a 2005-Russell-T-Davies way. It distills certain aspects of Doctor Who into a 50-minute format and does so successfully. I’m perfectly willing to admit that maybe my antipathy toward it rests in having seen RTD streamline the formula into a way that pretty much worked for his era of Doctor Who and “The Awakening” seems like something I’ve seen done better. I hope this isn’t the explanation because it is horrendously unfair to this story.
But the central conceit of the story—that celebrations of an historical event create psychic energy which awakens an ancient evil who then uses the created psychic energy to control the celebrants into not merely re-enacting but actually enacting the event which has now become an icon of a perceived golden age—is intriguing. This is, naturally, an endless struggle of humanity which often manifests politically. I think of my own country’s progressive/conservative divide, the extremes of which are based on overly reductive interpretations U.S. history and misreadings of the past. And so the idea of manifesting the ideal one wishes to see, regardless of whether or not that ideal actually ever existed, is fascinating.
In fact, I may re-watch this story sometime after I finish the main run-through Doctor Who. I think it is already in need of re-evaluation.
Withheld for the time being.