The Inconsistency of the Doctor and Death (The Girl Who Died)

(Obviously, a host of spoilers.)

For the first time since 2013, I actually enjoyed a new episode of Doctor Who. In The Girl Who Died we have the Doctor debating and then deciding to save a viking village. However, that (the entire plot) was not the interesting part of the episode. What was interesting was the final ten minutes, where the Doctor gives immortality to Ashildr, rather than let her die. For the first time in a while, Doctor Who pulled a genuinely interesting resolution, and created a fascinating character for the future. The panning shot of Ashildr standing and watching the universe flash by was gold. For me it was up there with when the Doctor imprisoned the Family in Family of Blood or when the Doctor gave his speech at Stonehenge. It was simply awesome.

Now the show has the ability to play with immortality in a character other than the Doctor (as I really hope they someday do with River Song). The only question I have is, why now?

Though separated by thousands of years, Ashildr’s problems were not unlike those of Donna Noble. Donna was similarly close to death, but rather than give her a magic device to make her immortal the Doctor simply erased her mind (and thus protected her). But he could have given her a healing device and made her like Ashildr could he not? And for that matter, to his own wife, who then would not even need more regenerations. Or does the Doctor only dish out immortality to his enemies? As he did for Davros recently, or for the Familly in Family of Blood?

This seems extremely paradoxical and two-faced (or perhaps thirteen) of the Doctor. Why is he so inconsistent with death? The Doctor seemed totally fine with the Bad Wolf making Captain Jack immortal, and did not see a reason to whine about his lack of the “gift” of mortality In School Reunion the Doctor laments that he is all alone in the universe, and that humans grow old and die. He acts as though this is the only option, but this Masochist time-lord seems to be ignoring the multitude of ways in which he could make his friends immortal.

But perhaps in the end the Doctor is merely being kind, perhaps he sees immortality as an evil and wishes that he himself could also die. But why then does he fight so hard keep himself from dying as in The Wedding of River Song? Does the Doctor think he is the only one who is worthy of immortality? He seemed more than willing to let even a murderer like the Master go on living by any means possible in Last of the Time Lords.

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Maybe, the Doctor thinks only a time-lord could possibly have the wisdom to live a near infinite life, but if this is the case then surely Donna Noble is an exception? The show demonstrated that before her memory lapse she had both the intelligence of a time-lord and the conscience of the Doctor. Why would the Doctor ignore such an obvious solution? The Doctor could even use the machine from Human Nature which makes him human to make Donna a time-lord.

Or perhaps it is not wisdom that someone needs for an infinite life in the eyes of the Doctor, maybe they just need to be around when he’s in a good mood. Because so far, the people who the Doctor has let have immortality have just been in the right place at the right time.

I would ask for more clarity from the writers as to why the Doctor will not extend the life of his companions, but will for total strangers or evil villains. If the Doctor truly sees mortality as so important, why would he not simply give every companion a device like Ashildr’s for a limited time? If it is in fact technology, surely the Doctor can deactivate it when the time comes for his companions to return to their normal lives. In fact, that should be the bare minimum of safety the Doctor should follow.

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Forget dramatic tension or storytelling problems, it is simply inconsiderate and barbaric of the Doctor to put his “friends” in harm’s way when he know perfectly well he need only steal a magic regeneration nanite for the duration of their stay on the TARDIS. The Doctor may have a death wish, but why inflict his suicidal tendencies on others? Maybe he has issues with making anyone else immortal, but he could at the very least use some future tech to make sure they stick around long enough for him to show them the universe before their sudden and inevitable demise.

Three Films That Were Never Made, But Should Have Been

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.” ― John Greenleaf Whittier, Maud Muller – Pamphlet

Unlike a novel, putting together a film requires vast amounts of work for a relatively short end product. Sometimes however, that work goes to waste when a film never makes it to theaters. Well not completely to waste. It does give people like me the opportunity to laugh at someone’s efforts…but in a good way. Also I had no idea who John Greenleaf is when I put his quote up there, so I hope he’s not a criminal or something.

(Spoiler for the film which is a sequel.)

Three Films That Were Never Made, But Should Have Been

  • Gladiator II:

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The story for this film goes that Gladiator‘s Russell Crowe called up the writer from the original film and asked him if he wanted to make a sequel.

“[Crowe] rang me up and asked if I wanted to write Gladiator 2…For someone who had only written one film script, it was quite an ask. ‘Hey, Russell, didn’t you die in Gladiator 1?’ ‘Yeah, you sort that out.'”-― Nick Cave

Attempting to write Gladiator‘s Maximus out of his untimely demise, Nick Cave’s sequel would have involved Maximus returning to earth – having been sent by the gods – to kill Jesus Christ and stop Christianity from taking over the world of the gods. I for one would be all for this (assuming Maximus ends up converting to Christianity by the end instead of killing its architect), but for some reason the studios decided to take a pass on this one.

  • Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown

If your ever trying to find this 2. From the unfinished Peanuts special "Bring Me The Head Of Charlie Brown!".. That Charlie Brown went Postal

Haven’t you ever wanted to see Charlie Brown finally get back at all the mean kids on the Peanuts gang?

There is not a lot I can say about this film for certain. There’s a Wikipedia page (with barely any sources), an (I presume) illegally uploaded YouTube video of it, and a few screenshots on Google images. So I can say it exists, but not for sure what its development was like or why there’s no official version of it (that I can find so far). Luckily we do have a plot description.

IMDB says the film was made by Jim Reardon and lists the film, and gives this description:

The Great Pumpkin puts a bounty on Charlie Brown’s head, and as a consequence, the rest of the Peanuts Gang proceed to kill Charlie Brown in various ways (from Lucy having Charlie Brown kick an explosive football, to Linus strangling him with his blanket, to Snoopy chomping off his arm which held a Peppermint Patty candy), until finally, a Rambo/Schwarzenegger-like Charlie Brown goes postal and mass chaos ensues!

I want to see this film so badly. Why can’t this be show every year right after Merry Christmas Charlie Brown?

(Well maybe because only a college student would watch it…)

  • The Beatles’ Lord of the Rings

Illustration by Robert Neubecker. Click image to expand.

I may be one of the few filmmakers on earth who genuinely does not like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Not for lack of technical quality or acting, but because the script and dialogue is so utterly terrible in comparison to the source material.

At least with this almost-movie, it would have been received as the debacle it was. The Beatles were fans of the Lord of the Rings novel, and wanted to portray the four titular Hobbits in a film adaptions. For better or worse, this didn’t happen. According to Slate: “Collaborating with director John Boorman, screenwriter Rospo Pallenberg thought the Beatles should play the four hobbits…”

Maybe I would have stronger opinions about this if I knew any of the songs the Beatles have played…

Also, perhaps some streetwise After Effects artist can craft a workable trailer for what this film might have looked like!

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Anyway, thanks for reading.

My sources are far from academic for this article, but here they are:

http://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/7-of-the-greatest-movies-never-made.html/?a=viewall

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/summer_movies/2010/06/thebest_movies_never_made.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0282396/

Meat on Fridays in the USA: An Explanation

Today I want to answer a simple question. Should, or should you not eat meat on Fridays? According to the Code of Canon law number 1250, “The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.” and according to number 1251: “Abstinence from eating meat or some other food according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops is to be observed on every Friday of the year unless a Friday occurs on a day listed as a solemnity. Abstinence and fasting, however, are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

So, to explain all of that, every single Friday of the entire year including, but not limited to the season of lent are days of abstinence. This means that on those days you should not eat meat. However, you’ll also notice the clause, “according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops…” This indicates that this is one of the instances where the Church hierarchy is giving explicit permission for local bishop conferences to decide the specific way the day of penitence will be observed.

In the Diocese of the United States, the USCCB (or United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) set the rules as very open ended as regards the abstinence on Fridays. According to 1966’s “Pastoral Statement On Penance And Abstinence” number 12, it is only absolutely required that one fast from meat on Good Friday and on Ash Wednesday. However they also strongly point out how important it is to abstain from meat on every Friday throughout lent saying that a Catholic is not “lightly…excused”. Additionally they write, “…we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday by freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ.” Which is much the same as what the Code of Canon law said above. And also “Changing circumstances, including economic, dietary, and social elements, have made some of our people feel that the renunciation of the eating of meat is not always and for everyone the most effective means of practicing penance. Meat was once an exceptional form of food; now it is commonplace…[and] even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law.

The bottom line of course being, that meat is still the default penance-but you can substitute another penance which would be a better sacrifice. With those passages from the United States Council simplified, let us take a quick look back at Canon 1251-because we are not quite finished. At the end of Canon 1251 it is written, “Abstinence and fasting…are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.” Norms for fasting on these days are found in Pope Paul VI’s Paenitemini where he writes, “The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing—as far as quantity and quality are concerned—approved local custom. To the law of abstinence those are bound who have completed their 14th year of age. To the law of fast those of the faithful are bound who have completed their 21st year and up until the beginning of their 60th year.”

Although (side note), while Paul VI writes that he wishes the year for person to begin fasting as 21, this is amended in the Code of Canon Law from 1983, which lists the age as 18.

So to summarize:

*Every Friday is a day of penance.

*The default penance for every day is to abstain from meat.

*This penance can be substituted by one which is similarly difficult if one so chooses.

*On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, in addition to abstaining from meat one should have only one full meal and two smaller meals.

*Abstaining from meat starts when you are 14, and fasting when you are 18, until you turn 60.

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Sources:

The Code of Canon Law edition used for all quotes (except 97): ISBN number 0943616794

http://www.amazon.com/Code-Canon-Law-Latin-English-Translation/dp/0943616794

Canon 97 – 18 years old and not 21: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PC.HTM

Pope Paul VI’s Paenitemini: http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-vi_apc_19660217_paenitemini.html

Information about the swtich from 21 to 18: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/canon-law/complementary-norms/canons-1252-and-1253-observance-of-fast-and-abstinence.cfm

A simpler explanation for everything than what I just gave you: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2015/02/ash-wednesday-fasting-abstaining-and-you-2/