Skip to main content

The Doctor and 'Labyrinth' get Hugos

Hat tip to that Cuban-American senorita in Miami for the info that the Hugo Awards (awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy) bestowed among its honors two favs of this blog: BBC’s Doctor Who and Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Science fiction and fantasy are favs of this blog because, at their best, both sci-fi and fantasy often explore relevant themes and issues regarding what it means to be human, which inevitably gets to matters of religion and faith--and that brings God-talk into open spaces.

I’m delighted by the awards. I saw Pan’s Labyrinth earlier this year and found it a powerful fantasy brimming over with God-talk (see my thoughts here, Mir’s analysis here and Jeffrey Overstreet’s review at Christianity Today here)—and Doctor Who has made an appearance on this blog more than once for its sci-fi stories and God-talk.

"Girl in the Fireplace," the Doctor Who episode honored by the Hugos, is a particularly good one with a variety of springboards to God-talk. This second season episode finds the Doctor and his companions in the 51st century aboard a spaceship with a series of “time windows” into 18th century France, all gazing into the life of Madame de Pompadour. The ship is mysteriously void of humans and run by a group of robots, whose actions have become greatly distorted from their original intent and purpose.

This particular episode deals has a number significant good themes—like our power to create (in this case, amazing technology) and the danger we face when we lose control of it, or the contrast between humanity’s tendencies towards mediocrity and our longings to reach for the heavens. But what really struck me was the similarity between the misguided nature (leading to harmful actions) of the robots and our own bent towards distorting God’s revelation and purpose (and our own resulting harmful actions). A good example of this is the religious leaders during Jesus day; they distorted God's revelation, in particular the Law—meant to point to something greater (Jesus) and be our guardian until Jesus came and enabled us to live as we were created. Not only that, but these men then lived by that distortion, and as a result, tried to destroy the very thing the Law pointed to in the first place. Alas, that bent is still within us today—and episodes like this give us an opportunity to examine our own actions.

Both this episode and Pan’s Labyrinth are good stories. And good stories breed thoughtful themes—and that often leads to God-talk. And those are all great things in my book.

(Images: copyrighted by Warner Bros and BBC) doctorwhoctgy


Mirtika said…
I mostly liked the romantic aspect. :) It was a bit sad and very sweet. As long as I didn't consider the moral iffiness of the real Madame Pompadour. :D

Carmen Andres said…
heh, i skipped over that part.