Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Cartmel Masterplan: A Doctor Who Book Report


So, I feel like I have to clarify some of what I'm talking about when I talk about the Cartmel Masterplan.  It's vital to what I think that Moffat is doing with the Doctor's name, and I've believed that since "Let's Kill Hitler," when I accurately predicted "the question."  I think Moffat is invoking the Cartmel Masterplan with the question.  So you have to understand the Masterplan to understand why I think the Doctor's name can never be said, and why an entire religion was formed to make sure it's never heard by anyone.  So this is a reprint of a note I posted on Facebook after "Let's Kill Hitler," which I have now updated:

Some of those who were involved with the “Masterplan” object to the name “Masterplan,” as it implies a much more thought out agenda than they really had in place  Essentially, script editor Andrew Cartmel and his writers, working on seasons 25 and 26 of the classic Doctor Who with Sylvester McCoy (the 7th Doctor), sought to bring back some of the original mystery of the 1963 Doctor whose origins were largely unknown to viewers.  By the time they got to the 25th season of the show, so much was known about the Doctor, that the writers wanted to create more of a backstory, more to discover.  The idea was for them to very gradually lay hints that the Doctor was actually the reincarnation of an ancient Time Lord known as “The Other,” who, along with Rassilon and Omega, created Time Lord society by inventing Time Travel.  By making the Doctor a reincarnation of “The Other,” it would have conferred a sort of God-like quality to the character.

So, what halted the Masterplan?  Well, long time producer Jonathan Nathan-Turner was somewhat opposed to the Masterplan, and often rejected scripts steeped too deeply in the Masterplan and would delete dialogue that referenced it.  A particular line in “Rememberance of the Daleks” was removed which suggested that the Doctor was “more than a normal Time Lord,” because Nathan-Turner thought some would be offended by the thought of the Doctor as a God.  The line turned, instead, into a fleeting inference, where the Doctor "accidentally" uses the word "we" to describe the founding fathers of the Time Lords.  When his companion asks him about it, he changes it to "they."

If you watch the Seventh Doctor episode “Ghost Light,” you’ll notice the episode makes no sense. The actors said they were confused by the script.  That’s because the episode’s first draft took place on Gallifrey and was about the Doctor’s history.  Jonathan Nathan-Turner vetoed that, and so the episode was rewritten to have nothing to do with Gallifrey or the Doctor’s background, which is why it’s one of the weirdest fucking episodes in the history of the series (watch it on drugs if you can, because it was clearly written on them).

Furthermore, the Masterplan was halted by something much more simple but much more difficult to overcome:  the show’s cancellation in 1989.  At that point, Andrew Cartmel and some of his writers turned their attention to the Virgin New Adventure novels, where they implemented some of their concepts of the Masterplan, culminating in the novel which is supposed to be the true fulfillment of the plan:  Lungbarrow (which, admittedly, I have not read).

But this picture alone makes me want to read it
Some have suggested that the modern series does show some influence of the Masterplan.  At the very least, the new series does not contradict the Masterplan.  One of the examples fans often point out to suggest that the new series is following the Masterplan is the Season 3 finale, where the Doctor is able to overcome the Master through an act of worldwide prayer directed towards the Doctor, suggesting the Doctor does have some of those God-like qualities that Nathan-Turner objected to giving him.  Some have even gone so far as to try to analyze how many syllables River Song whispers to the Doctor in “Forest of the Dead” when she tells him his real name, claiming it’s possible that she was saying “The Other” (although, I’d like to point out, that whether or not The Doctor is really The Other, I doubt that either of these terms are his real name).

Now, I doubt that anyone would ever be so obvious as to say on screen “The Doctor is the Other.”  But if a big part of what we’re about to get into involves the Doctor’s true identity, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some very vague, very subtle references back to the Masterplan.  So you might ask, why can't the Doctor's name be said?  Like I pointed out in the introduction, an entire religion (The Silence) was created to ensure that the Doctor's name is never said.  "Silence will fall," was their slogan.  As Dorion pointed out, "Silence must fall" would be a better translation.  When the Doctor reaches the fields of Trenzalore where nobody can fail to answer or answer falsely, the Doctor will be asked the question that must never be asked:  "Doctor who?"  Why can't this question be asked?

In Judaism, names of the divine are very sacred.  Rabbinical Judaism believes that the four letter name for God, YHWH, should never be uttered except the High Priest in the Holy Temple on Yom Kippur.  Jews are encouraged to substitute "G-d" for "God" and "L-d" for "Lord," as the name is considered to be extremely sacred.  Ancient Jews believed that there is a true name of God that can never be known to man, because the name has a power over God.  As God is all powerful, it is impossible (or, some believe, wrong) for God's true name to be said and for any man to gain power over God.*  A certain movie that I will not name because it could spoil it suggests that to know the true 216 name of God would destroy the human mind.  The other Abrahamic religions don't seem to share this belief, but have other rules about how God's name must be used.  A God's true name is considered to be dangerous.

If the name of a God cannot or should not be known, the Doctor uttering his true name could be extremely dangerous.  If it gives someone power over the Doctor, it's important that only someone who loves him can know his true name, such as River, who we know will eventually know his name.  One way or another, I believe that the reason that The Silence was formed was to commit deicide because the protection of the God's name is more important than the God itself.  The Doctor created the fake names "The Doctor" and "The Other" not only to protect himself, but to protect us.

River is the only one who can be trusted with it.

*Sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G*d#The_Tetragrammaton

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