Doctor Who on BBC iPlayer: The Meddling Monk Arc

Episode Guide

Earlier this year on BBC iPlayer, the Eighth Doctor (voiced by the soothing Paul McGann) returned with more adventures.  Besides the art history references, this series left me overwhelmed with the drama between the Doctor, Tamsin, Lucie, and the Meddling Monk.

Cut for spoilers.

In Nevermore, the Doctor and Tamsin land on a prison planet designed with Edgar Allen Poe motifs.  At the beginning, the Doctor categorizes the planet as a “Bauhaus Palace” and how it looked very “Modernist Revivalist”.  Tamsin describes the place as “1930s Spain”, then references Francisco Goya to aid the listener in visualizing the hellish environment.  Goya himself depicted people in prison.

Francisco de Goya [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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From this, we can deduce that the planet’s correctional facility has a design that lives in the limbo as both futuristic and from the past.  Similar to how old Sci-Fi films such as The Phantom Planet depicts the so-called future.

Overall, an okay episode.

In The Book of Kells, the plot revolved around the influential early Medieval manuscript and its theft in 1006 and the people who painted it.  Here, it acts as an important tool in political intrigue and shaping Ireland’s national identity.  The story even gives a history of the book, its artists, and illumination’s evolution that acts as a plot point in alien technology needed for the villain of the episode.   While Tamsin’s humor irritated me, I liked that she referenced The Name of the Rose, a mystery that involved manuscripts and their influential power.  And yes, they reference the Chi Rho page.

Image via Photobucket and Kitchen28

An important episode, for it introduces the Meddling Monk, a rather destructively clueless Time Lord/art collector who overtly interferes in time.  In The Resurrection of Mars,  he claims to own Michelangelo’s Cupid, Van Gogh paintings, and Faberge eggs.   The events in Resurrection provokes debate over the value of life and survival versus preservation, thus causing Tamsin to leave the Doctor and go travel with the Monk.  A pretty thought-provoking episode.  After the chaos of this story, came the nice and calm Relative Dimensions.  In this episode, the Doctor mentions helping Leonardo Da Vinci create The Adoration of the Magi by taking him to Bethlehem (I think.  I listened to this a long time ago).
Probably one of the lighter episodes in the series, because it goes down into a downward spiral afterwards.

Remember when I wrote that the Monk as “destructively clueless”?  The episodes Lucie Miller and To The Death shows the consequences of his wish for preservation that leaves the Earth in danger.  Amidst this danger and preservation, the plot has the Monk and Tamsin grabbing “the statue of Diana from Ephesus, the Elgin Marbles, the Mona Lisa” along with, according to them, parts of the Sistine Chapel and the Venus de Milo.  Impressive, but horrific in the way the Monk greedily grabs (mostly Western) art while humanity suffers because of him.

All in all, I loved it.  The high stakes, the drama, and the fact that anybody could die left me riveted.  Plus, I loved the story’s presentation on the moral ambiguities of time travel and interference versus staying passive to bad situations.

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