Yes you read that right: “The Rings of Akhaten” may very well be the greatest Doctor Who story I have ever seen.
Is that enough hyperboyle for ya? Well too bad, I’ve got a whole lot more on the way. . .
I may of course change my mind next time I watch Genesis of the Daleks, or Logopolis, or Earthshock or The Caves of Androzani. But here’s the thing:
It’s an explanation I think would have made Bradbury proud (Peace be Upon Him).
That is was said here in the context of Doctor Who is all the more appropriate: after all, who is the Doctor but an eternal storyteller? What does he give us week after week after week but another story? And what is that makes us human if not stories?
And what a story. . .
“ All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so many millions of years those elements came together to form new stars and new planets and on and on it went. . .until eventually they came together to make you. . .
Writer Neil Cross is basically paraphrasing astronomer Lawrence Krauss here, who once said "nevermind Jesus, the stars died so you could live!" The context here is that the Doctor is telling the story to the Mary Galhel, the "Queen of the Years", a little girl of no more than ten. Young Mary has been raised from birth to sign lullabies to, and if necessary, give herself up to her planet's angry god. In a breathtaking display of cultural insensitivity, the Doctor imposes his values on her by basically insisting this is bollocks:
In other words, no God is worth more than the life of a child.
In a world where people are told to give their lives at the drop of a hat. For Gods and Ideologies and Causes. Either to throw away their lives or devote their whole lives to something else. Here we’ve got something different:
You matter. Not those invisible men in the sky or their petty jealousies. You matter. People matter, human beings matter. Nothing’s more precious. That, deep down, is the message of Doctor Who. It’s always been the message, since William Hartnell landed the TARDIS in a scrapyard on
The STARS died so you could live!
Now isn’t that a much better story than that OTHER one they always tell which goes on about how wretched and sinful you are?