Doctor Who canonocity
Recently a realignment of my Hard Drive made by Windows Vista rewrote the file that the Mozilla Firefox Bookmarks are stored on. It was odd. Some stuff I thought deleted was there, yet folders and folders of files and locations and URLs of articles and website and charts I saved for the purpose of writing articles and blog posts were GONE. Hours of research on Fred Thompson, bikini babes, Paul Cornell’s Doctor Who dogma, Proving Grounds, science, junk science, false science, anti-science, and political philosophy were all gone! Oddly enough what was untouched was the stuff I saved in the Bookmarks Toolbar Folder. Thank God for the small blessings.
Still, I miss my research and I miss the security I thought I had for saving stuff in my Bookmarks list! That’s long gone.
I hate Windows Vista.
Nonetheless, we press on and I find yet again Paul Cornell’s blog post clarifying just what isn’t Doctor Who canon. The obvious point is that nothing is canon in a storytelling universe where the protagonist travels the Time Vortex, the Universe, the space-time continuum, whatever, altering events and undermining cause and effect. While the relationships and commonalities between both series (as we Americans understand the word) are there and obvious it’s best to approach it as that it is just the stuff brought up in the modern version that matters for the current episodes. What was visible for the present-day audience is what matters. Yet even then in the grand scheme as one wants to see the Doctor Who stories, even those may not quite matter and what seems significant to the viewer does not quite matter, nor should it, for a cause-and-effect relationship between episodes in different series (as the British understand the word; we Americans call them “seasons”) should not be reasonably expected exactly. There are two things to consider: 1) that the program is about a Time Traveler and in his travels he certainly does not maintain a set continuity himself nor does he maintain a set order in the continuity of his own universe. At multiple stops he alters events in the past and present and future sometimes by accident and sometimes deliberately. He has obliterated species on purpose at periods of time before his actual encounter. 2) That there has been a grand-scale cosmic phenomena in the backstory of the current version of the Doctor Who show called the “Time War” which has effectively rendered previous understandings of various unfolding of events for various characters rather moot. We cannot trust what we have seen to be certainly what happened for before what we see now.
Thus if that is confusing enough, or nebulous enough to not quite define an exact or tight history of the characters and antagonists for the show when it comes to just the television medium, certainly it can be left to the air and the minds of fan(atic)s that the events of the audio plays and the novels happened as they happened when they happened, but were promptly folded and squeezed out of significance by the Time War.
Even if the Ninth or Tenth Doctor does not acknowledge certain events, as would neither his Dalek foes, they happened for somebody, yet for the point of whatever story being told right now is doesn’t matter if they happened at all. Stopping to think about that while watching the story certainly ruins it for somebody, now doesn’t it?