Two dads have gone head to head in a recent article published by the Guardian online posing the question is Doctor Who to scary for kids?
Where to begin with that one…
For as long as most people can now remember, Doctor Who has been on the telly forever. Every year the erratic and brilliant man from space in his blue box faces off against scary monsters from distant worlds. But this is not The X Files or Supernatural or Star Trek, this is a show that is designed for all the family to enjoy. Mum, Dad and the kids. The former can enjoy the quality of the script and the acting and an intriguing concept or two and the latter can be healthily scared witless by a cavalcade of monsters that cause them to nestle into their parents arms or “behind the sofa” but feel safe in the knowledge that their favourite alien, the time travelling Doctor will save the day.
We love the idea that we’re alone in the universe. It makes us feel safe. The human race has created the ideology that there is nothing else out there to bother or attack us or as the Doctor put t to President Nixon in Day of the Moon “if it makes you feel safe, then yes – you’re safe.” But at heart that’s part of the reason that Doctor Who is so scary for some people: what if aliens did turn up on our doorstep and they were cleverer and more advanced than us? It’s a question that’s been posed in many Doctor Who stories since 1963 and it will continue to be asked for years to come. The answer has been underlined in Doctor Who for many years, when the aliens attack it’ll be ok ‘cause the Doctor will help.
People, especially children, like to be scared. That little rush of adrenaline that a horror film gives you or the terrifying moment that a Weeping Angel is suddenly half a meter away from Amy, arms outstretched and ready to move in for the kill. There’s nothing wrong with a good, scary story. People have been telling them for centuries and long may they do so. But this is where some people get the concept of scaring someone so wrong. If scary is done correctly, it can be unsettling, creepy and mystifying all in one brilliant move.
It’s when it’s violent that we have to shield children from it. If Doctor Who contained full blooded serial killer (in human form) or worse going around hacking up blood and guts then no, it would not be suitable for children. It would simply be Torchwood. But the show oh so cleverly has its lead character portrayed as a basic pacifist, a man who abhors violence, never carries a gun and always tries to find another way. Some TV heroes just like to shoot things in the face but not our Doctor.
Where is this all leading you ask? To sum up, yes: Doctor Who is scary. Sometimes it’s downright terrifying (there are those among us who remember being scared witless as the Daleks chased the Doctor up that air vent in Planet of the Daleks back in November 1993, won’t say who – let’s just say that they’re writing this piece right now and leave it at that) but that’s good for kids because it’s a friendly scare not a hopeless one. Doctor Who is one of the few TV shows that can have you terrified one minute and laughing the next and that kind of TV show should never be ignored by kids as it sends out the right kind of message: It’s not ok to be violent, or mean or try to control someone…
But it is ok to be scared.