My UC Davis class on Mark Twain’s technocratic writing ended the weekend before the Season 9 premiere of Doctor Who. I re-read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court just weeks prior, not knowing that writer/producer Steven Moffat, actor Peter Capaldi, and director Hettie MacDonald would frontload Season 9 with Connecticut Yankee easter eggs.
Episode 9:1 features the Doctor performing in front of a medieval English crowd. Not Camelot, but definitely the same look and feel. The references fly by fast, but here’s what I caught on my 2nd viewing today:
- The Doctor brings a tank with him to what appears to be a duel. Hank Morgan, the time-traveling hero of Twain’s work does much the same, winning a joust by lassoing and shooting his competitors.
- The Doctor is called “Magician” and seems to embrace the title despite the fact that his powers come from science. Again, Morgan’s charade in Camelot rests on his ability to pass off 19th-century science as magic.
- The Doctor, like Hank Morgan, seems to be a master showman, going all theatrical with his entrance and his announcements.
- The Doctor mentions that he’s helped build a well while he’s been in medieval England. The reconstruction of a well is one of Hank Morgan’s biggest technological achievements in Chapters 22 and 23 of A Connecticut Yankee. In fact, Morgan really beats Merlin at his own game in those scenes, so it’s a major plot point.
- The Doctor mentions that he’s introduced the word “Dude” several centuries early. “Dude” is one of the Americanisms that Hank Morgan uses prominently throughout the text. It’s mentioned several times, even making its way into one of Dan Beard’s wonderful illustrations from the original 1889 text. Check out this drawing of Morgan as he begins a knightly quest:
I’m not one to assume all apparent coincidental similarities are intentional, but these are enough to make me think I’m not the only one who’s re-read CY recently. Any word from Mr. Moffat?