The sincerest form of flattery?

Birds from Chiswick just don't give a fuck.

Oi! Spaceman!

I watch a lot of Doctor Who (as is my wont), and every once and a while I catch an episode here or there that I missed on first run.  It’s almost always a treat to fill in the gaps that I have in the newer series, and as much as I like Matt Smith and Christopher Eccleston, for me it doesn’t get better than David Tennant in a pair of vintage 3D specs getting yelled at by Catherine Tate, so when BBC America ran The Runaway Bride this morning I was filled with glee.

Or at least I was until the Big Bad Evil Guy was revealed. Now I’m going to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but considering it was the Doctor Who Christmas episode six fucking years ago the statute of limitations is run on this one.

Kind of a Lolth-meets-Mrs. Lovett vibe.

Wanker!

Still here?  Good.  Now, the monster in the rubber suit this episode was a creature called the Empress of the Racnoss, the supposedly last surviving member of a hyperintelligent (and hyper-violent) arachnoid race that had been thought to have been eradicated way back in galactic history. The Empress, which in true alien fashion, was the Doctor Who version of the xenomorph queen from Aliens if she had grown up in Staines, judging by the accent.

I know where you’re going with this, based on the title of this blog post, but this isn’t about Russell T Davies ripping off the Alien movies for his BBEG for this episode. There’s a kind of passing resemblance here in that they’re both (literally) alien queens, but the Empress is able to communicate, doesn’t bleed acid, and doesn’t reproduce via face-rape.  Well, she might; it’s really not covered in the episode.  Besides, she’s got a big red spider ass.

Bitches don't know shit about my millions of children.

The Rachni Queen. Different color, still kinda creepy.

What I was more struck by was the similarities between the Racnoss and a race of aliens that appears in the Mass Effect trilogy called the Rachni.  Despite the obvious similarity in their name, the Rachni are a race of supposedly extinct insectoid aliens that were wiped out in a large-scale galactic war thousand of years ago and feature a hive-based society with a Queen at the top of the food chain; the similarities are rather telling.

I’m not going to sit here and accuse the BioWare writing team that was responsible for the Mass Effect series of plagiarism; they catch enough flak for the way ME3 ended, and I’ve already written about that extensively anyway.  I will say that it’s pretty fucking obvious that a team responsible for writing a massive, sprawling space opera have to be a bunch of giant fucking nerds to begin with, so it’s more than possible there were some Doctor Who fanatics on staff during the latter days of 2006 when the first Mass Effect game was still under development, as it was published in November of 2007.

Ur-Quan Dreadnoughts were bitches.

Man, I love Star Control.

Could it be a case of parallel evolution? Possibly – in the same way that The Hunger Games and Battle Royale were developed independently of one another but still have highly similar tropes and themes.  However, my money is on the idea that BioWare’s original Mass Effect team were paying an homage to the Doctor Who episode that preceded it, even though there’s a lot of evidence that there were some shady practices when it comes to “borrowing” from other media to fill in the gaps in the Mass Effect series.  It’s really less of an accusatory finger than it is just me noticing something that’s a bit of a stretch to be a complete coincidence, especially with BioWare’s track record.

What do you think?  Is it completely coincidental or is there a bit of sincere flattery going on here?

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5 thoughts on “The sincerest form of flattery?

  1. I am amused when weird little references to things pop up where I didn’t expect them. Almost like a nerdy high-five 😉

  2. Couldn’t agree more with your comment on Tennant being your favorite. (Eccleston & Smith are both excellent in their own way though & I love that the character changes so much, yet stays endearing and epically awesome.) Funny that we just watched Battle Royale yesterday & that Hunger Games just came out on DVD…way to stay topical my friend!

    Sidenote: I actually liked the movie of Hunger Games better than the book & that is a complete rarity for me. (The Golden Compass was definitely the more common take of being AWFUL compared to the book which was phenomenal.)

  3. The more I think about it, the more I become convinced that an episodic BioWare (or BioWare-style) game could be terrific. A series of ten or twenty episodes spread out over six months, downloaded to your console or PC and broken up by smaller side missions… it could make for a highly enjoyable experience.

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