Comparing Themes and Characters with Doctor Who's "Midnight"

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Objective

Students will be able to compare themes and characters by viewing "Midnight," completing a plot diagram, a Venn diagram, and discussing both episodes.

Big Idea

Be not afraid of the darkness or monsters, but be afraid of what we are capable of.

Daily Grammar

15 minutes

WHEN IN THE WORLD DOES ITS GET AN APOSTROPHE?  This may be the hardest concept the entire world to explain.

It's (with the apostrophe) is the contraction of it and is. 

Its (without the apostrophe) is the possessive. BUT OTHER POSSESSIVES HAVE APOSTROPHES.

It's (it is) like the possessive pronouns his and hers.  Those possessive pronouns still show possessiveness, but they don't use apostrophes.

Also.  Dude.  Verbs never get apostrophes.  Never.

NEVER.

Watching "Midnight"

45 minutes

Today is quite possibly the best day in the entire world.  Today students get to compare themes by two different authors, that were written decades apart, and are in entirely different settings.

They're comparing Serling's "The Monsters ARe Due on Maple Street" to Russel T. Davies' "Midnight."  "Midnight" is an episode of Doctor Who, a British science fiction show that has become quite popular in recent years.  The protagonist is The Doctor who is a time-traveling alien. Here's a link to the episode.  Go watch it.  I can't guarantee that you won't have nightmares, but go watch it. And then if you want to watch more Doctor Who, start here. You are welcome.

While students watched the episode, they wrote notes on a couple of different organizers.  You may choose to just use one.  For my co-taught classes, I'd give them a much different one.  For those classes, I would give them this handout that lists every character and has space for them to write which characters are similar and how. For honors, I gave them a plot diagram with a Venn diagram on the back.

The directions I gave students was to watch the episode and look for how the characters and theme are similar.  They are eerily similar in how the characters move from being friendly, to suspicious, to turning on each other.  It is terrifying how these two authors explored the same theme--that we are the monsters.

Here's a link to the episode on Amazon.

Analyzing Literary Devices with Plot and Venn Diagrams

20 minutes

Once students were done with the viewing, we talked about the conflict and climax of "Midnight" and recorded it on the Plot Analysis Diagram.  What conflict do the characters face?  What is the problem?  They encounter something mysterious and scary and let their fear take over.  That's the conflict. 

How is that conflict solved?  It's solved when the Hostess grabs Sky, stands in the airlock, and sacrifices herself. At that point, there's a solution.  They're going to live.  That's quite different from the climax in "Monsters," however. "Midnight" provides a much more optimistic falling action and resolution than "Monsters." "Monsters" suggests that everyone on Maple Street will end up killing each other and totally destroy each other.  "Midnight" suggests that there is hope for humanity because the characters didn't destroy everyone.

Students also used a Venn diagram to document how the two stories are similar and different.  If you've ever tried to create a Venn diagram on a computer, you know that it can be frustrating. Sometimes you can only see the whole part of one circle.  View this video to see how you can create circles and make it so that you can see all of both circles.

I asked students to consider how the characters in both stories were similar and different.  For example, the Doctor is similar to Tommy in that they both know what's going on.  Jethro's parents are similar to Don, Charlie, and the Woman because they all let their fear take over and accuse others quickly.  DeeDee and the Doctor are also similar to Steve because they try to think logically and rationally to figure out what's going on.

Lesson Resources

Today's lesson picture is of some of my students' reactions during a particularly suspenseful part of "Midnight."