Saturday, May 10, 2008

Doctor Who - The Doctor's Daughter

Did anyone else feel their stomach flip when the Doctor pointed a gun at that guy? Because mine did, and the fact that I felt that shows just how far this episode came.

Cos, at first, I was completely underwhelmed. How could you fail to be, when you'd been told that an episode called The Doctor's Daughter did exactly what it says on the tin? I mean, c'mon Rusty, no it doesn't! Don't make a thing of it being exactly how it sounds because when we find out, with a rather dull inevitability, that it isn't, well that just engenders a big old case of... underwelm. So Jenny's a product of asexual reproduction and so "technically" she's his daughter. Whatever Greenhorn, she's essentially a clone. A very pretty clone, admittedly, and a feisty, really rather likable one, but a clone nonetheless.

At least, that's how it felt at first. And so it made the first fifteen minutes sit at the boring end of the 'meh' scale. Didn't stay like that, though did it? Ah, is there any more beautiful thing to be seen on screen in the early 21st century than David Tennant acting. Not shouting (not all the time, anyway), not making annoying faces - just acting. His conversation with Donna about losing his family in the Time War was stunning, and of course the scene at the end with a dying Jenny in his arms - and then a gun in his hands - was the first time DW has really punched me in the gut in a long time. That's a good thing, obviously.

And Jenny? Well I liked her a lot. I don't want to, particularly (because she looks too perfect, to be honest), but that little Moffett girl's got something about her. And it seems that we'll be seeing her again which I'd be very happy about.

Can I just point out one thing -the Doc's hand. It was focussed on in Utopia, but never referred to, and now it's been mentioned again apparently for no reason in particular. But with RTD at the helm, does *anything* happen for no reason in particular? Not usually...

17 comments:

MediumRob said...

It was shite. Utterly nonsensical bollocks. Completely predictable, except when it was so nonsensical a rational human being wouldn't stand a chance of predicting it.

Jenny coming back to life was obviously going to happen (two hearts but without any Time Lord healing abilities, regeneration to one side?). The Doctor not shooting was obviously going to happen (I would have liked a Human Nature style bit of wrath but was disappointed). Jenny dying in the Doctor's arms was the Master from The Last of the Time Lords - again.

Absolute, need I say it again, rubbish. I review it elsewhere.... ;-)

PS She bain't be no clone, if she bain't have identical chromosomes. Although I spose you could argue that gender, hair colour, height, etc aren't coded for by genes in Time Lords. But it would all fall apart even more if that were the case.

PPS The Doctor's hand is part of the Doctor detector rigged up by Jack. So it was responding to the semi-clone of the Doctor that hadn't yet been created. That all makes sense, doesn't it?

Dean said...

It was an episode that falls apart if you think about it too much - you did a pretty good job of pulling all the strings out in that review Rob, though I'd take issue with the ending being implausible - it's established that they'd mythologised thier whole history fairly explicitly, so basically seeing that big glowy ball thing was equivalent to looking at the face of god. So I can buy that.

It was a tad frustrating as an episode, it did start off awfully but the main problem was it didn't all quite hang together. It was less than the sum of it's parts.
There were some ace ideas in there. The whole setting, the generational war over a week, etc was really interesting but only loosely explored. Then quite a few great dramatic and emotional moments. But none of it had room to breathe.
Made worse by the fact we waste much of the episode on Martha. Now, I've always quite liked the Martha character, and seem to be immune to seeing Freema's bad acting everyone talks about, but it's utterly pointless to bring her back for three episodes, only to have her spend them all sepearated from The Doctor and Donna. I mean, what's the point? You could have taken her out of this episode entirely and it wouldn't have made one bit of difference.

AnnaWaits said...

Rob - you wanted the Doctor to shoot someone at point blank range?! Wow. The thing is, of course, that we're always looking at things from different perspectives which is a good thing, but means there'll be episodes where we totally don't agree. Like this one! So the sci-fi elements stank - you know I couldn't care less. ;) And maybe the ending didn't get to you, well it got to me and I am so glad.

And Dean - you're right about wasting Martha. I think they were trying to show that she can do stuff on her own now, but I agree her story was utterly peripheral.

MediumRob said...

No. I'd have liked him to have not killed Nigel Terry but done something wrathful like at the end of Human Nature. He didn't kill the Family of Blood - he plopped them all in eternal life situations. Maybe he could have cloned Nigel Terry and left them all in the same room together for eternity...

AnnaWaits said...

Haha, yeah. Wouldn't have allowed for the I NEVER WOULD comment though... It would have had to become "I NEVER WOULD... do that specifically. But I'll so something else a bit less bad." :D

MediumRob said...

Let's go pantomime and say "Oh yes it would".

'I never would' refers to committing murder - killing, which is something the Doctor would (almost) never do. He's saying the war like society they have should be replaced with something without killing.

But the Doctor's morality system includes quite harsh punishments and ideas (cf Fires of Pompeii, Human Nature, The Poison Sky). He's never advocated doing nothing in response to murder, which is what Nigel Terry was thought to have done. I doubt he'd advocate a society in which the punishment for murder was 'don't do that again, please' - that'd last a week before it went to war.

Dean said...

Part of me did think it'd be cool if The Doctor pistol-whipped him at the end but this is Doctor Who and not The Shield...

(Of course, what would have been good was if Martha had shot him, maybe not fatallay, but she is part of UNIT now and it'd ramp up the Doctor's guilt over turning her into a soldier).

AnnaWaits said...

That WOULD have been good :D

Paul 'Fuzz' Lowman said...

I thought it was pretty weak. The writing was very poor. The writing is frequently very poor. Like Anna, I couldn't care less about the sci-fi elements. I figure you're dealing with a show about a guy who travels around space in a police box, it seems sorta pointless to start picking holes in the narrative on any sort of scientific basis, but whatever. But the dialogue...I mean, what's the excuse? The great TV shows of our time - The Sopranos, West Wing, even Sex & The City - have had great dialogue week in, week out. The best we get from Doctor Who is a mildly amsusing gag line from Catherine Tate a couple of times an episode and thats your lot. I can't recall the last time I sat down in front of Who and thought "wow, the writing here was really good." As somebody with nothing invested in this show, I gotta say that considering the utterly central role Who plays in the TV schedules, it is often just not that great.I mean, what was this epidoe, like a C+ maybe? If that?

MediumRob said...

"I figure you're dealing with a show about a guy who travels around space in a police box, it seems sorta pointless to start picking holes in the narrative on any sort of scientific basis,"

I'm kind of with you on this, but also not. All TV shows require a certain degree of suspension of disbelief, because they'd never last more than an episode before the plots, etc, ran out. No cop show would ever find out more than 10% of crime's perpetrators; most legal shows would involve shoplifting cases rather than murders and more exotic crimes, etc. It's just a question of whether that self-contained world that you choose to accept makes sense in and of itself.

Once you get over the foundations - sonic screwdriver, Time Lords, blue police box travelling through time and space (and there have been various scientific explanations worked out over the years for virtually everything in Who: singularities, Einstein-Bose bridges, etc, although the golden rule is that all sufficiently advanced technology will seem like magic) – it's a question of whether it makes sense after that within its own rules.

If, halfway through the Sopranos, it had turned out that Tony had been fooled all along and that the entire mafia was a scheme hatched by the French and that his car talked and actually ran on orange juice, you'd probably be thinking "what a pile of rubbish that episode was" because it would make no sense within the world of The Sopranos or indeed our world. No one would say "It's realist drama! It doesn't have to make sense!"

So it is with a cloning machine that doesn't make clones, except sort of, except not; that chooses to make really wimpy soldiers of all ages, despite being designed for terraforming; that has fish people that can't breathe underwater; and that has a seven day war that exterminates entire generations in under a day but doesn't leave dead bodies behind.

You can get away with some stuff. You can fudge here and there. But when the entire episode is an offence against logic, including its own, when even the guys writing it can't work out what's happening, surely you've got to draw the line or else you might as well be watching the selected highlights of "Pets do the funniest things" going "I really liked that bit with the dog. I'm going to play it again.". For all eternity, with your friends, dribbling into a bib, slowly having all critical facilities and IQ reduced to nothing so you end up emailing your bank account details to a nice bloke in Nigeria who needs a little help.

Plus the dialogue was a bit rubbish, too.

AnnaWaits said...

Don't watch Pets Do The Funniest Things, but do watch You've Been Framed. Harry Hill's voice-over is pure genius. And cats falling into fish bowls makes me laugh every time.

Oh wait, that wasn't your main point? ;)

MediumRob said...

Hee, hee. You said bowls.

Paul 'Fuzz' Lowman said...

Well, yeah. It is of course true to say that every fiction establishes it's own perameters of plausability, however broad or narrow they may be, and that we judge the plausability of the narraive based on those perameters. I guess my point was more that when the dialogue, direction, acting, story yadda yadda was as poor as it was, the scientific implausability of the narrative is a minor offence, or at least the offence which bothers me least. It's like:
"This episode sucked. The Doctor's hand is responding to the semi-clone of the Doctor that hadn't yet been created. What's that about?"

"Are you kidding? His hand is what you're worried about? The dialogue is terrible! The direction is dull! Half these people can't act!"

Anyway, just read your review over at your place, as always a convincing and informed analysis. Hope next weeks is a better watch, for both Who-nuts and regular joes like me.

chatterbox said...

Well, I *quite* enjoyed it... David Tennant has returned to acting, not shouting and gurning, which is a good thing, and Donna has properly settled down now. I always found Martha a bit dull, and this was no exception. The thing that made my heart sink the most though was the Doctors Daughter heading off into space. Not that I disliked her at all, and she would possibly make a good future 'assistant'....but I just wondered whether this is building up into another franchise opportunity.

N/OutofFashion said...

I didn't mind the episode, but it was a bit corny and rushed.

It would have made a good two parter, because it seemed he went from 'She's a MACHINE' to hugs and 'be careful!'

AnnaWaits said...

yeah I totally agree that the transformations on his AND her parts were very sudden.

Elucidarian said...

There are times in modern sci-fi and fantasy where we demand plausible storylines and FX. We say, "We have the technology and intelligence, where's the solid product?" We want to believe through rationalized imaginary scenarios.

This shouldn't be the rule, however. Many episodes of Doctor Who over the years, The Doctor's Daughter certainly included, should be valued more for their allegorical nature than an effort toward realism. I'm not saying they shouldn't TRY to write well-thought explanations into the script, but there are other qualities to be appreciated.