Sunday, 11 May 2008

Doctor Who, Series 4, Episode 6: The Doctor's Daughter

Usually, I allow a few days before posting my comments on the latest episode, but I so enjoyed this one that I am rashly going to review it after just the one viewing. Actually, I should have waited a bit longer to review "The Poison Sky", the second of the Sontaran two-parter. Viola had a girls night out last night, and both the kids were out with friends, and after mowing the lawn I fitted in my second viewing of that episode and I was really struck by how weak it was. I think I will have to revise my rating down to three TARDIS groans. It has great moments but the story overall was pretty absurd, especially the last ten minutes or so. The whole Martha clone business was a bit rubbish, and the resolution of the fire burning up the poison gas in the sky was a bit crap too. Part of the problem these days is that I am too excited by a first viewing of an episode, and need the second to assess it properly. Nevertheless, even on first viewing, I must say how much I enjoyed "The Doctor's Daughter".

As predicted, there was always going to be more than meets the eye in an episode so upfront about "doctor's daughter" and we were still in the pre-credit sequence when we found at that he had known nothing of her up until this point, with the expected tissue sample and generation, etc. The thing that is most difficult to judge on first viewing is the story. It seemed to hang together fine to me, though, and there were lots of things to love about this episode. First off, Catherine Tate continues to impress as Donna; Tennant had some fine moments as he had to act the doctor's reflections on all those years and all that pain, and Freema Agyeman makes us feel a sense of the familiar, a nostalgia for recent happiness now gone. But the star of the show was Georgia Moffett. How great was she?! I could choose lots of great clips, and this is as good as any:

My favourite review this week is from Behind the Sofa, Stuart Ian Burns, Genesis Wave:

. . . . This cleverly conceived new genetic anomaly does also indeed allow us to see how the Doctor copes with these emotions without overloading the canon (and was that the first time we’ve heard that word in a Confidential?). Helped by a brilliant performance from Tennant, who still somehow manages to make each tear surprising, we were able to see that indeed the Doctor can be just like us, he can care like us, can care about a child just like us and yet still be God-like, worthy, as much to do with truth and justice as Superman, even as it’s revealed he’s done some very bad things. Jenny let us see that for the first time since he bid goodbye to Susan in a London wrecked by a The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Plus, she’s well fit.
And from a little later in the same review, and also worth quoting:
It seems wrong somehow to fancy Peter Davison’s progeny; it's like being back at school, noticing someone in your class then finding out she's your teacher’s daughter and so clearly out of bounds (believe me, I know). But from the minute she stepped out of the Ikea-redesigned Telepod from The Fly, I found myself repeatedly irritated when the camera cut somewhere else, even to the increasingly lush Catherine Tate and former obsession Freema.
Once again, this episode had that classic Who feeling -- funny looking aliens, a companion separated from the doctor, lots of running down corridors. Unlike classic Who, it continues to be laugh out loud funny. There are now more laughs in a standard episode of Doctor Who than there are in most contemporary comedies -- it is just full of great one-liners. Let's hope that it knows when to stop; at the moment, I'm loving the comedy.

And could it possibly be that there will be another spin-off? It's all nicely set up for that at the end. Den of Geek thinks so. I'll be watching, no question about it.

I want to adjust my ratings a little at this point. I was definitely a bit too generous about eps. 4 and 5, and perhaps also 3; perhaps 1 too, but no, that was a cracker. Perhaps all of them. Well, here are my latest ratings:

Partners in Crime: 4 1/2 TARDIS groans
Fires of Pompeii: 4 TARDIS groans
Planet of the Ood: 4 1/2 TARDIS groans.
The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky: 3 TARDIS groans.
The Doctor's Daughter: 4 1/2 TARDIS groans.


Will said...

Great review, and thanks. I agree with you: it was a great episode, and I enjoyed the Doctor being reflective and Donna actually taking on an active role in the solution (rather than just 'running'!).

Perhaps I need to watch it again, too, but where it left me was when everyone was laying down their gun, why didn't the general? Before the scene, I knew he was going to shoot somebody, but I didn't know why. I guess I can surmise that he couldn't let go of the fight that had consumed him for 'generations'. I thought since he was the oldest looking, there might be some back story, but they seemed silent on it. Or is it just the old man who couldn't give up the fight and they needed it to show the Doctor not retaliating? (I haven't watched Confidential yet.) I also have to remind myself, 'It's only a 45 minute show'.

Loren Rosson III said...

Hi Mark,

This was a good one, but I still need to digest with a second viewing. Boy does next week's look even more fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Q enjoyed the '70s feel of the episode, and the lovely Army surplus props - ie loads of old ammo boxes, sand channels of the type he used to have on the front of his Ferret Scout Car, and a WW1 Service revolver. And Jenny was quite a bonnie bonus too.

TonyfromJersey said...

I notice the comedy, that and the domestic parts (Martha returning in the street, and smiling as she looks at her ring in this ep, the Donna household in others) are just the kind of thing that one gets in soaps like Coronation Street, and which make them such an entertaining mix of drama and humour. A soap feel rather than a 70s feel? RTD's roots?