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Sunday, May 11, 2008

"The Doctor's Daughter": New DOCTOR WHO episode a mixed bag

Usually I post some choice quotes from whatever new episode of Doctor Who (the ones that I'm watching courtesy of good chaps who post 'em for download right after they premiere on BBC One in Great Britain) that I'm reviewing. I'm gonna forgo doing that this week, mainly 'cuz (a) I've a few more projects on my plate this evening and (b) I'm still trying to decide how much I actually liked "The Doctor's Daughter" ...

This episode picks up where last week's "The Poison Sky" left off: with the TARDIS veering off without warning to parts unknown while the Doctor, Donna and Martha get knocked around inside. It lands on the war-torn planet Messaline, and upon exiting the TARDIS the trio is promptly captured by armed militants. These guys immediately take the Doctor at gunpoint, force his hand into some weird machine which takes a tissue sample, and it spits-out a fully clothed young woman. "She's my daughter," the Doctor tells his companions. "Hello Dad," says the yet-unnamed offspring.

All of this happens before the title sequence happens, mind ya.

In general, I thought that "The Doctor's Daughter" lacked too much to bring it into the realm of a solid entry in the Doctor Who mythos. The plot has many gaping holes and the idea of the Doctor having family (which is touched upon here for any fans of old-school Doctor Who) is notably wasted. However, I must admit that there are some elements of classic Doctor Who greatness in this episode. The story features a very neat twist - almost like an M. Night Shyamalan film - that redefines the viewer's understanding when it comes. And then there is the Hath: one of the best-realized and most alien of the non-human species that I've seen during Doctor Who's revived run. Whatever else that "The Doctor's Daughter" lacks in, the make-up and prosthetics used on the Hath merit an award nomination somewhere.

David Tennant continues to shape his incarnation of the Doctor as a curious combination of brash Bohemian and dark warrior: sorta like Sylvester McCoy and Christopher Eccleston's Doctors. Donna feels a bit out of character in this episode but Catherine Tate is still fun to watch in the role. Freema Agyeman as Martha makes a great appearance (especially in a number of scenes that reminded me of the movie Enemy Mine) before bowing out of the show for the time being. Fans of the movie Excalibur will recognize Nigel Terry as General Cobb. And ironically Georgia Moffett - the daughter of Peter Davidson who was the fifth Doctor on the original series - plays Jenny, the "Doctor's daughter" of this episode.

I'll give "The Doctor's Daughter" 2 and 1/2 Sonic Screwdrivers out of 5. It's an "almost" good episode of Doctor Who: nowhere as good as "Partners in Crime" or "Planet of the Ood" but it's also not a horrendous mess like "Fear Her" or "Love & Monsters" were either (and anything would be better than "Love & Monsters", right?). But there are enough positive elements in "The Doctor's Daughter" to make it worth watching at least once.

Next week: a mysterious mansion, a murder mystery... and Agatha Christie! "The Unicorn and the Wasp" on BBC One and then bootlegged for everyone else right after.


Anonymous said...

The Doctor said the TARDIS brought them to the planet to prevent a paradox. Maybe Jenny becomes the mother of Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter from the original show in 1963. I thought it was just an okay episode but I loved Jenny and I'm glad that she survived.

Peter from Coventry, England!

Lee Shelton said...

Haven't seen this one yet, but I think "Blink" is still one of my favorite episodes of the new series; it's certainly the best stand-alone episode.

katchi said...

that be awesome if "jenny" becomes the new doctor or reprise role in the next season or 11th doc as Tennant is departing, he was my favorite for the renewed series... and freeman as Martha was brilliant

Anonymous said...

This Episode is awesome.and your blog Too......I Love To Watch The Doctor Who Episodes. especially on Internet