Adam discovers the wonders of travelling in the TARDIS. Does
he have what it takes to become the Doctor's companion? In
the far future, Satellite 5 broadcasts to the entire Earth
Empire, but anyone promoted to Floor 500 is never seen again...
This volume contains the best and worst of Christopher Eccleston's
season as the Doctor.
get the worst out of the way first with The Long Game.
The story isn't terrible, but it lacks focus and is rather
derivative of this season's second episode, The End of
the World. Both take place on board a space station orbiting
the Earth, with some fairly obvious reuse of sets (the observation
platform overlooking the planet). Both involve a monster that
is defeated by heat and explodes into a gooey mess. Evidently
writer/executive producer Russell T Davies likes having his
monsters explode into gooey messes: the same thing happened
to a Slitheen in World War Three.
the plus side, Spaced
and Shaun of the Dead star Simon Pegg provides an excellent
guest villain in the shape of the Editor, who is splendidly
offbeat and sarcastic. And the development of Adam (Bruno
Langley), who unexpectedly boarded the TARDIS at the end of
Dalek, is pleasantly surprising.
In fact, it is a testament to the overall quality of the series
that an episode as good as this should be considered its weak
Rose asks the Doctor to take her back to 1987, to witness
the day her father died. But when she interferes in the course
of events, terrifying temporal monsters are unleashed. A wedding
day turns into a massacre as the human race is devoured...
out the hankies for the moving saga that is Father's Day.
Writer Paul Cornell and director Joe Ahearne have crafted
an unapologetically manipulative piece of drama that really
tugs on the heartstrings. Billie Piper and Shaun Dingwall
are compelling as the daughter and father reunited across
time, while Camille Coduri explores the emotional core of
the usually load-mouthed mother, Jackie Tyler.
There's more than a hint of Back to the Future as we
laugh at the fashions of yesteryear, we encounter younger
versions of characters we know, including an infant Mickey
Smith (Casey Dyer), Rose gets weirded out by sexual interest
from her own parent, and the Doctor warns of devastating time
show's new mythology ingeniously circumvents the fact that
we have never before seen the Reapers cleaning up in the wake
of a paradox: when the Time Lords were around, they would
have stopped them. It could be argued that we should see an
explosive shorting out of the time differential when the two
Roses touch (as with the two Brigadiers in Mawdryn Undead)
but our own Johnny Fanboy has suggested a solution
If this episode has a weakness, it is that it can be slightly
hard to follow upon first viewing - grasping what the Doctor
is trying to do to reconstitute the TARDIS, for instance.
For the most part, however, Father's Day demonstrates
the strengths of the single-episode format.
London, 1941, at the height of the Blitz. A mysterious cylinder
is being guarded by the army, while homeless children, living
on the bombsites, are terrorised by a strange gasmask-clad
child, whose disease is spreading throughout the city...
There's a distinct flavour to the two-part story The Empty
Child/The Doctor Dances, one that is not to be the found
anywhere else in this season.
It's a creepy, ghostly flavour, not unlike an episode of
Sapphire & Steel. How ironic: just the other week I was
comparing a Sapphire & Steel audio drama (The
Passenger) to The Empty Child, and now
here I go comparing this story to the original ATV series!
But it's true. The TARDIS phone ringing, the gasmasked child
asking for its mummy, the child's haunting voice calling through
a radio: this is real Sapphire & Steel-type stuff,
though the horrific CGI transformations are more akin to the
sinister animation of Pink Floyd's movie The Wall.
Even Nancy (Florence Hoath) and her young followers come and
go like ghosts until we discover their true natures.
the story isn't without its lighter moments. We can smile
and laugh at the rivalry between the Doctor and the time-travelling
conman Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), who vies for Rose's
affections and - even worse - derides the Doctor's precious
sonic screwdriver! "Who looks at a screwdriver," asks Jack,
"and thinks: 'Ooh, this could be a little more sonic'?"
Writer Steven Moffat (Coupling, Doctor Who and the
Curse of Fatal Death) also has fun with Jack's sexuality,
easing in the fact that Jack is bisexual with a joke or three.
His sexual orientation is also a plot point, indicating how
moral outlooks change over time. Rose, representing the present
day, is more liberated than the 1940s attitude toward single
mothers, but Jack, a 51st-century lad, is more liberated still,
showing that human society has not yet stopped evolving.
Had Russell T Davies introduced a non-heterosexual character
in the series' first episode, Rose, then the Daily
Mail brigade might have been down on the show like a ton
of bricks. Instead, the production team have rather cleverly
snuck such a character in by the back door (ahem, so to speak!)
and not made a big issue out of it.
put those hankies away after watching Father's Day,
because the conclusion to The Doctor Dances is, if
possible, even more tear-jerking, aided by a fantastic performance
by Florence Hoath.
fact, everything about this two-parter is, as the Ninth Doctor
himself would say, fantastic.
are no extras on this disc. We'll have to wait until November's
box set for any of those. However, there are four episodes
instead of the usual three, as the BBC is proud to boast -
as if other shows, such as Star Trek and Stargate,
didn't routinely put four episodes on a disc! Having said
that, the latter three are among the shortest in duration
never mind the width. Feel the quality.