Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bring your daughter to the slaughter

Not bad. I might give that one a 7 or an 8.

The big thing for me about The Doctor's Daughter is that, whereas the Sontaran two-parter was the sort of thing a fan might think a Who story ought to look like, this actually was an old-style Who story. It felt a lot like mid-to-late Tom Baker. A mysterious set-up, a few clues and the big revelation in a tower that's pretty obviously a spaceship. Proper SF, in fact, albeit a small helping of proper SF concealed within forty five minutes of slam-bang action. Of its genre, as opposed to merely generic. And, like a very few other New Who stories, it felt like it had the material of an Old Who story condensed into the three quarters of an hour. It felt like it could have been expanded into a solid four-parter. You could almost see the natural cliffhanger points.

Also nice to get a bit more consideration of the Doctor's role in the Time War. Last week would have been an obvious place for this sort of thing, what with the militaristic aliens and UNIT butting heads, but strangely the issue of a normally pacifist Doctor taking up arms and fighting wasn't addressed. There were a couple of brief, subtle moments in which you could almost see the script starting to turn that way, plus the slight end-of-first-series overtones towards the end, but ultimately it didn't really happen. This week, on the other hand, it was brought right out into the open. Perhaps it went too far in the opposite direction, perhaps it was too unsubtle? But then again, if a Who story is going to examine an issue, it has to at least spend some time on it.

Negative points now. There didn't seem to be any good reason for Martha to be in it. Apparently someone needs to get separated from the Doctor so that we can see the conflict from the Hath point of view, and yet... do they really? It's not as if Martha's journey serves any real purpose in the end, except to get the sympathetic Hath killed (although, with that breathing apparatus on his face, couldn't he survive under that marshy stuff?). The only obvious reason for it is so that Donna can hang around being the Doctor's conscience while he tries to come to terms with the new family member, but with a bit of rejigging (or more screen time, of course) she could have done that and been the viewer's ambassador to the Hath. But anyway, next point.

It's an old, old bugbear for SF fans that cloning machines and the like always seem to generate perfectly fitting clothes for the new people they create, but that's not my point. It's pre-watershed TV, for goodness's sake, and in any case I think we all know what the average fanboy is really thinking when he complains about clothed clones. I say it's the 60th century or thereabouts, and we didn't actually see inside the magic box, so for all we know there's some whizzy bit of technology in there or a small but very, very fast tailor that produces clothing for the new soldiers. However, my next point does concern dodgy science. It's that Source thingy. So a small globe full of airborne microbes is going to terraform an entire planet? All right, it's the whichever century, maybe there's some nanotech in there too. But the entire planet, in about two minutes? One minute a cloud of magic pixie dust, the next ten feet of earth is excavating itself from the other side of the windows? Bugger off.

Then there's the slight cheese of the ending. I think we all knew it was going to happen, but still. Who's going to be turning up again in the series finale, then? And probably dying tragically (barring further cheese)? And just why does she love running so much? She's not one of those... ugh... joggers, is she?

So I'd place this episode just behind the Ood episode. Still waiting for a sock-knocker-offer. Looks like next week is going to be filled with all the standard Agatha Christie cliches that Agatha Christie isn't actually to blame for. Comedy lightning a-go-go.

1 comment:

Ben said...

I thought it was okay, but a criminal waste of a brilliant idea - the "generations" war that has in fact (for perfectly logical reasons) lasted a week. General Nutjob was obviously older than this so he should have been aware of it, but chose to stay silent. Why? Did he had a hidden Hath-hating agenda? We will never know because (of course) all the footsoldiers do the standard bad sf "my beliefs have been proven false therefore I discard them entirely and turn against the old order" thing.

Didn't have a problem with the terraforming - I assumed it was a local effect that was still spreading ...

Also interesting that the cloning machines produce teen soldiers complete with acne scars.