Monday, June 29, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 1x08: "Father's Day"

Written by Paul Cornell
Directed by Joe Aherne

Within the first half of the debut season we’ve encountered plenty of monsters of the week scenarios and with the exception of “Dalek”; we haven’t really had a personal mission as such. The drawback of being a 900 year old Time Lord and having only human assistants is often being dragged into their own personal baggage and as much I love Rose, she’s no exception to the rule.

The episode opens up with a nice if rather overly sentimental narration from Rose praising her father and a flashback of Jackie telling a young Rose about Pete Tyler’s death. In the present day inside the TARDIS, Rose asks The Doctor if she can visit her father on the day he died so she can sit with him so he wouldn’t die alone. Oddly enough, The Doctor actually agrees to this request twice, opening up the predicted can of worms and our jeopardy of the week in the process.

If I had been in Rose’s predicament, watching her father about to die by a passing car, I’d want to save him too, despite whether or not it would have an effect on time. How could The Doctor not realise that Rose’s judgement would be clouded on seeing this particular event?

If I look at it from Rose’s perspective, it’s easy to see why she saved Pete’s life. He’s her father, she’s never had a relationship with the man and in her mind she was given an opportunity to reverse history and do some good, even if it’s rooted in a selfish desire.

She rationed with The Doctor that her Dad wasn’t going to start World War Three or make world peace, both being believable arguments but you knew he wasn’t going to see it like that.

The Doctor and Rose have had a few disagreements before but this was the first time in which things did get a little heated, he even took back her TARDIS key, he was that pissed off with her. Although both of them raised vital points about the other, the ensuing confrontation came across as a little silly.

As for the man in question, who Rose risked her relationship with The Doctor for, I found myself liking Pete Tyler, even more than I’ve come to like Jackie and a lot more than I liked Jackie in our 1987 trip here. Expertly played by Shaun Dingwall, Pete isn’t quite the successful businessman Rose was brought up to believe he was.

Instead he’s a bit of chancer with daft money making schemes and according to an overly permed Jackie, something of a ladies man too. In other words, the guy is the kind of geezer you’d expect on EastEnders. Normally this kind of character would make me cringe and despite some incredibly clichéd dialogue, Pete remained a likeable presence throughout the episode.

Watching him and Rose slowly develop a bond over the hour was intense. We had some rather naff double entendres, Rose learning that her parents weren’t shy of public rows and Jackie realising slowly who she really was. Pete is supposed to be the one who’s dense but Jackie beats him to it. Some of these scenes were quite superb but others sort of missed the mark but for the most part, things were believable and we got some neat foreshadowing for future events.

Whether it was a young Mickey clinging onto an older Rose in the church or Jackie having The Doctor look after baby Rose. I laughed at Jackie’s comments of pitying the poor girl who ends up with Mickey when he’s older or even The Doctor being trusted by Jackie. Mostly though I liked the perceptiveness of Pete and how he realised that being alive had caused the world to alter, even though The Doctor didn’t tell him that.

Now onto the drawback of the episode. As a result of Rose saving her father, all the parishioners at Stuart and Sarah’s wedding (Jackie is a bridesmaid), some ghoulish creatures appropriately titled the Reapers start attacking the place, forcing The Doctor to barricade everyone in the church.

It seems the more time is disrupted with, the stronger they get. So thanks to Pete giving our Rose herself as a baby to hold, the Reapers manage to get inside and devour The Doctor and the TARDIS. I gasped at the moment and as baddies went, the Reapers are one of the more successful ones to date. Rose went through a gamut of guilt and although it was her fault, it was easy to still sympathise with her.

The highlight of the hour though was the last five minutes, culminating in Pete’s death. The guy escaped death and although if he had lived, he might have actually bettered himself as a person, he knew he had to die for things to be right in the world. Billie Piper and Shaun Dingwall worked wonderfully in that scene together as Rose had to watch her father die again without saving him.

The episode ended as it began with another narration from Rose on her father and a new version of her flashback with Jackie before our present day Rose and The Doctor headed back into the TARDIS, seemingly patching up their differences.

Also in “Father’s Day”

Pete Tyler was born on the 15th of September 1954, making him a Virgo and dying on the 7th of November 1987. He died when he was 33. His middle name was Alan and Jackie’s full name is Jacqueline Andrea Suzette Prentice.

Rose: “It’s just an ordinary day.”
The Doctor: “The past is another country. 1987’s just the Isle of Wight.”

Pete had a lot of Trophies, were they all for bowling? Most of the products he tried to flog looked naff though, especially the Vitex.

Rose: “That car was gonna kill you.”
Pete: “Well, give me some credit, I could see it coming.”

Pete: “So that wouldn’t be a mixed signal then at all?
Rose: “Absolutely not.”

I don’t think we actually got any “Bad Wolf” indicators in this episode, even though Rose caused this week’s chaos. We didn’t see it scrolled anyway and I don’t think any of the Reaper creatures made sounds indicating “Bad Wolf” either.

Stuart: “You seem to know what’s going on.”
The Doctor: “I give that impression.”

Was The Doctor lying when he said to Rose he had no idea of what to do with the Reapers or was he hoping both Rose and Pete would figure it out for themselves?

Jackie (to Pete): “The world’s about to end and what do you do? Cling to the youngest blonde?”

Rose: “Can’t do anything right, can I?”
The Doctor: “As you ask, no. So don’t touch the baby.”

I noticed there was a looping kind of effect with the car that killed Pete several times in the episode and how cool was the idea of using the very first phone call by Alexander Graham Bell in this episode?

Pete: “Who am I, love?”
Rose: “My Daddy.”

Standout music: We got both Rick Astley and The Streets. Not really a fan of both acts but I’m sure they are plenty of viewers who enjoyed the past/present contrast though.

While Dreamwatch had given “Father’s Day” a rather scathing review, I’ll admit they were right about some stuff. Although an interesting idea, like last week things are spoiled but instead of sloppy pacing, it’s too much sentimentality worthy of a soap that detracts an overall pleasant enough outing. It’s better than “The Long Game” but it could’ve been better itself.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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