Monday, June 29, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 1x10: "The Doctor Dances"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by James Hawes

The Doctor (to Rose/Captain Jack): “I’m really glad that worked. Those would’ve been terrible last words.”

Amazingly it’s been a good while since I’ve heard the words “go to your room” in a parental tone and the opening sequence to part two of this brilliant adventure only got better and better. An impossible feat you might think but a fact.

Briefly escaping the clutches of the infected hospital staff and patients in Albion Hospital, we got some very nice moments with The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack as more about our mysterious former Time Agent was unravelled.

So Captain Jack has a thing for conning other Time Agents with useless items of junk which he masquerades as valuable ships etc, gets half paid and destroys the evidence and commiserates with the latest buyer that he’s duped in parting with his cash?

Not exactly a very nice thing to do but it does seem that both the scriptwriter and the lovely John Barrowman are pretty determined to make us like Captain Jack, so much that Jack manages to teleport The Doctor and Rose safely away from The Empty People to his invisible spaceship. You know after we get some fake out moments with our trio in peril of course.

Although learning more of Captain Jack’s past makes Rose a little cautious of him, is it that big of a shock that The Doctor is a little less eager to trust him? Honestly, not within the slightest.

The con artist thing aside, Captain Jack seems to know a lot about different technologies and even The Doctor can’t help but feel suspicious and rather threatened by this and with Rose being constantly impressed by Jack. She notes how both men are rather alike and it begs the question – just how much alike are they really?

The Doctor is alien, the last of his species whereas Captain Jack is one part of his species. When The Doctor dies, he regenerates and then looks like someone else, we don’t know what happens to Jack, assuming for a second that he might not be human. The Doctor remembers all his 900 plus years of time travelling while Jack has had two years of his life and memories erased, like Sydney Bristow in Alias.

Jack also made a point of noting that The Doctor might have good reasons to not trust him and keeping with the Alias comparison, Captain Jack could’ve actually have been a bad guy or kidnapped and brainwashed by other Time Agents (or someone or something else) into committing evil acts.

I definitely want answers to this sooner rather than later, especially if he’s going to be a permanent fixture from now on. Can you tell from this review that Jack being a regular is a good thing in my books?

To recap, my reasons for liking Captain Jack are quite simple. He may be a bit of a scamp but there’s an irresistible charm to this guy’s presence. Not only was Jack’s interplay with Rose fun to watch but the dynamic between him and The Doctor is superb.

It’s kind of a platonic love/hate/mutual respect type of relationship with these two and John Barrowman and Christopher Eccleston are great to watch and The Doctor could do with another bloke to bounce off.

The Doctor is still the most knowledgeable of the bunch but I can’t wait to see our duo now become a trio. Hopefully Jack will fare out better than Adam ever did and it’s nice that this show continues to show ambition and a desire to shake up the format, although old series have featured more than one companion with The Doctor at a time.

Also if there’s another reason why Jack should stay, it’s because that even though he was a little responsible for the Nanogenes in that fake ambulance (his junk not being so useless after all) mutating all and sundry who have interacted with Jamie into Empty People/Gas Mask people, he did his best to amend the situation by containing the bomb and faced with no way of escaping, he was willing to take his death gracefully. Thankfully with much chiding from Rose, The Doctor put his suspicions aside and rescued Jack.

Even better news and nonchalantly thrown in, it also turns out that Jack is bisexual when he volunteers to distract Algy at the railway station where the bomb was hidden. Rose’s reaction to this revelation is nothing short of priceless. Can this guy get any better?

As for The Empty Child storyline, it’s revealed that all along it’s been Nancy who was responsible for his hungry pursuit of his mother. It’s not a real shock to learn that Nancy is his Mum, especially given how she left the other kids to protect them and freaked out when she was chained beside an infected soldier at the railway station.

Florence Hoath is a delight and Nancy’s final acceptance of her responsibility as Jamie’s mother by admitting it to her lost child is touching. All the time while I was watching this two part instalment, I never viewed the Empty People as villains and Nancy’s plight of being teenage single parent is a realistic issue, dealt wonderfully here through fantasy and slight metaphor.

The end result had the Nanogenes reversing their own effects and everyone restored to their human status. The Doctor acts like its Christmas and in fairness, he’s not exactly wrong with feeling that way.

The episode ends on a fantastic note as our Time Lord shows both Captain Jack and Rose inside the TARDIS that he certainly can dance.

Also in “The Doctor Dances”

Because this is part two of a two part story, the “Previously On” bit was back. They don’t use them as much as other shows are likely to, do they?

Rose (to Captain Jack): “When he’s stressed, he likes to insult species.”
The Doctor: “Rose, I’m thinking.”

Captain Jack’s weapon was a sonic blaster, who could be used as a sonic cannon or disruptor. The joke with The Doctor swapping it with a banana during an attack was a little amusing. I think he was paying Jack back for the showing off earlier on.

Rose (re Captain Jack disappearing): “Why is it always the great looking ones who always do that?”
Doctor: “I’m making an effort not to be insulted here.”

Character bits: Jack used an on-com to communicate with The Doctor and Rose, he’s from the 51st Century and his ship is a Tula one, like the one he tried to con beforehand.

Rose (to The Doctor): “You got the moves? Show me your moves!”

The Doctor: “We were talking about dancing.”
Captain Jack: “It didn’t look like talking.”
Rose: “Didn’t feel like dancing.”

The “Bad Wolf” logo appears in German on the bomb that Jack dispatched. What is the connection with these two words?

The Doctor (re Captain Jack): “He’s a 51st Century guy who’s a little more flexible when it comes to dancing.”
Rose: “How flexible?”

There were a few gay connections in this episode. Jack confessed to sleeping with two of his executioners and Nancy blackmailed Mr Lloyd into letting her loot his house because of an affair.

Nancy: “Tell me, do you think that there is anything I couldn’t believe?”
Rose: “We’re time travellers.”

The Empty Child/Jamie: “Are you my Mummy?”
Nancy: “Yes, yes I am your Mummy.”

The Doctor made a reference about Rose and a bike when she was twelve years old. Thinking of “Father’s Day”, it isn’t an accident that she’s his latest assistant.

The Doctor: “Everybody lives, Rose. Just this once!”

Captain Jack (re the TARDIS): “Much bigger on the outside.”
The Doctor: “You better be.”

Standout music: “Moonlight Serenade” and “In The Mood” by Glenn Miller. Even the latter got me in the mood for dancing.

After such a spectacular first episode, “The Doctor Dances” is not only on a par but it is actually better than “The Empty Child”. The wonderful characterisation, the heartfelt moments and restoration of the Nanogenes victims, aided by an uplifting message from The Doctor and all that dancing at the end. Fantastic!

Rating: 10 out of 10.

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