Tuesday, July 07, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 4x06: "The Doctor's Daughter"

Written by Stephen Greenhorn
Directed by Alice Troughton

The Doctor (re Jenny): “Donna, will you tell her?”
Donna: “Oh you are speechless. I’m loving this. You keep on Jenny.”

Well if there was an episode that more or less stated the obvious in terms of what would be happening in an episode of Doctor Who, then this is definitely it. Yes, it’s very episode people have been looking forward to and dreading at the same time. I can’t speak for everyone else but my overall stance is positive.

Given that last week’s disappointing conclusion to the Sontaran two-parter ended with The Doctor, Donna and Martha being taken by the TARDIS, it’s amazing how little it takes for Martha to comment on the excitement of the hand. Well it was the same thing that Captain Jack kept for two years and also the same thing that The Master was able to use to his advantage so point for being worried.

Donna’s reaction is funny. Six episodes into her tenure on the TARDIS and she’s still learning more and more about being with The Doctor. As for the hand’s crazy behaviour, it soon manages to stop upon their arrival on Messaline.

Done with earth stories, it’s nice to see this episode based on a planet. Granted for the first half we’re underground but I’m liking the idea of less earth based stories this season. However the first thing that happens is that as soon as the TARDIS, there are soldiers afoot so it’s obvious that war is playing its part in this journey.

There are plenty of welcomes that The Doctor could’ve anticipated. Equally as annoying as a gun to the head, a soldier named Cline has The Doctor processed. Less icky than it sounds, the flipside is that this procedure involves tissue samples into making more soldiers.

Over the last week and a half, there were extensive theories as to what Jenny would be. Some people did go with the test tube baby theory and others thought that like The Master, Jenny might have been the real deal and clever enough to have survived the Time War. If I’m being honest, I flipped back and forth and it seems that Jenny herself could be a mixture of both options.

Her first reaction upon seeing her father is a cheeky wink but seeing as Jenny’s ‘birth’ comes at the same time a fish/humanoid race called the Hath are getting ready to fight, the girl’s first impulse is to blow up stuff. All this happens while one of the Hath manages to kidnap Martha.

One of the things I hated about the last episode was Martha having barely anything to do and to be honest I didn’t like that she was so easily captured here either. That Hath certainly didn’t waste time and Martha didn’t exactly put up much of a struggle either.

Fortunately both The Doctor and Donna are determined to get her back and Donna rips Jenny a new one when the trigger happy girl dismisses Martha as collateral damage. Yeah for me that is probably the only thing Jenny says in the episode that annoyed me. Everything else she says or does is fine in my book.

However it seems that Martha isn’t really in that big of danger. Sure the Hath might have snatched her but she’s soon fixing its arm and generally being sympathetic to the species. One thing that is establish fairly quickly is that both the human and Hath factions are as bad as each other.

The Doctor, Donna and Jenny are also making some of their own discoveries too. General Cobb is leading the humans into ending the war and finding a significant thing called The Source. Being something of a broken record, The Doctor goes off on one of his anti-war stances for the billionth time but instead of being listened to, he manages to get himself, Donna and Jenny locked up instead.

At least prison time has some advantages. While both the Hath and the humans are heading to the same temple to find The Source, Donna finds a way of continuing her amazing streak. Instead of the war factors, Donna feels that The Doctor should get to know Jenny a lot. Naturally his enthusiasm for this isn’t particularly.

The Doctor might view himself as a pacifist but Jenny uses every opportunity and every defence he has to show him that he can be quite the foot soldier when he wants to be. In fact Jenny doesn’t particularly respond well when The Doctor goes on the offensive and keeps dismissing the idea that they are biologically related.

Fortunately however, Jenny’s method of escape is a little less intense. Seducing a gullible Cline was a nice move, especially when Donna quips about her own feminine wiles. Joe Dempsie, while not actually given a lot to do in the episode is adequate in the soldier’s role and General Cobb does find Cline bound and gagged a while after The Doctor, Donna and Jenny have managed to escape.

Sadly though any sympathy for General Cobb does seem to evaporate really quickly. He’s so into this war that no amount of reasoning from The Doctor is enough to dissuade. Times like this even I wonder why The Doctor tries to reason with war obsessed sociopaths like Cobb. He would’ve been better either arresting or killing the man instead of trying to appeal to his better nature.

Still are some incredibly wonderful moments with The Doctor and Donna. While some people might find her determination to accept Jenny as his daughter somewhat moralising, you have to admit that once again, Catherine Tate is given some delicious lines. There are also a few parallels to The Doctor and Jenny that do see him warming to the idea of having a child.

For instance for all of her violence, you have to admire Jenny’s ability to literally be able to kick butt during the start of the episode and it was also rather superb with how she put her gymnastic skills to good use in order to get past a series of laser alarms. Donna’s reactions to Jenny’s skills was also neat.

In fact Donna’s total lack of jealousy is still constantly a breath of fresh. I know a lot of it is down to the lack of sexual designs she has on The Doctor but I do love much she warms to the girl and even how she compliments Jenny for being able to challenge The Doctor at every given point. It’s like she’s taking on the role of cool aunt with the girl.

Georgia Moffett is a wonderful piece of casting in the role of Jenny. Although it’s incredibly hard to ignore the fact that she’s the real life daughter of Fifth Doctor actor Peter Davison, the girl is absolutely electric on screen and wonderfully holds her own against David Tennant. It’s great that we didn’t have to wait too long for The Doctor to want to connect with Jenny.

In fact when he’s not telling Donna about being a parent beforehand, both she and Jenny get an edited but effective version of what happened in the Time War. Seeing Jenny reignites a lot of those feelings in the same way that seeing The Master did too. Something tells me with the continued mentions of that particular period in The Doctor’s life that we may finally get something on it.

As for Martha, well she manages to encourage a Hath called Peck to help her find The Source but sadly for her she nearly gets killed in a bog and when her life is saved, Peck ends up being the goner. Although Freema Agyeman has better material here than in “The Poison Sky”, Martha’s experiences still feel more negative.

Still at least Martha is reunited with The Doctor, Donna and Jenny shortly afterwards and then the four of them find The Source. If the generation long war only lasting a week wasn’t shocking, then The Source being a device to make Messaline more habitable is pleasant.

With all the war in this episode, it’s nice that the major thing is an object of peace. The Doctor releasing it into the air was his own way of getting both the humans and the Hath to settle their differences but if the episode has one real negative stroke against it, then it’s the ‘death’ of Jenny.

This seems to be an ongoing thing in this series. As soon as The Doctor finds someone like him (aka Time Lord), they have to die. General Cobb shot Jenny as she protected her father and while the ‘death’ scene isn’t as affecting as the one in “Last Of The Time Lords”, both Tennant and Moffett knock it out of the ball park.

It’s also nice to see Jenny’s ‘death’ produce a near violent reaction from The Doctor. I was weirdly delighted to see him point a gun to General Cobb’s head and while I knew he wouldn’t go through with it, I think as viewers we needed to see that level of impact.

You feel bad for The Doctor. Once again he’s under the impression that he’s the last of his kind and also some of this sadness plays a part when he has to say goodbye to Martha. At least her goodbye in this episode is more concentrate on than when she was in Torchwood but her warning to Donna makes me shudder a little.

As for Jenny, it seems you just can’t keep a good soldier. Her father’s barely left Messaline and she’s already scaring the crap out of a Hath and Cline by suddenly coming alive. However this doesn’t mean through regeneration and to prove that she really is her father’s daughter, the first thing she does it to take off.

Stephen Greenhorn who wrote this episode did warn that some viewers might not like it. Perhaps he meant the fact that with Jenny still around, The Doctor really isn’t the last of his kind. Then again I’m still unconvinced that The Master is dead, so that would effectively make three Time Lords still breathing.

Also in “The Doctor’s Daughter”

This episode aired at 6.45pm and from next week onwards the series is going back to its regular 7pm slot.

Martha: “Oh I love this bit.”
Donna: “I thought you wanted to go home?”

It was interesting to see Martha dressed in the same way that she usually was in Season Three – except for cream leather jacket of course.

Donna: “How? Who is she?”
The Doctor: “Well she’s, she’s my daughter.”
Jenny: “Hello Dad.”

The Doctor: “But they’ve got my friend.”
Jenny: “Collateral damage. At least you’ve still got her. He’s lost both his men. I’d say you’d came out ahead.”
Donna: “Her name is Martha and she’s not collateral damage, not for anyone. Have you got that, GI Jane?”

Donna is the very person who gives Jenny her name after The Doctor explains how the girl came to be.

Donna: “This is a theatre”.
The Doctor: “Maybe they’re doing Miss Saigon.”

Jenny (to Donna, re The Doctor): “You’re no better than him. I have a body, I have a mind. I have independent thought. How am I not real? What makes you better than me?”

Georgia Moffett was originally supposed to be in the next episode “The Unicorn And The Wasp”. She also auditioned for the role of Rose Tyler back in 2004.

Donna: “So The Source could be a weapon and you’ve given directions to Captain Nutjob.”
The Doctor: “Oh yes.”

Jenny (to Cline): “Keep quiet and open the door.”
Donna (to The Doctor): “I’d like to see you try that.”

Messaline looks very similar enough to Malcassairo in “Utopia”. It’s not the only similarity as well.

The Doctor: “Killing after a while it affects you. Once it does, you’re never rid of it.”
Jenny: “But we don’t have a choice.”
The Doctor: “There’s always a choice.”
Jenny: “I’m sorry.”

The Doctor: “Jenny, I can’t.”
Jenny: “I have to manage on my own. Watch and learn father.”

Donna uses her temping skills yet again to figure out the whole generations of the war on this planet. I loved The Doctor complimenting her on it too.

The Doctor (to Jenny): “Careful, there might be traps.”
Donna: “Kids. They never listen.”

Donna: “You’re filthy. What happened?”
Martha: “I took the surface route.”

I noticed that a good chunk of the Doctor Who Confidential dedicated some of it’s time to “Time Crash”. I enjoyed seeing Peter Davison’s reaction to finding out exactly what role Georgia Moffett was playing in this episode.

The Doctor: “We can go anywhere, everywhere. You choose.”
Jenny: “Sounds good.”
The Doctor: “You’re my daughter and we’ve only just started. You’re going to be great. You’re going to be more than great. You’re going to be amazing, do you hear me? Jenny?”

The Doctor (to everyone): “I never would. Have you got that? I never would. When you start this world of humans and Hath you remember to make the foundations of this society, a man that never would.”

Did anyone notice a lot of the music in this episode was remixed from both “Utopia” and “Last Of The Time Lords”?

Donna (to Martha, re The Doctor): “How can I go back to normal life after this? I’m gonna travel with that man forever.”

Cline: “But where are you going?”
Jenny: “Oh I’ve got the whole universe. Planets to save, civilisations to rescue, creatures to defeat and an awful lot of running to do.”

Martha landed outside of her house. I thought for a second we might have seen either Tom or her family.

Although some people are inclined to disagree, I absolutely loved “The Doctor’s Daughter”. It’s easily one of my favourite episodes of the series and while we could’ve gotten a few more arc related clues (besides a Time War mention), this episode barely stopped for breath and what are the odds that with Jenny alive, that we won’t see her in the season finale?

Rating: 10 out of 10.

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