Sunday, May 11, 2008

Doctor Who - I'M YER DADDY!


Well, you can bump and grind
And it's good for your mind!
Well, you can twist and shout,
Let it all hang out!

Well you can tear a plane
In the fallin rain!
I drive a Rolls Royce,
Cause it's good for my voice!

But you won't fool the Children of the Revolution!
No, you won't fool the Children of the Revolution!
No you won't fool, no no!!

Think on that title. Cause I did. And after about five microseconds, worked out a plot - the Doctor arrives at some Area 51/Torchwood/Forge gene lab where some shithouse attempt to clone alien DNA creates a "daughter" who is dead before the episode is out. Whether or not the Master would be involved was niether here nor there. But then I see the trailer, where the Doctor notes this hot blonde comes from him and in a way he's rather embarrassed to talk about. And this is the man who keeps his severed hand in his living room. And RTD's utter refusal to discuss the episode. Not even a "it's gonna be brilliant". Even the title was pulled from his vice-like grip.

Could it be?

Susan's mum? Susan's aunt? Lady Larn's godfather? The sister of the Son of Doctor Who?

Well, I mused, fair enough. After all, it's become clear to me that the dislike for the Doctor having a family life is down to the fact that the only real evidence for this is Susan Foreman. And she's crap. Seriously. No dissing Carole Anne Ford for her sterling work, or the writers, but Susan is probably the least likely relative of the Doctor EVER. The Master being his brother is cheesy, unimaginative, boring... but it would make a kind of sense. They're similar enough to each other to put it down to family. Same age. But Susan?!

Imagine if the Doctor had a granddaughter, what would she be like? I'll tell you: Vicki. She'd like to travel through time and space, she wouldn't be so telepathic/alienated/rodentphobic she'd seem autistic, and the Doctor would enjoy her company. He likes Vicki, they share jokes, ideas, friendly arguments. Does that ever happen with Susan? There are a million and one stories where the First Doctor leaves Gallifrey with Susan, and not ONE of them has him take her by choice. Even Terrance Dicks has her following him against his wishes. The Doctor ultimately considers Susan something to worry about rather than someone to travel with. Even in the Peter Cushing movies, precocious genius Susie Who is a better bet for someone who grew up in the TARDIS. Wilf and Donna have a better relationship than the Doctor and Susan. No wonder he never goes back for her.

My only other thought was total surprise when, upon seeing said trailer, my parents immediately said that the hot blonde was the offspring of the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.


What? Even aside the whole ickiness factor of that coupling... does Georgina Moffat LOOK in ANY way like Elisabeth Sladen? And why Sarah? My childhood consisted of seasons 17 and 18, so you would have thought Romana would be the better bet for this girl's mum. I mean, SARAH?! They've watched The Sarah Jane Adventures, which make a rather big deal that Sarah had no children. Especially not blonde action heroes who sling uzi submachine guns over their scantily-clad shoulders and - whoops, entering Verkoff Files territory there. Jaysus.

On with the plot.

Our story continues from the ending of last week's intelligence-insulting episode: Martha is saying goodbye to Donna and the Doctor when the TARDIS doors slam in her face and the time machine shakes insanely. Martha assumes the Doctor has taken off in a childish attempt to stop her going (I'll hope she accuses him of this out of fear for what the other option might be rather than the Spartha-like rant it could be taken for). The Doctor insists the TARDIS is not under his control and they're taking off. The jar with his severed hand is boiling. As my parents note, there isn't much of a precedent for this now the Time Lords are gone... so why is the TARDIS under someone else's control and why is the hand glowing?

The TARDIS arrives in a junk-filled subway tunnel and no sooner have the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa... sorry, Donna and Martha (Adric/Luke bought it in an exploding spaceship last week)... emerged then they are arrested by machine-gun-wielding rebels led by the annoyingly girly bloke from Skins, the one that lusts after his teacher and drops babies. The one that's just annoying rather than outright hateable. The Doctor is forced to be "processed" and shoved into a frizzfrazzfuckingrtdrippingmeoffaHEM cloning machine that creates the blonde as a new soldier for the rebels. I think you can work out who she is by now.

If not: "She's my daughter!" "Hello, dad!" Eeeeeooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwww!

I have to say, I was pissed off. It turns out she was a clone. Like we all expected. I have to say I think I must have felt the sort of confusion casual ABC viewers must have had when they sat down to watch Fear Her, since the ads all suggested that the plot involved the Doctor letting slip he fathered Chloe Webber with all the emphasis on the "dad" scene. But then, ABC ads loved messing with our minds - the gang on Platform One were all the Doctor's personal friends in some demented future-UNIT era; the Doctor and Captain Jack being old enemies; the Tenth Doctor and Rose shagging; the Doctor deliberately creating Torchwood; the Doctor and Joan actually being married (the voiceover lady didn't notice 'it was all a dream'); and completely spoiling the plots for Daleks in Manhattan and every last bit of the season finale; not to mention Spaceman, Starman, Sympathy for the Devil and ELO being crucial parts of the story arc. Well, the last one, admittedly...

In a rather dodgy Red Dwarf gag, Donna names the clone Genetic Anomaly (or Jenny for short). The Doctor is unsurprisingly unhappy about Jenny's existence; since she is nothing more than a soldier with his genetic makeup - essentially a Sontaran, if you think about it - he has no paternal feelings whatsoever, much to Donna's amusement. Clearly child-rearing skills skip generations in the Noble family, she is the first to bitch she'll not have a family by cloning booth rather than the old fashioned way... but her turkey-baster joke is a bit extreme for Doctor Who, isn't it? And did Nerice LOOK the maternal type? Still, nice to know they made amends after the whole cheating-ex-fiance-shagging-giant-spiders thing...

Martha meanwhile is having her own adventures and, like Reset, showing us she's a lot better at this lark than most companions as she infiltrates the Hath camp with ease. Who are the Hath? Well, they look like something out of Star Wars, a topic fishman with tanks of bubbling fluid who cannot communicate in anything bar body language, but Martha still manages to get on their goodside and become a hero by her actions alone. Incredibly, she gets more to do in the first ten minutes of this episode than the last two-part story. Or the similarly-structured Torchwood eps. Is this why people keep sidelining her? She's too good?

Moffat's performance as the Doctor's Daughter is surprisingly good. How good? She's Soolin rather than Buffy.

Eerily, she does look related to Mr Tennant and does a great job mimicking his facial expression and vocal tics. I assumed if they tried anything like that it would be for the Fifth Doctor's mannerisms, but is curiously very much like the Second Romana when she thinks she's being insulted. Blonde hair, blue eyes... nah, it's just coincidence. Mind you, her hearts beat a lot faster than the Doctor's usually do, but then, she IS pretty excited at the time. And the idea of growing up in the company of the Doctor and Donna is properly explored in how Jenny behaves - in particular how she gets them out of trouble - and for the first time the 'Doctor and Donna married' gag actually seems relevent. The Doctor's palpable discomfort as his female companions keep trying to seduce their way out of trouble is a nice throwback to all those unseen adventures with Captain Jack. And if it pisses Lawrence Miles off, go ahead, girls, do a striptease while the Doctor reverses the polarity of the neutron flow, it worked in Farscape. And they had a disgusting septugenarian with a third eye do it rather than a possy of well fit babes!

...whoops, entering the Verkoff Zone again...

There is also some nice running themes from The Sontaran Stratagem, where the Doctor is shown to be more of a soldier than he'd like to admit, albeit one whose methods don't involve shooting your enemy as Plan A, which adds to the trauma since said story shows that the LAST thing the post-war Doctor wants to be is any kind of soldier. And his daughter is, as Donna notes, GI Jane and thrilled at being related to 'the ultimate soldier'. Any other fictional character would need hardcore therapy after this, but the Doctor manages to cope in a nice homage his relationship with his old pal Leela, and admittedly the Noble Savage (rather than the Savage Donna Noble) twigged after five minutes that the Doctor didn't LIKE her stabbing people. It takes Jenny at least six...

As for the other characters, I dunno. General Cob comes up with the most trite, contemptuously infantile language ever - "I've waited my whole life for this and I'm not going to let the Doctor stop it!" all said in a strange, "Ooh-ar" Pigbin Josh accent. But the dialogue between the regulars is as good as ever, and after the Sontarans its not like anyone would be going "ooh, how are going to portray a lifelong soldier convincingly?" So I assume Cob and his army's lack of interesting dialogue is to demonstrate how backward their society has become, rather like them using a theatre hall as a base of operations. A Theatre of War, you might say...

It's a relief that this story does some psychological good for the Doctor rather than harm - for the first time since, uh... well, a while, he's left completely helpless but this time there's a happy ending. No dead companions, wiped out civilizations or people he's tried to save and failed: rather than the near breakdown he has in Partners in Crime or The Fires of Pompeii, he is delighted as there is a happy ending, like the universe has decided to prove him wrong just this once. It's nice to have the Doctor happy again, for a disturbed individual like me it's almost permission to enjoy the story (yet this doesn't always work for some reason). So when he finally gets on with his daughter and agrees to take her aboard the TARDIS, alarms go off in my mind.

They're gonna kill her, aren't they? Right in front of him. Just to fuck him over that extra little bit. Cause killing Kylie Minogue... twice... just wasn't enough. He's got to be crying on the inside nowadays, hasn't he? There can never be anything but a phyrric victory, otherwise it's just plain unrealistic. They're going to murder her in cold blood, just for the hell of it.

(Mmm. Even Larry Miles thinks similar. I thought I was suicidally cynical? You ripping me off too, Mad Larry?)

And it looks like the generations-long war between the Hath and humanity has taken place over a week. Considering they're all Jenny-style clones, is it down to them thinking time is different - 20 generations a day - or is it they're so shortlived? Is Jenny already middle aged? Is she going to kark out ala Chip, and for maximum cruelty, just after everything's resolved?

They're gonna kill her...

And the Doctor and his gang of warrior babes run into the middle of the conflict just before either side can open fire, the Time Lord makes one desperate speech for peace and...

...fuck! Internet preview buffer's jammed! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!!

(one whacking with a hammer later)

Right, where where we? Oh yes and... and the Doctor's saved the day but General Cob is a psycho and shoots Jenny. Right in front of the Doctor. So she dies in his arms. Martha pronounces her dead, but the Doctor says, "No! She's like me, and..."

...fuck! Internet preview buffer's jammed! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!!

(one whacking with a hammer later)

And now the Doctor, sweating like hell, is aiming a handgun at Cob's head, panting with anger and...

...fuck! Internet preview buffer's jammed! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!! IS THIS A CONSPIRACY?!

(one whacking with a hammer later)

I'm not being funny or anything, but she's breathing... yet I don't think I'm supposed to notice, as the Doctor is saying goodbye to Martha. Hmm, the only other Time Lord dying in his arms and then saying goodbye to Martha with that music. "We're making a habit of this," the Doctor muses.

Too bloody right.

No, wait, elsewhere, there's the bloke from Skins and a Hath (for some reason I look at those two and see a Holmesian double act in the making) are getting Jenny ready for a funeral and she breathes out some kind of wierd light. Skins and Hatch exchange comedy 'huh?' looks as Jenny...

...fuck! Internet preview buffer's jammed! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!! THIS IS JUST FUCKING STUPID!!

(one whacking with a hammer later)

And she's back! Cloned DNA takes a little longer to restart and so Jenny's alive. But the Doctor thinks she's dead. So it's like Charley Pollard in reverse - we know it's happy ending but he doesn't! It's Shadow World upside down (bit of a AV reference there), and Ms Moffat does her best Androzani impression as she woozily steals a space ship and hurtles off to do stuff! And it's only a matter of time before she bumps into her dad again... after all, the actress has appeared in Doctor Who before, playing the cloned daughter of alien. Except that time it was an Ice Warrior in Red Dawn. So she'll be back. Well, if ROSE can manage it...

Thank God we got some kind of cheerful ending! Yet the reset button was still pressed (which is why everyone thought she was doomed, because we all know next week it's just Doctor and Donna), so everyone's happy! I'm happy! I'm completely happy with this episode and everything in it... like I was with The Lazarus Experiment. Mind you, there is a niggling question of WHY the Hath can't talk, like WHY prehistoric humans were giant-life-sucking scorpions... but I can deal! Happy ending, angsty Doctor, some emotional scars healed, no one dies... well, no speaking parts, and the promise of a sequel!

Anyway, as we get another alien planet, I have to boggle. Um, isn't this serious TV show supposed to find somewhere apart from a gravel pit to film? Krop'tor, Malcasserio, the Oodsphere, those planets in The Infinite Quest and now Messaline! ALL BLOODY QUARRIES! I honestly wouldn't complain except for the production team screaming night and day for the last few years that they dare not visit alien planets for fear of getting stigma for going back to the Quarry of Fear?! Well, it's obviously possible, SO GET THE HELL ON WITH IT!

Next Time: "If anyone can solve this, it's you!"
Celebrity Historical Versus B-Movie Monster time, with Agetha Christie up against giant wasps. Uh, OK. Let's just say if I were under attack from the Wirrn, I wouldn't turn to Steve Moffat to save my miserable life, you dig? Even though he is a brilliant and clever author. I have to say the CHVBMM never really grabs me, but Gareth Roberts repeatedly kicked me in the face with The Shakespeare Code, so this should be good too. But, after all the delicate un-uncanonizing in The Fires of Pompeii to keep BF canon, will they do the same here? Or was the Doctor just joking in Terra Firma when he listed Agetha as one of his past companions? Am I thinking too much? Could ANYTHING not appear to be a let down after meeting the Doctor's daughter, let alone a seemingly straightforward historical (watch the trailer for The Idiot's Lantern after the Cybermen story and tell me your heart don't sink)? Oh, but why couldn't Martha and Jenny stayed for a few more eps? WHY?!?


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