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Doctor Who: The Empty Child

Rose: 'Not very Spock, is it? Just asking.'

Well, Rose finally got to meet her Spock—and kind of went to pieces over him. I'm not gay, but I suspect that if I were (or a woman for that matter), then I'd probably go to pieces over him, too. Captain Jack Harkness (played by the impossibly handsome John Barrowman) is clearly one fine looking human—and he's everything that the Doctor isn't. He has a sexy spaceship, better (not to mention bigger) sonic equipment—in fact, he has all the trappings of a intergalactic hero. Even the way he wears his criminality is oddly charming. The man's damn near perfect.

Of course, shame on Rose for falling for him. What is it with her and that wandering eye? Initially she left boyfriend Mickey for the Doctor, a man with whom she has a currently undetermined fascination; then, in 'Dalek' she got all down and flirty with pretty boy Adam; and now, here she is falling for Captain Jack's rather smooth spiel and getting all breathless in the process. I guess geniuses (or maybe that's genii), and spacemen, are just Rose's type.

A very atmospheric tale tonight, with some genuinely eerie moments. War-torn London looked spectacular, and I enjoyed Rose's barrage balloon antics—but what on earth was she thinking, climbing up some random rope that just so happened to be hanging from the sky? Are barrage balloons seriously tethered with rope? I thought they were fastened by big steel cables. Likewise, why did she go after that spooky bemasked child without the Doctor? If I'd seen what Rose has seen these past few weeks, I'd be viewing every situation with extreme caution. Nothing is ever as it seems.

A lot was said when this season first aired about Russell T. Davies and his supposedly gay agenda—which makes it all the more amusing that the episode which first introduces the overtly omni-sexual Captain Jack, was written by Steven Moffat. I don't recall anyone complaining about his a gay agenda—but that's probably because he's not gay. It's amazing how gay writers who write about gay characters have a gay agenda, yet straight writers who write about gay characters are just talented writers. Go figure!

Richard Wilson put in a sterling performance as Dr Constantine. Richard's in just about everything these days. Older British viewers may recognize him as cantankerous old fart Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave, and some of our younger viewers will no doubt recognise him from the current BBC series Merlin, or from new ITV show Demons (where he plays Father Simeon). I did NOT expect that gas mask to come out of his face! That was some impressive CGI.

I thought Eccleston made a decent effort too of the comedy. I'll be honest, I laugh more at his facial expressions than I do his delivery, but his 'thanks Miss' quip around the dinner table was both unexpected and jolly. It was also clever of Moffat to include a few digs at Eccleston's facial characteristics ('Do your ears have special powers too?'). That made me feel a little less guilty about laughing at Eccleston's somewhat unusual features.

Other Thoughts:

—The Doctor's response of 'I know the feeling' to Constantine's comment about once being a father and a grandfather is, I'm guessing, a reference to his granddaughter Susan Foreman—the Doctor's first companion.

—I probably don't have to mention the significance of the Spock reference. So, in not doing so, I just did.

—The name Chula comes from a restaurant in Hammersmith, where the writers used to congregate to discuss scripts.

Billie says...

Yes, I'm going to gush about Captain Jack. Because I love him. I'm not at all surprised that the producers of this show fell over themselves creating a spinoff series for him. John Barrowman is one of those actors that just jumps off the screen; he's as charismatic as he is beautiful, and he's remarkably beautiful. A friend of mine described him as a bombshell.

And yes, unfortunately, Captain Jack did make the Doctor seem stodgy and older. I wasn't surprised that Rose was literally swept off her feet. Loved the flirtatious psychic paper scene in Captain Jack's ship. I also loved Rose asking Jack for the time while they were suspended in air a couple of feet from Big Ben.

Captain Jack was established as bisexual in his first sixty seconds onscreen. Has to be a new world record. And it just works for the character.

"Are you my mummy?" started out creepy but quickly got annoying, although the gas mask being fused to the skin managed to get even creepier as it turned out to be catching. I thought it was a great World War II-related way to make people look alien without an actual bug-eyed monster mask or make-up. I also liked Rose in a Union Jack tee shirt hanging from a barrage balloon in London in the middle of the blitz, as improbable as it was. Hey, it was fun. And there was something appealing about those homeless kids stealing a sit-down meal as the bombs were falling.

All in all, a great part one that made me more than ready for part two.


Rose: "What's the emergency?"
Doctor: "It's mauve."
Rose: "Mauve?"
Doctor: "Universally recognised colour for danger."
Rose: "What happened to red?"
Doctor: "That's just humans. By everyone elses's standards, red's camp."

Doctor: "Know how long you can knock around space without happening to bump into Earth?"
Rose: "Five days? Or is that when we're out of milk?"

Rose: "I think you should do a scan for alien tech. Give me some Spock for once. Would it kill you?"

Captain Jack: "Can you switch off your cell phone? No, seriously. It interferes with my instruments."
Rose: "No one ever believes that."

Nancy: "Something wrong with that?"
Doctor: "Wrong with it? It's brilliant. I'm not sure if it's Marxism in action or a West End musical."

Doctor: "I want to find a blonde in a Union Jack. I mean, a specific one. I didn't just wake up this morning with a craving."

Rose: "Okay, you have an invisible spaceship."
Captain Jack: "Yeah."
Rose: "Tethered up to Big Ben for some reason."
Captain Jack: "First rule of active camouflage. Park somewhere you'll remember."

Dr Constantine: "Before this war began, I was both a father and a grandfather. Now I'm neither. But I'm still a doctor."
Doctor: "Yeah. I know the feeling."

Captain Jack: "It's a real pleasure to meet you, Mr Spock." (leaves)
Doctor: "Mr Spock?"
Rose: "What was I supposed to say? You don't have a name. Don't you ever get tired of 'doctor'? Doctor who?"
Doctor: "Nine centuries in, I'm coping."
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.


  1. I loved this episode. What a perfect way to introduce Jack and the main story is so evocative and creepy. No wonder come 2010 Steven Moffat is going to be taking over the series.

    As for the gay agenda thing, it's dumb. If I went around accusing other shows of having a straight agenda, I'd be ridiculed but it's okay for others to accuse Doctor Who of having a gay agenda. Whatever.

  2. Wow, this was an awesome episode. I've loved Steven Moffat since Coupling (the UK version, mind you). He has a real feeling for comedy, and apparently for horror as well. Blink was also written by him.

    2010 is going to be great for Doctor Who!

  3. This is one of my favourite stories. Steven Moffat is without a doubt, after the mighty Bob Holmes, the show’s best writer. He created Press Gang for Christ’s sake. This story is just brilliant, witty, emotional, exciting, scary, patriotic, tiny bit saucy with a great and full realized World War II setting. For some reason Who, old and new, has always worked best in a period setting, especially the late Victorian/early Edwardian period, mainly because the Doctor is pretty much the Sherlock Holmes of sci-fi.

    As for the whole ‘gay agenda’ hoopla it’s nothing more than hypocrisy in action. I mean, why is it you hear about heterosexual writers having a straight agenda. Still, would be a lot worse if Mary Whitehouse was still around to moan. Forget gay agendas she’d complain about the Doctor holding Rose’s hand far too often, “Think of the children! Will no one think of the children!” :D

  4. Nice review guys. Best two parter of the season!

  5. This is good stuff. I'm actually not a huge fan of Captain Jack, as he comes off a bit too good at everything here, but he can be highly amusing, so I don't dislike him. This is a great episode and part of a solid 2-parter.

    It's always eye-rolling when people complain about stuff like a 'gay agenda'. It's never bothered me as a straight white guy, and it doesn't bug me here. And like Mark posted about a couple classic stories with Ace, I'm actually annoyed she never got the girl when she had at least 2 solid opportunities for that!

    This feels a bit classic-y in many good ways as until you see what's going on it's not immediately evident what on Earth is actually happening. One of my favorite modern stories for sure!


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