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Doctor Who: The Doctor Dances

Doctor: 'Go to your room. I mean it. I'm very, very angry with you. I'm very, very cross. Go to your room. [Pause] I'm really glad that worked. They would have been terrible last words.'

Not only would they have been terrible last words, they were a slightly ropey resolution to last week's cliffhanger. I suppose there was a modicum of logic to it, but it still feels like we were cheated. Still, not to worry—there was enough good stuff in tonight's episode to make up for its somewhat shaky start.

Despite Rose's burgeoning interesting in Captain Jack, the flames of romance were slightly dampened this week after Rose discovered that Jack was a con man. His intention was to sell them a broken down ambulance, under the pretence of it being a Chula warship, and then have it bombed out of existence before they could recover it. Unfortunately for Jack, the Doctor and Rose aren't stupid. Yet despite Jack's plan being exposed, it's virtually impossible to dislike him. He came clean in such a matter-of-fact way, that forgiveness seemed almost mandatory—a testament to Jack's charm and likability.

I'd already guessed that Jamie was Nancy's son. When she said to Ernie 'he always comes after me' it was obvious that he had some specific interest in her. Couple that with his frequent refrain of 'are you my mummy' and the truth was self-evident. And for once—everyone lived! This is the first episode of the new series where no one actually died, although we didn't really have a clearly defined villain. We were told about the Chula, but didn't see them, and the nanobots, although responsible for the 'deaths' of dozens, were only doing their job. There was nothing inherently malicious about them.

Bags of humour, too, this episode. The gun turning into a banana scene was fun, and I had to suppress a snigger when Jack called Rose 'flag girl' and the Doctor 'U-boat Captain'. Wow... yeah! I hadn't really noticed before, but yeah! In fact, this whole episode was chock-a-block full of witty banter. Having Captain Jack along certainly provided a nice opposite for the Doctor. Jack seemed to out-gun him in every department. Everything he had was better, or bigger, or slicker—which makes you wonder whether Jack's all front and no substance. Yet in the end he made the selfless choice, almost forfeiting his own life to save a bunch of folk he barely knew. Thank goodness the dancing Doctor saved him!

And it seems that no matter who catches Rose's eye, she always ends up going back to the Doctor. I loved it when she said 'I trust him because he's like you.' Perhaps not the best method of judging a person's character, but it was a nice sentiment, and demonstrated Rose's growing respect for the Doctor. He may not be as handsome as Captain Jack, he may not 'dance' as well, and his TARDIS may not be the babe-magnet that Jack's ship is—but the Doctor's dependable, loyal and heroic, and it's these qualities that keep Rose coming back.

Other Thoughts:

—It was revealed on Doctor Who Confidential (the making-of show that follows every broadcast episode) that 'dancing' is a metaphor for sex—hence the Doctor's offence at Rose's comment that he never dances.

—The German bomb that Jack was riding had 'schlechter wolf' stenciled on the side -- which when translated means... you guessed it... Bad Wolf!

—Both songs played in tonight's episode were Glenn Miller tunes: 'Moonlight Serenade' and 'In The Mood.'

Billie says...

The nanogenes and Nancy as the resolution of the story was okay; at least the Doctor saved the day for a change, instead of Rose, and I loved the Doctor's joy at the end that, this time, everybody lived. Including, fortunately, Captain Jack.

The best part of this episode, for me, was the Doctor, Rose, and Jack together. The chemistry was great, and the banter was a joy. The continuing banana joke reminded me of the skit on Monty Python about how to attack an opponent with a piece of fruit, and adding in the screwdriver made it a silly mine-is-bigger-than-yours take-off of the sex-as-dancing metaphor. It was quite cute. (I guess "The Doctor has had sex" didn't quite work as an episode title.)

Yes, Jack is too good to be true, but I really do love him. He told Rose and the Doctor the truth about his con, and he saved their lives. We learned that he used to be a time agent, and quit when he realized he'd lost two years of memories. Faced with certain death, he relaxed and accepted it, and toasted his death with a martini. I particularly loved Jack "distracting the guard" instead of Rose. And the way it was left, with Jack clearly wanting to cut in as the Doctor and Rose were dancing, made me wonder if Jack wants to "dance" with Rose or the Doctor? Probably both. While Rose, seeing the Doctor and Jack together, refocused on the Doctor. (Well, it is his show.)


Doctor: "Funny little human brains. How do you get around in those things?"
Rose: "When he's stressed, he likes to insult species."

Doctor: "Go, now! Don't drop the banana!"
Rose: "Why not?"
Doctor: "Good source of potassium!"

Captain Jack: "Who has a sonic screwdriver?"
Doctor: "I do."
Captain Jack: "Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, ooh, this could be a little more sonic?"
Doctor: "What, you've never been bored? Never had a long night? Never had a lot of cabinets to put up?"

Doctor: "Come on. Assets? Assets?"
Captain Jack: "Well, I've got a banana. And in a pinch, you could put up some shelves."

Doctor: "So where'd you pick this one up?"
Rose: "Doctor!"
Captain Jack: "She was hanging from a barrage balloon. I had an invisible spaceship. I never stood a chance."

Rose: "Okay, so he's vanished into thin air. Why is it always the great-looking ones who do that?"
Doctor: "I'm making an effort not to be insulted."
Rose: "I mean, men."
Doctor: "Okay, thanks. That really helped."

Rose: "Why don't you trust him?"
Doctor: "Why do you?"
Rose: "Saved my life. Bloke-wise, that's up there with flossing."

Rose: "You've got the moves? Show me your moves."
Doctor: "Rose, I'm trying to resonate concrete."
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.


  1. Great review. The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances are my favourite episodes from season 1. Although I'm surprised you found the "go to your room" scene ropey. Personally I thought that was one of the best scenes. I love that the Doctor dispatched an army of creepy monsters by telling them he's angry with them and sending them to their room. Maybe that's just me though.

    And I completely agree that Captain Jack is an awesome character. In a way I'm almost sorry he got his own series because I definitely would have liked seeing him interact with the Doctor more often. Of course we wouldn't have Torchwood then which would be a shame.

  2. Not much else I can think of to say, a brilliant episode and a brilliant review.

  3. "This is the first episode of the new series where no one's actually died, although, I suppose, we didn't really have a clearly defined villain this week. We were told about the Chula, but didn't see them. And the nanobots, although responsible for the "deaths" of dozens, were only doing their job. There was nothing inherently malicious about them."

    the best thing about steven moffat is the fact that he can write convincingly creepy horror stories in which not even single person gets actually killed. that's wonderful, original and makes me want to see more of that kind of thing. i mean, horror is, in 99% of cases, the most pessimistic genre of all - but it does not have to be!

  4. Very exceptional episode. Moffat at his best and Jack was just excellent thoughtout, wasn't he?

    The Doctor saving the day makes a nice change.

    I don't know if anyone else has heard but there's another animated series with David Tennant, Georgia Moffett, Lisa Bowerman due for Autum, prior to The Waters Of Mars airing.

  5. Hi Shawn,

    No, I didn't know that. Thanks for the tip-off. I did hear however that Tennant's to appear in the Sarah Jane Adventures, later this year....

    Tennant to appear in Who spin-off

  6. I heard about DT appearing on TSJA yesterday, which is great (maybe we'll get him on Torchwood, I can dream) because I plan to reviewing that for my own blog.

    BTW the animated series is called Dreamland and Georgia Moffett is playing a character (one shot companion?) called Cassie Rice, not Jenny.

    Should be fun.

  7. I agree with michal.dvorak.
    Tjhe resolution to the cliffhanger was almost pure genius in my opinion :D

  8. p.s.: who did invent Capt. Jack?
    RTD or Steven Moffat?

  9. Hi Daniel,

    RTD created Jack Harkness. But SM was responsible for his dialogue/development this episode.


  10. And the 2nd part of a great 2 parter for the 9th Doctor. This duo and Dalek really made this first season for me, good stuff all around.

    I find it interesting that both classic and new Who have such uneven quality to the stories/episodes. I shouldn't be surprised since both have multiple writers, multiple performers, and so on, but it does still strike me as the more things change, the more they stay the same.


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