Doctor Who: The Doctor's Daughter

The Doctor: 'You need to get yourself a better dictionary. When you do, look up 'genocide.' You'll find a little picture of me there, and the caption'll read, 'Over my dead body.'"

This could have been a great episode. I loved the idea of the seven day war and the concept of two opposing armies, continuously being recreated, for the sole purpose of fighting a never ending war. I also liked the idea of the progenation machine taking the Doctor's diploid cells, splitting them into haploids and then recombining them to form Jenny—the Doctor's daughter. But the episode just wasn't long enough to do all of the plot elements justice. They should have either made it a two-parter, or shaved off some of the unnecessary plot divergences. It may have felt less rushed that way.

Atmosphere wise, this definitely felt reminiscent of the Tom Baker era, what with all the running around in darkened caverns, men in rubber suits pretending to be aliens, and solving problems with clockwork mice. Having Georgia Moffett (the fifth Doctor's real life daughter) play the tenth Doctor's on-screen daughter, also added to the feeling of continuity. But why was the Doctor's reaction to Jenny so odd? Normally he's fascinated by other beings, and if last season's 'Last of the Time Lords' taught us anything, it's how desperate The Doctor is to connect with someone of his own kind. Surely he should have embraced her as his daughter immediately?

I'm not even sure why he considered Jenny's birth so unnatural—wasn't he created in much the same way? Or isn't 'The Loom' strictly canon? Regardless, Jenny was both beautiful and kick-ass (so no complaints there)—though her metamorphosis from killing machine into running-around-the-place-trying-not-to-kill-people Time Lord felt a little rushed. It would surely have taken her more than ten minutes to overcome her programming? Still, her death was moving, and both Tennant and Moffett, respectively, turned in excellent performances, with the Doctor finally acknowledging Jenny as his daughter—just in time to watch her die.

Except she didn't. Rumour has it that it was at Steven Moffat's behest that she survive (a rumour he's neither denied, nor entirely confirmed), but if you're going to go to all that trouble of resurrecting her, then why not use her again? I'm writing this review half way through the 2009 season of specials, and we still haven't seen hide nor hair of her. (Excluding voice-over duties in 'Dreamland'.) Georgia Moffett has gone on record as saying she'd be more than willing to reprise the role—so why hasn't it happened? Why bring her back to life, have her escape, and then not use her again? It makes no sense.

Martha's storyline, sadly, felt a bit redundant. Despite being a soldier, it took her just five minutes to get captured by the Hath. Without all that cool UNIT training, she'd no doubt have been caught in two minutes. Likewise, the death of Peck seemed a touch contrived. I liked Peck as a character, but why didn't he hold onto Martha's leg for just a few seconds longer? She could have pulled him to safety with ease. He wasn't sinking that fast. It was almost as if they killed him for effect. Which of course is exactly what they did, and what this particular showrunner can't seem to stop himself from doing. Not everyone has to die, Russell. There are other dramatic devices designed to elicit pathos. Try one of those for a change.

Regardless, I'd like to see more of Jenny. She was flirtatious, brilliant and had a real zest for life. And now that the Doctor's got used to her being his daughter, there's the potential there for a great partnership to develop. Plus, she's almost a Time Lord, isn't she? Imagine the possibilities of that. He could teach her so much. Plus, I'd like to know why she didn't change form when she regenerated. There are so many unanswered questions and potential story tangents as yet unexplored. Let's hope they don't ignore the opportunity. In short: More Miss Moffett please, Mr Moffat!

Other Thoughts:

—How did Donna know that the Doctor had two hearts?

—Georgia Moffett is daughter of Peter Moffett (AKA Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor).

—The progenation machine was a neat way of giving the Doctor offspring without him actually having to have sex with anyone.

—I loved the part where Donna offered to use her feminine wiles on the soldiers—only to have the Doctor talk her out of it. Ouch!

—Georgia Moffett, as well as auditioning for a part in 'The Unicorn and the Wasp', was originally considered for the role of Rose.

—Hath Peck and Hath Gable? Presumably named after Gregory and Clark?

—So the progenation machine can create people, can it? Fully clothed people? Wearing makeup? That's some machine.

Billie says...

I agree with Paul that this should have been a two-parter, and yes, the instant soldier thing was way improbable, but I still liked Jenny a lot. She felt like a very young, very inexperienced, very enthusiastic version of the Doctor. I hope they eventually do bring her back. I also liked the Doctor's reaction to instant parenthood. He simply couldn't adjust that quickly, couldn't find the courage to risk his hearts again. The dynamic between them was quite nice.

Donna was again terrific, encouraging the Doctor to connect with Jenny, almost using her feminine wiles, and figuring out what the numbers meant. (I liked the idea of all the generations taking place in only seven days, no matter how improbable it was. Was it meant to be Biblical, too?) At one point, Donna said to the Doctor, "You talk all the time, but you don't say anything." Donna may have decided she wants to travel with the Doctor forever, but his secretiveness about his past is starting to bother her.

Martha, unfortunately, got the sticky end of the lollipop again, captured by fish people, trooping through the mud, getting caught in the local version of quicksand. Can't blame her for wanting to chuck it all.

Was the terraforming just for the humans? What were the Hath supposed to get out of it? They were cool-looking aliens, by the way. Much too kind to Martha for the bloodthirsty beings they were supposed to be, what with sacrificing themselves for her and all.

Quotes:

Doctor: "I don't know where we're going, but my old hand's very excited about it."
Donna: "I thought that was some bloody alien thing. You're telling me it's yours?"
Doctor: "Well..."
Martha: "It got cut off. He grew a new one."
Donna: "You are completely impossible!"
Doctor: "Not impossible. Just a bit unlikely."

Donna: "But... this is a theatre."
Doctor: "Maybe they're doing Miss Saigon."

Donna: "He saves planets, rescues civilizations, defeats terrible creatures... and runs a lot. Seriously, there is an outrageous amount of running involved."
---
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.

8 comments:

shawnlunn2002 said...

I liked this episode but I think it would've worked better as a two parter.

Jenny was a good character idea and Georgia Moffett was definitely fun in the role. I think she'll reappear at some point in the Moffat era. Maybe not straight away.

The Doctor's feckless dad routine was countered with Donna as the cool aunt.

You know I actually do feel for Martha this season. Her role in these last three episodes has been utterly thankless when you think about it.

The war elements were okay but other episodes have captured this theme better.

Mark Greig said...

It’s handy that BBC3 are currently repeating this season as your posting these reviews. Helps to refresh my rusty old memory. This has to be my least favourite story of series 4. Unlike Paul, Billie and Shawn I found the story too thin and don’t think there was enough here to justify expanding it to two-episodes. I honestly think they started with the buzz generating title first and worked backwards from there.

And Martha’s entire subplot was just pointless padding and stank of contractual obligation. It added nothing to the overall story and easily could’ve (and should’ve) been cut out at the script stage.

I liked the basic concept of Jenny but feel the best way to fully explore her relationship with the Doctor would’ve been to make her a full-time companion not kill her off at the end of the episode. Suddenly thrusting a child on the Doctor, no matter how soap opera-ish an idea, is a big deal and needed to be developed with care than was shown here. Hopefully if or when Jenny does return she’ll be in the more capable hands of the Steven Moffat.

Nazgul said...

The main "plot" elements of this episode didn't really do much for me, like others the episode felt a bit rushed. Funny, how an episode about a genocidal war compressed to 7 days could've used more time to tell the story better. The character stuff in this episode was brilliant though. Donna was so annoying in Runaway Bride but when she returned full-time she was outstanding, and this episode was a good example of it. She balanced out the Doctor very well, maybe more so than any of the other companions during RTD's run. And the character of Jenny was one of the real highlights of season 4. Georgia Moffett is gorgeous, charming, and talented, she made Jenny very easy to fall in love with, and made the Doctor's heartbreak at losing her so powerful. I hope Moffat does have plans to bring her back, I can't wait to see what she thinks of Dad's new look. :)

Billie Doux said...

I'm pleased to report that this review has been reproduced, with our permission, on a Georgia Moffett fan site:

http://www.georgiamoffett.co.uk/reviews/dd/dd-reviews/paul-kelly

Here's hoping we see Georgia in a future episode of Doctor Who.

Ben said...

Argh such a cheat. Calling an episode The Doctor's Daughter really smells like a devious way of pulling viewers, almost like they came up with the title before the actual plot.
Never got tired of Jenny. How could you though really? She's gorgeous and was on the whole an enjoyable charactor. Her ressurection made no sense at all either, added on at the end in such a way I do believe Moffatt asked for her to live. How can they bring her back without her regenerating. Erm... kind of simple.
The best bit about this ep, which wasn't the best by far in series 4, was David Tennant's performance. Steller as always, making the Doctor's moping about the Time War, which could have sounded tedious, heart felt and sad. I'm really going to miss him :(

Patryk said...

So the doctor's daughter can regenerate without changing actresses? ;) Nice ability to have.

Kenneth Serenyi said...

Kinda strange that the TARDIS didn't translate the Hath language. I thought that the Hath that drowned would come back later - his fish skills coming into play to save him from drowning.

Arie said...

I liked this one, and it's rather sweet to watch it all these years later and know that David Tennant and Georgia Moffet met here, and are now married with three children. I always enjoy the glimpses of what the Doctor went through during the Time War and I think one of the most enjoyable things about Tennant's performance is that he has the acting chops to pull off both the showmanship and light heartedness of the Doctor (or as Tennant said in a long ago interview "the running about and shouting in a tight suit") as well as these glimpses of the Doctor's pain filled past.