Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Doctor's Daughter"

Hype about “The Doctor’s Daughter” got longtime fans in an early tizzy. Some were upset at the idea he would have a kid at all. Others were hoping for a heaping helping of geekery with the mother being some from the classic series. I had little emotion either way. Doctor Who has certainly adopted a more sexual tone with Ruseell T. Davies in charge, so fans out to be accustomed to the asexual tone of the old series flying out the window. I also have little attachment to the original series and get no big kick out of revisiting old continuity. But all that said, I still managed to be disappointed by the episode.

The daughter was introduced within the first forty-five seconds of the show when the Doctor is forced to give a tissue sample which winds up developing into a fully grown girl. She is ready for combat and nothing else in a generational war between humans and a fishlike race called the Hath. The war has been going on for so long, it has lost all meaning, but they continue to fight anyway in a quest to find some mythical item called the Source. The story barrels along at a breakneck pace as the Doctor inadvertently reveals the location of the Source to both sides, sparking off a final conflict in what is revealed to be, through wacky sci fi techno babble, a war that has only lasted seven days in actuality.

I could not help but think the script was nibbling at commentary on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The humans and Hath were once connected, but fighting broke out because their mutual leader was killed. They both had creation m6ths myths to explain why they were entitled to the Source, but it was only a excuse to continue fighting. The thirst for revenge had taken over. Note that the Bible says the jews and Arabs are the warring sons of Isaac and Ishmael. They both think Palestine is holy land. They both appear to be strong advocates of an eye for an eye philosophy at life. Take the ending as well, in which the source is revealed to a terraforming device which turns the war torn planet into a aradise to be shared by both sides. I assume that was meant to be a scold against Zionists to share their garden in the desert.

Cramming all that in while exploring the Doctor’s growth from being deadest against fatherhood to doting on his new girl was too much. Throw in a side issue with Martha Jones and the Hath which did not really need to be in there and you have a real mess. Donna was about the only bright spot. She convinces the Doctor to look at Jenny (as his daughter is dubbed) asmore than a genetic creation intended only to fight and die. She does so poignantly by making the Doctor listen listen to Jenny’s two heartbeats.

But it was clear something was going to have to happen to her. Once the Doctor decided she was going to leave with him and his companions on the TARDIS, she had to die. She does in one final act of vengeance by the human leader. While it lead to an angry moment between the Doctor and her killer, he used it to promote oacifism rather than expressing a whole lot of grief for his daughter’s death. Hedoes not even stay for her funeral. Convenient, considrting she partially regenerates and heads off on her own adventures. We will see her again, I am certain. But the Doctor could have nursed his broken hearts a bit longer than he did.

I did not go for this episode much. It was too crowded. You could have cut Martha Jones out altogether much like you could have in two of her three Torchwood appearances. Her sequences served to show things from the enemy’s perspective, but I saw little value in it. The plot about the generational war was too big to run alongside the doctor having a child. It was difficult to become emotionally invested in both, so I became invested in neither. The ending was also grossly predictable and took all the emotion out of it. If jenny winds up in a spin off, it will be cheapest move imaginable, regardless of seeing that cute little thing in her own series.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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