Friday, August 22, 2014

Doctor Who--"Father's Day"

Here’s another episode I have heard a lot of buzz about since its first airing last year in the United Kingdom. It was quite moving, even painful at times for personal reasons, even with some of the logical inconsistencies and Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor being even more of a misanthropic jerk than usual. I’ll take these points one at a time after a quick recap.

The story begins with Rose recounting her father’s death in 1987. She describes him as “the most wonderful man in the world” and requests the Doctor travel back to the day of his hit and run accident so he will not be alone when he dies. The Doctor reluctantly agrees. In 1987, they watch the accident occur, but Rose cannot bring herself to approach her father. She asks the Doctor if they can do this again. He is wary, but agrees. This time, though, Rose takes it upo herself to push her father out of the speeding car’s path, saving his life. The Doctor is incredibly angry that he has picked another “stupid ape” as his companion and takes her TARDIS key. He laves to sulk in the TARDIS but discovers it no longer works. What‘s worse, some creatures are materializing around the scene where Pete Tyler should have died and are killing everyone in sight.

Pete was on his way to a wedding and rose tags along. There they meet up with Jackie and an infant Rose. Jackie eyes Rose up and down, assuming she is another of Pete’s affairs. She and Jack argue bitterly while rose sorrowfully realizes her parents didn’t have the happy relationship she always believed they did. The doctor arrives screaming for everyone to get inside the church just as the winged reptillian creatures appear and kill several more people. The doctor barricades everyone in the church and tells them that since the church is old, they will be safe for a while. He explains to rose that the continued existence of her father has caused a wound in time and these creatures are destroying everyone near the wound in an attempt to fix things. Normally, when history has been interfered with, the TARDIS shuts down at the “scene of the crime” and the other Time Lords would handle the creatures. Now there are no Time Lords left.

After some personal moments in which the Doctor assures the bride and groom he’ll save them 9and tells rose how stupid she is. Thanks, Sawbones.) Pete realizes the grown up Rose is his daughter. Jackie is still mad, but when Pete tells her who Rose really is, he hands the infant Rose to the adult Rose creating another wound in time. This wound allows a creature to materialize in the church. The creature kills the Doctor.

As Rose mourns, Pete stares out the window and watches the same car that should have killed him repeating the same trip down the road and disappearing over and over again. He’d noticed it before, but the doctor told him it was nothing. It puzzles me why, considering that pete immediately realizes the only way to restore things is to be killed by the hit and run driver. He rushes out of the church an jumped right in front of the car. Rose watches the whole thing horrified as the Doctor reappears beside her. He tells her to go to him. Her dad dies in her arms as everything returns to normal.

I’m sure everyone has played around with the idea of being able to change some past event for the better if they could. For all the rotten things that have happened to me, I have always risen above it only in recent years I have I ever really wished I could go back and do some thins again. That’s the danger of having too much time to think. I do not need some frivolous science fiction show to tell me things would not necessarily turned out for the better. Like Rose, who discovered her parents had feet of clay, I understand there are no ideal circumstances even if you envision how good things would be if you could just change one thing for the “better.” That’s a depressing thought even for an avowed fatalist like yours truly.

On a happier note, you had to ignore some logical problems in order to follow the plot. The key question is why is it all right to prevent Queen Victoria from being bitten by a werewolf but not all right to save Pete Tyler? The Doctor says Rose shouldn’t have made a move to change history because only he knows what he’s doing. That can’t be true. Past companions have altered history. Even the Daleks have manipulated time. Frankly, if only the Doctor knows what he is doing by traveling to the past, then he shouldn’t have a companion at all. Wouldn’t a companion’s mere presence in a place she shouldn’t be affect events? I’d think so. But this is the whole paradox of time travel that science fiction and comic books have to gloss over in order to be entertaining. After “Dalek” I wonder how the Time Lords could all be dead when at any given moment (relatively speaking) everyone of them is traveling at some point in the future. How can they not all technically still exist? Best not to think about that.

I liked the episode. I’m impressed how much this show can do with such a limited budget and sets. Really, the entire episode was set at Pete’s house and the church, yet I never paid much attention to how limited the world was here. It did bug me that Eccleston’s attitude was so rotten. He of all people ought to have understood how distraught Rose was about her father’s fate and should have been more careful about allowing her to go back a second time. Shoulder some of the blame, dude. You claim to know what you are doing. Act like it.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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