Wednesday, 2 April 2014

'Father's Day'

‘I’ll get it right next time, I promise.’

Can the best Doctor Who stories be summed up in a question?
When was Doctor Who ever really about time travel, and what happens when it is?

Best moment for Old School Who?
The empty TARDIS shell and the shock of its revelation is a great nod to ‘Logopolis,’ and throughout this episode the Doctor is just as gloomy as ever he was then.

Best new thing?
I like the fact that this story niggles its way into the idea of paradoxes that every other Doctor Who story gleefully avoids. There’s not even a cheery mention of the good old hand-wavey Blinovitch Limitation Effect. This is a universe without the Time Lords, and all the old rules about not mucking about with the timelines are suspended. This is all about consequences. The Doctor rashly lets Rose see her past and it leads to disaster. In the absence of the great Lords of Time in their evening gowns, we get voracious Preying Manti / flying sardines.

They’d never have got away with that in the 20th century…
While monsters are attacking and trying to eat everyone we focus on long teary scenes in which people talk about their feelings and how they might be related to each other. In the old series there’d be UNIT jeeps and Sergeant Benton stomping about and the Brigadier looking fierce if anyone dared to start weeping.

Hurray for Jackie Tyler – best guest moment?
It’s got to be Rose’s dad Pete. He comes to life in more ways than one, despite the obvious Del Boy parallels and having to die the-death-of-Joan-Collins-in-Star-Trek.

The ‘I love me Nan…’ moment
It has to be ‘My daddy!’ It’s pure Jenny Agutter in ‘The Railway Children.’

In terms of the bigger stuff, and how this episode feeds into the wider story arc, we’re considering this universe without the guardianship of the Time Lords, custodians of Canonicity and stuff. In this post-Time War world, time travel itself is deadly. The slightest deviation and you get the shrieking beasties trying to sterilize you. The Doctor’s loneliness as the only time traveller in the cosmos is very starkly presented.

There’s a few things that I don’t get. In its drive to give us some spooky Sapphire and Steel moments a few things go awry. What is, exactly, happening with the TARDIS? Does it get the hump? Is it scared? Also, why does this stuff not happen every time the Doctor travels anywhere in this new series and makes an impact on the world around him? All the monstery paradox stuff feels a little like plot contrivance to squeeze a few tears out of the characters.

Where was I?
The sentimentality of it drags for me. At the time I’d have been happy if Rose had thrown herself underneath that passing car. The gloopy music over the bookending bedtime story scenes sets the tone for me, and all the weepiness still feels a bit much. 

Singlemost fabulous thing
 The meringue dresses and bubbly perms and peachy, sickly colours set against the gloom and drizzle of the location ring very true to the 1987 in my head.

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