The Doctor's Daughter

Region 1
box set

Region 2
box set
Region 2
4-episode volume
(Doctor Who Story No. 198, starring David Tennant)
  • written by Stephen Greenhorn
  • directed by Alice Troughton
  • produced by Phil Collinson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 45 minutes
Story: After accidentally transporting Martha Jones with them to the planet Messaline, the TARDIS crew is shocked to discover a new relative to the Doctor who is heavily engaged in the battle for supremacy between Humans and Hath over an intended bicultural colony. What is the mysterious "Source" that the two opponents want to recover? What is the significance of the architectural markings that fascinate Donna? And will the Doctor be able to acknowledge and accept his offspring?

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Audio commentary by actresses Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) and Georgia Moffett (Jenny), and music orchestrator Ben Foster.
  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: Sins of the Father (12 min.) with Georgia Moffett, David Tennant (The Doctor),
    writer Stephen Greenhorn, director Alice Troughton, executive producer Russell T. Davies, and producer Phil Collinson.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (7 min.) - introduced by Davies
  • Trailers & Promos

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

Oh yes! While there is reason to anticipate a cheesy gimmick of a story here, what is actually delivered is of high quality. Most of the best elements that I look forward to in a Doctor Who adventure are featured solidly, along with a new character premise that makes this story truly unique. On a show now in its 30th year, that's no small feat. Hats off to writer Stephen Greenhorn, who has gone from penning last year's worst story to writing this season's best tale so far.

Of course, no matter how good this adventure is, it won't be spared our usual nit-picking, which begins with the way the TARDIS is handled. Director Alice Troughton opts to leave out all exterior materializations and dematerializations of the machine for no apparent good reason, which eats into the story's positive points. Trying to heighten our companions' sense of exploring the unknown in the beginning, were we? Sorry that kind of falls flat, as the Doctor ignores a check of the instruments or the minimum of looking at the scanner screen before bursting out through the doors. We're in too much of a hurry to nurture an atmosphere of exploration today apparently. They'd have been better off to just get the TARDIS landing right, and focus less on the disorganized scrambling occurring in the interior.

The over-zealous soldiers populating our new world are also less than inspiring, making one anticipate a lot of 80's style anti-fighting preachiness. Neither can they manage half-decent visual laser beams or lively sound effects for their weapons. All very sad.

But without wasting much time on any of that, we get a quick demo of a new sci-fi process upon which will be built both a truly decent sci-fi mystery puzzle and the major new character situation. And with shock and awe, we cut to the title sequence. Nice.

It is some time before the setting is actually established. As we suspected and hoped, it is an alien planet, earning the story some more positive points. And it's not an Earth copy either. It's got its own name: Messaline. Well, it looks like it's about to be colonized with Earth culture anyway, unless the Hath get their own culture embedded equally deep. Sadly not enough thought seems to have been given to making the Hath lifestyle noticeably different.

The Hath are fairly well designed from a mask & make-up point of view, and make a decent set of aliens. Costumes are a bit drab though. And although Freema Agyeman does fairly well interacting with creatures who can't really talk, the script seems to want to develop relationships with Hath characters that require more dialogue or more screen time or more something. The commentary reveals that the original script asked for subtitled Hath dialogue.... which still begs the question of how anyone would be able to understand them. The TARDIS translators would have to work overtime to make English come from the Hath's bubble respirators.

Martha's mostly decent and enjoyable persona falls completely apart at the "Black Lagoon" quicksand scene - becoming the least effective moment of Agyeman's Doctor Who acting career. I'll save discussion of the details for the in-depth analysis version of this review along with the plot spoilers. Suffice it to say, science fiction thrives on skilled explorer/heroes as main/regular characters, and has little patience with the emotionally-overdosed opposite that Martha demonstrates here.

The main plot rockets quickly through the cliché plot ideas one would expect, while the dialogue stays somewhat more focused on our brilliant new character situation and the building sci-fi mystery of the piece. It's hard to know quite how to take Georgia Moffett's bright and breezy portrayal of Jenny's many non-fighting moments, as characters of her style of background are not something one normally encounters everyday. Brand new territory to explore. Excellent. Jenny seems much more cheery than most of the other soldiers on the planet, but then she has good reason to be different, doesn't she?

Perhaps she is at her best when challenging the Doctor and standing toe-to-toe with him on the philosophical level. Not bad for her age, I think, and certainly well worth tuning in for.

The gymnastics are a bit of a sore point. Without giving it away, it seems like a half-baked idea rushed through on a television schedule. Too bad. But nice try.

The sci-fi mystery of the piece comes together nicely near the end, and the Doctor has a very good final dynamic solving the conflicts of the story. Where the script tends towards the preachy side, the actors, David Tennant in particular, are expert at nailing just the right tone for the sequence, ensuring that it is full of powerful moments.

Cobb is a bit one-dimensional and problematic as a character though. I think perhaps this story has too many rich opportunities to be so short, and should it be lengthened by another episode, the first thing to do would be to expand Cobb's character. Oh well.

The music for this story is an enjoyable mix of new and old: plenty of older themes, often in new renditions, and some nice brand new pieces concocted specially for this adventure. Everyone seems to have a theme now; it'll take me a while to be able to separate Jenny's from everything else. Conductor/Orchestrator Ben Foster's commentary should help folks figure out which piece is which, though he does mix up "The Doctor Forever" which is heard on the soundtrack with "The Doctor's Theme" which is not featured when he says it is.

Music by Murray Gold
"Corridors and Fire Escapes",
"The Doctor's Daughter", and "The Source"
are available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
Original Music from "Series 4" (2008)

More info & buying options

"The Doctor Forever", "Martha Triumphant",
and an alternate version of
"This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home"
are available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
Original Music from "Series 3" (2007)

More info & buying options

All in all, this is a very enjoyable adventure, despite its few nagging rough edges. Its success as a solid alien planet sci-fi action mystery, coupled with its superb character twist for the series, will keep it ahead of its competition from the rest of the season for a while, and allow it to remain surprisingly compelling when seen again and again. But even bigger things are yet in store....

This story has become available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
14-episode boxed set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
14-episode boxed set
for the U.K.
DVD PAL Region 2
4-episode volume
U.K. format only

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "The Unicorn and the Wasp"

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