The Doctor's Daughter
|(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
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
In-Depth Analysis Review
by Martin Izsak
WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended
for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the
Buyers' Guide version instead.
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 story splits quite early, with Martha going off on a tangent
much her own. 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 between Martha and 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 Martha would be able to understand them. The TARDIS
translators would have to work overtime to make English come from the
Hath's bubble respirators. Personally, I think this story deserves
a special edition with new post-production, where they can not only
add new laser beams, but more importantly dub on some kind of neatly
processed voices for the Hath characters. This story will make much
more sense when Martha and the audience can finally hear what the Hath
have been saying in the script all this time.
Martha's mostly decent and enjoyable collaboration falls completely
apart at the "Black Lagoon" quicksand scene - becoming the least effective
moment of Agyeman's
Doctor Who acting career. Had Martha stayed in character, she would remain
humble and curious enough (as the audience no doubt was)
to suspect that her Hath rescuer might have his own survival well at hand.
The Hath obviously breathe something different to humans, so that shouldn't
be a big issue for her friend. Interestingly, the Hath went under with a
mere hiss on the soundtrack during the CBC broadcast, but on the DVD set
the sound is more like glass breaking. Did someone on the production
attempt a last-minute fix to the idea of him still breathing? I don't buy
it; the "quicksand" is too obviously a thin liquid to exert enough pressure
that quickly on the Hath's equally liquid breathing fluids.
And if he can hang on until the terraforming event at the end of the
adventure, the quicksand may well be removed from around him and he'll
be free again. I don't think anyone was all that pleased to watch Martha
bawl her eyes out instead - it's just too soon for her to give up with so
many unknown quantities in play, and companion blubber scenes are always a
low quality dynamic. Science fiction thrives on skilled
explorer/heroes as main/regular characters, and has little patience
with the emotionally-overdosed opposite that Martha demonstrates here.
Sidetracks aside, the main plot strand with the Doctor, Donna, and
Jenny 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 active articulate newborns
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,
Perhaps she is at her best when challenging the Doctor and standing
toe-to-toe with him on the philosophical level. Not bad for a combat-ready
newborn, I think, and certainly well worth tuning in for.
The gymnastics in the laser-corridor are a bit of a sore point.
Exactly how are Jenny's repetitive flips taking her safely through the
maze of lasers? A more varied routine, with moments of her actually
sizing up the beams in front of her as she progresses, might make it look
as though she's actually doing something skilled. The recent "Get Smart"
feature film sports a similar idea that was done much better justice.
As it stands here in "The Doctor's Daughter", it
looks more 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
even though it's Donna who really puts it together, the Doctor has a very
good final dynamic solving the conflicts of the story. The script tends
towards the preachy side, but David Tennant is expert at nailing just the
right tone for the sequence, ensuring that it is full of powerful moments.
As with the previous story, gunplay shrivels and is rightly belittled
in the wake of Tennant's charisma. Good one.
Cobb is a bit one-dimensional and problematic as a character though.
The biggest red flag goes up after we learn that this generations-long
conflict has only been going on for seven days.... so how did Cobb get
to be so old without remembering the days before the fighting? How does
he not know more than he is letting on? 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
into a more multi-dimensional villain, with reasons behind his secrets,
if not more big villains behind him as well. Oh well.
Jenny's existence raises a problem for the ending that you can predict
a mile away. A good Doctor must and should take her with him on his travels,
and yet one doubts that the production team intended that. Therefore, the
only way he would leave her behind would be.... it's too awful to
contemplate, yet sadly predictable. And thus it unfolds, and yet again
we have a one-off companion proving to be more interesting than either
of the regulars the Doctor has brought with him. But as with so much
of the rest of this story, after giving us the predictable, Greenhorn
goes on to pull another surprise. Right on; keep it coming.
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:
"The Doctor Forever",
and an alternate version of
"This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home"
are available on:
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.
|DVD PAL Region 2
14-episode boxed set
for the U.K.
|DVD PAL Region 2
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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