by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Doctor Who: The Doctor's Daughter

Posted 10 August 2008 in by Catriona

And here we are for an episode that proved controversial, at least in my living room.

If last week’s blogging was brought to you by wine and Nurofen, this one is brought to you by a lingering cold, slightly less wine, and an enormous pile of marking that I haven’t quite finished and need to get back to once this episode is over.

Sometimes I think I need to get out of my rut and back into the groove.

Then, I remember that I never was in the groove, and that I’ve worked damn hard to get into this “rut,” and I stop feeling sorry for myself.

Plus, not only did I not die in last night’s Dungeons and Dragons session, but I also have two kobold ears in my belt pouch. Good times.

I seem to have lost Nick, by the way, for those of you who look forward to his interruptions. I’m sure he was here a minute ago, but no doubt he’s snatched the opportunity to visit his shiny, white iMistress.

Hang on, he’s turned up again. But he is clutching his iPhone. In fact, that can be taken as a given; whenever I mention Nick, he’s clutching his iPhone.

And fiddling with the speakers, even though he knows that’s really irritating.

Why is an Australian gold medal more important, news-wise, than this burgeoning war between Russia and Georgia?

Ooh, snow. Pretty. But, as Nick points out, it is odd to see gum trees with snow on them.

Double the Fist? Apparently, it’s a new season. I’ve never heard of it. But I don’t think it’s my cup of tea, somehow.

And here we go! “The Doctor’s Daughter”!

And Martha—I know a lot of people don’t like her, but I love Martha.

So the Doctor’s not impossible; he’s just a bit unlikely? Seems about right to me.

Alien planet! We haven’t had enough alien planets in this new version of Doctor Who. Arm stuck in a great machine? That’s never going to be painless. People should know that from watching Flash Gordon. In fact, people should just watch Flash Gordon—it’s brilliant.

In the meantime, a pretty blonde girl completely dressed in leather pants, khaki T-shirt, and full make-up has just stepped out of a cloning machine and called the Doctor “Dad.”

What I want to know here is why Donna and Martha aren’t sampled. Is it just because the creepy (but strangely adorable) fish-people turn up at this point?

Okay, now Martha’s been kidnapped, and is on the wrong side of the tunnel they’ve just blown up. Oh, Martha. I thought you were better than that.

There’s something about this episode that reminds me of old-school Doctor Who, though.

NICK: When did David Tennant get his overcoat on again? I thought he didn’t have it on when he . . . oh, never mind.

Martha and the Hath soldier.

NICK: And here we have the most convincing inter-personal relationship in the entire episode.

I like the Hath—I don’t really know why. But they’re not as warlike as the humans, or they would simply have shot Martha when she put that chap’s shoulder back into the socket. And I like the make-up, and the strange, bubbly, green, tube-like thing they speak through. I can’t think of a better description.

Donna’s so down to earth—and I like that discussion about her friend Neris (Nerys? Don’t correct my spelling!) and the turkey baster. It reinforces the idea that humans shouldn’t be quite so uptight about the odd ways that aliens procreate.

NICK: I think Jenny’s the only one who gets hot pants.
ME: They’re not hot pants.
NICK: They’re just a bit . . . better fitted than the others’.
ME: That’s an understatement.

The scene with Martha being petted by the Hath is strangely charming, when it should be slightly creepy. That’s another reason why I like the Hath—they don’t seem to be natural soldiers.

I like the back story about “early colonists carving buildings out of the rock” they’ve built into the story to explain why they’re filming this in an old theatre of some kind. Lovely sets they are, though.

Ah! They do seem to be planning on breeding people from Donna as well as from the Doctor. I was wondering about that.

Oh, dear—the Doctor’s going to interfere with the map. The Doctor always interferes. Why, Doctor? This never goes well.

And, look: you’ve just increased the xenophobia and blood-thirstiness of the people.

DOCTOR: Look up “genocide,” You’ll see a little picture of me and the caption will read “Over my dead body.”
NICK: Or, “I do it better than you.”

It does seem a little hypocritical. Maybe the caption could read, “In future, over my dead body. In the past, meh.”

So this is the episode when the Doctor has to face his past as a soldier—I wonder how he’s going to deal with that.

I’m hoping something comes up here about the fact that the Doctor once had children. And grandchildren. And, if he’s the last of the Time Lords, they’re all dead. Presumably including Susan; I wonder whether she was recalled to Gallifrey for the Time War, as the Master was.

Oh, Donna—you’re by far the most practical companion we’ve ever had. I don’t think we’ve ever had one before who was so capable of cutting straight through the Doctor’s babbling and showing him that it wasn’t always that important.

Ooh, Jenny has two hearts? Does that make her a Time Lord? Interesting—but I’m not even going to think about re-creating the Time Lords with these two. That’s not right.

That Martha and this Hath can communicate so readily is intriguing, even with all the bubbling.

Martha—you wouldn’t let a little radiation put you off, would you? You were the only person to escape the burning of Japan!

Oh, Jenny—feminine wiles? That’s a little beneath you, isn’t it? (Although I’d like to see the Doctor try that, too.)

NICK: He’d just let Captain Jack do it.

Oh, Doctor—Donna has womanly wiles. Look at that lovely hair, for example!

A clockwork mouse? I bet that first belonged to the Fourth Doctor.

Hey, the Hath have a science-fiction battering ram!

NICK: You can tell it’s science fiction, because it has fluorescent lights in it. Which you’d think would be a little impractical for a battering ram.

Oooh, the surface is rather lovely. Hey, how does Martha know that that Hath was swearing? Is the TARDIS translation circuit still working? But, no: they were sitting right near the TARDIS when she put his arm back in the socket, and we didn’t get the impression that she could understand him then.

So Donna notices the numbers? And the Doctor just dismisses them? That’s interesting.

Now we see that the Doctor’s loving this—he’s brought chaos into this society, which was chaotic enough in the first place—and he’s grinning and loving it. I know he’s somewhat mad, but this seems a little too mad.

And Jenny’s having second thoughts about her profession? I’m not sure that’s even possible—wouldn’t she have been programmed entirely to fight? Why would they programme soldiers with free will?

Oh, dear—the Entrapment scene. Still, it gets Jenny a cuddle from her father. I’m surprised that hasn’t happened before; he’s such a cuddler, this Doctor.

This planet should have more than one moon.

Oh, whoops—Martha’s just fallen in a pit of quicksand. That was a little daft.

NICK: The writer’s last episode still had a bit of poignancy to it.
ME: So does this!
NICK: Well . . . convincing poignancy.

Well, Nick may have a heart of stone, but I think the death of that poor Hath in the quicksand pit rather distressing. I’d grown to rather like that Hath, even if he was a little interchangeable with the other Hath.

Jenny’s surprisingly perky—but now the Doctor’s not thrilled about all of this. Ah! Now he’s going to talk about his old family, isn’t he?


He’s never really talked about this with any of his companions, has he? Not even Rose. Mind, I wouldn’t have mentioned a previous wife and children and grandchildren to Rose: she seemed the jealous type.

So they are dead, his family? Interesting. In the Time War, or earlier. I rather hope that that doesn’t include Susan. After all, she’s the only one we ever came to know.

Ooh, that shot of the building is a nice shot. There’s some lovely CGI in this episode, and it blends well with the location shooting.

Donna still knows that there’s something significant about those numbers, and the Doctor’s still ignoring her. Doctor, you know better than that.

NICK: That’s not a temple: it’s a space station!

Mind, we were just talking about Time Lords being the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy.

Doctor! Pay attention to Donna! She knows what these numbers mean. She’s not daft, Donna. For all she keeps talking about being “only a temp,” she keeps showing herself as highly skilled.

Seven days? Is that a religious reference? The idea of the world being created in seven days.

Each generation gets killed in the war? That’s wasteful.

NICK: Where do all the bodies go?

Bougainvillea don’t particularly have a scent, Doctor. Trust me: I live in Brisbane.

This scene, where they walked into Kew Gardens [damn! I’d forgotten that Donna made that joke. Now I look less clever], is when I started thinking that his episode reminded me of old-school Doctor Who. But I can’t put my finger on why—it could be the set-dressing—an alien world created with lots of potted ferns. But there’s something about it that reminds me of the Doctor Who I used to watch as a child.

NICK: It’s a good thing that smashing it is how it works. Which does seem a bit weird.

Nevertheless, the Doctor has managed to get the terraforming machine going, and everyone’s laid down their arms, except for General Cobb.

But Jenny’s thrown herself in front of the Doctor. She must be unusually dense in substance, or why didn’t the bullet go straight through her and kill the Doctor, as well.

I’m not entirely in favour of giving the Doctor a new daughter and forcing him to acknowledge her, only to kill her. It seems a little . . . cheap. Even though Tennant does look suitably horrified.

How does Martha know that the Doctor regenerates? Or, more to the point, how does she know what the signs look like? She’s never seen the Doctor regenerate, although he may have told her about the process.

NICK: That General Cobb character is pure cardboard.

I suppose he’s a veteran, though—he must be three or four generations old.

DOCTOR: Make the foundation of this society a man who never would.
ME: Well, the society isn’t going to last long, then, is it, Doctor? Unless you qualify “never would.”

Oh, bloody paradoxes. Those things always irritate me.

That scene with Jenny on the bier—and I would be sadder, but, really, she had “cannon fodder” written all over her, from the start—looks as though it were filmed in a local Scouts hall.

And now Martha’s leaving, again. Bye, Martha! Maybe we’ll see you again, some time?

Back to Jenny—three guesses what happens here.

(Why does the machine put all that eye make-up on? It doesn’t work as camouflage, so why do female soldiers need eye make-up? If this were the original series, then the men would be wearing eye make-up, as well.)

And Jenny’s off! I wonder if she’ll turn up again?

Next week: Agatha Christie! Woo hoo!

(Wait, the DVDs are out already? That’s always seems as though it would cut down on viewing figures. But then we watch them anyway.)

Share your thoughts [14]


Tim wrote at Aug 10, 09:43 am

I’m not watching this crap twice.


Catriona wrote at Aug 10, 10:18 am

Oh, Tim, it’s not that bad! Remember Fear Her? Plus, you don’t have to watch it to enjoy the blogging!


Emma Gunders wrote at Aug 10, 10:29 am

I liked this episode a lot more the second time.


Catriona wrote at Aug 10, 10:32 am

Well, the second time around you didn’t have to contend with rabid Tennant fangirls shredding poor Jenny’s physical appearance and comparing her unfavourably with Baby Spice.


Emma Gunders wrote at Aug 10, 10:42 am

Wow, Did anyone else see confidential? She’s actually a red head!


Nick Caldwell wrote at Aug 10, 12:26 pm

Well, she actually likes hair dye. Both her parents are natural blondes.


Tim wrote at Aug 10, 01:55 pm

The whole thing seemed ludicrously contrived to me, even at the beginning when we didn’t know what was going on. There were some good moments for Donna and Martha, I’ll admit.

And the Doctor doesn’t try very hard to save Jenny, does he? Nor does he take her into the TARDIS for Time Lord medical tests.


Catriona wrote at Aug 10, 08:33 pm

I will admit that when the Doctor says that the whole thing was one big paradox, my brain shut down—the “the TARDIS brought us here so that Jenny could be created but Jenny wouldn’t have been created if we hadn’t come here. No, I can’t explain it: it’s a paradox” angle doesn’t really satisfy me as an explanation.

It’s tempting, too, to think that the reason the Doctor doesn’t try very hard to save her is because he’s read the rest of the script. I’m not actually in favour of characters dying, but I can think of instances (and I won’t get any more specific than this) where the Doctor went to a great deal of effort to stop them dying or to bring them back.

If the Doctor goes to that kind of effort (or, if not effort, sacrifice, as with Rose in season one), then I feel comfortable about the person living/coming back to life. This was entirely passive, though—it seems to be signalling a return for the character at some point, but I did think the “new daughter/dead daughter/daughter alive but you don’t know it” progression was a little too blatant a grab for the heartstrings.


Wendy wrote at Aug 10, 09:43 pm

i enjoyed the little asides about lots of running…surely frangipani would have been better than bougainvillea?…you’re right it doesn’t have a scent…


Matthew Smith wrote at Aug 11, 12:15 am

plot synopsis: The Doctor gets cloned, a fish drowns. I guess there always has to be a low point.


Lisa wrote at Aug 11, 10:26 am

The whole family thing hasn’t been resolved yet, and having Jenny come back might be part of that. I also enjoyed it much more second time around without the teeny-bopper obsessive jealousy over the actor’s blonde girlfriends. Mostly I think that I appreciated the development in the Doctor’s character and emotional development. He’s coming more to terms with what he has done and the losses that he has suffered in a healing way rather than purely with anger. But that only comes across if you think of it in terms of the whole four seasons, and it’s rather hard to show it in 45 minutes.


Catriona wrote at Aug 11, 10:43 am

All that is true, Lisa—and I liked the final revelation of his family and their (albeit ambiguous) fate; I also think it’s telling that he revealed those details to Donna, and not to Rose or Martha (at least, not on screen).

But I still think it was a little hypocritical of him to rail so forcibly against genocide. Had he said “never again!” instead of “over my dead body!”, it wouldn’t have bothered me. But the latter seemed to reject the fact that he himself had committed genocide—after we’ve seen him draw back from the brink again and again in the original series, and even in this new series.


Lisa wrote at Aug 11, 11:07 pm

Hmmm, I didn’t see it that way but rather a statement that he would sacrifice himself rather than allow any genocide to happen again. To me that doesn’t speak of a rejection of his own culpability but an understanding of the consequences because he has seen them.

Donna created the context for his revelations about his family by her constant ‘Deadbeat Dad’/CSA jibes. Nice bit of extra-textual reference there I thought, though not developed with the skill that social commentary usually is in this program.


Catriona wrote at Aug 11, 11:42 pm

I agree Donna unwittingly provoked him into defense by seemingly taunting him about being a poor father—I thought that moment when she realised that all her jibes had actually been intensely hurtful, that he was carrying a constant fear of having abandoned his family, was rather sweet. She didn’t intend to hurt him; she was just having a bit of fun with the moment.

But I still think it’s interesting that he opened up to her. After all, he briefly mentioned having had children to Rose, but didn’t take it any further—not on screen, anyway, and he seemed to shut the conversation right down.

But to me it’s all part and parcel of the fact that here, finally, we have a companion who’s not in love with the Doctor—since last season’s finale revealed that Captain Jack was, too: but no surprises there.

And so the Doctor can safely open up to Donna, because he’s not going to hurt her or force her to hurt him by anything he says. They don’t have that kind of co-dependent (not meant pejoratively) intimacy. She’s supportive and she’s closely entwined with his life, but in a sort of best friend/flatmate kind of sense. Like Sarah Jane used to be.

There’s a security to this relationship that we haven’t seen before.

Re. the genocide, I still feel that “over my dead body” doesn’t evoke, for me, the “never again” sense that I wanted. After all, he’s come within a hairs’ breadth of genocide before, in “Genesis of the Daleks,” and pulled back. He’s always known it was a matter of the strength of his will versus the strength of his desire—and that his will wasn’t always that strong.

I don’t know: I think that piece of dialogue was, perhaps, not the best written in the episode.

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