Friday 16 May 2008

Guns + War + Genetic Experiments = Family?

There was a time - the late 80s spring to mind - that Doctor Who wasn't really viewed as, you know, "proper acting". The Doctor was arriving in places filled with Comedy double-acts trying to stretch their careers for a bit longer, the cast of Cats and actors that people had assumed were already dead...

If there was any doubt to the quality of this show by now, I point you in the direction of The Doctor's Daughter. This is, seriously, the best thing I have seen in a long time. Ok, so being daddy to a small boy, TV isn't exactly something I get to experience all that much anymore. But the point still stands. This was brilliant.

That Tennant bloke is a master of his craft. In theory, I think its perfectly possible to play the Doctor by hiding behind the huge character and equally massive back-story and still do a fairly good job of it. But he packs so much into these performances - I'm sure that this isn't the biggest acting challenge he will ever take on - but from the way he rollocks through these episodes, it looks like the most enjoyable.

Georgia Moffatt was superb - equally as subtle and deft with looks and facial expressions that echoed the Doctor. The beginning is a prickly one, and I felt a little nervous about where this would be going... But it becomes very obvious very quickly that the connection between them is real and from that moment on it was impossible not to warm to her.

In terms of characters, Donna showed a bit of intelligence here - and managed to think about puzzles in a completely dispassionate way, bypassing the confusion that the Doctor was going through. Martha was her usual bold self with firm morals. And the Doctor...? That scene where Jenny dies is the single most affecting thing I've seen this series. The pain and the emotion were real, and my goodness we felt that hole reopen inside him. A huge wow-factor.

It was hardly completely unpredictable. But I didn't - and still don't - care in the slightest. Like I said before, way back in my post about Partners In Crime I think, being a Doctor Who fan, its more about escapism than gritty reality. I don't (usually) care whether the plot is water-tight and the visual effects are accurate, spot on or even good. It doesn't matter if the cast contains more wood than a 16th century Galleon being studied by a group of hormonal 15 year olds. This isn't Eastenders - this is meant to be entertaining.

And this was magnificent. I loved the similarities with classic stories - particularly Genesis of the Daleks sprung to mind a few times - the multi-generation race war just about to come to a horrible, destructive head and the surface scenes in particular helped that image.

And you know, even though I knew the end was coming, I loved it. Even though I was sitting there, waiting for it, I still bounced off walls with joy. The Doctor isn't the only Time Lord any more. And he's not the only one of him around. I really hope Andrew's right and she returns some day...

I'm really really looking forward to next week. Not least because the writer of one of the best Series 3 episodes (The Shakespeare Code) is back with a new story, but also because its allegedly written as a more straight-up comedy episode, and that its about Agatha Christie - an author that I have disliked and been bored rigid by since I was little. I now sit here impatiently fidgeting waiting for Saturday...

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