Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Story 194 - The Doctor's Daughter

In which the TARDIS travels out of control towards the planet Messaline, in the year 6012. Attempting to get the ship back under his control, the Doctor notices that his severed hand in its jar seems to be particularly active. On landing, the Doctor, Donna and Martha venture outside and find themselves in a gloomy tunnel. Initially furious at being dragged away from Earth, Martha realises that she has missed travelling to alien worlds. A group of armed men suddenly appears. They seize the Doctor and thrust his arm into a strange machine. He feels it take a tissue sample from his hand. A large pod then comes to life and a young woman steps out, and greets the Doctor as her dad...
The Doctor realises that she has been created from his DNA, a form of clone. The leader of the patrol, a young man named Cline, explains that this is how they create their soldiers - everyone donating genetic material to create a new generation of troops. Before he can explain further, another group arrives in the tunnel - fish-headed creatures which Cline identifies as Hath. Humans and Hath are at war with each other. The girl detonates some explosives and the tunnel becomes blocked - with Martha trapped on the opposite side from the Doctor and Donna. She is captured by the Hath.

She is able to gain their trust after helping one of their injured, an individual named Peck. They take her to their headquarters. The Doctor and Donna are taken to the human HQ, where Cline introduces them to his commander - General Cobb. He explains that they have been fighting for generations, and the war is being fought to achieve some mystical object known as the Source. Humans and Hath came to this planet together to colonise it, but the colony leader was killed and the two sides began to argue then fight each other. Whoever gains the Source will win the war. On hearing the Doctor question the conflict, Cobb suspects the new arrivals of being pacifists and orders that they be locked up. As she is derived from the Doctor, the girl is locked up with him and Donna. In the cells, Donna names the girl Jenny - as she was created by a cellular progenerator. It is found that Jenny has two hearts, but the Doctor refuses to accept that she is in any way his daughter. Jenny overpowers their guard - Cline - and they make their way back to the HQ where the Doctor sees a holographic map of the war zone. At the Hath camp, Martha is viewing the same thing. The Doctor discovers that there is more of the map hidden, and opens this up. At the Hath camp, the creatures believe Martha has achieved this. The new map section shows the location of the Source, and now both groups know how to find it. The Doctor, Donna and Jenny set off to find it first, whilst Martha decides to go out onto the planet's barren surface to reach their goal ahead of the main Hath force. Peck goes with her. Martha falls into a flooded pit, and Peck is killed saving her.

As they travel towards the Source, Donna becomes intrigued by a series of numbers which she sees in each section they pass through. Having worked in a library, and having mastered the Dewey Decimal System of cataloguing, she works out that the numbers are the dates when each section was completed, working out from where they are headed. They reveal that the war is only a few days old. Each day new generations of soldiers have been created and killed, so the current combatants believe that the conflict has been going on for much longer than it has. Martha makes it to their section and is reunited with them. This proves to be the original spaceship which brought humans and Hath to the planet. They eventually reach a chamber full of plants, in the centre of which is a globe full of gases - the Source. The Doctor realises that it is a terraforming device, designed to bring life to the inhospitable planet. Cobb and his men arrive just as the Hath appear. The Doctor explains his discovery to both groups and smashes the globe - releasing the gases into the atmosphere. He declares the war to be over, and both sides need to work together. Everyone agrees - except Cobb. He shoots the Doctor, but Jenny throws herself into the path of the bullet and is killed. As she dies, the Doctor accepts her as being part of him. He hopes that the Time Lord part of her will allow her to regenerate, but this does not happen. Cobb is placed under arrest. The Doctor and Donna take Martha back home. He explains to his companions that the TARDIS homed in on Jenny's Time Lord DNA, only to create a paradox by leading to her creation in the first place. Martha is engaged to Tom Milligan and has her job with UNIT, so declines the offer of further travels. Back on Messaline, Cline and a Hath named Gable are preparing Jenny for burial when she suddenly comes back to life. She steals the spaceship's shuttle - determined to explore the universe and fight oppression, just like her dad...

The Doctor's Daughter was written by Stephen Greenhorn, and was first broadcast on Saturday 10th May, 2008. Greenhorn had previously written the underwhelming The Lazarus Experiment for the previous season, and has not written for the series since.
Back in the 1980's producer John Nathan Turner had become annoyed at the leaks about stories still in production which were appearing in fanzines. One of his ruses to try to identify the culprits was to display fake story titles on the wall in his office. One of these was "The Doctor's Wife". In planning the fourth series, Russell T Davies recalled this, and so decided to have a story with a similar title which would get fans excited about some possible big reveal concerning the Doctor's background.
Greenhorn had said that the Doctor was never changed by his experiences, and Davies wanted a story from him which disproved this. With hindsight, the change lasted all of this episode.

The story itself is fairly simplistic, and far from original. Two groups fighting each other who have forgotten why they are doing so. The twist is that instead of hundreds of years, we have hundreds of generations within a seven day time-span. The reasons for the conflict have been lost in Chinese Whispers between each generation.
The Hath must be one of the weakest aliens to have featured in the series. They are another of the stick-an-animal-head-on-a-bloke-in-a-boiler-suit type common to the RTD era. This time the animal is a fish. This makes for a rather inept scene which should be heartbreaking, but we can't get past how stupid it is. Hath Peck dies by drowning... They could so easily have come up with any kind of accident to kill him - like a rock falling on him - but no, they decided that drowning would be the way to do it.

To play the Doctor's Daughter, they cast the Doctor's daughter. Georgia Moffett is the daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson. She had earlier auditioned for the part of Robina Redmond in The Unicorn and the Wasp, which was produced first. Of course, she is now Georgia Tennant, having married David Tennant in December 2011, making her the Doctor's wife as well as the Doctor's daughter.
After her, the main guest artist, playing Cobb, is Nigel Terry, who is best known for John Boorman's take on the King Arthur legend, Excalibur. Playing Cline is Joe Dempsie, one of many of the cast from Skins (one of Davies' favourite TV shows) to find a role in the series, and who has since gone on to greater things (e.g. Game of Thrones in his case).
Story Arc: 
Donna first learns about the Doctor's severed hand.

Overall, the weakest story of the season by a long way. The title did do its job of getting the fans excited, but when we got to see what it referred to we were just left disappointed, and somehow felt cheated. The story didn't just have a gimmick. The story was the gimmick - a pointless runaround based on a title. Martha's inclusion is also a squandered opportunity - there wasn't much point in her being there.
Things you might like to know:

  • Davies originally intended to have Jenny stay dead, but claimed that Steven Moffat asked him to allow her to survive. Everyone assumed that she might become a recurring character, or even a new companion - especially once Moffat took over the show. Moffat claimed that she did not regenerate, but was brought back to life by the Source. As it is, she has never returned, though Big Finish are about to reintroduce the character on audio.
  • The two named Hath are Peck and Gable - named after Hollywood legends Gregory Peck and Clark Gable.
  • The TARDIS fails to translate the Hath language, though Martha seems to be able to work it out alright. Their dialogue was printed on the scripts however.
  • Jenny's acrobatics avoiding a corridor full of laser beams were inspired by a Britney Spears video.
  • The Dewey Decimal System, or Classification, was first introduced in 1876 by Melvil Dewey in the US. It's a means of classifying books by subject in libraries. There are 10 classifications - each beginning with a three digit numerical code. The most recent edition, the 23rd, was introduced in 2011.

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