Last year, The Lazarus Experiment marked a slight turnaround in the fortunes of Doctor Who, leading on to a terrific run of episodes, including The Family of Blood and Blink. That said, at the time, I found the episode totally forgettable, aside from the fact that it proved to have resonance when The Master referred to something in it come the big showdown at the end of the series.
I felt pretty much the same about The Doctor’s Daughter.
You have to start, though, by giving full credit to the Who team for tackling the one question that’s never been satisfactorily addressed, namely the Doctor’s offspring. We had a brief snippet a few series’ back, when Tennant’s Doctor revealed that he had a child, once. And inside a few minutes of this episode, his arm had been stuck in a machine, and he had another one. Is it fair to say that the clumsy machine may make a reappearance? If not, Georgia Moffett as his ‘daughter’ has spin-off series written all over her.
It also led to the best moments of the episode. Never mind the fact that his daughter, soon christened Jenny, was wearing the kind of tight T-shirt that a father would surely clamp down on, there was room in the episode for some further exploration of the Doctor’s children. This is where Tennant is at his best, too, because when he tones down the overexcited shouting (which, I must confess, I don’t really mind), the man really can act, and he did so here. His conversation with Donna about his past managed the trick of finding new ways to explore a character who has been around for over four decades.
Georgia Moffett, as Jenny, was a welcome addition too, even though you couldn’t help but feel that her introduction was a little contrived. She acquitted herself well, and certainly won’t do the sale of action figures too much harm. And Catherine Tate’s Donna continues to be a valid addition to the Tardis, too. The mechanic between her and Tennant is, on the whole, working exceptionally well so far, and here was no difference. Felt a bit sorry for Freema Agyeman, though. Martha Jones was brought back a few episodes ago, and is now being plonked back home without really moving the character on, in spite of Agyeman’s best efforts.
The rest of the episode? In some ways again, reminiscent of old-style Doctor Who, with a more limited than usual budget, and a lot of corridors to run around (a notion played with in the occasionally tongue-in-cheek script). It was, to be fair, quite forgettable, with an unwinnable war, the quite effective Hath (why couldn’t the Tardis understand what they were saying, out of interest?) and a rampant military general who wants to shoot people.
It also had an ending that might be good for expanding the Who universe, but felt a little obvious. Surely this would have been more effective had Jenny actually died at the end? That said, I do get that having a Time Lordish-relative of sorts is plum for further exploration, whether in this series of beyond.
Still, The Doctor’s Daughter wasn’t one of my favourite episodes of the past few series, no matter how important it may turn out to be. And incidentally, there was no mention of missing wasps this week though, nor any more planets disappearing.
But what we do have is the near-turning point of the series. Last year, after the one-week Eurovision break (which appears to be on the schedules again), the back of the series proved at times to be quite superb. Next week is episode seven, and from after there, we can surely consider ourselves on the run in to the big villain reveal at the end of the series.
Even though we all seem to know who’s coming, there’s still a lot of loose ends out there waiting to be tied….
Check out Martin Anderson’s review of the episode here…