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Daddy Day Care: The Doctor's Daughter on "Doctor Who"

Was it just me or was this week's episode of Doctor Who a little, well, disappointing?

It's funny because I typically never feel that way with Doctor Who, which is typically a shining ray of light amid an increasingly crowded television landscape that, this summer anyway, seems largely riddled with sub-par and unimaginative reality series.

So I couldn't wait to catch up with the Doctor, Donna, and Martha Jones in this week's episode of Doctor Who ("The Doctor's Daughter"), what with the TARDIS essentially kidnapping them to a distant planet involved in a neverending conflict between the humans and an alien race called the Hath... who sort of looked like fish-men with snorkels that were half-filled with Listerine. (Seriously.) But the real reason I wanted to watch were the promos that offered the promise of our favorite Time Lord's offspring in the form of a heretofore unseen daughter.

About that: I was a little concerned when said daughter, a.k.a. Jenny sprung to life within seconds of the opening after a DNA sample was taken from the Doctor... which makes her less of a daughter and more of a... younger, female clone. (Geek warning: it's all rather like the Wolverine/X-23 relationship.) I was hoping for a bit more build-up than that and before I knew it, little Jenny was suddenly pointing a gun and taking control and I was still confused as to why the TARDIS had brought them there in the first place.

But that wasn't my problem with the episode. It was really that "The Doctor's Daughter" was overstuffed with storylines: a seemingly neverending war between two races, the TARDIS exhibiting a will of its own, the Doctor having a daughter, Martha curing an alien and befriending him when separated from the Doctor, and a bait-and-switch at the very end that revealed that the generations-long conflict between the humans and the Hath had actually only started seven days earlier but thanks to that genetic extraction/acceleration process, many generations had come and gone during the week-long conflict. (But how does that explain the old General who seemed to have no knowledge of the truth about this odd situation? Hmmm.)

All this and the fact that of course Jenny would regenerate made me want to shake the telly with annoyance. It was bloody obvious that Jenny would wake up once the Doctor, Donna, and Martha had left and take off for the stars... until a convenient plot point down the line would necessitate bringing her and her "father" together again. While it was good to see some character development with the Doctor, vis-a-vis his lost family, I was hoping that it would push him to do something deeper and more profound than just invite Jenny along for the ride.

I wanted something more than just a surface story here that jumbled together too many elements. I wanted a meaty Doctor Who episode that offered danger, humor, and insight that was above all else fun. This wasn't that episode sadly but with a series that has brought me as much joy as Doctor Who, I'm willing to bear with one disappointing episode in order to get episodes of sheer perfection such as "The Girl in the Fireplace," "Human Nature," and "Blink," to name a few. But, let's just say, that after this adventure, it was no wonder Martha Jones had her fill of traveling.


On the next episode of Doctor Who ("The Unicorn and the Wasp"), the series looks back on firmer footing as Donna and the Doctor travel to 1926 where they meet Agatha Christie (guest star Fenella Woolgar) and stumble into a murder mystery.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Bill Engvall Show/How I Met Your Mother (CBS); American Gladiators (NBC); Gossip Girl (CW); The Bachelorette (ABC; 8-10 pm); Bones (FOX)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/Rules of Engagement (CBS); Nashville Star (NBC; 9-11 pm); One Tree Hill (CW); House (FOX)

10 pm: CSI Miami (CBS); The Mole (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Gossip Girl.

Looking to relive the freshman season of the teen soap? On tonight's repeat episode ("The Handmaiden's Tale"), Dan's childhood friend Vanessa magically returns to Manhattan (without parents or a GED, I might add) and tells him that she wants to be more than just friends; Dan and Jenny sneak into Blair's decadent costume party and Jenny learns a secret.


eAi said…
It was a slightly weak episode I agree. It seemed to have some good ideas, but perhaps too many of them.

The next episode is a much better one :)
Asta said…
But how does that explain the old General who seemed to have no knowledge of the truth about this odd situation?

That left me perplexed too. They either needed to establish that he suffered an injury that caused amnesia or that he was lying to them all out of a desire to keep the fighting going.

I will say I thought the original cut of the episode played a bit better than the trimmed version that SciFi has to air to fit in commercials.

And I concur with eai, next weeks episode is very good. ;-)
Susania said…
It was a weaker ep, and I thought that the "no guns" insistence of the Doctor in the current series is beginning to be a little too jingoistic.

Just lots of little things to be bothered by - Marha is saved by the Hath, and sobs as though her heart is broken (understandably) but the minute she crawls out of that pit, it's as though it never happened; to have someone die to save you deserves more notice (like Jenny!), but they just threw it away.

For a 7-day old architectural infastructure, those tunnels looked like they were upwards of 40 years old!

Too simplistic and too many holes in the plot. But the Doctor's explanation of the Time War and the obvious pain it caused him was deeply moving.
Anonymous said…
While the script was weak, I did rather enjoy seeing the Doctor's daughter portrayed by Georgia Moffett, who is, in reality, the daughter of the Doctor. That is to say, the 5th Doctor Who, Peter Davidson. Especially since Tennant and Davidson had such a nice scene together in their TIMECRASH short from the Children in Need special last year. All very 'in the family' which was nice. Plus, after next week's Agatha Christie ep, there's a two-parter from Steven Moffat that is by far the best 2 eps of the entire season.
There were some interesting ideas in this episode and I liked the spunky Georgina Moffett as the Doctor's daughter but, overall, this was a jumbled mess.

The good ideas got lost in a labyrinth as dark and needlessly complex as those darn underground tunnels. And, since this was Martha Jones' last episode, wouldn't it have been great if she were actually with the Doctor instead of off on her own for most of the adventure?
Unknown said…
I enjoyed it, but it was definitely lighter fare than some. But that's how Doctor Who is--some light and some deep. (Am I mixing my idioms?)

By the way, this is far from the first time that the TARDIS has brought the Doctor somewhere on its own. The Doctor has stated a few times that the TARDIS is semi-sentient. And we saw that manifested in that ep with Rose (whose title I can't remember or be bothered to look up).
Jace Lacob said…
It's not that the TARDIS brought the Doctor somewhere but the fact that the TARDIS specifically brought all of them (including Martha) to this point in space and time... Sentience is one thing (and, yes, we've seen that in the past) but it's quite another to bring Martha along on what is likely her last outing with the Doctor by force... for no real reason whatsoever.
Unknown said…
The TARDIS has brought the Doctor and his companion(s) to specific points in space-time before, and I didn't get the impression the TARDIS cared who was present. And, if it did, it was only because it likes her, which there's also precedent for. (The TARDIS has responded to requests from companions, even without proper "authorization.")

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