I hardly ever cry when it comes to watching drama on television. It's not as if I'm not in touch with my feminine side or anything like that, it's just that TV drama is usually so anodyne it takes something very special to make me cave in and blub. In fact, I can count the number of times a TV drama has moved me to tears on one hand (the final episodes of 'GBH' and 'Babylon 5', and a little-known drama called 'One Summer' which featured the debut of a very young David Morrissey, if you're interested).
And then there's Father's Day.
I didn't get so much as a lump in my throat. Sorry.
To be fair, I appreciated this episode's brilliance from the word go. It was clever, it was original, and yes, it was clearly meant to be heartbreaking. Almost shamelessly so. The acting, direction and special effects were all faultless, and it also happened to be written by my all-time favourite Doctor Who novelist (a bloke so ace he gave me my own break in publishing) but all I could fixate on was the usual logistical obstacles you have to overcome when you dabble in time-travel paradoxes (which probably explains why, oddly enough, Doctor Who never usually bothers trying).
I couldn't get beyond a number of specific problems, like: why would the Reapers bother in the first place? Would Pete go onto to revolutionise solar power causing time-line to fluctuate wildly? Why did the Reapers wipe out the whole world (something we have to take the character's word for) as this would screw with time even more, surely? Why did the car jump time-tracks *and* geography? Why did the hit-and-run driver suddenly become someone who cared enough to stop? Why did the TARDIS stop being a TARDIS? Why did the phone pick up Alexander Graham Bell and how can saving one man's life make 'The Streets' popular in 1987? And was there really a big re-set button at the end? And If there was, why does the BBC's meta-text (aka Mickey's website) state quite clearly that it all happened - the wedding guests even managed to take bloody photos of it? In short, it made my head hurt.
I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I couldn't watch this episode on anything approaching an emotional level.
So I waited a whole week and then I watched it again.
And I blubbed like a baby.
Once I put all the niggling inconsistencies on the back-burner this episode finally hit me with the force of a 10 ton truck. I'm a father and it pains me to admit that I didn't read bed-time stories to my daughter every night (although I did offer screenings of Jon Pertwee classics to her, which were all refused) and I suddenly felt really bad. Would I have had the courage to do what Rose's father did? Am I a good father? It made me question myself and my own relationships to my family and it didn't feel particularly nice.
The final moments when Pete says goodbye to the daughter he never knew (and never would) initially provoked a very dispassionate "oh, that's very clever" response. Now I don't think I'll be able to watch it again without losing control of my lower lip.
I'm glad I waited this long before I committed my thoughts to this blog. Of course, it's now impossible to do anything but echo the unanimously positive reviews that have already been posted here by people who obviously don't have hearts made of stone.
9.5 out of 10. Thanks, Paul.