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May 16, 2005

I Can Do Anything

One of my favourite time-travel stories is the movie, Groundhog Day, in which no attempt of any kind is made to explain why Bill Murray kept waking up on February 2nd, or why falling in love with Andy McDowell would stop it happening.  This has led me to conclude that sometimes (actually, mostly), it is far better to tell a good story and forget about trying to explain these faintly ridiculous concepts and consequences of time travel.  Ironically and thankfully, these areas of temporal paradoxes and so forth, have rarely been touched upon in Doctor Who. Until now.

The anticipation of some time-travel shenanigans as forseen in the "Next Week" trailer following The Long Game, caused alarm bells to ring that this one was going to pan out along the lines of those contrived and generally unsuccessful Trek attempts at exploring the fourth dimension.  The end result after my first viewing of “Father’s Day” was a dilemma of my own.

I’m listening to discussions about "wounds in time".
I’m working out why it is a paradox if you touch an alternate version of yourself but not a paradox to stand 2 feet away.
I’m imagining why the car keeps appearing, turning right out side the church and disappearing, repeatedly.
I’m puzzling over the nature of the reapers.
I’m nursing a headache and have stopped caring.
I’m not enjoying this. At all. I may be watching the most ill-conceived Doctor Who story of all. 2 out of 10. Bottom of the league. The new series’ equivalent of Southampton FC.

Then, just after Rose says “You’re my daddy”, I notice something. Not on the TV but next to me on the sofa, my wife is crying just a little bit.…. Eh….?

Me “It’s not that bad, is it?”
Wife “No. It’s just so sad!”

So, I re-assess. Rose, after a humdrum existence, gets to go on the trip of a lifetime with a mysterious stranger and his time machine. She loves her mum, but says goodbye to her for a life of adventure. Then she gets the idea that she could go and meet the father she never knew. Who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t then try and save their Dad from the hit and run if they’d got the chance? Suddenly, despite saving her Dad, it all begins to go wrong. The Doctor dies. Rose’s Dad knows what he must do to restore order and makes the ultimate sacrifice.

2 out of 10? Pah!!! This may not be perfect, but it’s close. This is Chelsea FC.

The point is not to worry about paradoxes, or reapers, or wounds in time. The point is just to listen to the story…. Groundhog Day should’ve taught me that! As a fully paid-up sci-fi fan, I had also feared that this fourth 'domestic' outing for the ninth Doctor and Rose (out of just eight episodes), may have meant that this show was selling out to the soap-addicted masses.  Wrong again. How much more emotional depth did this episode have thanks to the fact that we knew about Rose’s family history, and that we knew how much Jackie loved her. It’s not domestic, it’s not soap, it’s just grounded in an emotional realism the way the old show never was. Add to that, the performces of Shaun Dingwall and Billie Piper are second to none. Give that girl a BAFTA.

It’s been a while since I published my “New Who” league table…..

  1. Dalek (9.5/10)
  2. Father’s Day (9/10)
  3. The Unquiet Dead (8.5/10)
  4. The Long Game (8/10)
  5. The End Of The World (8/10)
  6. Rose (7/10)
  7. World War Three (6/10)
  8. Aliens of London (5.5/10)

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