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May 22, 2005

Who's Your Mummy?

Right, no pussy-footing around here. No agonising, rationalising or soul-searching is required: The Empty Child is the best episode of Doctor Who that I've seen since, oh, the last one.

Empty1There's so much to praise it's hard to know where to start: a proactive Doctor (finally!); spectacular special effects (a cross between Band of Brothers and Peter Pan); exemplary direction; a score that complimented the tension perfectly; note-perfect performances (especially from Richard Wilson and Florence Hoath); atmospheric lighting; an interesting new character in the form of smarm-ball Captain Jack; and a Bad Wolf reference so subtle I almost missed it completely. It was very witty too ("it's either Marxism in action or a West End musical" - "U-Boat Captain?!!") and it managed to deliver the "Doctor? Doctor Who?" chestnut without making me cringe.

The plot was fascinating too (I loved the Quatermass feel) and I can't wait to see how it all pans out. It also proves beyond doubt that two-parter's are the way to go as the story has room to breathe and develop, and at no point did I feel short-changed or frustrated by the unfolding narrative.

But let's face facts - what sets this episode above many of the other episodes in this, admittedly fantastic, new series is that this is our favourite show doing what it does best: scaring the living crap out of the kids. I'm thirty five years old and it freaked the hell out of me.

It was pant-wettlingly scary, with a level of surrealism that bordered perilously close to sadomasochism. Personally, I think they went a little too far. They'll probably receive thousands of complaints and the DVD will end up with a 15 certificate, especially if the Dalek farrago is anything to go by. I'm so thrilled. Hinchcliffe and Holmes would be proud.

Empty2I mean, come on - is there anything more disturbing in the history of this show than the sight of Doctor Constantine plaintively calling for his mummy as he grotesquely warps into one of the most iconic and sinister images ever to grace this series? If the bright May sunshine hadn't been bouncing off the TV screen I might have hid behind the sofa myself. Or, in my case, inside in, as I live in a caravan.

10/10 - the bar just got raised ridiculously high. I just hope that the second part doesn't knock it down again.


Captain Jack - arghgghhghggghgh Jezz was he the most irratating piece in this run. Sorry but he spoilt the episode for me, totally.

I found Captain Jack an interesting character. Will make a neat addition to the show... and from the sounds of it, he may outlast Eccleston!

And thaaaaanks for the choice of photo. I'm sure I'll sleep one day... :)

Only quibble I've got with this episode was one shot where Billie really didn't look as if she was hanging on to that rope, but that's just nit-picky. Scariest, best-looking, most involving episode so far. I watched it with some friends at 1AM after catching the Sith movie; spooked the hell out of us. No mean feat for a bunch of 30-something SF fans.

It was shocking that with the source material and money they had Star Wars III didn't get close to affecting me the way the last two DW episodes have. It would be interesting to know how much of this weeks audience drop was down to the well-publicised horror content of Empty Child, and how much was down to people actually wanting to watch that train wreck of a movie on ITV; I'd put money on the former being the main effect. Hopefully it won't force a softening of the tone next year, though.

I watched it but didn't record and don't have BBC3 so I have two questions (which may or may not have the same answer):

1. What was the Bad Wolf reference?

2. Did anyone see what was written on the front of the house where the kids had dinner? Something like "we don't live here" I think.


1. It's very subtle and it's in the scene where Nancy (who is incidentally carrying food) says to the Doctor something along the lines of "what big ears you have". Clever, huh?

2. I think it said "Living in the Blast"

"We are still living in this blasted place". There are air warden cautions placed on the house, and this is the response.

I loved this episode. Eldest daughter has just gone to bed clutching not only her bear-of-courage but also her sister's pig-of-extreme-courage. She rated it a 5 of 5 for scary.

My, what big ears CE has! *hee*

And the best part was when the BBC actually showed the trailer for next week's edition *after* the credits and with a *warning* not to look. Someone has been paying attention.

Loved the veiled "Bad Wolf" reference as well. This was really a very polished and atmospheric production with just the right amount of menace. In many ways this was a very traditional "Doctor Who" story that has the "new series" values. It is a pretty good template for other writers to follow.

Having said that, I would also like to see some stories that don't follow the mould, such as "Father's Day". We are so very lucky to have a programme that is so flexible in it's format and has the balls to be experimental too. But then, I always thought that "Doctor Who" was very good at being at the cutting edge of storytelling. Overall I have really enjoyed this series. Well done to all involved.

It was pretty damn good, wasn't it?

I'm going to wait to review this one though, doing it as a complete story together with the second part.

Definitely the best episode so far though.

Just fantastic! The morphing scene was the most unsettling thing I've viewed in ages. Taking out the scull cracking sound effect made no difference to how creepy it was. The eyes were the worst bit...brrrrrrrrr!

Will be on the edge of my seat until next week.

Better and Better! :-)

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