Human Nature/The Family of Blood
By Paul Cornell
“Because I've seen him. He's like fire and ice and rage. He's like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and he can see the turn of the universe. And he's wonderful.”
For fans of the old Doctor Who book range that was published by Virgin Publishing all those many years ago Human Nature is the story for them. Originally published in May 1995 Paul Cornell took the plot from his book and made it into the David Tennant story we all enjoy now. While I was reading this book 18 years ago I considered Human Nature to be one of the best novels in the Virgin Doctor Who line. So way back in 2007 when I heard it was going to be made into a TV adventure loosely adapted from print to screen I had some reservations. Would it be just as good in its new form and would be kept from the original.
Well to be honest this two part adventure is one of the best stories in the David Tennant era. Here you have a story that has not been attempted before on television. What a unique concept they pulled off by having The Doctor become human with no trace of his Time Lord self with new memories and identity programmed in by the TARDIS. The reason to make him human is different from the book. While in the book it was more of a curiosity while on TV it was out of desperation to hide from the Family. The Family of Blood wants to live forever and need The Doctor’s essence to achieve it hence why he decides to hide from them by making himself human.
Human nature is slow moving which in effect does not hinder the story at all. In fact the pace of Human Nature helps you experience and get to know what is eventually going to happen to The Doctor and what he eventually becomes when he is human. You see the developing relationship between The Doctor and Joan and how it materializes into something more than just friends. They have struck up a relationship at the school they work at which has Martha worried because nowhere in the directions left for her does it say what to do if he falls in love.
The Pace of The Family of Blood is a lot faster and action packed. At times the episode was very intense and kept you on the edge of your seat as to what would happen next and what John Smith would eventually do and then the sad ending you knew was going to happen. You knew that The Doctor was going to change back to a Time Lord and break Joan’s heart and that sequence of the story is one of the saddest I have seen in the shows history which there hasn’t been many until the New series and the way the writers have decided to try different things.
The main villain Baines played by Harry Lloyd was excellent in that part. The former Will Scarlet from the last Robin Hood series had a type of freaky and creepy quality to him that just made the villain that more memorable. Harry Lloyds performance was one of the best for a bad guy in the new Who series. I also liked the performance of Thomas Sangster who played Tim Latimer whose character actually helps The Doctor out of a couple of jams. He was excellent as the creepy kid that was lurking around in the background who actually has a major part to play. The scarecrows were pretty cool also. The way they walked around menacing everyone was pretty cool and I really liked how creepy they were. That image always stayed with me from the book and it was good to see it in the TV show.
All those performances pale to the one that David Tennant turns in. His portrayal of John Smith was by far and away one of his best performances during his era in Doctor Who. In fact it ranks right up there with the all-time best performances by an actor playing The Doctor. You could really believe the pain that John Smith was in when everything in his world started collapsing in around him. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for him as you knew he would sacrifice his relationship with Joan to bring The Doctor back. Just watching that performance you could see what RTD saw in him when he choose him to be The Doctor. Human Nature/ The Family of Blood is one of my favorite David Tennant stories of all time and one of my favorite Doctor Who stories also and is one that still holds up well today.Grade A