Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

Doctor Who 
The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances 
By Steven Moffat
“What's life? Life's easy. A quirk of matter. Nature's way of keeping meat fresh. Nothing to a nanogene. One problem, though. These nanogenes, they're not like the ones on your ship. This lot have never seen a human being before. Don't know what a human being's supposed to look like. All they've got to go on is one little body, and there's not a lot left. But they carry right on. They do what they're programmed to do. They patch it up. Can't tell what's gasmask and what's skull, but they do their best. Then off they fly, off they go, work to be done. Because, you see, now they think they know what people should look like, and it's time to fix all the rest. And they won't ever stop. They won't ever, ever stop. The entire human race is going to be torn down and rebuilt in the form of one terrified child looking for its mother, and nothing in the world can stop it!”

The Doctor and Rose are chasing a metal cylinder through the time vortex.  It is a high priority and The Doctor uses the TARDIS computers to lock in on it and follows it to Earth.  They land in London in the year 1941 during the height of German bombing blitz.  The problem is it will be difficult for The Doctor and Rose to find the cylinder as it is war time and the army is guarding it.  Rose wanders off and ends up getting caught hanging onto the rope of a barrage balloon as she was trying to help a kid on a roof wearing a gas mask.  She is soon rescued by the mysterious Captain Jack Harkness who knows where the cylinder is and wants to sell it for profit and wants to make a deal with Rose and The Doctor.

 Meanwhile The Doctor is curious about the mysterious girl named Nancy who is walking around during the airraid.  She appears to know more about the kid with the gas mask than she is letting on and The Doctor is worried about what the kid is and can do.  Nancy tells The Doctor to go to the hospital and see Doctor Constantine. The Doctor arrives at the hospital and is shocked at what he sees.  He sees tons of patients that have the same symptoms as the kid with the gas mask.  Doctor  Constantine tells The Doctor that the epidemic is spreading and not to let them touch you.  The Doctor realizes what is going on and if he does not act quickly the entire human race will be wearing gas masks on their face.

 The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances is the story that got the behind the sofa feel back to Doctor Who.  For the first time during the reboot we were treated to a story that was dark and scary and that kid in the gas mask was downright creepy.   This two part story is what Doctor Who should be.  What makes you scratch your head is that Steven Moffat wrote it and it is unfortunate that he hasn’t really incorporated this style of writing more in the Matt Smith era.  Hopefully he does during the Peter Capaldi era but for me when Steven Moffat writes in this way it is very good and I generally will like it.  Ok I will 100% like it.

This story also introduces one of the new series better and extremely popular reoccurring character Captain Jack Harkness.  I like Captain Jack and watching again his first appearance made me think how different his character was but in a way not to different.  There was all the charm of the flirt and bravado of the playboy but also he showed a conscious towards the end when he knew he had to do the right thing when he realized he was responsible for causing all the problems with the nanogenes.  Steven Moffat is responsible for creating two characters that are now a part of the show mythos in River Song and Captain Jack and I for one think Jack is the better of the two.  It is funny watching this story and thinking of what Captain Jack has become since with his own show Torchwood and his return to the show in Series 3.

What I loved about this story was that it was set during World War 2 which is a part of history that is recognizable and works well with the bombs and such which works with the plot of the story and adds to the spookiness of it considering everything is happening during an air raid and a majority of the population are in shelters.  So those wandering around not only have to watch for falling bombs but also the kid in the gas mask.  No take that for example.  Steven Moffat takes an ordinary object from that time period and makes it scarier than it originally was.  Bad enough people were wearing them in fear of being gassed by the Germans but now they were menaced by a little kid wearing one who had some freaky powers over the telephones.  Plus he kept saying “Are You My Mummy.” All the time and it just freaked you out every time he said it.  Another example of taking something so innocent and making it scary.

Like I said this story gave us the real behind the story moment of the new series and it was a welcome sight in a series that was lacking in scary.  Plus The Empty Child /Doctor Dances gave us a really good ending that makes you feel good as Jamie was brought back to life and reunited with his mother. Like The Doctor says everyone needs a day like this and The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances is the one that everyone needs to watch from time to time.  It is a true classic for the new series and the first of many for Steven Moffat.
Grade A

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