Subscribe RSS
“Don’t touch the baby!” May 17

Father’s Day tugs at the heartstrings from the word go. It builds up the story of Rose’s dead father, pushing all the psychological buttons for you to come out the other end welling up. And hurrah for that.

Doctor Who can do anything, which makes me wary of accusations that an episode "isn’t Doctor Who." Writer Paul Cornell pushes the envelope here, telling a very different short story using the Who universe. And yet the requirements of the plot mean that only a few TV shows – and perhaps only Doctor Who – could tell this story. Time travel is a key element, clearly, but the nature of the show is that we blithely accept much of the time travel related setup. We suspend our disbelief because the central core of the story – of Rose coming to terms with her father’s life and Pete Tyler sacrificing himself for the world – rings true. Even some of the more random additions – the first telephone call and the Streets track on the radio, and even the odd bit with the TARDIS in the church – don’t detract from the episode.

The cast are terrific. Eccleston is at his best and Billie Piper’s reactions are utterly believable. For the first time, I enjoyed Camille Coduri’s performance, and Shaun Dingwall set a gold standard for Doctor Who guest stars. Joe Ahearne, who also directed Dalek, showed himself again to be the series’ most effective director so far.

There were some great moments: the Doctor finding the TARDIS reduced to a police box; Mickey swinging in the playground as everyone else disappears. The red monster point-of-view shots were reminiscent of “Classic Who” while the appearing/disappearing car reminded me a bit of Back to the Future, as did the scene where Pete asks Rose about his future (although it also reminded me of the Star Trek: TNG episode Yesterday’s Enterprise).

As with any story, there were little niggles. The Reapers can eat people but are too weak to smash a stained glass window. Can’t they just materialise in the church? Using with the TARDIS key to cause a really slow reconstruction of the TARDIS jarred (and the TARDIS then disappears again so it was also redundant plotwise).

There could only be one resolution to the plot, but that’s not a criticism. We are told at the beginning of Romeo & Juliet that it’s not going to end happily but it no more spoils the conclusion than knowing that Pete is going to die at the end of Father’s Day. Touching, dramatic and groundbreaking, Father’s Day may have to fight it out with Dalek – two stories very different but also similar in ways (“both alike in dignity”?) – to win the title of best of the series. But with five more episodes to come, that could all change…

Comments are closed.