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|First UK Transmission Date (BBC1)||Scheduled TX||Viewers|
|14th May 2005||19:00||8.06m|
Shaun Dingwall (Pete), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Frank Rozelaar-Green (Sonny),
Rhian James (Suzie), Eirlys Bellin (Bev), Christopher Llewellyn (Stuart), Natalie
Jones (Sarah), Casey Dyer (Young Mickey), Julia Joyce (Young Rose), Robert Barton
Writer: Paul Cornell, Director:
Synopsis: - Rose travels back to 1987
to witness the day her father died, but when she interferes in the course of events,
the monstrous Reapers are unleashed upon the world, and a wedding day turns into
a massacre. Even the Doctor is powerless, as the human race is devoured.
Day' Background and Summary: - Following the diversion of the inconsequential
The Long Game, Doctor Who returned to its new soap-opera basis with further
exploration Rose's emotional back-story. Once more this new series delivers a
story as if the the classic series had never existed and spells out in black and
white why the Doctor can't just travel back in time and fix things. It's another
"base under seige" formula, following Dalek
- one which served the Troughton years so well - and the premise of toying with
Rose's deepest emotions set expectations high for realistic implementation.
Paul Cornell's contribution to Doctor Who has been diverse. He had written
New Adventures, created the character of Bernice Summerfield, written Big Finish
stories and the webcast Scream of the Shalka. He delivers a more adult
and edgier Doctor Who than most and his contributions are generally highly
acclaimed. His novel Human Nature has been voted the best Doctor Who
book ever by readers of Doctor Who Magazine and there's little denying
that on the whole his Big Finish The Shadow of the Scourge had much to
commend it. Quite whether or not the webcast Scream of the Shalka ever
really achieved what it set out to do remains open to debate. Would Cornell's
skills as a writer overcome the problems inherant in the story outline he'd been
given by Russell T Davies?
To begin with this story does have some plot
hole issues. However big or small their impact on the viewer's personal enjoyment
of the episode, it's worth discussing the Doctor Who format and the vehicle
of time-travel as means of creating a story. This should not necessarily be taken
as a negative judgement on Father's Day but perhaps a warning on the issues
of turning an adventure serial into a time-travel serial.
Doctor Who bible always made it clear that stories should not revolve around
time travel and shouldn't be resolved by the Doctor travelling back in time. It
doesn't take a rocket-scientist to understand that the use of a time-machine leads
to very easy resolutions of tricky situations, as depicted brilliantly in the
Comic Relief version of Doctor Who in which the Doctor had a great deal
of help from his future self. The general adherenace to the rule makes it unusual
to the seasoned Doctor Who fan to experience a story which revolves entirely
around changing histoy and the 'terrible' consequences of time travel. Father's
Day's premise that the entire planet can be destroyed by saving the life of
one man is hard to swallow given the effect that the Doctor's tamperings must
have on a weekly basis. Only the previous week the Jagrafess had changed the time-line
for nearly a century without any fallout.
The Doctor has clearly stated in the past that
he can't just travel back and save specific lives, with the most obvious example
being Adric in Earthshock. But why? The Doctor saves lives all the time
with no knowledge of whether they should have died. His adventures have also resulted
in many deaths which should would not otherwise have happened, most recently in
The Unquiet Dead. And given the number of occasions he's crossed his own
time line, not least in Father's Day itself, some of the time laws which
are trotted out are meaningless.
In truth, these laws are there to be
bent or broken depending on the needs of the writer, but because of the afforementioned
inconsistency of the laws, stories which analyse them will be as flawed as the
laws themselves and therefore references to the consequences
of time-travel are best side-lined to throwaway moments such as in Pyramids
of Mars when the Doctor shows Sarah the future of Earth if they don't stop
Pyramids of Mars and the new series of Doctor Who
have both made clear that time is in flux and can be changed. This provides a
great deal of drama and is important within the series but dwelling on this fact
is not wise. Previously, both The Visitation and Mawdryn Undead
demonstrated that whatever the Doctor does throughout time has already been woven
into history and the past cannot be changed. In Father's Day, it's established
that the extinction of the Time Lords means any time-meddling can result in dragons
from the time vortex appearing and eating people. The appearance of this episode's
Reapers are explained by the "weak point in time" created by the paradox
which evolved as soon as Rose saved her father's life and created a situation
in which she had no reason to have travelled back to the past.
If a story
choses to discuss in detail what happens when time is altered, then it helps to
be backed up by some logic. Unfortunately Father's Day has very little.
For example, if the Reapers had been allowed to go about their curious task of
eating all the people, then sooner or later Rose's dad would have been a victim.
This death should have restored the time-line in a similar way to the car accident.
It's also never made clear what forces are actually at work to make the killer-car
randomly appear exactly where its needed and the audience is left to assume that
time itsself is somehow trying to fix the situation. The 'rules' of the story
are not clearly defined, and therefore the resolution is far too convenient and
again lacks logic. After Rose's father is killed a little later than he should
have been the paradox is resolved which mends the tear in time and sends the Reapers
back home, but there's no reason why the events of the episode should be void.
The time-line should continue with half the population of Earth dead and and there's
nothing to explain why the Doctor's death is reversed. Explanations were also
thin on the ground when it came to rebuilding the TARDIS out of the key and a
battery from a 1987 mobile phone - Curiously enough, an unlikely plot device lifted
from Cornell's previous work, Scream of the Shalka.
With all these problems in mind it must now be
pointed out that there is another story that shares all of the same paradox problems,
breaks all the rules of the Doctor Who bible and also contains at least
one scene which has no logical explanation. The story is City of Death
and is one of the most-loved Doctor Who stories. What it's important to
remember is that, along with the previously mentioned Pyramids of Mars,
many of the great Doctor Who stories don't stand up to too much scrutiny
and must just be enjoyed at face value.
Father's Day is a charming,
touching and ingenious story. The depth and development of the characters is exceptional.
Rose's emotional journey is delicatly done and all the scenes with her family
are convincing and couldn't have been handled better. The Doctor's heroic role
is typical of Cornell's portrayal of the character however it is a something of
a shame that, yet again, a supporting character saves the day.
has some beautiful moments and its wonderful to experience a life-long Doctor
Who fan crafting scenes which will live long in the memories of new fans. The
moment where Rose runs to save her father is great, the empty Police Box is inspired
and the golden TARDIS rebuilding itsself at the front of the church is beautiful.
On top of some excellent characterisation, there are the superb Reapers brought
to life with some convincing special effects.
This is an extremely thought-provoking
and enjoyable episode, despite some of the issues outlined above. These conceptual
hurdles are generally explained away with comments about the Time Lords no longer
existing and the weak point in time, but these worries shouldn't be allowed to
spoil an interesting formula.
54.9% of fans rated this story "excellent"
making up a good proportion of the 87.3% who rated it positively. 5.3% disliked
it for one reason or another. Perhaps more interestingly, in a poll of 130 fans
taken after the broadcast of this story, 26.7% voted Father's Day their
favourite, second only to Dalek which took 39.7%. Curiously in the same
poll, the much raved-about The Unquiet Dead managed only 11.5%, which was
the same number of votes as the less-than-loved The End of the World. There
was basically nothing to separate Rose, Aliens of London, World Ware Three
and The Long Game which all came in under 4%.
Overall then, an
undoubted success. Like many of the best Doctor Whos this story has to
be taken at face value. Just as other greats like Pyramids of Mars stood
up to little examination, Father's Day has a warmth about it which is hard
not to enjoy. It also gives Rose an explanation of sorts why time travel isn't
a ticket to re-write history, although precisely what the lesson is remains somewhat
murky - it's okay to change history a bit, and when the Doctor says so. The viewing
figures remained strong after Dalek, and the audience share was excellent.
The relative lack of advanced coverage of this story demonstrated that Doctor
Who was not a hype-driven show any more and it's opposition Celebrity Wrestling
had made it's last stand. But as the country became excited by the forthcoming
release of Revenge of the Sith, the following week was to be a major test
as Doctor Who went head-to-head with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
Classic Series Influences and References:
- The Doctor and his companion have met their current selves once before, equally
briefly, in The Day of the Daleks.
the Complete First Series
is an absolutely must for anyone who remotely enjoyed the new series of Doctor
Who. Unlikely the previous individual releases of episodes, the box set has extras
coming out of its ears. And whereas some box sets just have extras on the final
disc, this brilliant package has a selection of extras on each disk, plus the
entire set of Doctor Who confidential (cut down) on another disk.
much needs saying about the episodes themselves but commentaries on certain episodes
are almost worth the price alone. The commentaries of Rose, The Unquiet
Dead and Dalek are of particular note and the video diaries of certain
members of the team are very interesting and fun. The TARDIS container is a nice
package and overall, believe me this set of DVDs is well worth the asking price,
or probably more!