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Home > Series 4 Reviews > The Doctor's Daughter

The Doctor's Daughter Reviews

Hell Hath No Fury

Let's get over the hype. The hype has nothing to do with this episode.

An interesting set-up is what we have here, and let's try to side-step the fact that it was sabotaged by the speculation built around the title.

The episode is extremely fast-paced and opens with gusto, following on from the previous story's cliffhanger, something which harks back to the very beginnings of the show, and something I would like to see more of. It was in point of fact a plot contrivance to get Martha onboard when she'd already opted for a life on Earth, but with Freema Agyeman contractually obliged to appear again, it was their way of scooping her into an adventure.

So the Doctor's arm gets abused by a machine and, in a gorgeous musical homage to the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, we are presented with his gorgeous offspring.

She's a reasonbly credible kid version of the Doctor. Considering the fact that his real granddaughter Susan was naieve, whimpering, cowardly, irritating and generally useless, this new version seems a much more likely member of his family. Cheeky, slightly irritating in a nice way, bold, and good-looking.

I love Doctor Who most when it has a very traditional format. That's not to say I like ordinary or boring stories, but if I had to give an example of the perfect Doctor Who adventure, I'd say it would be one where he lands in a mysterious tunnel, discovers some classically designed aliens (two arms, two legs, with fun heads), then is forced to side with humans against monsters whose agenda is unclear, until he can figure out the mystery at the centre of the plot. This can loosely be applied to the likes of The Web of Fear, The Silurians, Terror of the Zygons, and various other classics from down the ages. This same template can be applied to The Doctor's Daughter and for that reason alone it pleases me.

Add to this the concept of the Doctor dealing with fatherhood and you have a very interesting story. It bats backwards and forwards between the simpler, classic tale of human versus monster, and the deeper more emotionally-driven scenes of 21st century Doctor Who. The moment when the Doctor tells Donna he's been a father before, and how they left a painful gap in his life is probably the most stark and honest the Doctor has been since he last mentioned his family in Tomb of the Cybermen. It is simply beautiful. These moments where the Time Lord opens up and lets his true feelings show are a rare delight. Every Doctor puts on a show most of the time. Constantly performing for their companions. But sometimes the mask slips. Like when Steven storms out of the TARDIS at the end of The Massacre and a deflated first Doctor is abandoned to sit, alone, reflecting on all the people who have left him. This Time Lord cuts a very tragic figure even before we learnt of the loss of his family, possibly at his own hands if they were destroyed in the Time War. The Seventh Doctor in The Curse of Fenric didn't even seem to know if his family was alive.

The episode's traditional path continues as one companion (in this case Martha) is separated off and joins in with the aliens. The Hath have come in for a bit of a hard time but they're a great design and there's far more movement in the masks than people are giving credit for. The head is flexible on the shouders and the eyes move. I think that their lack of a mouth hinders their performance, and the fact that the one who sacrifices himself can't even mimic a scream perhaps bolsters the idea they're one-dimensions. But I like them anyway.

The story is cleverly layered with biblical references.

The Doctor mentions early on that the whole premise of the society is a creation myth, so that is staring us in the face. But then consider the fact that we have the Doctor, a god in his own right, who decends from on high with his suddenly created child, of immaculate conception, who is ultimately sacrificed for the humans, whose sins are forgiven by "god" - who turns the other cheek when he could have taken revenge.

Then you have the fact that their underground world was created in seven days, and the story ultimately leads back towards the dawn of the creation of the settlement, where we find a lush Eden paradise.

After the human Judas reveals his true colours, the marty child of "god" rises again and ascends into heaven to join her father, in spirit at least.

And a good thing too. The youthful brilliance and over-eager qualities of the eponymous heroine make her a very interesting character and one who it would have been foolish to kill off. If only the story hadn't been so otherwise crowded with other leading females, things could have been more evenly balanced.

The story does okay handling both Marth and Donna, although the former is still a very inconsistent character. We're supposed to believe she's walked the Earth and become some world-weary super-woman who has seen the dessimation of life on Earth, and yet she becomes totally hysterical when some fish-bloke disappears under muddy water. Even if we were to assume the Hath couldn't breathe the water, he can't breathe air either, which is why he has his bubble box on his face. So I'm guessing that the Hath is still down there, getting very bored, and assuming she's coming back to rescue him at some point.

Personally, another exceptionally high-quality and thought-provoking episode

A Poor Relation

If any episode in the fourth series had been eagerly anticipated, it was this one. The title, “The Doctor’s Daughter”, has fuelled no end of rumours over the last few months as to how the eponymous heroine would be introduced. It took less than three minutes to end all of the speculation. The ‘Doctor’s Daughter’ was nothing to do with the Looms, Susan, or the Time War. She was the product of a swiftly healing scratch on the back of his hand!

I really wanted to enjoy this episode. On second viewing, I warmed to the concept of the ‘generations’ of troops going to war over a mere seven days. That was until I realised that one generation would have survived for seven days to put up the date signs before all the other generations happened In the intervening time – a major plot hole! This wasn’t the only plot hole. The whole premise for the TARDIS being hijacked in the first place was flawed. I struggle to buy into the concept that the Doctor’s hand suddenly steered the TARDIS to Messilene at a time before Jenny had been created thus allowing her to be created. This was another example of poor scripting that was lazy and clumsy.

On a positive note, the realisation of Jenny was fantastic (primarily due to the wonderful portrayal by Georgia Moffett). Was it me, or did Murray Gold inject a theme reminiscent of ‘Hitch Hikers’ just prior to the opening titles as a homage to her mother? I really believed in her as a character and loved the acrobatic scene through the laser beams. I look forward to future appearances, particularly if she is given a good script to work with (cue Moffatt for Moffett!)

Sadly, however, the episode failed to hit its mark. The regular cast struggled with Tennant reduced to a ‘shouty and moody’ Doctor that is not appealing. Martha had a better outing than previous episodes but still struggled. She managed to fall into a glaringly obvious ditch and suddenly seemed to be an expert on Time Lord regeneration and the associated ‘signs’ despite never having witnessed such an event.

Dialogue and characterisation were poor, in particular with General Cobb. His sole existence seemed to be to shout “At arms” and act as sole preservation for the Bristol accent in the future of mankind. He was also lumbered with the worst line of the episode – “erase every stinking Hath”. The one saving grace was Catherine Tate who is swiftly becoming the best companion of all time.

Which brings me to the Hath. They were reminiscent of Davison era Sea Devils and have to be the most poorly realised aliens of the new series. At the beginning when one kidnaps Martha, it looks just like a man in a rigid plastic costume. Hardly the high standards we expect nowadays. The interesting plot device of making them communicate in bubbles was negated by the fact that Martha seemed to understand everything they ‘said’.

Scratch the surface on this episode and it shows its true colours as one of the poorest of the new series. There were so many elements that could have been better. Even Murray Gold had little to contribute with a lot of rehashed musical themes being used. The one positive element was Jenny and I look forward to her return with keen anticipation.

Andy from Doncaster


Since the announcement of the title of this story DW fandom had been going mental. It was going to be sacrilege to the show to give him a daughter.

Forums were busting. The writers were saying it "will do exactly what it says on the tin". Me, I try to let that go past me these days. DW forums are almost as nutty as darts forums!

And anyway, his first companion was his Granddaughter, so where's the problem?

Anyway it was a trick. She wasn't really his daughter. Just an artificially genetically created person. Technically part of him, but not really his daughter.

So what did it do for the story? Well it added a layer to what at the end of the day was fairly standard sci-fi stuff. Not bad stuff, pretty enjoyable, but maybe not as good as what we had seen before. The concept of the story was fairly old hat.

Maybe they were counting on the who daughter stuff to make up for some of the stories failings? For example the Hath masks. These looked OK but were all a bit static and dry looking. Maybe too colourful aswell?

So I enjoyed it overall, but not blown away. Its interesting to know this new character will be out there somewhere just waiting for a spin-off show!

Jay from Bristol

A Preview

Landing in an underground alien world, the Doctor becomes separated from Martha thanks to a gung-ho soldier who has the right to call him "dad"! Martha's separation leaves her in the hands of the fish-faced Hath, meanwhile Donna and the Doctor get to grips with daughter Jenny and her fellow soldiers. Both sides turn out to be fighting towards the same objective in a conflict which has seen countless deaths over generations. Will the Doctor's Daughter just become one more casualty of war? And what secret do the numbers on the walls hide?
Firstly, I'm not going to explain anything about Jenny's origins. This may seem odd because it is a "secret" that is revealed before the title sequence so it is by no means the big twist at the end. However, it hasn't been revealed in the official promo material, so I'm not going to be the one to spoil it for you.

You'll be wondering whether Jenny is Susan's mother, or an imposter, or perhaps a step-daughter, or maybe even a parallel relation created by a rift in time. You'll no doubt have twigged that the TARDIS's erratic behaviour at the end of The Poison Sky was a kind of automatic homing system designed to bring the Doctor into contact with his offspring, therefore suggesting she is the real deal, but I'm afraid you can be teased for a few more days yet.

This episode was nothing like what I expected, for many reasons. Firstly the explanation behind Jenny was actually the last thing I was hoping for. But am I a traditionalist desperate to keep the Doctor's past life a mystery? Or am I so fascinated by Susan's part in the Doctor's life that I am eager to find out why he ended up taking her away from Gallifrey? All I will say is that I had decided upon one particular theory, and I was disappointed when the plot went in the other direction.

The Doctor says in this episode that he's dealt with the loss of his family once already, and now finding this daughter being a solider at war, he doesn't want to go through it all again. This harks back nicely to Tomb of the Cybermen when he first discusses them. But of course we knew of his granddaughter long before Tomb, so it's always somewhat surprising that talk of the Doctor's family makes fans prickle. I suppose it's because Susan was so much of a mystery that her presence never actually gave us any additional information about the plight of the time-travelers. All we knew is that they can't return home for some reason, but they hope to one day. Not once does Susan refer to "mother" or "father", presumably because it's too upsetting. Or maybe she simply never knew them.

Ignoring the emotional question of whether or not the Doctor truly has any living relatives, it is also a big question as to whether or not he is the last of the Time Lords. The arrival of Jenny with her twin hearts, razor sharp mind, and physical prowess shows that there is someone else to demonstrate just how brilliant Time Lords (or Time Ladies) are.

I think the main thing to say about this story is that it has something in common with Utopia. The story is weighted towards the key revelation about the character of Jenny, and the rest is largely secondary. If you chop the Master reveal off the end of Utopia then you're left with lots of savages running around in a quarry. The same is partly true of The Doctor's Daughter because the plot is relatively light if you take Jenny out of the equation, however the difference here is that the central premise is still interesting in its own right and the twist is extremely good. Whilst you could tell the story of the war without her, you can't tell her story without the war. Therefore I think the episode has more validity as a piece of science fiction than Utopia, which didn't have a great deal to link the presence of the Master with the woes of humanity in the far future.

The Hath are quite a good alien. Perhaps it would be a little too generous to suggest they're a convincing alien culture - their masks lack the lively animatronics of the Judoon, or the human eyes and mouth of the Sontarans, and therefore they do seem quite static. However they're quirky and I have a massive soft spot for a fun alien race. One gripe I do have is the fact that the TARDIS doesn't translate these aliens' speech. Only aliens without the mental capacity for complex communication (such as the Zarbi) have previously foiled the TARDIS's telepathic circuits. The Hath are clearly a sophisticated culture and there's no reason why their bubbles shouldn't be turned into words!

And so to the real focus of the episode: Georgia Moffett. She is quite simply breathtaking. She is the heart and soul of the episode. Phenomenally beautiful, extremely charming, lively and a brilliantly natural actor. She has now knocked Carey Mulligan off the top of my list of Guest Stars Who I Wish Were Regulars. She has some great lines, and is just a delight alongside David Tennant. In fact, so dazzling is her presence and so powerful her impact, that it's easy to forget Martha and Donna are even in the episode - although the latter does solves the mystery of the numbers.

The twist in the tale is thought-provoking, if a tiny bit preposterous, but this is Doctor Who and we've happily believed far stranger things. It's a very good concept and the short story feel to it serves to give breathing space to the characters' relationships which need to be explored.

The thoughts and feelings which Jenny forces the Doctor to deal with are very interesting but some of the scraps of information thrown our way do produce more questions than answers. This is no bad thing as the whole series has been driven by mystery since it started.

I suppose the title of this episode is almost a curse. Fans may be excited by it or fear it regardless of the explanation behind it - and it would never have been possible to hide the title until the day of transmission. However, when you see the episode you'll realise there was only one title possible. To have called this episode something related to the aliens, such as The Hath Paradox would have been to belittle the superb character of Jenny and the brilliant consequences and possibilities that this story leaves in its wake.

Excellent, interesting and exhilarating Doctor Who.

The Doctor's Daughter Guest Preview

Since the announcement of the story title the questions on all fans lips has been "is it a trick title" and "if not, how?"

The answer is revealed even before the title sequence kicks in but it takes the rest of the story to play out all the details.

Bit of a first for the revamped Doctor Who (at least since the end of Frontios into Resurrection of the Daleks in the classic series) in that last week's story ends on a cliffhanger despite the stories being unconnected.

The Doctor, Donna and Martha arrive on a distant planet at war, we're quickly introduced to both sides and our heroes are separated. Martha unwittingly joins the Hath (a kind of fishes head on a humanoid shaped body that comunicate by blowing bubbles in a little glass cylinder in their mouths) and the rest are taken by the humans.

A rather gloomy episode unfolds of the battle between the two sides but, like Utopia before it, this is really a backdrop to the relationship between the Doctor and Jenny, 'the daughter' of the title. There's some nice moments toying with both their differences and their similarities and Donna works brilliantly as a relationship councellor between the two.

David Tennant is especially superb and acts his socks off here as a man sickened by war. The 'will he, won't he' scene will leave you holding your breath.

You'll see the ending coming a mile off and, although it lifts the mood, it feels a bit rushed and bolted on.

Not a classic but a strong story with a satisfying twist to the war plot.

Gary from London

Next episode - The Unicorn and the Wasp


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