Thursday, 15 August 2013

Rooksburg Reviews: Father's Day

Doctor Who s1e08: Father's Day

Rose comes to the realisation that she can travel to any point in time, and uses the opportunity to visit her father, who she never knew.  She witnesses his death, and as she laments that he died alone, she convinces the Doctor to go back so she could comfort him.  Instead, she saves his life, causing a paradox and attracting the attention of the Reapers, creatures that feed on paradoxes which would result in...

Seriously, who designed this??
Sigh, we've already reached this episode's fatal flaw and that's the lack of explanation as to what the Reapers are and how they work.  All that is said about them in-universe is that the timelords could prevent them getting involved when they caused paradoxes, and that they are like bacteria that sterilise the wounds of time.  The implication is that they are 4th dimensional beings that can only break through when the walls of time are thinner, at which point they consume everything around them unless the paradox resolves itself; however due to the shoddy writing I found myself thinking they were some sort of time-police that were attempting to fix the paradox themselves, in which case it made no sense that the Doctor would try to stop them because he knew things had to be back the way they were.  Ultimately the Reapers are a great concept, but very poorly explained- and it doesn't help that they're so poorly designed, looking like a 5-year old's attempts at morphing several plasticine creatures together.

This story desperately wanted to explore how paradoxes work, but because it's an episode of Doctor Who they had to shoehorn a monster in somewhere.  It is clear they wanted to explore a variation of the grandfather paradox- Rose knows how her father died so goes back to save him, but if he lived then she wouldn't have had a reason to go back.  The usual resolution of this paradox is the victim dying a completely different way, which proves the time-traveller's attempts useless in the face of destiny.  That may be a bit depressing for a family show, so they dwell more on the butterfly effect- even an insignificant nobody could have a profound effect on history, based on all the little things adding up.  Throughout the episode the Doctor keeps reminding us that nobody's unimportant, and that countless variables made things the way they are.  Now they couldn't think of an appropriate way to wrap up the story, so along come the Reapers, ensuring the only thing changed in the history books is that Pete committed suicide rather than get killed in a freak hit-and-run incident.  Personally I would have preferred the alternate ending in which Pete survives and is motivated to build a successful business empire as seen in Rise of the Cybermen, but understandably they needed Earth to remain unchanged for future stories.

A touching father-daughter moment.
Regarding the characters, there's a fair amount of development.  We see what Rose's father was like (incidentally Shaun Dingwall is one of the better actors you'll see this series), and how Jackie used to be (as insufferable as always).  Young Mickey gives the performance you would expect from a child actor (I'm scared, but can't stop smiling because I'm on Doctor Who).  The Doctor has conflicting feelings regarding humans- one second Rose is 'just another stupid human' but the next he's comforting a soon to be wed couple saying they're the most important creatures in the universe, and ultimately he demonstrates his willingness to sacrifice himself for humanity.  Finally, Rose reveals how selfish and short-sighted she is.  It's heavily implied that she planned to save her father from the moment she knew the TARDIS was a time machine, with no thought to any repercussions, and even as the world dissolves around her she still seems unphased, and of course next episode it'll be as if nothing happened at all.  It is this episode above all others that makes me wonder how she could be anyone's favourite companion, and at the risk of sounding like a deranged fangirl, I can't believe she's the one the Doctor would fall in love with.

First Impressions: Not entirely sure what's going on, but it's alright
In Retrospect: Reapers are annoying, and why haven't they showed up in the countless other paradoxes throughout the series?

Why am I still watching this show when every episode seems to have such terrible flaws?

Next Time: The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances

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