Monday, September 30, 2013

Father's Day - "You were there for us all the time. Someone I could really rely on." "That's not me. "

Father's Day (TV story) - Tardis Data Core, the Doctor Who Wiki

Series 1, Story 8 (Overall Series Story #163)

On paper, this is a story that should have tore me down and become my instant favorite. It's good. It's a move in the right direction after the misstep that was "The Long Game." And yet, while I can't point to this or that and say, "That was the wrong way to go about it," or, "The (actor/director/writer) messed up here and blew the (scene/tone of the story/theme) here," I can only say I liked this one, not that I loved it.

We learn as the story openst that Rose grew up with romantic vision of her father based on Jackie's description of him, and she longed for that connection to her dad. Understandable. When you're a kid, your dad is, sort of by definition, the greatest guy in the world and, provided he's not one of those abusive monsters, any time you lose you imagine would have been best time you possibly could have had. So, we came about it different ways, but as a tyke I had a similar sense of lost time with that idealized dad. The way Rose wants to connect, and then makes the decision to interfere to save him, even though she should know better, I get that.

Rose fixes history so she can there be for her dad in the end.
Rose, taking advantage of the time travel gig, decides to take matters into her own hands, save her dad, and rewrite this little bit of history. It's a decision that unleashes dragon-reaper-chronovore-ish flying, people-chomping (for no good reason and in apparent conflict with the problem they were there to rectify?) CGI creatures that trap a wedding party in a church. The solution the Doctor devises to escape the church had something to do with a cell-phone battery which I won't try to explain lest that be seen as colluding in the representation that it made sense. It all goes wrong anyways and dragon-reapers eat the Doctor so, of course, we know that's getting undone right quick. Pete has figured out what Rose has done, and that he needs to repair the damage by undoing it. He turns out to have the paternal instinct, if not the temperament, sacrificing himself to set things right.

My failure to connect with this story is not in keeping with the critical or popular assessment. It's well-acted, well-written (that's Paul Cornell for you) -- well, except for the cell-phone battery charging the TARDIS key leading to the predictable climax-- and rightly considered one of the stronger episodes of the Eccleston series. That I'm not quite as enamored with it is probably more to do with me than with the story itself.

See, Five? This is how you react to the TARDIS's apparent destruction.

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