DOCTOR WHO “The Doctor’s Daughter”: Buffy the Dalek Slayer?

Well. That was…

Er, I suppose if you squint a little…

Yeah, I didn’t get that at all.

I mean, I can understand the plot–a war breaks out, largely fought by clone-soldiers who are so quickly killed and replicated that the origins of the war are lost across generations of clones within seven days–even if the execution of said plot is, to put it kindly, haphazard (this is not helped by Sci Fi’s worst editing butchery of the season–surely there’s a scene between Donna calling the Doctor’s cloned offspring “G.I. Jane” and the clone introducing herself as “Jenny” to explain why she doesn’t call herself, you know, Jane).

But I don’t understand the story. So much of New Who is about the Doctor’s loneliness and isolation, leading to the construction of his non-Time Lord “family.” But where does this new “daughter” fit into everything? Is she supposed to be like him, or not? Since when did Martha Jones, wonderful though she is, become an expert on Time Lord physiology, and why are we listening to her when she immediately says Jenny will neither survive nor regenerate? After all, they’ve made it amply clear that she and the Doctor weren’t, well, playing doctor. Why would they bother to take Jenny away from the Doctor but then not have her be dead after all, especially when so much of the new series has been about taking everything they can away from the Doctor?

Most frustrating is that this story should have been wonderful. As is typical, David Tennant is brilliant in cracking open the door on what the Doctor lost in the Time War, but those moments are tiny gems amid such nonsense as making sure Donna and Martha aren’t cloned, too, or gymnastic tributes to Britney Spears (I’m not joking). Georgia Moffett, despite having been cloned with copious amounts of eyeliner, is charismatic and open as Jenny. And Catherine Tate continues to shine as her Donna solves both the mystery of the base and the mystery of the Doctor’s reluctance. It’s hard not to feel as though these actors are having to work awfully hard to keep a bunch of random bits afloat, though. So often it seems like Doctor Who isn’t able to generate enough story to fill both halves of a two-parter, but this episode would have benefited from room to stretch out into a second episode so the Doctor’s gradual thaw toward his sorta-daughter could have weight and meaning behind it, rather than her “death” seeming like a retread of the Master’s demise. According to the show’s BBC podcast, Jenny was supposed to remain dead but was saved at the last minute at the request of Steven Moffat. Given the recent news that Moffat is taking over the Who show-running duties, we can presume that we haven’t seen the last of Jenny–but will her place in the Doctor’s story make any more sense when we see her next?

Speaking of the podcast, may I suggest you seek it out? That way, instead of listening to me bristle about plot holes the size of the TARDIS interior, you can listen to certified geek Tennant poke at them instead. First, he’s more genial about it than I would be; second, he’s sitting right next to executive producer Russell T Davies, so you can hear the weak sauce excuses in real time. Greatest hits include:

If the TARDIS is right there, why can’t it translate the Hath language? (It is! Sort of. Can’t you hear it?)

General Cobb is older than all the other soldiers–is he an original settler, or a clone that’s survived more than one generation, or…huh? (Yes. Maybe. Or maybe sometimes the cloning machine just makes older copies. And I quote Davies here: “Did you like the way I just made that up?” No. No, I did not.)

Did that fish just drown?! (Yes–didn’t you hear the glass-breaking sound we added so you’ll think the Hath’s gas mask broke?)

Perhaps in the end, we’ll go with Neil Gaiman’s take on things:

Maddy and I agreed that there were bits of plot in “The Doctor’s Daughter” that necessitated not just suspension of one’s disbelief but the surgical extraction of said disbelief before dangling it over a vat of bubbling acid in the hopes that it would shut up.

If anyone knows what tools are best suited for extracting one’s disbelief, please forward before this episode is rebroadcast. Thanking you in advance.


6 thoughts on “DOCTOR WHO “The Doctor’s Daughter”: Buffy the Dalek Slayer?

  1. I didn’t realize Steven Moffat asked for Jenny to come back alive! That actually gives me hope that her storyline won’t be ridiculous in the future. I have great faith in Steven – I really hope he is able to carry the series. 🙂

  2. My daughter was really bothered by all the holes in this episode. When a nine-year-old is poking holes in your plot? You’re on seriously shaky ground.

    I mean, I’ve always allowed room for some jiggery pokery (that’s a technical term) because it’s a kid’s show not hard sci fi, but if you’re not even convincing your target demographic then things have gone badly off the rails.

  3. There better be more “good’ than “bad” in series 4 or I may have to plug my ears and say “not listening” a few hundred times. I so like Donna….

  4. I think Maddy and The Munchkin would get along swimmingly.

    Heather, I think there’s lots more good than bad in this series. The Sontaran two-parter…is what it is, but I still think it’s a step above both “Aliens of London”/”WWIII” and The Great Dalek Caper as an early-season two-parter, and I don’t think it’s any worse than “Rise of the Cybermen”/”Age of Steel” (although I get the impression I may be in a minority there). Then there’s “The Doctor’s Daughter”, but, you know, “Fear Her”. And “The Long Game”. And “The Lazarus Experiment”. They have a dud every year–it’s just that the subject matter of this dud hurts. I liked Pompeii better than you did, I think, and I think the other episodes in this series have been very strong, so if they finish up well, it might be the best series of New Who yet. Hope remains!

    I’ll be very curious to see Moffat as showrunner–I think his eps are starting to show a bit of the repetition people accuse Davies of, but I really like what he does, so I kind of don’t care if there’s a little repetition (the same is true of Davies).

  5. Pingback: DOCTOR WHO “Midnight”: Curious Doctor Chose to Linger « TV BACON

  6. I think this episode brought up a lot of facts on Doc’s past life on Gallifrey (such as-he had a family before the Temporal War),and one of the best parts of it was him sayin’ he “didn’t want to suffer another loss” since at the end he accepts her as his own,maybe not a fully fledged Time Lord,but one of his own nevertheless.
    As far as the flaws go,true dat,the episode has an enormous amount of flaws,but considering the fact that his so-called daughter survives,something tells me we might see her again,maybe even as a villain (given her military mentality,wouldn’t be too big of a surprise),all just meant to attract her dad’s attention. 🙂

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