Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Doctor Who: The Empty Child (1)

Rose: 'Not very Spock, is it? Just asking.'

Well, Rose finally got to meet her Spock—and kind of went to pieces over him. I'm not gay, but I suspect that if I were (or a woman for that matter), then I'd probably go to pieces over him, too. Captain Jack Harkness (played by the impossibly handsome John Barrowman) is clearly one fine looking human—and he's everything that the Doctor isn't. He has a sexy spaceship, better (not to mention bigger) sonic equipment—in fact, he has all the trappings of a intergalactic hero. Even the way he wears his criminality is oddly charming. The man's damn near perfect.

Of course, shame on Rose for falling for him. What is it with her and that wandering eye? Initially she left boyfriend Mickey for the Doctor, a man with whom she has a currently undetermined fascination; then, in 'Dalek' she got all down and flirty with pretty boy Adam; and now, here she is falling for Captain Jack's rather smooth spiel and getting all breathless in the process. I guess geniuses (or maybe that's genii), and spacemen, are just Rose's type.

A very atmospheric tale tonight, with some genuinely eerie moments. War-torn London looked spectacular, and I enjoyed Rose's barrage balloon antics—but what on earth was she thinking, climbing up some random rope that just so happened to be hanging from the sky? Are barrage balloons seriously tethered with rope? I thought they were fastened by big steel cables. Likewise, why did she go after that spooky bemasked child without the Doctor? If I'd seen what Rose has seen these past few weeks, I'd be viewing every situation with extreme caution. Nothing is ever as it seems.

A lot was said when this season first aired about Russell T. Davies and his supposedly gay agenda—which makes it all the more amusing that the episode which first introduces the overtly omni-sexual Captain Jack, was written by Steven Moffat.  I don't recall anyone complaining about his a gay agenda—but that's probably because he's not gay. It's amazing how gay writers who write about gay characters have a gay agenda, yet straight writers who write about gay characters are just talented writers. Go figure!

Richard Wilson put in a sterling performance as Dr Constantine. Richard's in just about everything these days. Older British viewers may recognize him as cantankerous old fart Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave, and some of our younger viewers will no doubt recognise him from the current BBC series Merlin, or from new ITV show Demons (where he plays Father Simeon). I did NOT expect that gas mask to come out of his face! That was some impressive CGI.

I thought Eccleston made a decent effort too of the comedy. I'll be honest, I laugh more at his facial expressions than I do his delivery, but his 'thanks Miss' quip around the dinner table was both unexpected and jolly. It was also clever of Moffat to include a few digs at Eccleston's facial characteristics ('Do your ears have special powers too?'). That made me feel a little less guilty about laughing at Eccleston's somewhat unusual features.

Other Thoughts:

—The Doctor's response of 'I know the feeling' to Constantine's comment about once being a father and a grandfather is, I'm guessing, a reference to his granddaughter Susan Foreman—the Doctor's first companion.

—I probably don't have to mention the significance of the Spock reference. So, in not doing so, I just did.

—The name Chula comes from a restaurant in Hammersmith, where the writers used to congregate to discuss scripts.

Quotes:

Rose: 'What's the emergency?'
Doctor: 'It's mauve.'
Rose: 'Mauve?'
Doctor: 'Universally recognised colour for danger.'
Rose: 'What happened to red?'
Doctor: 'That's just humans. By everyone elses' standards, red's camp.'

Doctor: 'Know how long you can knock around space without happening to bump into Earth?'
Rose: 'Five days? Or is that when we're out of milk?

Rose: 'I think you should do a scan for alien tech. Give me some Spock for once. Would it kill you?'

Captain Jack: 'Can you switch off your cell phone? No, seriously. It interferes with my instruments.'
Rose: 'No one ever believes that.'

Nancy: 'Something wrong with that?'
Doctor: 'Wrong with it? It's brilliant. I'm not sure if it's Marxism in action or a West End musical.'

Doctor: 'I want to find a blonde in a Union Jack. I mean, a specific one. I didn't just wake up this morning with a craving.'

Rose: 'Okay, you have an invisible spaceship.'
Captain Jack: 'Yeah.'
Rose: 'Tethered up to Big Ben for some reason.'
Captain Jack: 'First rule of active camouflage. Park somewhere you'll remember.'

Dr Constantine: 'Before this war began, I was both a father and a grandfather. Now I'm neither. But I'm still a doctor.'
Doctor: 'Yeah. I know the feeling.'

Captain Jack: 'It's a real pleasure to meet you, Mr Spock.' (leaves)
Doctor: 'Mr Spock?'
Rose: 'What was I supposed to say? You don't have a name. Don't you ever get tired of 'doctor'? Doctor who?'
Doctor: 'Nine centuries in, I'm coping.'

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