Doctor Who, Television, TV Thursday

Doctor Who S1 E7-10: Are You My Nightmares? (TV Thursday)

My feelings on these four episodes are split. Quite literally. Two of these are among my least favorite episodes of the season, if not the whole series. The other two are among my favorites, as I believe them to be perfect examples of horror done well in Doctor Who. On top of that, those two episodes introduce one of the best characters in the whole series. One that I desperately wish would return in the new seasons.

Take a guess which episodes I’m referring too.

Episode 7: The Long Game
Directed By: Brian Grant
Written By: Russel T. Davies
Starring: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Bruno Langley and more
Run Time: 44 Minutes
Release Date: May 7th, 2005

Thank god they realized Adam couldn’t last more than two episodes. I hate this fucking idiot more than I hate my own reflection. Get him off my screen.

Shortly after the events of the previous episode, the Doctor, Rose and Adam head to Satellite 5 in the distant future. Here, the crew gets sucked into a mystery: those promoted to floor 500 never return. While the Doctor and Rose delve into this strange series of events, Adam goes off and ruins literally everything.

Honestly, I have almost nothing to say about this episode. The production values are on par with every other episode, the villains are bland and forgettable, and the plot is serviceable at best. All of the actors are doing a great job as usual, and the dialogue they have to work with is pretty solid. Plus, I think this episode has a pretty funny ending.

Mostly because Luke gets his just deserts. I can’t stress enough how much I dislike this character. He’s annoying, stupid, arrogant, and his every line of dialogue upsets me. The sooner he was gone, the happier I was.

It’s fine, but it’s forgettable. You won’t hate yourself watching it, but it’s far from the best episode this season. The same of which can be said for the next episode.

Episode 8: Father’s Day
Directed By: Joe Ahearne
Written By: Paul Cornell
Starring: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Camille Coduri, and more
Run Time: 42 Minutes
Release Date: May 14th, 2005

In this episode, Rose learns that time travel can be a real bitch sometimes!

Realizing that she could meet her long dead father, Rose requests that the Doctor take her back to the day of his death. However, Rose can’t control herself, and she quickly wraps both her and the Doctor up in a time paradox! Will the Doctor be able to set time straight and save the townsfolk from the strange Reapers? Or will Rose’s attempt to save her father end up getting more people killed?

This episode brings up some interesting insights onto how a time paradox works. The Reapers are pretty cool aliens, with intimidating abilities and some neat designs behind them. They could have made for some neat recurring villains for when the Doctor pushes his time travel shenanigans a little too far.

Shame they never come back after this. Ever.

This episode also gave us a first taste of Rose’s father, Pete Tyler. He’s a fine character, and his role in the next season is pretty fun. The episode goes to great lengths to connect you to him, get you emotionally invested in his character. Thus, it’s genuinely sad when he rushes out to sacrifice himself.

This is an above average episode for the season. It’s far from the best, but it’s still really solid. It’s emotional, interesting, and it expands the world of Doctor Who pretty well. Even if it is kind of thrown away.

But the real highlight of today’s post is the next two episodes.

Episodes 9-10: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
Directed By: James Hawes
Written By: Steven Moffat
Starring: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Kate Harvey, Albert Valentine, and more
Run Time: 41 Minutes, 42 Minutes
Release Dates: May 21st/28th, 2005

Steven Moffat gets a lot of flack these days. Sure, the quality of his episodes as show runner quickly descended in quality (though Season 5 is still my absolute favorite of the Revival Era). But in our fury, we as fans seem to forget the episodes that we love. We seem to forget that Moffat used to give us some of the best episodes. Blink, as well as most other Weeping Angel episodes (I said most) and Silence in the Library are some of the most frightening, engaging episodes we’d ever get. The same of which can be said for these two episodes!

In this two-part story, the Doctor and Rose head back to World War 2. Getting separated, both find themselves on separate adventures that put them on a crash course with a mysterious plague affecting the townsfolk. With the aid of new friend and gorgeous hunk of man meat (I’m not gay, but this guy makes me wish I was) Captain Jack Harkness, will they be able to save the town? Or will everyone there forever be trapped beneath a mask, desperately asking for their mommy?

These episodes scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. Watching them now, I thought I’d be over that fear. Yeah… no. No I am not. These episodes are still fucking scary as fucking hell!

The Empty Child is, in my opinion, the first fully realized New-Who monster. His abilities are frightening, from his psychic powers to his zombie-like infectious abilities. The constant and innocent cries of “Are you my mummy?” quickly become terrifying, especially given how everyone starts crying that out by the end. This kid can travel anywhere, seemingly instantaneously. Just when you think our heroes are safe, there he is. Asking the same bone chilling question. Over and over.

Zombies? Nah. If you want to give me nightmares, show me a kid in a gas mask.

Then we’ve got our unforgettable friend: Captain Jack. This gorgeous playboy is instantly likable, helped in no small part by the fantastic performance by John Barrowman. He immediately sweeps Rose right off her feet, and he acts as a great foil to the Doctor. Whereas the Doctor is a subversion of almost every science fiction hero in history, Captain Jack is more along the lines of your typical sci-fi hero: suave, cool, confident, and showing off at every turn. The Doctor is subtle; Jack is not. The Doctor is a pacifist; Jack will not hesitate. Their dynamic is endearing, engaging, and adds a whole new level of depth and fun to the TARDIS dynamic.

Thank any and every god out there that this guy sticks around for the rest of the season because good god did we need him!

I could go on and on, gushing about this episode. The visuals, aside from the usual special effects, are all excellent. The lighting is far better than usual,  the story is perfectly paced, the music is top tier levels of terrifying, and the empty black eyes of the gas masks go perfectly in creating dread. The only real flaw I can think of is that the cliffhanger, as is Doctor Who norm, is solved pretty poorly at the beginning of part two.

Even if it is pretty funny.

No one talks about these episodes anymore. I can understand why, considering the huge number of classic episodes that we’d get later. But this, if you ask me, is one of the best stories in the whole series. It’s horrifying from start to end, and oh! did I mention it has one of the sweetest, most satisfying endings in all of Doctor Who? Because it makes me grin from ear to ear every damn time!

Conclusion

So far? We’re still going strong! Most of the episodes thus far have just been okay. But when they’re good, they are damn good! Everyone tends to overlook Doctor #9 due to him only having one season. But when that season is as good as it is, it doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.

But hey! They never forgot the Empty Child. There have been at least two “Are you my mummy?” jokes after this episode. So we can take some small comfort, at least.

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