DOCTOR WHO: Season 1, Episode 7-10
Monday, September 2, 2013 at 11:04PM
WatchingPreacher in doctor who, doctor who, doctor who season 1

THE LONG GAME. Season 1, episode 7.

It's time for another weak episode before we head into the best and worst of the season. The Long Game introduces us to a great big space-station by the name of Satellite Five, and it doesn't take long until The Doctor, now traveling with Rose and Adam, figures out that something's very, very wrong - something's holding up humanity's place in time, changing their history. "Trouble?" asks Rose. "Oh yeah" The Doctor answers. Then they grin.

The Long Game isn't a terrible episode, but it isn't anything more than alright. It's the sort of episode where there's not a lot to write about, where most of it is just okay, but I'll try. We will, however, get back to this, along with certain other episodes, when we get closer to the end of the season.

First off, the infamous phone makes its return in this episode, as a plot-point. I hate the phone. I hate that you don't have to press, like, a time and date for your call. If they'd included that, I wouldn't be so mad at it then. But now? Fuck the phone. It makes no sense.

The episode is shockingly political for what the show usually is, focusing on the ways technology can be misused. Both the alien in the episode and Adam are using technology for their own selfish needs, and with The Doctor that is rarely a good thing.

Simon Pegg is amazing as the man in charge, and the episode does a great job of building up the mystery surrounding what's really going on. It also features some of the most icky visuals, now with spectacular-looking CGI - some of the best yet, in a while on this show; first it's the brain-openings, then the alien and, finally, the puke-ice-cubes. That last one might be the single most disgusting idea on this show.

In terms of The Doctor and Rose, not much happens in their relationship. The Doctor praises humanity, Rose is completely alright - she doesn't get to do much this time around - and the day is once again saved.

CONCLUSION: A good episode, but a bit too talky and interested in ideas instead of a story, and too much on autopilot.

RATING: 3 of 5 stars, 6/10, B-


- Adam fainting. I like it when characters have "normal" reactions to the insane things they see.

- This episode has a strange fascination with clicking fingers.





FATHER'S DAY. Season 1, episode 8.

All right. Here we go. This is, by far, one of the absolute shittiest episodes of Doctor Who...ever. Emotionally, it's good territory for an episode, and it's certainly been hinted to a couple of times already. As an episode, though... It's sloppy. Oh so sloppy.

Rose has never met her father, as he died in a tragic car crash when she was a baby. This episode sees The Doctor and Rose go back in time, to the date he dies, so that she can see him.

Already there are giant fucking neon signs being lit up in front of The Doctor's face, spelling out all the BILLION REASONS he has for not going along with this. This episode makes no fucking sense and this review isn't going to be a review, it's going to be a rant. I'm sorry for this, but when it comes to the sloppiest Doctor Who-episode ever made, I am breaking out my anger. I've tried to be professional during the other reviews, but BEWARE of this one. I'm breaking out the curse words.

Right. First up, why can't they save Rose's father when all they do is go around saving people? This could've been an interesting episode if it was built around the philosophical question of fate versus free will in time travel. Is The Doctor predestined to save people in other times? Is he bound by destiny, or is he a "wild card"? I just... don't understand. It makes no sense either in the context of the series or the episode.

The episode does a real number on Jackie, making her even more annoying and acting like a cunt than before, although I do like what it's doing with Jackie lying and Rose finding out the truth - that her parents didn't really get along.

And then come the aliens. Ooooohhh boy.

What makes this episode even more ridiculous is that later in the series they completely ignore it. "Time can be rewritten" is the way this series should be, or at least "timey-wimey-ball". The moment you start making up rules for time-travel, a whole slew of questions come up about free will, how this logically works (I mean, if The Doctor knows one history and comes to a history where something's changed, is his information outdated or misremembered? How can time and history change, and how can The Doctor know a different version of it, if the ones in charge of changing it doesn't have a time-machine?) On top of all this, at the end of this episode THE STORY JACKIE TELLS ROSE ABOUT PETE'S DEATH CHANGES. I don't... The idea is that things can change, but not people's death? But The Doctor saves people, and let's be honest, not just two or three people but MASSES of them, all the time! He did it just the previous episode, when he stopped Satellite 5's alien overlord from ruling over the human species. Unless, of course, history always told of someone, being The Doctor, who did that. But then how did The Doctor know that something in the history was wrong?

The Doctor talking to Rose as a baby is great, but how the fuck did The Doctor agree to this when two, no, THREE versions of Rose are in the same place? He's as much at fault here as Rose is, if not more.

Plus, the CGI is shoddy again. Fuck this episode.

CONCLUSION: The episode itself is a huge paradox in the series, not just the events we're presented. Logical flaws and endless questions about the nature of time-travel on this show pops up once the episode digs in, while it ignores it all for an ending that makes no sense with what they've said. In addition, none of the established rules ever comes back. It's an awkward, strange and stupid episode, though the emotions and intent of it has the potential to be great.

RATING: 1 out of 5, 2/10 and F.





THE EMPTY CHILD. Season 1, episode 9.
THE DOCTOR DANCES. Season 1, episode 10.

At last, we come to some good episodes. Moffat's first two episodes are a two-parter; "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances". They take The Doctor and Rose to London during the second world war, where they face creepy kids, captains, a goodhearted bitch and some science-fiction strangeness.

The Empty Child roars head-first into the story with a fantastic cold open, setting up the story we're about to be told in a quick and exciting manner; object loose in space, thirty seconds away from London, we're chasing it. It's simple, it creates mystery, interest and okay, yeah, I'll stop there. There'll be plenty of time later to praise Moffat.

The second two-parter in season one, this time with Moffat at the wheel, comes out of it a little better in terms of pacing than "Aliens of London" and "World War Three", but not quite. Doctor Who's "two-parter curse" strikes again, with The Empty Child being set-up after set-up. Sure, there's lots going on - Nancy and the children she looks after, Captain Jack and Rose, and let's not forget the creepy gasmask-kids, but it rarely feels like a story. Everyone's running away from not only the kids, but the answers too, as they try to figure out what's going on without dying in the process. And there's nothing quite wrong with that, except for the fact that as an audience you should never feel that you're watching someone set the table for something that's coming down the line. Doctor Who struggles with its first parts of the two-parters, and I get it; it's really, really hard. There's few of them who really are successful, but there are some. We'll see how they work once we get there.

There's a lot going on in The Empty Child, but it doesn't change the fact that the pace is slower than dripping syrup. The beats are there, but the cameras linger too long on a scene and the whole thing feels bloated. Later in the run, I feel like they got better at this; knowing where to pause instead of just filling in a second here and there, and knowing always to keep something happening. The later episodes have been a mad dash, sometimes a struggle just to keep up with, while these first-season episodes feel like a stroll in the park sometimes.

Nevertheless, a lot of interesting things are set up here; things that the series goes back to. There's Captain Jack and the Time Agents, there's no more period-appropriate costumes - making Rose wear a Union Jack is a great joke that never outstays its welcome - and there's real science fiction ideas. Plus, it's the first episode of Doctor Who that is really, really scary, even if the special effects don't hold up that well. The visual of the gasmask coming out of the doctor's mouth and taking over his face is creepy, even if the CG-work is a bit shoddy, and Jack's spaceship looks great. The rest of the effects are merely decent; not counting the physical stuff, like the inside of spaceships and the look of London in the 40's.

The phone's mentioned again, though thankfully not used. Another thing regarding the phone; how does it call home when there's no satellites around? And how about... nope, okay, I'm stopping with the phone. Never talking about it again. But it's stupid. I want it on record.

The cliffhanger to the first episode is pretty good, putting all the characters in the same type of harms way. And, with the cold open of "The Doctor Dances", we see the first example of Moffat's simple, yet logical, cleverness. "Go to your room!" Great stuff.

As usual, it's quickly followed up with a joke; "I'm glad that worked. Those would've been terrible last words!" Moffat has always been a great writer of dialogue, and these two episodes are no different, even if some of the actors seem to have problem with just how to make the dialogue sound believable, and not just like lines they've been fed. It's tricky, especially with clever and strange dialogue such as Moffat's, but that's really no excuse. Sometimes, you can hear beats not landing, and the actors all seem glad when they're done speaking for a while.

That goes for Christopher Eccleston too, who seems to have real problems in "The Empty Child". However, his performance in "The Doctor Dances" is so great that it makes up for it. He obviously understood what he was going for sometime during filming.

The second episode relentless and effective, pushing the characters into sets of problems, then seeing them finding clever solutions; from the room to the hall to another floor to a closet, every time "Right. How do we get out of here?", in a mad dash not to get trapped or dead. As mentioned it's also one of the creepiest episodes, and if you thought the "Mummy. Where's my mummy?" of the first part was creepy, wait till you hear lines such as "End of the tape. It ran out about 30 seconds ago." and "So who's typing?". Moffat displays his excellent task of making mundane and normal things - blinking, things outside our field of vision - turned on their head, making them terrifying in the process. It's not quite the same thing, but it is in the same ballpark.

Then there's Nancy. I really hope these episodes were sort of a rush job, or that the director and actor behind Nancy didn't quite know how to play her, because she ends up coming off as a bit of a bitch. She's mean to characters we sympathize with, such as The Doctor and the kids she's taking care of - and I don't mean tough. I understand why she'd want to be that with the kids, but she's more pissy and bitchy than tough - and that makes us not like her very much. Then comes a scene with a character we DON'T like, and she's very quick in exploiting his faults to take control of the situation and get away. In the latter scene we root for her, even if she's bitchy. And so, the trick is; don't have characters be bitchy to other characters we care about, unless you want us not to like the bitchy character. Here, Nancy's stuck in the middle, and while she has her own struggles they come far too late to make up for her behavior, both as a character and as a person.

CONCLUSION: A lot of simple ideas - Time Agents, Captain Jack, nanogenes, Nancy - make for a lot of creepy set-pieces and a complicated plot that, by the second episode's end, make perfect sense and is completely innocent. There's no great beast to defeat, and although it is a somewhat weak "love conquers all"-solution, it works great. It's one of Doctor Who's best early episodes, and a fantastically creepy science-fiction story, marrying emotions with technology just like it should be done. Sadly, the first part is a bit too much build-up to be satisfying on its own, a minor flaw in two otherwise great episodes.

THE EMPTY CHILD: 4 out of 5, 8/10, B.
THE DOCTOR DANCES: 4.5 out of 5, 9/10, A-.


- "Everybody lives, Rose. Just this once... EVERYBODY LIVES!" Eccleston is perfect here, finding complete and utter joy in the fact that nothing bad happened. It's great, especially when you later realize what he's struggling with.


There's only one post left before we're over to season 2! I am so excited to talk about the first season finale, but it'll have to wait for a couple of days. I expect the post to be up on Wednesday, along with my ranking of the thirteen first episodes. Till then!

Article originally appeared on Ramblings of the Watching Preacher (
See website for complete article licensing information.