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*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.



As the kids these days say ZOMFG!

Maybe, just maybe, once a year you get an episode of something so powerful you can feel it physically, something that you can say "That's the best hour of TV I've seen this year," and really fucking mean it. I realize now that this has happened every year of the last three, '05, '06 and now, and quite unexpectedly each one has been from the same series. Doctor fucking Who. Yeah, not even an American show.

I'll give it to you that when Veronica Mars, Battlestar, House, and several others are on their game, they are mighty. Mighty. Some series you just don't take by the episodes. The Wire is like a novel and I can't separate one chapter from the next. The Shield's gotten like that as well. but when Doctor Who knocks one out of the park they hitting all ten wickets (or some such, I don't know). In 2005, "Father's Day" by Paul Cornell was one such episode.

In 2006, Steven Moffat gave us "The Girl in The Fireplace" (which wasn't really up on the same level as that last one and this next one, but I really did enjoy it immensely and thought it was the best one episode of stuff that year. It was a tight little story with a nice emotional element to it and I might be willing to acknowledge that maybe I liked it more than usual because it was treading a little bit of new ground for the show, but still a solid piece of writing and some great acting by Sophia Myles.

Right now, I'm stilling coming off the high of "Family of Blood." That's Paul Cornell again. Hmm (BTW, his Wisdom mini-series for Marvel was pure weird fun). It's the second of two-parts and it comes just at the point where I'd decided that this third season of the new Who was pretty disappointing. The first couple, three episodes where fun, sure...then they went to the Dalek well two too many times. Then there was another fairly stock episode and then a run at doing a real-time episode that, again, felt like stuff they had done before. I don't care about all those now, because this one just kicked my ass. And that David Tennant could act his way out of a Hefty Cinch-Sak™ inside a steel box, covered in shrink-wrap and swallowed whole by a blue whale who was then sucked into a big blue-whale-box of some kind.

Basically, it's like this...the Doctor must transform his physiology to human and create (and fully believe) a new identity for himself for a period of three months in order to hide from aliens who would be able to detect him just by him being who he is. So, yes, the Doctor is not the Doctor in these episodes. The amazing thing is that we can totally get behind the guy he becomes and completely understand why he doesn't want to cease to exist and turn back into this "Doctor" who sounds like a miserable sot who brings destruction with him wherever he goes (because he kinda is).

It so perfectly, at the end and without giving plot away, balanced sentimentality with a certain creative viciousness that seemed to so perfectly define who awesome a character the Doctor is in his way of being this massively great guy with a deeply buried dark streak that makes Jack Bauer look like a wuss.

"...and the Doctor made sure we did."

One niggling bit in the first part though. Why didn't Martha keep the watch?

Oh, and it was based on a Doctor Who novel produced during the who-less years and meant for the seventh Doctor. BBC provides it as a free download. Backmattered with notes on the adaptation.
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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