Doctor Who Series 4 Episode 6: The Doctor’s Daughter

Dan Owen reviews
Series 4 Episode 6: “The Doctor’s Daughter”Broadcast on BBC1, Saturday May 10th, 2008 As premiered on
CoverSeries 4 Boxset:
Series 4 Part 1:
Series 3 Boxset:


      Alice Troughton

    (TV: The Doctor’s Daughter, Midnight)


    Stephen Greenhorn

(TV: The Doctor’s Daughter, The Lazarus Experiment)


    The Doctor: David Tennant
    Donna Noble: Catherine Tate
    Martha Jones: Freema Agyeman
    Jenny: Georgia Moffett
    Cobb: Nigel Terry
    Cline: Joe Dempsie
    Hath Peck: Paul Kasey
    Hath Gable: Ruari Mears
    Carter: Akin Gazi
    Soldier: Olalekan Lawal Jr

CoverSynopsis: After arriving on the planet Messaline, Martha is kidnapped by militaristicfish-like humanoids called the Hath, and The Doctor meets his daughter…

Can you smell the oestrogen? The Doctor (David Tennant) is joined bythree female companions this week, as the TARDIS whisks him to the planetMessaline with Martha (Freema Agyeman) and Donna (Catherine Tate)in tow, only to be forcibly used as the blueprint for a genetically-created”daughter” — who comes to be known as Jenny (Georgia Moffett; real-lifedaughter of Fifth Doctor actor Peter Davison). And all that happens in theopening few minutes!

To be honest, this episode was a bit too hectic for its own good, but the breathlesspace and some enjoyable moments eventually dovetailed towards a decent climax.The Doctor discovers that the people of Messaline have been engaged in a generations-longbattle with fish-humanoid enemy The Hath (trout-headed warriors with green opticsbolted into their mouths.)

As a pacifist, The Doctor tries to end the pointless subterranean war that’sbeen raging (in a web of tunnels snaking out from an abandoned theatre), asit’s lost all meaning and both sides just refuse to back down — out of stubbornnessand misplaced sense of tradition. The situation isn’t helped by the fact bothsides have high-tech equipment (“progenation machines”) that can create astream of battle-ready soldiers, so there’s little chance of one side losingthrough insurmountable fatalities…

Inevitably, Martha gets separated from everyone very quickly — but befriendsan injured Hath, by helping with its dislocated shoulder, and earns theirspecies’ trust. The creatures only talk in a flurry of bubbles, although Marthaapparently has their language translated by the TARDIS (we just don’t have anysubtitles as viewers). I think writer Stephen Greenhorn missed a trick inavoiding an Enemy Mine-style aspect to this Martha/Hath interplay, butperhaps it would have just been too difficult to pull off in the 45-minutes allotted…

Besides, it’s not long before The Doctor, Donna and Jenny accidentally helpboth sides realise there’s a mythical “Source” in a hidden network of tunnels.Both societies have a Creationist myth about how they came to be, and The Doctorhas been instrumental in pointing them toward “divine knowledge” of their beginnings.So the hunt is on, with the humans, led by a grizzled man called Cobb (Nigel Terry),chasing after The Doctor, Donna and Jenny through a labyrinth of new tunnels,as Martha leads her befriended Hath to the Source across the dark, windsweptplanet’s surface…

CoverThe Doctor’s Daughter is something of a typical episode. Myfirst impression of everything wasn’t that favourable; with the set-up andsketchily-drawn characters instantly preparing me for a bog-standard cost-cuttingexercise. That said, it was impossible not to be swept along by everything, andGreenhorn’s story started showing signs of texture and intelligence…

As the titular Doctor’s daughter, Jenny was a pure delight. Georgia Moffett’sobviously lovely to look at, but she’s also great fun in the role. Issues ofparental responsibility are tackled, as The Doctor is initially dismissive ofJenny as nothing but a genetic creation, not his true child – until he hearsher dual-heartbeat through his stethoscope. For all the episode’s swaggerabout war and its mystical overtone, it was at its best when dealing with TheDoctor’s burgeoning affection for his offspring.

Jenny was introduced in a split-second (annoyingly), but her relationship withher “dad” evolved very nicely, brilliantly stirred along by a more thoughtfulDonna’s comments…

Yes, Catherine Tate’s very good here; acting as a decent counterbalance toThe Doctor in his turmoil over being lumbered with parenthood. There are a few”comedy bits” retorts that Tate once again lurches into (“GI Jane!”), butfor the most part I liked her interactions. She even outsmarts The Doctor inresolving the mystery about the Source (using knowledge gleamed from a “tempjob” again, amusingly.)

On the flipside, poor Freema Agyeman finds herself stuck in another three-episodestint where she was only required for one (see season 2 of Torchwood.) I lovedher energy, enthusiasm and quick-thinking last season, but it’s clear now thather character’s run its course. This episode gives her a subplot that acts asa balance (by showing things from “the enemy” perspective), but ultimately she’ssurplus to requirement.

And you just can’t imagine Martha Jones giving TheDoctor a pep talk on being a good dad, can you? She’s too young. Donna’smaturity has its downsides on the show, but she’s better placed to tackle TheDoctor on weightier, human issues. If we do see Martha Jones again; fine, Ilike her. But I’m not signing a petition to get her re-instated as full-timecompanion now, sorry…

CoverDavid Tennant doesn’t get high-quality witticisms and quips under Greenhorn’spen, but he’s brilliant at the emotional stuff with Jenny. His unease over hercreation, grudging fondness, followed by excitement about having a daughteraccompany him on adventures, was handled superbly. I particularly liked howJenny rose above her war-like “programming” to become more like her benignfather, when she decided not to kill their pursuers. The debate about whetheror not The Doctor is a soldier (just one with a no-killing edict, since thefabled Time War) was also interesting.

SPOILERS BEGIN. The eventual demise of Jenny perhaps shouldn’t haveworked (as we’d only spent 40-minutes in her company), but thanks to Moffettand Tennant’s acting skills, they pulled the death scene off very well. Iwas primed to begin a Sally Sparrow-like campaign to get Jenny reinstated onthe show, so when she was joyously resurrected and blasted off into space inher own ship (destined for a spin-off adventure series?) I had to grin. Ican’t wait to see her again — just as long as she isn’t crippled byimmortality, Jack Harkness-style. SPOILERS END.

Overall, The Doctor’s Daughter was an episode with a bland premise,moderately rescued by a late-twist that put things into a fresh perspective.But the pleasure of the episode came not from the mostly-extraneous Martha,the awkward Hath (a shame the budget never stretches to animatronic mouths,isn’t it?), or the low-rent premise, but in seeing The Doctor fall in lovewith his rebellious teenage progeny. It was Tennant’s touching performance, andthe doe-eyed charms of sexy Georgia Moffett doing somersaults down a corridorof laser-beams, that ensured this adventure didn’t crash-and-burn…

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Review copyright © Dan Owen, 2008.E-mail Dan Owen

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