THE EMPTY CHILD
In that crazy year that was 2005, it's hard to remember exactly what happened but I believe at a sci fi group meeting I saw this and this was the first exposure to NEW DOCTOR WHO that I had, this and THE DOCTOR DANCES. To me, then, this was just perfect: we had: a sexual companion (looked at now as a bit of a skank who is more than just flirting but making her skankness a major part of her being), a gay character! (who is really bi and not gay, thus diluting the entire thing as much of gay in NEW WHO dilutes being gay), a scary story that seems like the horror of old ala HORROR OF FANG ROCK and IMAGE OF THE FENDAL (only better!), and good acting, good music, good sets, good effects, and good...well, everything.
This is just an amazing story and an amazing episode, whereas I just HAD to watch the second part right away...and we did. To me, Chris was an amazing Doctor (still is) and here he has just the right mix of balancing the grouch with the amazed, funny Doctor. His jokes with Nancy (and her's with him---wouldn't she make a great companion!!!) are just touching, funny, and moving as well keeping the story going. Some gems include; "That's why your nose is...never mind" and "do you ears have special powers, too" and his "I'm looking for a blond, no a certain one, I didn't suddenly wake up with a craving" and "I don't know if that's Marxism in action or a West End musical". The Doctor interacts with more children and lo and behold these like him, somewhat. The Doctor talks about milk coming out of a cow and at least this Doctor seems to love cats (always hate David's Doctor's hatred of cats, probably a David trait too as he does not seem fond of pets at all as he's said in an interview...and never fully trust those who don't like animals). He also talks about 900 years in I'm coping and 9 centuries in and stuff like that. His Doctor seems to have hit a stride, balancing the mean jealous Doctor and the charming, get to know me Doctor and I'll love you type. He also talks to Nancy about knowing and understanding that being the only child left out in the cold is not easy. It's also odd when Nancy tells the Doctor to go see the Doctor, meaning something other than what we're thinking (a future Doctor, the Valeyard, a past Doctor, Tom, Paul, Sly, Colin but they would just slow this down!). The mystery is kept up and for once, when the reveal comes next time, it's so sensible. The Doctor also tells Richard Wilson's Doctor, that he knows what it feels like to be a father and a grandfather but that the war has made him no longer a father or a grandfather! IN all, these things are amazingly woven into the main story, which is just great.
Rose: skank! Capt Jack: skank. Really. The scenes of the air raid and Rose's ride on the balloon are just incredible, movie stuff really and well done. Her shirt is a joke and quite funny. Capt Jack here is a charming, welcome relief from te serious Doctor and the constantly looking for approval Rose. He is far from the insidious, insipid, morbid, sad loner/loser, who can't do anything right but sacrifice his own grandson in TORCHWOOD. Here, he's the happy go lucky yet somewhat caring criminal and he's quite a character here, so good, so warm, and such a con artist. ANd it all works unlike him in TORCHWOOD. HIs rapport with Rose is instant and the ship...just why do they go up top in the middle of an air raid? Hopefully he had a forcefield or this scene makes little sense...why would he endanger his own life and Rose's just to have a cop or feel on the roof and impress the bint? And Rose acts like she wants to be cool and honestly she really is cool. Most people will just love her as she's what our society values: good looking, able to dance, able to flirt and able to...do other stuff too. ANd in a way Jack is just the proper mix of Rose and Doctor, similar to both.
Sidenotes here: the Doctor searched for alien tech in THE VISITATION but here, he seems not to be able to, maybe it's the stupid coral taking over the now ugly interior of the TARDIS. Here, Rose looks for someone to give her some Spock, which is funny, especially as Jack gives it to her ...the tech I mean. I also love it when Jack calls the Doctor Mister Spock. Then the Doc asks her what the heck? Rose tells him, "You don't have a name. Don't you ever get tired of just Doctor? Doctor Who?" Brilliant dialog. Brilliant cliffhanger and since Jack and Nancy are not regulars...they can die or get infected and their survival was questionable and also gave the story an air of terror and tension...I mean we know the Doctor and Rose are not likely to die...they could get infected I guess...
Another side note: Jack being bi. RTD I guess wanted to do more gay. But he never really did. I would guess that the viewers would not be able to take it, not in what is essentially a kid's show and on top of that, RTD probably didn't want to alienate viewers who hate gays and even hate bi's. SO he tamed it down...alot. It's brave to include it at all to be honest but it's also annoying that it has to be that way. I mean we can see couples all over television and movies in any type of tv and movies, kid's shows or not but same sex stuff? Never. So for the next four to five years DW will give hints of and tantilize us with possible same sex stuff but never really give it to us. TORCHWOOD did...but for all of its output, the amount of same sex stuff is poor and usually involves someone being taken over somehow. I do salute the relationship of Ianto and Jack, however CHILDREN OF EARTH makes it clear that Ianto isn't really gay. He's just gay for Jack. N Jack's not really gay either, he's bi and clearly focuses more on females. Still we'll get teases and little throwaway lines in future stories, and when David takes over, NEVER a real kiss between the Doc and Jack...as David probably considers himself too macho to do that. Just witness the kiss he was forced to give Barrowman at the recent convention. Tepid.
Even more disturbing, the show, nay this story makes gay and villain become synonymous. What ever do I mean? Well, the man who accosts Nancy in part two is married but he's fooling around with the butcher in a gay way to get food for himself and maybe his kid and wife but he's not a nice person and sweaty and gross to boot. In addition, two of the kids in Nancy's group say they left the farm safety houses because "there were these men" bothering them in a gay way. Now, maybe those men were pedos but maybe they were just gay, too and they were villainous too. Not a good way to show gay or maybe RTD/Moffat were trying to balance it out so that no one thought there was some gay agenda...as it turns out people, fans, and viewers thought there was a gay agenda but frankly, I don't think there was enough of a positive gay agenda in the show, considering it was being produced by and written by a gay man! In fact, I wouldn't have minded a gay companion as in love with the Doctor and the Doc in love with him as much as Rose was and he with Rose. Not gonna happen.
Anyway not to be negative, THIS episode is just fantastic and with more to come. Moffat gave us a great story here and a great script. IT's just perfect!