Our son told us that the big rocky ship commanded by the blood-voodoo space alien Sycorax “looked like a failed bioelectric experiment with the technology of the future controlled by cavemen!” And I should probably end this post here, because I’m not going to better that.
But for posterity, tonight we watched David Tennant’s first hour as Doctor Who from December 2005, preceded by the “just regenerated” scene in the TARDIS that was shown for the Children in Need charity a few weeks earlier. It brought back Penelope Wilton as Prime Minister Harriet Jones, only for the Doctor to change history and bring her tenure as PM to an abrupt end with six carefully chosen words. Yeah, I know, if only. Marie made sure to point that out to our son, because it’ll come back to bite our hero in the rear someday soon.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down to watch any of Tennant’s episodes. I’ve always enjoyed just how laid-back and likeable his Doctor can be when he isn’t being manic.
There’s a long tradition in sci-fi and horror of the truth being covered up and a false story given to the public. I’ve always been completely fascinated by what these stories might be, which is why just about my favorite special feature ever made for DVD is a 45-minute documentary added to The Blair Witch Project, a film that I almost certainly love more than you do, that incorporates fake local news reports about the missing students and some 16mm clips from a cheesy 1971 TV series called Mystic Occurrences. I just eat up this kind of stuff.
So when Doctor Who came back in 2005, the BBC went to town and created “in-universe” websites to support the show. You could visit Conspiracy Clyde’s site shown in episode one, and a site that Mickey created that took up the flame, and even UNIT’s site, with the all-access password the Doctor used in this episode: buffalo. At the end of the episode, Mickey is reading the Evening Standard with its big headline, “ALIEN HOAX.” I want to read that article.
(As an aside, if you enjoy Doctor Who and also eat up this kind of stuff, I highly recommend the novel Who Killed Kennedy by David Bishop, which is presented as an “in-universe” expose of UNIT, written during the days when the Third Doctor was fighting Silurians and Axons. The original novel is long out-of-print, but you can dig through a delightful e-book re-presentation of it at TSV.)
Our son approached this as he often does: recovering from a super-frightening cliffhanger by enjoying the pants off of the rest of the story. People grumbled at the time about the farting and the Nickelodeon gak and slime when one Slitheen explodes, just as they grumbled about the burping Auton in episode one, but these were of course splendid additions to the show for its younger viewers.
Here’s a story that our son was enjoying quite a lot until its cliffhanger ending, which I always thought went on a bit longer than it should have, but succeeded in delivering shock after shock for him. He was entertained by the aliens tremendously when they were in their human disguises, farting and shaking their booties, because he’s eight and greatly enjoys people farting and shaking their booties. However, they then unzip their faces and reveal themselves as the series’ first new recurring alien menace: the Slitheen. And our son was frozen, wincing, and not a little freaked out. Afterward, he asked “Who knows what those crazy baby-faced aliens do with the human bodies once they’ve made a skin? Maybe they’ve had lunch!”
I also enjoyed connecting the dots to the previous two adventures and their mentions of a bad wolf. Our son suspects that the bad wolf is the Doctor, and that somebody has given him that name because he wolves down bad things. Seems a bit unlikely, but that was all he had.
A couple of new recurring faces are introduced this time. Annette Badland plays one of the Slitheen, the only one who’ll make a return appearance. Penelope Wilton is here for the first time as Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North. Naoki Mori is introduced as Dr. Tosh Sato, and this character would later be a regular in Torchwood, which we won’t be watching for the blog. Mori co-starred with Christopher Eccleston in the biopic Lennon Naked in 2010, which I really enjoyed.