Nu-View #14: Strength Through Adversity

Father's Day (Series One, Ep. 8; 2005)
Viewed 04 Apr 2013

Doctor/Companion: Nine, Rose Tyler
Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
Preceding Story: The Long Game (Nine, Rose)
Succeeding Story: The Empty Child (Nine, Rose)

    I know the Ninth Doctor isn't everyone's cup of tea (especially with last week's frankly unsurprising news that Eccleston definitely will not be participating in the 50th), but great heavens, is he ever mine.

    While Father's Day doesn't grab me the same way that Dalek does, it serves a vital purpose in terms of character development. Of course, the "character" in this case is actually the relationship between the Doctor and Rose. (Just a heads-up, in case you haven't seen the episode: the rest of the post is pretty spoilery.)

    Rose decides she wants to see her long-dead father and the Doctor questions her motivation. When she passive-aggressively suggests he can't do it, he responds that "I can do anything. I'm just more worried about you." And that, effectively, is the theme of the whole piece.

    But first we have to see Rose be an utter idiot (some would argue there should be an "again" in that sentence). The Doctor loves her enough (however you define that love in your own headcanon) to do something dangerous to please her. "What ever happened to the 'you can't cross your own timeline' thing?" wondered jE. Of course, it all backfires. The second Rose rushes to save Pete. "Ruh roh,"says jO. The camera pans back to Nine's furious face. "RUH roh..." (I suspect jO hasn't seen this since I first hooked her on the show, some four years ago.)

    Well, needless to say, things go south. "I did it again. I picked another stupid ape," bitches Nine. Rose's defense that Pete is just another bloke doesn't fly, either. "An ordinary man. That's the most important thing in creation." (Incidentally, I love this theme throughout the show, both this episode and elsewhere. A bit later here, the Doctor queries the bride and groom's assertions with, "Who said you're not important?" Years later, Eleven says that "in nine hundred years of time and space and I've never met anybody who wasn't important before." I think it's vital for us to remember that while we may envy the Doctor his adventures, sometimes he envies us our "ordinary" lives.) So the Doctor and Rose have a right proper domestic, and he storms away.

    Meanwhile, there's a wedding supposed to be getting underway. I love how they've nailed the '80s styles every way you turn. "Nice earring," jA says of the groom. The peach bridesmaid's dresses are perfect, too, and even Rose notices the hair. Then, "Rickrolled!" Pete is driving Rose to the wedding, and it is playing on the radio. Coincidence - or evil genius? You decide.

    Back in the Doctor's neck of the woods, he's made a disturbing discovery. The TARDIS is not a TARDIS. "I hate it when that happens," jE complains on his behalf. "She gave you the wrong key!" This is the point at which the Doctor knows just how bad Rose's meddling has really made things, yet even so, he still tries to spare her the pain of losing her father again. I don't know; either I'm not as nice a person, or I'm simply not that loopy in love - I would have chosen to save the universe instead of spare my Companion the pain of a natural separation. Guess that's why I'm not the Doctor.

    Making it worse, the smug "I knew he'd come crawling back to me" look on Rose's face as he runs to warn them all of the danger really makes me want to slap her face clean off her head (oh wait... that's Idiot's Lantern...). She makes it tough to have any desire to side with her in their row.

    In stark contrast, we - or at least I - found her utterly relatable when it comes to her scenes with Pete, especially once she's admitted to him he's "[her] daddy." (Though jA makes a good point, when Pete asks about Rose's presence and she admits to having used a time machine: "How else would she have got there?") Both of them want so badly for the relationship to work, to be/have been something more than just their own imaginings. "Am I a good dad?" he asks, and she tells him everything she imagined he'd be. That's the part that's so utterly tragic; at that point they both know it's sheer fantasy on her part and really, it will always have to remain so. I have to credit Pete; for all that he's depicted as "useless," he's clever enough to pick up on the (admittedly copious) clues, and a big enough person to do what needs to be done.

    Of course, it might never have needed to be done in the first place if the Doctor's work-around had come to fruition. But since Rose is the only one who's heard him warn her, "Don't touch the baby! ... That's a paradox," the other stupid apes don't know any better. Thus, we get the satisfying moment when jO lets out a literal ~gasp!~ and puts her hands to her mouth in horror as Pete hands baby Rose to grown Rose to hold (I told you she hadn't seen this in years).

    As the Reavers invade the church and consume the Doctor, all seems lost. In the end, though, Pete gets to be the hero Rose always believed him to be. Time is restored, the Doctor and his TARDIS return from wherever they'd been banished, and Nine & Rose come out the other side a stronger pair than they'd been before.

    General reactions:

    • jA - "Those were the good ol' days."
    • jE - Kind of breaking some laws of time...
    • jO - Good to get a refresher
    • mrfranklin - Like the character development for both of them here

    These early post-Hiatus stories hold such a special place in three of our hearts, as our entry to the Whoniverse, yet are not always well remembered (as evidenced here). Often, then, the Ladies' comments are few and far between, as we simply sit back and enjoy. In the coming weeks, we will be doing that all the more as we watch Series Seven together, so things will be quiet on the Nu-View front for a while. You can expect to hear from the Ladies again some time in June.

    Verdict: Thumbs up

    Looking ahead: The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances



    This is one of my favorites with the 9th Doctor. It is just so good for so many reasons.

    I knew Eccelston would back out of being in the 50th - not that he ever committed, but he sort of considered! He was such a good doctor, such a good actor, even if he is "grumpy" as a person in real life, as John Barrowman likes to say.

    I just love how we know this little jaunt to the past is going to turn out badly, no matter what. And the Doctor knows, it, too, but he can't deny Rose this chance to see her dad. At least that's how I read this one. Rose seems to be such a stupid kid in this one, just wanting her "Daddy," and I think Billie Piper plays her this way. I wanted to smack her as much as you did. So many episodes where I want to smack her!

    I just love how Eccelston plays the Doctor as a cranky Time Lord fed up with the human apes.

    I actually like this episode more than "Dalek," but not more than Eccelston's emotional scenes in "Dalek." The two episodes are really so well written and acted that I do love them both.

    I just read the other day, after watching "Spaced," that Simon Pegg was offered the role of Pete Tyler, but he was otherwise committed. I do wonder what that would have been like?! He is such a marvelous actor as well, but now that we've had Shaun Dingwall play him and do such a wonderful job, it's hard to imagine!

    I do so love Christopher Eccelston's Doctor (Tennant is still my favorite, maybe because he loved playing it so much), that I really cherish these first post-Hiatus episodes. I really wish the 9th Doctor had been a bit more long-lived! Love these reviews of him. :-)

    By Tree (not verified)
    mrfranklin's picture

    I have such a strong affinity for Nine (he was, after all, my first), that it's been a lot of fun to go back to them again. Dalek is still my favorite of the series, but this one is right up there. Some good stuff here. :)

    By mrfranklin

    I remember that first year I discovered Who - in 2006, fall. I absolutely love Tennant, who I started with, and was so confused, because I knew it was the second post-Haitus series. For that first half an hour, when I researched it on the Internet, trying to figure out - what the heck? Second series and two Doctors? Already? Then immediately ordered the "first" series and watching that - I loved Christopher Eccelston, too. My husband recently started watching "Heroes," something I never watched, but I could simply not wait for Christopher Eccelston's episodes, and joined him watching just for that reason!

    By Tree (not verified)
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