Nu-View #15: Reliving "Everybody Lives!"

The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances (Series One, Eps. 9-10; 2005)
Viewed 19 Nov 2013

Doctor/Companion: Nine, Rose Tyler
Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
Preceding Story: Father's Day (Nine, Rose)
Succeeding Story: Boom Town (Nine, Rose)

    After seven months' hiatus (yes, I know—dirty word), the Ladies are finally back together to watch the Ninth Doctor again. They began the evening in high spirits. "I love coming back to this season; it's what I fell in love with," jA declared, and jO and I gave knowing nods.

    Speaking of things we love, jA needed her memory jogged. "Is this where Jack comes in?"

    "Oh, yeah," came jO's appreciative affirmation.

    After that, there are surprisingly few comments; mostly we're all more interested in watching the action unfold. Now and again, though, something will trigger a comment.

    For instance, when the Doctor explains his consternation to Nancy ("It's not a real phone; it's not connected."), jE quickly adds, "Neither am I." Or when Nancy and her little band of kids settles down to someone else's dinner, jA observes, "That's a lot of place settings for a family of, like, four..."

    Mostly, I keep my thoughts to myself, not wanting to interrupt the others' enjoyment of the show. I can't help thinking, though, what a minx Rose is, or how Moffat won a writers' bet by working "Chula" into one of his scripts, or how full of British patriotism this episode it ("a mouse in front of a lion"). And even though the CG is already pretty dated, eight years down the road, Dr. Constantine's transformation is still utterly horrifying. That's body horror at its best.

    As the first part draws to a close, I shiver a little. Mindless automatons with gas mask faces converging on our heroes is one of the best, scariest cliffhangers we've had. The credits roll, and jA shakes her head. "Amazing how little of that I remember."

    After a brief break, we leap back in for the conclusion. Moffat's really on top of his game here. The mystery of why the child doesn't know who its mummy is makes for excellent tension. The use of ghost story elements—the voice still going after the tape's run out, or the typewriter typing itself—add to the horror film feel.

    The only time the Ladies actually break free of the spell Moffat's woven is during the scene with Jack's squareness gun. The Captain boasts about its features, including digital rewind—"otherwise known as Ctrl-Z," jE observes.

    This episode is all about character development (the whole "dancing" thing is so very thinly veiled) and setting up the solution. The denouement always gets me. Not only is there the whole parental angle (I'm a sucker for that stuff, since having kids of my own), but the Doctor's joyous exclamation that "Everybody lives!" means more to us all now that we know the backstory that had yet to be told when first we heard him say it.

    General reactions:

    • jO - I forgot how good that one is.
    • jA - Yeah. That's a good one.
    • jE - Oh, we like that one.
    • mrfranklin - Probably still my favorite of Moffat's scripts.

    At the very end of the story, the Doctor saves one more soul: Jack. Their exchange, when Jack makes the requisite comments about the Doctor's ship being bigger on the inside and the Doctor retorts with, "You'd better be," serves as a challenge to us viewers, too. Do we dare travel with the Doctor? Can we be bigger than our petty desires? I think that's part of why I love this show so much: it charges us with the task of looking beyond ourselves. And when we rise to the occasion, we can experience some of the euphoria of "everybody lives!", too.

    Verdict: Thumbs up

    Looking ahead: Boom Town


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