50 for 50 — The Greatest Stories in Doctor Who History — #15

When Doctor Who returned in 2005 from the darkness of everyone’s memories, many doubted it could rival the popularity and success of the original series….as a die hard fan (don’t say Whovian, it’s a dirty word), even myself I felt almost scared to think of it in the same breath. And as wonderful as the trailer was for the Eccleston series (‘Come with me…’), the series premiere left me feeling dejected a little. Bit too much slapstick for me, but I liked the warmth and feeling of it all. From Episode 2, I was on a roll, building til halfway thru the series….If the return of the Daleks hadn’t sold me, it was the next story that drew me and the family in….Oh god, a Doctor Who episode that made me well up….at #15, it’s the beautiful Father’s Day.

With it’s fairly uncomplicated plot, a bit of ‘Back To The Future’ in there, but just a dash, Father’s Day finally showed us that even the Doctor gets it wrong sometimes. If the pretty young girl travelling with you tells you that her poor Dad died, being knocked down by a car in 1987, where would you take her??  Er, anywhere, other than there surely….but take Rose there he does….no wonder Jackie had her misgivings about the bloke. As wonderful as Christopher Eccleston was in the role, there is a touch of uncaring in his playing of the role, especially this story.

But I guess the alien side of the Doctor had been seen before (‘I’m a Time Lord, I walk in eternity’), rarely with such relish at seeing his companion suffer. Beautifully shot in Cardiff’s back streets, it’s a stark imagining of 20 years earlier…works extremely well, if looking cheap. However you look at it, this was the episode that really proved Billie Piper could act.

Ably backed up by Shaun Dingwall as proto ‘Del Boy’ Pete, the father she never knew, and the awesome Camille Coduri as her forceful mum, Jackie, the pre-titles begins with the flashback to her mother telling her how wonderful her old man was. Then, of course we see the truth….that he was a lazy, philandering (though harmless) good for nothing…this is harder for Rose to swallow than anything, always being told the opposite throughout her childhood. Over the course of the story til his supreme sacrifice, saving the world from the first decent new monsters of this era, the Reapers, Pete and Rose build up a lovely little relationship….

No easy task with only 45 minutes to create a new world, and then save it. Once Rose cried ‘You’re my daddy…’ I was gone, snot and tears all the way….damn you, RTD and Mr. Cornell, what have you done to this classic show….turned it into something beyond what we remembered.  — Andy

Alan’s #15 — The Dalek Invasion of Earth
Andy’s actual #15 — The Deadly Assassin
David’s #15 — A Good Man Goes to War
Steve’s #15 — The Three Doctors

#14 next week…