Review: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005

All of us expect much from our favourite TV show, and so far this season, RTD and co. have delivered time and time again. I have so few criticisms of the new series that I almost want to burst with pride and joy that Doctor Who is not just back, it's better! Not better than previous eras, or specific stories, but better than anything else out there on the box at the moment. It's being discussed at water coolers, being mimicked by children in schools, and being reviewed extensively - and very positively - by the broadsheet and tabloid press.

So, nine and ten episodes into this fantastic series, it should have been expected that the quality of the scripts, or the direction, would wane. It could be forgiven if this first series started off with strong stories, peaked with the dramatic 'Dalek' or the emotional 'Father's Day', then began to slide towards the end of its run with humdrum, average stories to fill the schedules. It could have been forgiven for that.

But what we get, due to the absolute brilliance of Steven Moffat's scripts and characterisations, and James Hawes' outstanding direction, is a two-part story that is quite incredible. In my view, it is mind-blowing television, and Who that is truly exceptional.

I've always loved the pseudo-historicals, and this one proved to be the most amazing combination of action and spookiness, of period history and hi-tech concepts, and of heart-strings and humour. The supporting players were extremely well cast, with Nancy and the children, Doctor Constantine and Captain Jack making the most of this outstandingly structured and delightful script. The two-parter was spot-on in offering something for everyone, and the banana/sonic gadget 'envy' humour was so much more in place with the Who I want to see than fart jokes.

James Hawes must be my favourite director so far this season. He pulled out all the stops with a cracking pace and some beautiful set-pieces. My favourites were Rose's arrival in Jack's ship, Jack's realisation that the TARDIS had arrived inside the spaceship, and the console room scenes at the end. Hawes got the very best out of the performances, and the camera shots were magnificent, particularly when Jamie was unexpectedly entering certain scenes. I very much hope Hawes is back for a block or two of season two. These are my favourite two episodes of the season, and I can't wait for this series to develop even further, not just as good Who, but more importantly (for its survival) as must-see television.

And the enemy-monster of the piece is a four year old boy with a gas mask? If "Are you my mummy?" doesn't still remain in the memories of the eight year old viewers for years to come, I will be very surprised.

Andy Keast-Marriott

  • Read Andy's review of Father's Day and Boom Town.