The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances

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    Craig @craig

    As suggested by @bluesqueakpip and @scaryb we are now starting a retrospective of the episodes written by Steven Moffat, starting with, of course, his two-parter “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”.

    If you have it on DVD dust it off, give it a re-watch, and join in the conversation below.

    Brynwe @brynwe

    I just finished watching both episodes for the first time (I know, horrible, right?).  There were moments where I was hovering between dang I really like this, and moments were I was “meh, this is just okay.”  I really enjoyed Eccleston’s delivery of  “Go to your room” and its final pay-off.  I thought the mommy thing was in a bit too many scenes, i.e. perhaps there was one they could have cut for something else but I’m not sure what so maybe I should shut up.  (I’m guessing it was intentional that they did the Father’s Day titled episode and a couple episodes where the kiddo is looking for his mommy back to back?)

    The end was nice with the whole reveal about what was ACTUALLY in the capsule and The Doctor dancing with Rose (more than a few attempts in the episode, so that was fun!)

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Quick question for @bluesqueakpip – Where we doing one episode or the entire story? I can probably fit in both this weekend, but if we prefer one a week that’s what I’ll watch. Cheers.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @phaseshift – we’re starting with one a week – though we will probably need to do two of the two-parters over one weekend to fit the Christmas Specials in. That said, I’ve watched both.

    Okay, thoughts. I agree with @brynwe that parts were good – and other parts were okay. I never really quite got Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor and this is definitely a story where I sat there thinking ‘you know, David Tennant would have played this so much better’.

    Moffat-y themes: kids. A little boy whose need (and love) for his mummy is so strong it survives his death.

    The character of the Doctor being revealed by the other people around him. Doctor Constantine, who was a father and a grandfather before the war – but is still a Doctor. Nancy, who responds to losing her own child by trying to look after the other kids.

    The Doctor and sex: not just the fact that the Doctor has been a father and a grandfather, but the knotty question of ‘are you a virgin’ discussed using the euphemism of ‘dancing’. I was once told that Moffat couldn’t see a strong independent woman without marrying her off. My reply was that Moffat can’t see a strong independent male (the Doctor) without going ‘this man needs to get married’. 🙂

    Even Doctor Constantine almost certainly ends up with Nancy and Jamie as his new daughter/grandson.

    Nanogenes, and people being true to themselves whatever has happened to them. Whether facing death by nanogenes, living to death by angels, or imminent death, Moffat’s real heroes are the ones who carry on living by their own standards. Death may be the end, but it’s not necessarily a defeat.

    Anyone spot any other themes, or are we all busy on Talons?


    Anonymous @

    Ohhh, this is right up my street.  The only box-set I own is Ecclestone’s Doctor.  I have re-watched these two episodes, and here are my thoughts.

    (Doctor) There isn’t a little boy born, who wouldn’t tear the world apart to save his Mummy.

    I thought that was a mighty fine sentimental line of dialogue, but it jarred with the episode as a whole.  The entire point was that Mummy was willing to risk herself in the end, to acknowledge her little boy.

    Nice to see that the Tardis doesn’t feature.  Oh, sure, it’s there in the end, saving Cap’n Jack and all, but it made me think how central the Tardis has been in recent storylines.  As with the Talons story [so far] over on that other thread, the Tardis doesn’t have a lot to do here, and it’s quite refreshing that this is so.

    (Rose) What’s the emergency?!
    (Doctor) It’s mauve.
    (R) Mauve?!
    (D) The universally recognised colour for danger.
    (R) What happened to red?!
    (D) Well, that’s just humans.
    [and a little subsequent dialogue nod to ‘dancing’  😉  … and … we’re off!]

    (R) Give me some Spock, for once!  Would it kill ya?!   🙂

    The phone outside the Tardis rings … no matter what Doctor 11 said in Bells of St John, there is definitely precedent for that phone ringing.

    Nice nod to current air travel:
    (Cap’n Jack) Can you switch off your cell phone?  It interferes with my instruments.
    (R)  Oh yeah, no-one ever believes that!

    This episode is where Rose starts falling in love with ‘her’ Doctor.  First she’s swept off her feet by the ‘Spock’ she’s been hoping to see (Cap’n Jack with his invisible spaceship and his nanogenes, plus his playing of what she’ll later call ‘our song’).

    (CJ) I’ll do a scan for alien tech.
    (R) Finally … a professional!

    Here’s a nice foreshadowing of our beloved Donna’s tenure as companion:
    (CJ) Pompeii’s nice, but you gotta set your alarm clock for Volcano Day!

    The cliff-hanger was a good ‘un.  They’re being advanced on all sides by gas-masked zombies!  What the heck can save them?

    (D) GO .. TO .. YOUR .. ROOM!
    I’m really glad that worked … those would’ve been terrible last words!

    I know this was The Moff writing, but it’s still RTD’s reign, and the undercurrent of love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name is still strong:
    (Nancy) – ‘alf this street thinks your missus must be messin’ about with Mr ‘avistock, the butcher – but she’s not, is she.  You are … Oh look, there’s the sweat on your brow.

    @bluesqueakpip, I’m ashamed (and slightly, weirdly, proud) to say that the euphemism ‘dancing’ flew completely over my head in my original viewing of these eps.

    (D) 900 years old, me, I’ve been around a bit, I think you can assume that at some point, I’ve danced.
    (R) That’s our mission — we seek new life, and we …
    (D) Dance.  🙂

    And so they did, in the end, in the Tardis console, with Cap’n Jack looking on.

    The theme of the importance of family; the strong blood ties that bind us together; the way a family can be created from [initially wary and possibly severely damaged] friends – this two-parter is classic Moffat.

    And don’t forget: ‘This time … nobody dies!  Nobody dies!’  (Christopher Ecclestone gets to say that line, ecstatically, twice.  I relished in his relieved grin with his delivery of that line, both times.)

    Brynwe @brynwe

    Wow, you guys really dig deep, looking for themes and everything.  That’s pretty awesome.

    @bluesqueakpip I haven’t seen too much Tennant, just Blink, Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead and the End of Time Duo, however,  I haven’t seen much Eccleston either, and I don’t have any problems with how he does the Doctor.  I really enjoy the differences.  Maybe the reason its so easy for me to enjoy it is because I’m so gullible (or maybe it’s naive?  I don’t know) that it’s easy to just buy that whoever is playing it just IS that person and I don’t picture someone else doing it.  But I found myself enjoying quite a few of the Eccleston-era Doctor episodes, despite my fears that I would not.  I am very easy to please though.

    @Shazzbot yeah I forgot to mention that about the TARDIS phone ringing.  I was like, hey! it rung!  D. 11 said it doesn’t do that!

    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    DOCTOR: You know, one day, just one day, maybe, I’m going to meet someone who gets the whole don’t wander off thing. Nine hundred years of phone box travel, it’s the only thing left to surprise me.

    Actually, when you think about it, it is quite appropriate to look at Empty Child at the same time as Talons of Weng Chiang – because I think Moffat’s writing for AG Doctor Who owes quite a debt to Robert Holmes.

    In both cases, you have the Doctor investigating a mystery, a specific period of Earth history juxtaposed against an alien menace, some obviously comedic moments and care and time spent with supporting characters. There is crisp, crackling dialogue and some laugh-out-loud moments together with some very strong and scary moments. The blend is excellent.
    I liked this episode a lot when it first went out: it is full of terrific ideas: the concept of Time Agents, Captain Jack, the gas-mask zombies, the cinematic shots of Rose dangling in the air while London is bombed and then, leading to a gripping finale, the repeated mantra of “Are you my Mummy?”
    The suspense builds over the course of the episode very nicely – with the result that you really do want to know what happens next, and waiting that week in 2005 was quite an ask, even for someone so familiar with the week-by-week delivery of BG Doctor Who.
    It is interesting to mark for future discussion some of Moffat’s signature themes:
    Doctor:     Mister Spock?
    Rose:       What was I supposed to say? You don’t have a name. Don’t you ever get tired of ‘Doctor’? Doctor who?
    Dr Constantine:   Before this war began, I was a father and a grandfather. Now I am neither. But I am still a Doctor.
    Doctor:           I know the feeling.
    Jack:       Oh, you sort of have a boyfriend called Mickey Smith but you consider yourself to be footloose and fancy free.
    Rose:       What?
    Jack:       Actually, the word you use is available
    Rose:       No way!
    Jack:       And another one…very.
    So, in his first episode, he lays a stake in the ground for “What is the Doctor’s real name?; the burden the Doctor carries because of the Time War and flirting( something I think, but may be wrong about, crops up in every episode he will come to write).

    At the time, it seemed quite clear that the Doctor knew that his children and grand-children were dead.

    But, post-The Name of the Doctor, perhaps he did not mean that?

    The fact that a child dies does not mean that the child’s parent ceases to be a parent – so is the Doctor alluding to something else, something different?

    Did the Time War involve some re-writing of the Doctor’s personal history, so that, in the timeline that continues after the Time War, the Doctor that goes forward never actually had children/grandchildren.

    Perhaps he has the memories of a life he actually never led, in rather the same way as Amy remembered killing Kovarian in the aborted time-line in The Wedding of River Song.

    Perhaps it is the John Hurt version of the Doctor which does this reversal of the Doctor’s personal history? And if so, what a long game Moffat has been playing…

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @htpbdet – and then it’s Moffat who introduces Clara. Who gets the whole ‘don’t wander off’ thing.

    @brynwe – no, it’s not naivete to like all the Doctors you’ve seen – the whole point of casting ‘The Doctor’ is to find someone that we can believe is the same person – but in a different body and with a different persona.  It’s just that Eccleston – fine actor though he is – never really worked for me. And yet, when I heard he was to play the Ninth, I thought he’d be great. 🙁

    So, is Eleven’s difference of opinion over the phone another sign of the Great Continuity Battle? Moffat, after all, wrote both scripts.

    @Shazzbot – I think Moffat said in the commentary on this episode that there was a real undercurrent of all the possible types of sexual repression. The guy having an affair with the butcher, the unmarried mother who has to say her son is her little brother, the Doctor and dancing 🙂 – contrasted with the much more open cultures Jack and Rose come from.


    Anonymous @

    @bluesqueakpip – My only problem with Christopher Ecclestone as the Doctor is that my first experience with him was in Shallow Grave.  I saw that movie in the States and didn’t know him, Ewan McGregor, or Kerry Fox from adam at that point.  I was riveted – and still feel a chill almost 20 years later – by how he was so horrifically changed by chopping up the body.  I remember saying to my friend Marcia who watched that movie with me, ‘That cute guy is great to look at, but the tall one, he’s jaw-droppingly talented.’

    And that haunted look he had in that movie carried over to my first viewings of him as the Doctor – I could utterly believe his characterisation as war-weary, emotionally damaged, etc.  Which is why I so loved the ‘This time … nobody dies!  Nobody dies!’ moments in this two-parter – Christopher Ecclestone can actually smile!  Grin, even.  🙂

    This is where having a known quantity as the new Doctor bothers me.  I’m shallow, yes, I know, but I want a new Doctor who doesn’t have any major pre-associations for me.

    Brynwe @brynwe

    @bluepipsqueak  There’s another thing in the continuity battle but I guess it can be overlooked but it happened when they cast MS.  In Silence in the Library River says his eyes never looked younger.  Well didn’t that all go out the window when they cast 27? year old MS?

    @htpbdet I like that theory about John Hurt’s doctor.  It makes sense with what he said in TNOTD

    @shazzbot Before Dr. Who I saw Eccleston in Let Him Have It.  It was quite jarring to see him play a completely different role from that.  He is a really good actor.  I really liked him in that.  When I was asked bf who Christopher Eccleston was (because I often don’t remember if I know the name of the actor or if I’ve seen them somewhere) he told me where I had seen him before, I was a bit taken aback.  I didn’t think I could possibly like him as The Doctor, but I was actually surprised to find that I did.  He has his own flair about him and his final episode was very…touching.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I seem to be keener on Eccleston than many, but I’m not one of those who wished he’d stayed on longer than he did any more. That’s largely because I think they did a superb job in bringing the show back, and in the space of a thirteen episode run introduce a new audience to every important characteristic of Doctor Who, including the excitement of regeneration. While at the same time introducing new concepts like the Timewar that both simplified the backstory, but presented something new for older fans.

    A tricky job well done.

    To answer a question now that @shazzbot put to me on the Faces thread, I do find Eccleston charming in the role, and these two episodes really bring out that side in him. I love the scene in the nightclub and his look of cheerful bewilderment at the reaction to his “stupid” question “has anything fallen from the sky recently?”.

    The flirting between Rose, The Doctor and Jack still makes me laugh. It’s just so lightly done

    Rose: “Actually, Doctor, I thought Jack might like this dance.”
    The Doctor: “I’m sure he would Rose. I’m absolutely certain. But who with?”

    Although the parent-child relationship and name have become something since, here I don’t think it signifies much itself. Here, I think, Moff is a “man without a plan”. He tells a cracking story that lashings of atmosphere, and is writing for someone else’s arc. His introduction of a character that he and RTD worked hard on wins the day, and John is on his best form as Jack here. No-one knew at this point if the series would be a success, so it’s difficult to believe Moffat was planting any seeds of what was to come.

    I can still see why it won the Hugo that year. It was up against Fathers Day, Dalek and Battlestar Galactica.

    I can’t help but think that if, in 2002, someone had said to me that two of the biggest TV events in 2005 were to be relaunched series with the titles Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who I would have laughed my head off and asked for some of whatever they were smoking. I would have been even happier to have been proved wrong.

    Anonymous @

    @brynwe – yes, yes, ‘Let Him Have It’ !  I got that DVD in, I think, the Guardian.  I watched it a couple of years ago – long after CE’s reign as the Doctor – and it only cemented for me how astoundingly talented CE is.

    I’m glad we’re discussing this particular two-parter of Doctor 9, because there are some pretty ropey episodes in that series.  With hindsight, I think the re-boot of Doctor Who was wavering all over the place – RTD didn’t seem to know exactly what he wanted to do with the show, and the farting aliens – twice!? – in retrospect were tailor-made for CBBC’s The Sarah Jane Adventures.

    I had no preconceptions of Billie Piper, and with my well-published lack of BG DW knowledge I didn’t know what a companion could be.  But I thought she was engaging (‘I’ve got no A-levels … no job … no future … but I’ll tell ya what I have got … under-7’s gymnastics team … I got the bronze!’) and she totally did the job for me.  I fear I would have been more like Mickey in that first ‘Rose’ story (‘There’s nothing you can do!!’) but I’d like to think of myself as Rose, hacking at that chain with an axe and swinging out to kick the Autons into the soup.

    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift – I’m totally ignorant of what the whole CE business was.  I think I’ve heard that he got out before the first episode aired, and I’m sure there’s a lot of scurrilous gossip about it.  Do you have any real information?  Did CE sign up for only one series, and then he got hit with a tornado of backlash once the re-boot was seen to be successful?  Was he ‘difficult’, perhaps seeing Doctor Who as beneath him as a monstrously talented actor?  Did he get blasted by the juggernaut of worldwide publicity?

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Yes, there are lots of rumours, but I can’t say I’m that interested in them to be honest. The only thing that seems certain is that Tennant had signed on as Ten well before Rose was broadcast. He knew he’d be doing a regeneration scene, and that may have been it if it had flopped.

    When CE was announced it astonished many. It was a brilliant move because it seemed like a statement of intent for some reason. He was a big serious actor with TV series aplenty (Cracker comes to mind) and movies (Shallow Grave, et al). The problem is, he’s one of those private actors who doesn’t particularly like to promo circuit, and it was always going to be difficult to get him to sell the series in the same way that Tennant and Smith have since.

    Ultimately, I think it did work and he deserves a lot of praise for taking the part because I can’t help thinking a lot of people would have been telling him he’d made a mistake. I think the same applies for a lot of the guest stars for the first series (Richard Wilson here, Simon Callow, Simon Pegg and many more) who came in and were pretty damn good. Now it’s taken almost for granted that the series can attract big names. Back then, it still had a lot of late 80s baggage and preconceptions hanging around its neck.

    Brynwe @brynwe

    @bluesqueakpip I’m sorry I failed to tag you upthread I actually have a slight touch of dyslexia.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @shazzbot – there were a great many rumours; the only thing that seems certain is that it was, for some reason, a miserable experience for him. He deserves a great deal of credit – as @phaseshift says, he gave the reboot a ‘serious’ edge. Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor; Billie Piper as Rose – it was very obvious that this production was damn well going to go for it with everything they’d  got.

    And ‘Rose’ was a brilliant re-introduction; so successful the BBC booked a second series within the week.

    I’d agree the initial series doesn’t quite know what’s going to work. They tried horror, they tried family drama, they tried farting aliens (twice). You want a ghost story? We have a ghost story. And they were aided and abetted by a Who’s who of heavyweight British actors.

    How did they get actors of that quality? Well, possibly one clue is: when Steven Moffat’s name came up in the pre-episode  credits he says “I’ve waited all my life for this.” Possibly a number of those actors were thinking the same thing. They’d waited all their life to achieve a childhood ambition – to be on Doctor Who.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @brynwe – welcome to the dyslexics club in our little forum. :waves:

    I’m pretty dyslexic, to the extent that I sometimes have to use text-to-speech for ‘heavyweight’ texts. You can imagine me peering at your name and rechecking it as I type – and as for HTPBDET, I sit here muttering ‘Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Baker, Davison and he doesn’t like Baker or McCoy, Eccleston, Tennant.’


    Anonymous @

    @bluesqueakpip – just do the mnemonic with me, ‘How To Punish Bad Daleks – ExTerminate!’  🙂

    Anonymous @

    I’m surprised these days at how much even the RTD era is starting to look dated. There’s a significant amount of episodes that I just couldn’t imagine myself sitting through these days. Fortunately, these two aren’t among them. This two-parter for me was probably the high point of the first series of Nu-Who. As @htpbdet says, it’s probably appropriate that we’re watching it in tandem with Weng-Chiang, as it shares a lot of similarities. Gloomy, gothicky palette, historical setting, strong writing and slightly ropey special effects — I remember thinking even at the time that the gas mask transformation was a bit rubbish.

    I’m not a massive fan of Eccleston’s Doctor but I don’t think he’s ever been better than he is here. His chemistry with Rose is coming along nicely (I’d forgotten just how good Billie Piper was as Rose) and he’s a nice grim Doctor here, with elements of lightness just cracking through. Not unlike early Baker, in fact. But good as Eccleston is (and I think that much of the success of the reboot is down to him) I’ve just never felt that he was even nearly Doctor-ish enough. The costume is all wrong and I feel that his Doctor’s lighter moments are just too self-conscious to be convincing. He feels like a character from another SF series who’s just been parachuted in and given the name of the Doctor. I’ve just never believed that this could be the same man as Pertwee or Tennant or Smith. (In fact, it’s a real shame that he’s not doing the 50th as maybe seeing them together might have been enough to change my mind.)

    The vibe that this story gives me, in fact, is more of a Sapphire and Steel one — the role of Steel would be a much better fit for Eccleston than that of the Doctor was, in my opinion. The whole story has got that same kind of creeping horror vibe to it.

    Captain Jack is also surprisingly good here. He’s another character that I don’t have a lot of love for. His subsequent appearances in Who got more and more arch, I thought and Torchwood was fatally hobbled by having him at its centre. (Not that he shouldn’t have been in it, just that there should have been another central character. Neither Jack’s character nor John Barrowman’s talent was up to carrying the whole series, I thought.)

    But those quibbles aside, this is great. Creepy, with some fine writing and some great layers to it. It’s still not Moffatt firing on all cylinders as he would later, but he definitely hit the ground running with his first story. (Yes, I realise that’s not just a mixed metaphor, but a horribly mangled one.)

    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    @bluesqueakpip     I am wounded…

    Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Baker T, Davison, Eccleston and Tennant are all “my” Doctors. For reasons that don’t necessarily revolve around their talent or skill, McCoy, McGann and Smith never reached that level for me. Baker C is the only one I actively dislike, again not entirely because of the actor himself.

    I hate to think of you muttering…@Shazzbot‘s lovely mnemonic in full Terry Wisher rage voice will help you out every time!!!


    chickenelly @chickenelly

    Aa, this catch-up is fun.  Although as Talons is only c.25mins and this double parter was about 85 mins it’s much more difficult to fit it all in.  Can we have a single episode next week?

    However, to business.  ‘The Empty Child’ was on my top 15 list of best AG episodes but the second part wasn’t.  Having watched them again, what makes me not include ‘The Doctor Dances’ is also why I have problems with Ecclestone’s Doctor.  Ecclestone is a great, serious actor.  I’m afraid he’s no good at light hearted banter, and actually looks really uncomfortable delivering some of the lines.  When he’s dad dancing at the end to Glen Miller my intestines were cringing in sympathy.

    That’s not to say I didn’t like the first series, but as @jimthefish mentioned above, Ecclestone wasn’t quite right.  For me what really showed this up was Tennant’s effortless light touch in his first Xmas episode.  He had the dramatic weight but also a real comic gift.  Something which Matt Smith also has.  I do hope the new person will have this balance too.

    In terms of story, this episode was the first AG one which I thought would have given me nightmares as a child – just as some of the original series did.  What is apparent though, is that Moffat’s storytelling seems to have got far more sophisticated over the years, ie if you compare the hokey typewriter typing on its own to the later, really disturbing graffiti in the orphanage in ‘Day of the Moon’.

    Craig @craig

    @phaseshift & @chickenelly

    As suggested by @bluesqueakpip , we needed to do a couple of Moffat’s two-parters in one go in order to fit them all in before the 50th, but you don’t have to do them at the weekend, you can take all week if you want.

    And next week all you’ve got for homework is episode 2 of “Talons” and “The Girl in the Fireplace”. Promise. Now that’s what I call a great Saturday evening.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @chickenelly – the hokey typewriter writing on its own isn’t really Moffat’s fault.

    According to the DVD commentary, he got to Australia for a much needed family holiday to find a series of e-mails saying ‘The episode is two minute short! Can you write another scene! Oh, and you can’t use any of the regular cast. Or any of the regular props. Just Nancy. And the kids. And only two of them can speak.”

    So then it was like: ‘err, can I have someone in a gas mask?’ ‘No.’ ‘Record-player.’ ‘No’. ‘Typewriter?’ ‘Oh, we’ve got a forties typewriter in the props store’. 

    Moffat: “Quite why the Chula equip their alien warrior race with the ability to operate old Remingtons is unclear” 🙂


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @craig – indeed. And there are some of the Moffat two-parters where you should leave a gap between watching. The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang is the classic example.

    I was thinking we’d start off with an easy schedule, but then people (I’m looking at you, @brynwe and @Shazzbot) came on and said they’d watched both parts, so I thought ‘oh, okay. We needed to do a couple in one go anyways’. 😉

    But next week it’s only ‘Girl in the Fireplace’, and the week after that is ‘Blink’.


    chickenelly @chickenelly

    Aaa @bluesqueakpip that does make sense.  Alas I don’t have the box set, only bought the Matt Smith ones.  However my Ecclestone recordings were done off the telly so are kosher, unlike *cough* maybe some of the later episodes.  In mitigation, I’m waiting for the box set of series seven to come out.

    I’m looking forward to the next episode of Talons @craig, I’m following the rules of one episode a week to build up the excitement.  It does take the biscuit that our tiny little site is doing more to mark the 50th anniversary than the BBC but there you go.


    Craig @craig

    @chickenelly That’s exactly what my Mum and Dad said to me this weekend. “You seem to be doing the job the BBC should be doing” And I kinda feel that we are.

    I was looking at the schedules on BBC3 and BBC4 this weekend and there wasn’t anything there that couldn’t have been dropped for an episode or two of BG (or even AG) Who.

    But hey, as long as we’re having some fun, eh?

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip @craig @chickenelly

    To be honest, I just didn’t want to race ahead, so thought I’d ask.

    I honestly think the BBC have just squandered a massive opportunity. In “Name of the Doctor” you had Hartnell, Tom Baker, McCoy in clear view and representations of the others. Anyone with a brain cell should have thought “What a perfect opportunity to show some old stuff and helpfully point out where they can find more – for cash”.

    We know that BBC America have some mini-documentaries for each Doctor. It really wouldn’t have taken much effort to capitalise on that. Ah well.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @htpbdet – joys of dyslexia, I’m afraid. Strings of initials are a bit of a bane.

    I also have a complete inability to remember dates (strings of numbers) – which made my A level History exam, many years ago, a particularly delightful experience. The examiners seemed to have a particular fascination for questions like ‘Discuss the relevance of the events of August 1789 to the French Revolution’ and ‘Why was the autumn of 1811 a turning point in the Peninsula War?’

    Like the Eleventh Doctor would later say in ‘Hide’, I was going “Some help. Context. Cheat sheet. Something?”


    DontPlayWithFood @dontplaywithfood

    Actually the thing about Eccleston is I think the actor’s seriousness fits the long story.  Here is a man badly scarred, not by the things done to him, but by the things he’s done, gradually coming back to life.  Rediscovering what it is to tell jokes, to dance, to love.

    Craig @craig

    @dontplaywithfood I saw @phaseshift told you off the other day. Please try to restrict yourself to one post at a time. It’s not big and it’s not clever to take up the whole recent posts feed.

    Your first post above is great, thanks very much, proper insight. The other two I think everyone could have done without. Just saying.

    Brynwe @brynwe

    @Shazzbot @htpbdet I actually giggled a little at shazz’s mnemonic device.  It’s a little harder for me to remember all The Doctor’s names BUT Shazz’s is quite easy.  Although I promise I’ll just try to learn it the hard way.

    @chickenelly Yeah, that graffiti was very creepy, and a step up from the typewriter.  But I also thought the typewriter was creepy too.   I’ve been watching more of the Tennant episodes ( a few each day) (I finally finished Eccleston’s season) and I do think he has a gift for comedy, much like Matt Smith.  I hope the next doctor does too, because I really enjoy that about The Doctor.


    Anonymous @


    Ecclestone is a great, serious actor. I’m afraid he’s no good at light hearted banter, and actually looks really uncomfortable delivering some of the lines.

    I think that’s what made him perfect for the way they revived the franchise.  Someone who’s just come through the Time War with raw, fresh emotional scars shouldn’t seem comfortable with the light-hearted stuff. He’s a manTime Lord with a very heavy heart and some serious psychological baggage to deal with.

    lauralt8 @lauralt8

    Billie Pipper really made the 9th doctor. Episodes like Dalek is a perfect example. (Honestly, that is one of my favorite Rose episodes!)

    But Ecclestone was just fine with the episodes he was given. Yeah, he would not have done well with the Moffat/11th saga but the writing and story line was a little rough at first. It was a season that transitioned between the old doctors and the reinvented, dark, onion layered man that we know later on.

    cooltomes @cooltomes

    i love these episodes its really highlights how the doctor trusts rose to wonder off and reganises he has no choice as only cara ever listens to her i mean why does she ? even he was shocked but also he seen were they are swaying and talking as jack teleports them and they dont even notice is just brilliantly written even if it is by steven moffat

    Anonymous @

    Best ever episode of Eccelston ever.

    WhoGirl @whogirl

    I decided to re-watch all the episodes starting from Chris Ecclestone’series, and this week saw ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’. I always forget how much I enjoy this story, and recall being terrified of the gas mask people, mainly because masks (and in particular gas masks) give me the creeps. I also forgot that it was Moffat’s first story on DW, and it’s a great starter. And how young Captain Jack is! Well, I say young, he’s actually well into his years I think… His lifeline confuses me.

    As to the Chris series overall, I agree with @phaseshift, he suits just the one series, and he probably had the hardest job of all drawing people in. He gives a great performance, in my opinion, throughout the whole series. And the relationship he builds with Rose really helps develop it.
    Looking forward to the rest of the series now!

    SaraOswald101 @saraoswald101

    Ah, the Empty Child & The Doctor Dances. If I must put an episode whereI really got hooked into Doctor Who, that would be it. To this day, this is still one (two..) of my favorites.  Moffat’s writing was more.. humble? or something. Wait! more .. human. Lets say it like this. human. He got a bit too much into the sci-sfi thing.. But annyways, that’s not what where here to talk about. This is the first episode of Jack, which is the most awesome character of all time. EVER.  It’s in perfect balance between funny and scary. And its a great storybuilder too.

    @whogirl ….  Jack’s lifeline IS confusing. But if it can help, he was pretty young, around 40 or something. He went back in time from the 51st century and stole the Captain Jack Harckness’ identity. I can’t go further without spoiling so I hope it helps a bit 😉

    gamergirlavatar @gamergirlavatar

    @saraoswald101 I think Jack is the best character to . He and Martha are the best companions . I watch Torchwood all the time now . I loved watching ” The Empty Child ” and ” The Doctor Dances ” for the first time . I don’t think Jacks time line is confusing . The first time I heard Jack tell The Doctor about his plan to sell the ship than have the bomb drop on it I thought ” that’s genius ” . Now when I watch Doctor Who I put on a episode with Jack ( most of the time ) . I’m watching ” The Empty Child ” right now . I love this episode .

    Anonymous @

    I love this episode.  I love jack and of course this is where we first meet him and boy is he ever so charming …. I love WWII-esque as well so this fit the bill.  And although I cry at a lot of episodes this one just slays me at the end.  Yes everyone lives yes he dances … But it’s the bit between the girl and her child when she finally admits that she is his mummy.  the healing sparkly bits are cool  but it’s the healing of the girl to be able to not only end her own child’s suffering but to end her own as well – remove the burden of her years of silence and forced denial and do what she always wanted … To take that little boy in her arms and never let him go.  Because she’s his mummy.  *reaches for tissues*.  Dang. I wasn’t even watching it and I’m tearing up.


    janetteB @janetteb

    @Rose2112 The discussion about another Nine story inspired me to re watch this two parter over the past two days. It was good, exceedingly good. I have not watched any nine stories for a while and I had forgotten just how good he was. I much prefer the dynamic between EcclesDoc and Rose to that of Rose and Tennant. Theirs is a matey relationship which works well (Using the term “mate” in the Aussie sense.) though Rose did irritate me when she was going goey over Captain Jack.

    From the Doctor’s embarrassment when he sees the WWII propaganda poster on the wall of the nightclub to the final dance sequence it is hard to find anything to fault in the two parter, and I certainly wouldn’t want to try.

    It was curious, (amusing not being the apt term) to read immediately after watching that they are currently trying to diffuse a WWII bomb in London. The effects of the Blitz live on.




    nerys @nerys

    I loved this two-parter and remember being quite taken with it on first viewing. I always thought Rose being smitten with Captain Jack was meant to say, “Look, folks, she’s not smitten with the Doctor. That’s a whole different thing.” IMO Rose and Eccleston’s Doctor had an intense friendship. But I agree that it took a very different turn with Tennant’s Doctor, one I wasn’t entirely happy with. However, it got us to one of the most riveting character write-offs in the series, so with that in mind I don’t complain as much as I would have if they’d dragged it on for multiple seasons.

    Anonymous @

    @nerys @saraoswald101 @rose2112

    I somehow missed your post nerys -good to see you about -shall we get some fun ideas/bonkers theories from you on the ‘dance floor’ that is the next series trailer?  🙂

    I liked that 2 parter -immensely. Eccleston didn’t do the Doctor well for me (just me) but in this, he eclipsed previous performances -the comedy didn’t work but it did with Jack. I don’t particularly  like Jack (or even Barrowman I must admit: witness those hour long carry ons at Comic Cons) and I don’t particularly enjoy Torchwood for the same reasons @ichabod has expressed and far more fluently than I: the idea Barrowman looks to be ready to start singing show choons and flinging his arms up in the air. The relationship with the white chick (you can tell I know my Torchwood ;)) as well as the  dude who started out in the basement having fallen in love with cyberwoman was all a bit odd for me and didn’t click well.

    I think it was The Russell Show, actually, and for that, alone, it pissed me off but…he’s responsible for the Who reboot and for that and for this 2-parter I forgive and love him! Go Russell! There was magic in The Empty Child, wasn’t there? Also Jack acted as a lovely counterpoint to the Doctor -when reined in, he balances out the ensemble nicely.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion   Oh yes, loved The Empty Child.  So much Good Stuff over the years . . . can’t *wait* for S9.

    Anonymous @

    @ichabod I personally loved The Banana Gun trick (the Doctor is also a magician, but then we know that!) and the squareness gun. Also Rose with her “Spock tech” saying to Jack, “finally, someone with proper tech…” {or something along those ‘lines’}

    Cath Annabel @cathannabel

    I love this.  The ’empty child’ is both chilling, genuine shiver down the spine stuff, and heartbreaking.  A child’s voice saying ‘Mummy?’ is designed to be impossible to ignore, unless you’ve a heart of stone, and so you really feel the pull to answer it, to go to it and see what it needs, even whilst feeling that chill, knowing that this is really not right.  And so the resolution has real emotional resonance.  It all comes down to that child and that young woman who’s been living with fear and guilt for much longer than the blitz, and can finally let it go.  I know, ok, the entire of humanity is at threat but we’re kind of used to that on Who (as on Buffy, Angel et al), and it always does come down to individual humans rather than humanity en masse.

    Re-watching it, the only thing it lost was the power of the reveal. First time, I remember suddenly ‘getting’ the nanogenes thing, a bit of a Sixth Sense ‘Oh!!’ moment, and of course, this time I remembered all along. But that added some poignancy to the Nancy storyline. And the moment of the nanogenes themselves ‘getting’ what human beings were, and how they worked, was visually lovely as well as moving. It kind of reminded me of the transformation scene in Beauty & the Beast, actually, which always chokes me up a bit.

    And alongside all the emotional stuff there’s the cracking dialogue, the repartee, the innuendo (more than in any previous episode). And the undercutting of the surface stereotypes was delightfully done – Algie who might seem to be straightforwardly straight outta Dambusters turns out to be nothing of the kind, and the pillar of the community turns out to be a pillock of the community, and Captain Jack turns out to be an equal opportunities kind of a flirt, and so forth.

    Plus, it gives me an excellent line to use when people hassle me at busy times. ‘I’m trying to resonate concrete!’. They won’t be back again.

    And one tiny damp island says no to tyranny. And everybody lives.

    Love it.

    Anonymous @


    What a delightful post. Just woke up to this and thought “what have these luvly people written during the night?”:

    “the pillar of the community turns out to be a pillock of the community, and Captain Jack turns out to be an equal opportunities kind of a flirt, and so forth.

    Plus, it gives me an excellent line to use when people hassle me at busy times. ‘I’m trying to resonate concrete!’”

    Fun stuff.

    I agree it’s a “cracking” episode. One thing which helped me to ‘teach’ world war 2. The defiance of a small island and “we’ll never be beaten”. Kids in the class would tear up. All thanks to Doctor Who.

    Isn’t Harkness at his absolute best? Whilst I’m a bit divided about him, I think he arrived as a roaring character and it worked. Right from the balcony scene with the binoculars.


    Paradoxides @paradoxides

    Both the Doctor and Captain Jack make reference to Rose’s shirt, which is obviously a fake print. Why would the BBC not invest in a shirt with a correctly printed flag?

    Anonymous @


    Welcome to the site.

    An unusual place to start but hello anyway.

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean? Are you concerned she’s not wearing the Union Jack?

    I believe she is. It’s possible she’s wearing a stylized T-shirt in that the ‘lines’ are not correctly displayed in the 2:1 format as expected when formally hung, or placed on a ship’s jack staff, for example.

    She’s wearing -basically – a Union Flag or Jack with some of the lines missing -it’s a stylised t-shirt. I have one myself. I also have  Union Jack which is correctly printed with the correct or standardised crosses of St Andrew etc. It also uses the correct blues and reds. The latter colour is difficult to present correctly -and people often don’t bother  -as with computer and printers the specific dark- red hue is hard to match accurately. Generally, in informal situations, the exact colour isn’t a problem. On formal occasions, it’s essential to ‘get it right’ -all three crosses, line width, ratio (2:1) and colour.

    Hope this helps.

    Who is your fav doctor? Anyway, enjoy the Forum!



    NearlySane @nearlysane

    I think as you watch this, the combination of Davies and Moffat make the new AG doctor. Up till now it was a tribute act. Now it makes sense and in the Empty Child is genuinely scary.

    AmeliaG @ameliag

    This scared the hell out of me when i was younger, and we are talking early 20s lol! The transformation of doctor Constantine freaked me out! I love this story though!

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