“THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER” – Series 4, Episode 6, Story 193 – Written by Stephen Greenhorn; Directed by Alice Troughton – The Doctor, Donna, and a reluctant Martha get dragged by the TARDIS to some god forsaken underground world that’s caught in the middle of a violent war. One side is made up of Aqualish from Star Wars (you know, the Walrus Men – thanks, Kenner!) and the other side is led by James Coburn. Well, not the real Jame Coburn, but a guy who could dress up as James Coburn for Halloween. If anyone still/ever dressed as James Coburn for Halloween. The Doctor gets his hand stuck in a “progenation machine” and, zip-bam-pow, he’s got a daughter. Not a little baby of a daughter, but a hot young woman of a daughter that has been programmed to be a soldier. (It’s actually Peter Davison’s daughter; no, not the Fifth Doctor’s daughter but Peter Davison’s daughter.) Can you say, Daddy Issues? Because The Doctor Can, If Only For One Episode.
THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER is a just-short-of-train-wreck episode that throws a bunch of ideas at you in an attempt to trick you into thinking there’s a solid story in there somewhere.
Martha Jones is around for another episode after her two-part return ended with her being trapped on the TARDIS and the crazy spaceship decided to lock her in and send them all hurtling across space and time. She’s back in standard Martha mode, but they don’t really give her a lot to do. It’s a wonder she’s even here. Basically, she gets separated from the Doctor and spends the episode on the Hath side of this war while the Doctor and Donna are on the human side. Other than a nice bit with her telling Donna how much she loves the part of the adventure when you first step off the TARDIS and another small moment where she fixes a Hath’s dislocated soldier, her appearances are a lot of filler that sees an unnecessary death scene as a Hath sacrifices himself/herself/whateverself to save her.
All of this death gets a little tiring after a while. You can see why the Doctor acts so immune to it on a macro level (how he’s right back on the adventuring horse just in time for next week’s episode), because it’s starting to become meaningless for me as a viewer. The Hath soldier repays Martha’s kindness by sacrificing himself to save her after she falls into a pool of water and Martha cries but then moves on, as does the episode.
Over in the Doctor’s half of the episode he does a lot of his “I hate guns and violence” routine and he and General Cobb growl and make threats at each other, but it’s a lot of blah blah blah.
The real point of interest in this episode is the creation of the Doctor’s daughter. He sticks his hand in a machine and out pops a twentysomething cutie who wants to fight and kill the Hath. The Doctor is all, “I will not let myself become attached to you, girl of war,” which, of course, means two things will happen. One, he’ll get attached to her. Two, she’s gonna die so he can be the “Last of the Time Lords” again and Davies can ring some more melodrama out of that idea.
Jenny is the best part of the episode. Smart, inquisitive, willing to learn, she’s a great foil for the Doctor as she refutes his idea that he’s not a soldier. Unfortunately, you know she’s not going to last because there’s no way Davies and the Beeb are gonna let their Magnetic Doctor have a kid who could be best mates with Rose Tyler. I do like Jenny, though. She’s got a great, smiling personality and a sharp mind. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Davies take on a kid Companion (even if Jenny looks like she’s of Rose’s, or perhaps Martha’s age, she is without knowledge of almost everything non-war related), to be honest, especially since Donna seems to instantly take to the “mom” role.
It’s another episode of really good, but really brief moments for Donna. They let her solve the big mystery this time out as the Doctor is mostly concerned with the small challenges that arise, and Donna also offers some nice insight into the Doctor, urging him to accept Jenny into his life. In one of those moments that’s nice to hear just so we can hear it, the Doctor admits to Donna that he was a father once, a fact that totally stuns her because she’d never considered it. “You talk all the time,” she says to the Doctor, “but you don’t say anything.”
She also tells Jenny that life with the Doctor involves “a lot of running,” which I thought was pretty clever.
Unfortunately, this episode (like the preceding SONTARAN STRATAGEM/POISON SKY two-parter) gives off the vibe that it doesn’t trust Donna to be the Companion, stuffing both a past Companion (Martha) and possible future Companion (Jenny) into the story. It’s a shame. The first time I watched these episode (when they were originally being broadcast) I was kind of down on Donna but watching them now I really like the character for what it brings to the show and how she impacts the Doctor. So many Companions end up just being bodies that pass through the TARDIS but Donna is having a real effect on the Doctor and it’s a real pleasure to watch.
Jenny ends up dying and in her death and the Doctor’s all angry man/weepy man response, what little good will the episode has built up through the blossoming Doctor/Jenny relationship is chucked out of the window.
The episode even attempts to have it both ways, having Jenny pop back to life after the Doctor has left. She’s all smiley and steals a spaceship and takes off for the stars with no apparent interest in finding Daddy. It’s the kind of sequence that can make a character but the show doesn’t really do anything with it. She’s alive! She’s stealing a ship (just like daddy)! She’s going adventuring! She has no interest in finding her dad!
Oh, wait, we don’t have to care because we’re not gonna see her again? Well, then. That was sorta pointless, wasn’t it? Or was the point to make the Doctor suffer a bit more emotional damage just because what else are you gonna do on a Thursday?