“The Doctor Dances” – Review: Redux

The Doctor: “Everybody lives, Rose! Just this once, everybody lives!”

The Doctor Dances

It could be argued that Richard Willson was a little underused. A single scene in the first part with his pre-zombification “What was the cause of death? … There wasn’t one” speech, and an amusing denouement at the conclusion of this one was yet another beautifully understated scene with crackling dialogue. However, few guest stars could possibly have had the impact on to the world of Doctor Who than one of the other stars of this story, of course, John Barrowman. His Captain Jack Harkness was a character so successful that he went on to be a companion in his own right, get multiple returns to the show, and get four series of his own spin-off series, Torchwood. Of course, you could argue that Captain Jack’s first appearance in Who was “The End of the World” in his future guise as the Face of Boe, if you choose to believe that slightly ambiguous hint at the end of Series Three.

Bringing Barrowman into such a significant role at the centre of Doctor Who was an inspired bit of casting. I’d actually seen him on stage, before he turned up in Doctor Who, in a theatre production “A Few Good Men” at The Haymarket (with Rob Lowe in the ‘Tom Cruise’ role), during which he was bloomin’ marvellous in a completely straight*, non singing role, so I didn’t have too many concerns at his appearance in the final five episodes of series one. Even if you’re not his biggest fan, you can’t deny that he lights up the screen and the character is like no-one we’d seen in Who before. He’s a welcome addition to series one. [* = I mean straight as in the non-comic sense, nothing about his omnisexuality].

Speaking of omnisexuality, anyone who has watched Steven Moffatt’s series Coupling will know that he has a keen sense of humour and a good grasp on sexual politics. And also, he’s a dab hand at innuendo and double entendre. He was a perfect choice of writer to introduce Jack, the flirtatious, sexual, inter-galactic conman, in to the TARDIS crew.  The euphamistic “dancing” metaphor recurred throughout the story with an intriguing, unrequited love triangle developing between them: Rose dancing with both of them before the tale was told.

In the wider arc of the series these two episodes serve a purpose of taking the Doctor on a little more of the journey out of his darkness. His cockiness of the early episodes starts to disappear replaced by more of a sense of fun and adventure, with the showdown in “Dalek” being the pivotal moment. But here, his burgeoning love for Rose is challenged by the arrival of Jack with whom he starts to have a little amusing banter. I think of lot of people see the Doctor’s love for Rose as being something of a sexual attraction here, but it seems to me to be far more about a damaged man simply becoming able to love again. The fact that Jack arrives as a younger, more handsome, time-travelling rival for Rose’s affections is a brave yet clever choice. The other potential love interests for Rose (Mickey and Adam) were soon exposed as not being good matches for the life Rose wanted to live. Jack, on the other hand, looks like he ticks all the boxes.

Aside from all the lovey dovey stuff, the story that was played out in TDD was especially wonderful. The mystery of the crashed Chula ship and its nanogenes was woven together expertly and the science-y aspect to it was also simplicity itself and avoided any unnecessary technobabble. The slow reveal would have allowed all the audience to enjoy the episodes conclusion. I could talk for hours about the brilliance of the story but it’s much easier to go and dig out your DVDs and enjoy the tale once more.

Highlight: Everybody lives!

Lowlight: Almost no lowlights, even the technobabble was palatable

Talking Point: Should we see the Doctor as a character who loves, or should he be above such things?

Demon’s Run Rating: 19 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 28th May 2005

Marathon Status: 10th review. Double figures, people! Double figures!

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  1. August 29th, 2013

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