“The Family of Blood” – Review: Redux

Tim Latimer “Because I’ve seen him. He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night, and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever… He burns at the center of time and he can see the turn of the universe… And… he’s wonderful.”

Family of Blood

I thought that there was, quite simply, no way that “The Family Of Blood” could live up to the greatness of part one of the story, “Human Nature” that we watched yesterday, despite the fact that that episode blasted onto the screen in the midst of battle and the fact that the events unfolded with the pace to which we’ve become so accustomed, there was a gentleness, almost melancholia, about the John and Joan love story that raised this story head and shoulders above others. The second half of most of the two-parters that have graced our screens over the first three series have been a little bit weaker than its preceding instalment. Additionally, “Human Nature” was such a fantastic 45-minutes of TV that it was always going to be nigh-on-impossible to top. Or so you’d think. In the immediate aftermath of this episode, the ever-interesting polls that are held after each transmission over on the fans’ forums, where readers are asked to vote on marks out 10 or some-such, showed that of the 37 episodes of new Doctor Who, these two episodes sat proudly in positions one and two with an average score (on Outpost Gallifrey at any rate) of over 94%…. and for a fickle community, that’s quite an achievement.

Where the first part had served up a feast of mouth-watering delicacies, the second part provided proof that there was still plenty left to savour. The eponymous “family” were an incongruous bunch given their human form but collectively had an unnerving disposition about them as the revelled in the hunt for the Time Lord DNA. The younger viewers would have been kept hugely entertained by their evilness (take a bow, Harry Lloyd) and also by the army of scarecrows but it was probably the older viewers who enjoyed this the most. The backstory of the futility of war was laid out before us in some powerful scenes (for a show like this) when the children were forced into defending the school from the attacking hordes. There is something deeply disturbing about showing children crying with fear in what is, ostensibly, a children’s show. Later on, from the moment John Smith broke down in tears when he realised the sacrifice he was going to have to make, till the very end where we see Latimer as an old man at a Remembrance Day service, we witnessed the most emotionally charged Doctor Who there has ever been.

The “no second chances” aspect to the Tenth Doctor’s persona was apparent in the way he treated the Family to their respective fates, although perhaps this was more to do with the darker character of the Seventh Doctor, for whom the story was originally written than it was to do with “darkening” this series. While on the subject, special mention needs to go to David Tennant who delivered a most impressive performance throughout but especially when the character of the Doctor bubbled to the surface of John Smith, and during the scenes that he and Jessica Hynes played out together, which were incredibly touching. The fact that I had been genuinely disappointed at the return of the Doctor’s persona is testament to the fact DT had delivered something very special in his John Smith role. The final defeat of the Family was so straightforward that it has left many wondering why he couldn’t just have done that to start with and saved himself the bother of becoming human at all, but to worry about that would do a disservice to a beautiful piece of television. Next up, is the hot potato that is this series ‘Doctor-Light’ episode. So, follow that, Steven Moffat.

Highlight: David Tennant switching back to Doctor-mode

Lowlight: The only thing I didn’t like was the green banana-shaped gun that the Family used. Barely a ‘Lowpoint’ really

Talking Point: The first ‘Demon’s Run Rating’ of 20/20: was I right?

Demon’s Run Rating: 20 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 2nd June 2007

Marathon Status: Am I really still going strong

  1. October 28th, 2013

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