The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances

* Apologies for the delay – I watched the first episode on Monday, then I was busy for a couple of days. And naturally, I spent most of the time just watching, failing to make any meaningful notes. It’s so, so good, easily the best so far. The RTD years seemed to fall into a pattern of having a silly two-parter and a grown-up two-parter each series, and the latter was always better.

* Cheryl Fergison! I’d forgotten she was in this. I’ve met her several times through work, and she’s very nice indeed. Also, Richard Wilson! “I don’t believe it”, he says. He’s obviously excellent, but nobody could overshadow the brilliant performance of Florence Hoath. In the classic series, it would have been Nancy who became the new companion at the end.

* “Excellent bottom”. An absolutely perfect introduction to a character. Much was made at the time of Jack’s provocative, unashamedly all-encompassing sexuality, but as The Doctor points out, for me it’s always made perfect sense for a character from 3000 years in the future. It helps that John Barrowman’s confidence is utterly charming. Well, when he’s being Captain Jack, at least.

* If we believe the theory that dancing literally = shagging (as in not just the characters using it as a metaphor within the dialogue, but that every time we see character’s dancing within the show, they’re actually shagging but we see it as dancing), Jack and Rose just did it on top of a spaceship in front of Big Ben. Fair enough, but it also means The Doctor and Rose did at least some awkward heavy petting whilst waiting for Jack to rescue them. And best not to think about what Ecclestone’s up to when he starts dancing on his own in front of Rose and Jack.

* Fave lines that I’d previously forgotten? So many, but then it’s Moffat. “You’re not even in focus.” / “Those would have been terrible last words.” / “Well, I’ve got a banana and at a pinch you could put up some shelves.” / “Rose, I’m trying to resonate concrete.” / “Who said I’m not? Red bicycle when you were twelve.”

* I’ve always found Richard Wilson’s bit about being a father and a grandfather to be one of the most memorable moments of the first series. The Doctor’s response indicates that Susan has become the first companion to die off-screen that we know of, or perhaps not, given Day of the Doctor. Anyway, Victor Meldrew’s transformation into a gasmask monster shortly afterwards is amazing too.

* Bananas are good. Good source of potassium. I wonder how many times those words have been exchanged within my group of friends? Basically every time anyone’s ever eaten or even mentioned a banana in front of any of the others in the last twelve years.

* The conversation between Rose and Nancy about how there really is a future after all, even if it doesn’t seem like there will be, really resonates now that the world has gone to complete shit again. Twelve years ago, I was the Rose in that dynamic, now I’m with Nancy, and I really needed that little chat, and the reminder slightly later that what followed the last attempted fascist uprising was the establishment of the welfare state.

* So yes, obviously I cried at the end. It’s perfect. Yes, there can be a day where everybody lives, and yes, The Doctor fucking deserves to have one of those days, even on the evidence of this series, let alone the previous seven hundred episodes. It’s absolutely beautiful, and then Richard Wilson pops up again to steal the show. “There is a war on; is it possible you’ve miscounted?” Faultless.

RATING: 10

* Back to the present day, and I was slightly saddened but not remotely surprised that Capaldi has called it a day. It makes sense for him to go at the same time as Moffat – though it’s a shame that there’s one less reason to be optimistic about the Chibnall era, taking the total reasons down to zero – and three series is the average. The Twelfth Doctor is/was one of the best of all time, but I’ll get on to that in due course.

* Now, however, there’ll be a short gap before I join the Ninth Doctor on his trip to Cardiff, because I’m going on a trip to Cardiff, to see the Doctor Who Experience this weekend. Looking forward to it, and to seeing if the Ianto Shrine is still there.

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