Doctor Who series one: Father's Day
(S01E08) If your mother has told you once, she's told you a thousand times: Don't mess with the time stream! Apparently, Rose (Billie Piper) never listened to her mum, or watched an episode of Star Trek (original or Next Generation) or any film in the Back to the Future series. Because, if she did, she would have realized that messing with the timeline can cause some serious consequences. In this case, by saving her father from a premature death, she opened the planet up to alien beings who cleanse Earth of all corrupted objects; i.e. humans.
See? Always listen to your mother!
The premise of this episode is a fairly standard one in the science-fiction genre: Rose asks The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) to return to 1987 for the marriage of her parents Jackie and Pete (Camille Coduri and Shaun Dingwall) and her father's subsequent death. As she watches the oncoming vehicle speed toward her father Rose saves him and messes the timeline up for the rest of us.
This also causes the appearance of The Reapers, a group of creepy, red-eyed beings whose sole purpose is to eat each and every member of the human race to cleanse the corrupted timespace. To save himself, Rose, and the members of a friend's wedding that Jackie and Pete were attending, The Doctor gets everyone into the church (the older it is, the harder it is for the beings to get through) to come up with a plan. Unfortunately, this is one of those occasions that The Doctor doesn't have an ace up his sleeve, since the TARDIS doesn't exist in this new timeline.
He does have the TARDIS key, though, which is still connected to the timeship, which can help him restore the timeline. However, as in many Doctor Who episodes, the first solution is not always the workable one. In this case, Rose messes up again by touching an infant version of herself, causing a paradox. This further rip in the timeline allows a Reaper to enter the church and devour The Doctor.
Episode over! Series over! Reapers Win! Thhhheee REAPERS win! (Thanks to Yankee broadcaster John Sterling)
Not quite. You see, there is a way to restore the timeline, and we all know what it is. Yep, Pete needs to die. He realizes this shortly after he comes to the conclusion that Rose is really his baby daughter all grown up, and that she's been lying to him all the time about his fathering skills during her childhood. In a valiant display of courage Pete runs right in front of the car (which is driving through time looking for him) and the timeline is restored, but not before Rose kneels by his side as he gasps his last breath.
Even though the subject matter of timeline manipulation has been done before, writer Paul Cornell did a wonderful job with this episode. In fact, I feel that this is one of the better ones of the group as it was more of an emotional story than the last few. His drop-ins of various late 1980's references was a nice light touch to this episode. Some of the items noticed were: posters declaring 'No Third Term for Thatcher', a Rick Astley song playing on Pete's car radio, the standard purple and pink walls in Pete and Jackie's apartment, and the humongous cell phone that the father of the groom uses to call guests.
I am really impressed with Eccleston and am already feeling his loss in the new series airing in the UK with David Tennant as The Doctor. While he wasn't the focus of the episode (this was mostly a Rose-themed piece), he had a number of good scenes. For example, after the timeline is altered, he opens the doors of the TARDIS to find the interior of a phone box. Or, during the row with Rose, where he tells her that it's the ordinary people that mess up the timeline the most. Piper was also extremely good in this episode, as her South London attitude was shelved away and replaced with that of a little girl who only wanted to see her father again.
There was no sneak preview at the end of this episode, so we may have break next Friday (there are only five first series episodes left).