Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Doctor Who: The Doctor Dances (Probably with Spoilers)

I think I may have succeeded in entrapping Carol within the world of Doctor Who.

One of those shows that friends here and there have always told me I'd love, but that I'd never gotten around to watching, I finally started the revival of the British classic this past fall. As a fan of the self-sustaining mythology (see: Swarming Life), I'm hooked.

Carol just started season 1 of the restart, and a couple days ago we watched one of my favorite episodes (actually a 2-parter) The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.

I feel pretty safe writing about these episodes, since they first aired in 2005, but I feel it's necessary to reiterate: the post below this point is likely to contain spoilers.

Basic plot: The Doctor and Rose follow a piece of space junk (possibly a ship) through time, landing in the middle of the London Blitz. They encounter a creature with phenomenal power in the form of a lost little boy in a gas mask, who transforms everyone he touches into a version of himself.

It's a tense episode crowded with teeming shadows and narrow escapes (which, I think, is when Doctor Who is at its best: when the fear of the unknown becomes palpable). The episode introduces a major character in Jack Harkness, and it contains my favorite moment through 5 and half seasons of Doctor Who:

"Come on. Give me a day like this. Give me this one."

The clip doesn't really do the moment justice (I'll admit I get a little dewy-eyed when I watch the episode) because you need to have seen the Ninth Doctor struggle with elements of PTSD and survivor's guilt, his rage when he meets a Dalek, and his almost self-destructive mania in trying to save the world in several earlier episodes. Pile those previous episodes atop the tension of The Empty Child, and "Just this once; everybody lives" becomes a brilliantly realized moment of catharsis.

It's a fantastic moment, my favorite of the series so far (I'm mid-way through Season 6), and one of the few times that the series truly tugs my heart strings in the way I want to connect with art.

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