Are You My Mummy

emptychild

I was out at a wedding on Saturday night so I had to tape both the episode being shown on BBC1 and the follow up ‘Doctor Who Confidential’ on BBC3. Quite a complicated operation involving two recorders and TVs each set to one of the channels. Of course I was forgetting that there was some sort of football match going on in which there was (apparently) a chance that nobody would score any goals until something called a ‘penalty shoot-out’ takes place and for which, apparently, the schedule can quite happily be sacrificed. In other words I missed the ending. Never mind, I thought, I’ll watch ‘Confidential’, that’ll keep me going until I see the repeat on Sunday night. I have no idea what happened to the tapping here. The tape behaved in a really weird way and then snapped completely.

I am increasingly becoming convinced that there is something in this idea of animism, the belief that a soul or spirit exists in all objects, and that those spirits that inhabit any piece of modern technology can sense the best way to stress us out!

The strange object that the Doctor follows to London at the height of the Blitz, we are told, is some sort of ambulance. The story revolves around the fact that somehow the genetics of human beings are being altered to conform to those of the first human encountered (Nancy???s mortally injured brother) by something related to this alien ambulance.

It was in April of 1953 that Francis Crick and James Watson published their model of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in the British journal Nature. The implications for biology were stunning, but they???ve been pretty important for science fiction. The Empty Child is a story of Genetic Engineering being used inappropriately, and possibly, automatically. Rather like a video recorder being mistakenly set for the Eurovision song contest instead of an interesting documentary on your favourite science fiction series, it seems that some alien technology is working to some pre-programmed agenda. (At least my videotape had the decency to self-destruct rather than play any of the Eurovision contest back to me).

Probably the best example of a genetic engineering story in the Classic series was Genesis of the Daleks. This is a mad scientist story. The mad scientist in question being Davros. He predicted and then tailored the mutations that the humanoid race of Kaleds were doomed to endure, as a result of the contamination caused by their long war with the Thals, in order to produce the perfect race – the Daleks. The following dialogue neatly sums up the megalomaniac Davros??? motivation.

Doctor: ‘Davros, if you had created a virus in your laboratory. Something contagious and infectious that killed on contact. A virus that would destroy all other forms of life… would you allow its use?’

Davros: ‘It is an interesting conjecture.’

Doctor: ‘Would you do it?’

Davros: ‘The only living thing…the microscopic organism… reigning supreme… A fascinating idea.’

Doctor: ‘But would you do it?’

Davros: ‘Yes. Yes. To hold in my hand, a capsule that contained such power. To know that life and death on such a scale was my choice. To know that the tiny pressure on my thumb, enough to break the glass, would end everything. Yes. I would do it. That power would set me up above the gods. And through the Daleks I shall have that power!’

(Taken from Genesis of the Daleks ??? Quotes)

Another important issue was touched on in this episode, that of Nanotechnology and its possible use on the human cellular structure. I could suggest a plot twist here?? But no, that wouldn???t be fair and I might end up with egg on my face. Suffice it to say that the nanotechnology that Captain Jack uses to repair Rose???s hands could just as easily be used for destructive purposes at the most basic level of our cellular structure and this is a big worry that could have us talking about the good old days of weapons of mass destruction.

So what about this episode? An excellent story so far, in fact the word cracking comes to mind. Some nice irony ???Has anyone seen anything unusual fall out of the sky recently???? followed by an air raid siren. Captain Jack???s description of the Doctor???s leather jacketed ???look??? as ‘U-Boat Captain’ was spot on. Now I know what he???s been reminding me of all these weeks. There???s a dark, slightly horrific overtone to this episode that makes you want to see more and once again the wonderful cliffhanger.

Slight niggles were German bombers flying too low over London, (risking barrage balloons, tall buildings, anti-aircraft fire at short range whilst being illuminated by burning buildings and damage from their own bombs) and Rose???s decent into a giggling blond under the influence of Captain Jack???s good looks. Not that much really when compared to a Russell T. Davies written episode.

Rumour has it that at some point next season, young Nancy will become a fully-fledged companion, prior to Rose’s departure a few episodes later. I think she would be a good choice.



2 comments


    Simon Bromley

    May 22, 2005

    Worth noting too (I think so, anyway) that the use of nanotechnology was pretty much exactly the same idea that was used at the end of series VII of Red Dwarf.
    But then, I am more prone to noticing that, aren’t I?

    Rob lane

    May 22, 2005

    Mr Grehan,

    I too am fond of blaming my own infernal devices for eating my video tapes and doing all things to my annoyance, especially so when it chews up my copy of Top Gear!!! As these damned machines do have a tendency to act as if they have a mind of their own, I have decided to pit the equally devious mind of my ‘missus’ in order to thwart it’s tape munching habits… She has tamed the sharpest of Toshibas in her past, and took on this new challenge, armed with new batteries in the remote and polished glass on the video cabinet, and lo, the program was taped! Having practiced on ???my program???, she felt at ease taping our old chum Dr Who (and capturing Mr Eccles Cakes cheery fizzog??) on Saturday, and managed to suppress Peters animism tendencies once and for all! I vote that my missus is made an arch enemy of the Doctor, because with her feminine guile she would have him programmed in no time at all! Oh and by the way, where can I get one of those fitted gas masks? Looks just the job to keep her quiet in the evenings!

    Ps. If those bombers had flown that low over Newport Docks my Dad would have shot down more than the one his team were credited with! I do like a plucky hun.
    Pps. Mr Grehan ??? do you get paid a bonus for such a long missive? 😉

    Carry on one and all,

    Doctor Bob

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