Review: Doctor Who – 4×6 – The Doctor’s Daughter

The exception that proves the rule

Well thank heavens for that. For one terrible moment, I thought we were going to go through an entire nu-Who series without there being a completely bollocks episode. 

But praise the Lord, it’s happened. A true piece of rubbish. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve found this year’s Evolution of the Daleks.

On the planet Messaline, in the middle of an endless war, the Doctor meets the most important woman of his life. (Hang on, wouldn’t that have been his wife? Or Susan? Bloody BBC web site. Or are they suggesting that she’s important because she’s the continuation of the Time Lords? But he doesn’t know that. Unless she’s coming back… Or… Ho hum)

Was it any good?
Let’s play a game. It’s called Six Degrees of Suckiness. In it, we list the ways the episode sucked

  1. Murray Gold: dreadful rubbish piece of incidental music that would have been shamed by a game of Pong
  2. Sets and direction: I imagine, even though it is the BBC, there’s some sort of budget for making things look pretty with. Apart from some nice use of colour, the whole thing looked dirt cheap and stupid, with stupid fish aliens with stupid water bottles stapled to their stupid heads
  3. Freema: A woman clearly afflicted with a "poor acting" tone of voice. And poor acting.
  4. Dialogue: Awful. A few good moments of moral philosophising and the bit where the Doctor talks about his family was good, but atrocious otherwise.
  5. The plot: This is actually going to be both five and six because it was so awful. Let me elaborate with a few initial nitpicks:

So the TARDIS takes the Doctor to find his not yet created daughter (who apparently turns on his hand in a box as well). She gets created from his tissue sample. I missed the full gobbledygook explanation, but apparently, it’s not true cloning, since it doesn’t produce a copy of the original person. Otherwise, why does it produce a daughter, rather than a Junior Tennant? Yet it knows enough about alien biology to work with a Time Lord.

Anyway, said soldier-producing, super-sophisticated not-quite-clone machine chooses to produce soldiers that not only are fully formed and given military training, they’re also a bit weedy, of varying ages (despite being less than a week old) and fully clothed. 

Okey doke.

As well as military training, linguistics and an entire cultural database to make references with, this machine also give’s them basic tutelage in small talk, gymnastics, sex education, basic flirtation and seduction techniques and more. This despite the fact everything’s a great big mistake and it was all supposed to be for terraforming rather than anything militaristic.


Over the week since they landed, an entire culture has managed to forget its history because of massive population turnover (with no visible bodies. Certainly none decaying) and created an entirely new history.

That’s plausible. I’ll go with that.

After a great big run round, the soldiers come across their mortal enemies and choose not to shoot them once they’ve seen a glowing ball thing. Hmm. Cos it’s pretty? Despite having less than seven days’ experience of life to work with and nothing but military indoctrination in their brain to extrapolate from? 


Jenny gets shot and no one suspects she’s gone into a Time Lord coma to repair herself, despite her having two hearts? Not even the Doctor? And isn’t the TARDIS going to realise, since it can detect her before she’s even been created?

Come again?

Those initial plot nitpicks to one side for the minute, let’s have some other nitpicks.

  • Martha getting captured again then weeping over the fish beast she’s known for two minutes when it’s sinking into a pool? He’s a fish beast – maybe he can breathe using his stupid water bottle. Did you think of that with all your medical training?
  • Doctor’s philosophy on killing: not "because it’s bad" but "because it makes you a bad person"? That’s just crap. Get thee to a university
  • Donna’s constant "I was a temp" refrain is getting old. Yes. We know, love.

Oh dear, it was just wretched. I can’t even string a proper review together, rather than just poke holes in the plot. How shaming.

Jenny was irritating rather than endearing. Donna was a bit dull, with the occasional good line (liked the bit about running). Martha was a pain at all points. Not even the wonderful Nigel Terry could do anything with his role. DT was fine and there was a good Tombo/Pat bit with the wind-up mouse, but we’ve seen the Doctor crying over the Master relatively recently so the Doctor crying over his semi-clone seems a bit "been there, done that" to it. 

Anyway, that’s the bad episode that proves the rule. Fingers crossed, Agatha Christie being attacked by a wasp is going to be brilliant. And you don’t say that every day, do you?

Classic Who references
There were no references to classic Who this episode, other than the fact the entire plot was pinched from the infinitely superior Face of Evil, in which the Doctor comes across a planet in which the descendants of some colonists have split into two tribes over many generations, are fighting an endless war with each other that they’ve forgotten the origins of, and have a basic creation myth that turns out to have a basis in reality. Other than that, no similarities at all…

Other reviews
I’m first for once! But if you’ve seen 17th generation reviews of reviews of the episode, maybe you’d like to leave links to them below so we can annoy some fish people together.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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