|The creepy Son of Mine leads the Family of Blood|
In the Wilderness years between the cancellation and the return, the only source of new Who were several series of books, running under various different companies - the most popular of which can be said to be the Virgin New Adventures. The thirty-eighth novel in that series was Human Nature, written by the erstwhile NuWho writer Paul Cornell. Like Blink next week, prose was adapted to screen and we got this rather interesting two-parter that juggles examinations of historical attitudes with a scathing deconstruction of who The Doctor really is. It has the moral ambiguity that the series held during the Wilderness Years, and that's probably one of its main selling points.
The Family of Blood are an alien family of amorphous smoke who have been chasing The Doctor in order to adapt his Time-Lord DNA and live forever. Planning to let them die out, the Doctor uses a machine to change him into a Human and put his Time-Lord consciousness into a pocketwatch - a Chameleon Arch. Five months later, and The Doc is living as John Smith in a school in 1913, a product of his time who hires maid Martha to do his handywork for him. Martha is troubled when John falls in love with Nurse Joan Redfern (Jessica Hynes) and the Family of Blood catch up with them. With the Watch kept safe by young boy Timothy Latimer (Thomas Sangster), John Smith must face the reality of becoming The Doctor once again, losing his human identity.
|Joan (Jessica Hynes) falls in love with John Smith and is|
forced to put The Doctor in his place.
The continuation of the Martha/Doctor dynamic is really well done, too. The show never pretends that their relationship is healthy one, and John Smith's rascist abuse of Martha only encourages that. She's put up with five months of abuse from the locals, especially with the imperialist attitudes surrounding colonial wars in Africa. The rest of this series is basically gonna see how much abuse we can put Martha through before she finally leaves - like, almost non-stop. And she still gets battered by fandom. Bah.
Those colonialist attitudes underlined the story in many other ways, taking on the guise of a Wilfred Owen-style criticism of the dulce et decorum est attitudes of the Edwardian era and how they led to large numbers of casualties in the First World War. There's a wonderful sense of that impending doom that makes the attack by the awesome Family of Blood that more ominous. I do think that the episode goes an incy wincy bit over the top with this, with it ending on an aging Latimer attending a Remembrance celebration in the Present, but I do love the way the idea is implemented.
|David Tennant is awesome in this story, by the way.|