When a spaceship crashes in the middle of the London Blitz the Doctor, Rose and the enigmatic Captain Jack Harkness find themselves investigating a plague of physical injuries and a little boy in a gas mask.
Rose and the Doctor find themselves in 1941 London when the TARDIS receives an emergency signal from another time-traveling vehicle. While the Doctor tries to determine where the object may have landed, Rose goes off in search of a child she can hear calling for help. When she gets herself into a precarious situation, she's rescued by the rather handsome RAF Captain Jack Harkness, who owns a time machine of his own. The Doctor meanwhile meets Nancy who has an interesting way of arranging meals for homeless children. They are also being chased by the child Rose heard calling. The Doctor determines that human DNA is being rewritten but it's not obvious why or by who.Written by
After Paul Cornell's Father's Day, it's another great writer's turn to provide his spin on Doctor Who: one Steven Moffat, creator of Coupling, lifelong fan of the original Doc and author of the hilarious Comic Relief spoof version of the show produced in 1999 (you know, the one with Rowan Atkinson as the Ninth Doctor). With such credentials, greatness was to be expected, and The Empty Child is easily the first season's high point, besides the chilling Dalek.
In fact, "chilling" is an adjective that applies quite well to this episode too: summoned by an emergency signal from a damaged time-ship, the Doctor and Rose land in 1914 London, where a mysterious, deformed child spreads terror with his gas mask-shaped face and constant cries for his absent mother. While the Doctor tries to get to the bottom of this spooky enigma, he and Rose also make a rather different acquaintance: that of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), a stranded time traveler who loves to enjoy himself with just about anyone...
Marking a distinct tonal shift that goes beyond even the more suspenseful bits of Dalek, The Empty Child is a pretty scary episode - some scenes had to be edited because of the time slot - that might alienate younger viewers, but will no doubt fascinate older ones thanks to its pitch-perfect writing, subtle atmosphere build-up and impeccable reconstruction of war-time London. Moffat also deserves kudos for the introduction of Captain Jack, a character that blatantly panders to a more adult audience (then again, this is Moffat, the king of awkward sexual tension on the small screen) while also providing the sense of fun and excitement that makes Doctor Who such a great ride. And this is just part one of the story...
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