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Doctor Who Re-Watch: Father’s Day

 Doctor Who Diaries: A recurring feature about anything and everything Doctor Who

Pete and Rose Tyler in "Father's Day." Photo: BBC
Pete and Rose Tyler in “Father’s Day.”
Photo: BBC

It has been a while since my last Doctor Who post, but as time kept ticking by, I decided to wait on my recap, wait for Father’s Day since that was the episode I left off of during my re-watch (I admit to getting WAY behind on this, but I promise to get better after we re-launch the website).  So, thinking about all the different dads in the Doctor Who universe, including Rory, Pete Tyler definitely stands out. While parallel universe Pete Tyler would later make his own entrance into the show, it is Rose’s real father that deserves some notice too!

One of the best parts of series 1 (of New Who), is hands down characterization. “Father’s Day” is hardly a perfect episode: some of the time monsters are cheesy as all get out, and a time inconsistency with Rose and the November, 1987 date (as she should have been born in 1986). Still, what makes “Father’s Day” memorable comes down to very human reactions. If YOU had the chance to travel in time, wouldn’t you want to do something personal? See your own family, especially if say, your father died when you were still just a baby?

HUMAN EMOTION

Father's day_Doctor Who 1

That’s exactly what happens here. Near the beginning of the episode, Rose asks the Doctor if she can see her father, be with him when he dies. He agrees with hesitation. The two watch her Dad about to get hit by a car, but when it comes time to run to him, she freezes, thus missing her opportunity. So she asks the Doctor if she can go again. He again agrees, knowing that this is a dangerous request (they are crossing their own timeline after all). They go again, but this time, Rose can’t let her Dad die and instinctively runs out and pushes her father out of harm’s way, saving her father and messing with time in the process.

Father's Day_Doctor Who 2

Rose’s flaws just make her all the more human. We believe in her decision; we can relate to her decision.

Sure, this was the wrong choice to make, but how many of us could say that we wouldn’t make that same, exact mistake? Rose’s flaws just make her all the more human. We believe in her decision; we can relate to her decision. Because the episode is more about emotion and character growth, Doctor Who could quiet down for just one episode, to give us something different, something about true human emotion. I loved that. We got to know Rose better, Jackie (including her own insecurities and downright, biting meanness), Pete Tyler, and even the Doctor (we get to see how he responds to Rose’s uninformed actions).

ROSE AND THE DOCTOR

Father's Day_Doctor Who 3

…he let his own feelings for Rose cloud his better judgment.

After Rose spontaneously saves her Dad, the Doctor gets angry at her for what she did, and the two have what could be construed as a couple having a fight (even Pete thinks they are a couple). Now, I know a lot of fans just go around blaming Rose for her choices in this episode, but really the Doctor definitely should take some responsibility. He’s the one who allowed Rose to go back in time to see her father, and he’s the one who didn’t explain clearly the rules of time, even bragging at the beginning of the episode that he “can do anything.” All Rose has seen is the Doctor saving people, so why couldn’t she save her own Dad? Personally, I find the real reason the Doctor gets so upset is because he does blame himself; he let his own feelings for Rose cloud his better judgment.

Later, when they do make up (as we all knew they would), this experience just cements their growing fondness even further. The Doctor tries to do anything to let Rose keep her father, even when there seems like almost all hope is gone; a truly great episode for those who prefer character work over plot.

TIME LAWS

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Another aspect of “Father’s Day” that stands out in the new world of “Timey Wimey” (don’t hate me, but I CANNOT stand that term), is that the laws make sense.  The paradoxes are as clear as day (something that shouldn’t happen often, unlike it constantly happening lately), such as Rose not being able to touch baby Rose. Since time had already been messed up (just one ordinary man living in the world that shouldn’t have), even one more paradox would make the creatures stronger and time would collapse even further.  I appreciated the consistency in the writing and in how time travel (including messing with time), laws must be followed. Everything just made perfect sense. I would love to see a return to this in present day Doctor Who, where paradoxes and timey-wimey constant crisscrossing of paths within characters’ own timelines, comes to a stop. Give us more consequences like “Father’s Day,” and give us more episodes focused on characterization: less dazzle and more emotion.

PETE TYLER

Father's day_Doctor Who 5

Finally, because it is Father’s Day after all, I have to talk about Pete Tyler. How can we not love this man, this man with such a big heart, but also full of insecurities of his own, that he believe he really is nothing but a failure? He may not have created some big invention yet, or succeeded in any of his crazy schemes, but this was a man who knew how to love. And, hey, loving Jackie was a task in and of itself. She could be mean in the way she constantly put him down. Still, this just gives her greater human foibles as well. If we look at the situation from her perspective, we see a young mother who never knows when they will have money to take care of a family. “Father’s Day” offers up insight into ALL of the Tyler family.

But coming back to the man of the hour, Pete Tyler reveals his true strength when he cleverly figures everything out just by observing Rose (deducing she is in fact his daughter) and the Doctor (understanding how much the Doctor cared for her). Most importantly, however, Pete Tyler soon realizes ‘why’ time is coming apart from the seams: he was meant to die. With bravery, Pete Tyler does the only thing he can do; he sacrifices himself in order to save the world, including that of his wife and daughter. He commits the ultimate act of love:

Father's Day_Doctor Who 6

PETE: I’m meant to be dead, Jackie. You’re going to get rid of me at last.
JACKIE: Don’t say that.
PETE: For once in your life, trust me. It’s got be done. You’ve got to survive, because you’ve got to bring up our daughter. I never read you those bedtime stories. I never took you on those picnics. I was never there for you.
ROSE: You would have been.
PETE: But I can do this for you. I can be a proper dad to you now.
ROSE: But it’s not fair.
PETE: I’ve had all these extra hours. No one else in the world has ever had that. And on top of that, I got to see you. And you’re beautiful. How lucky am I, eh? So, come on, do as your dad says. You going to be there for me love? Thanks for saving me.

Pete Tyler_thanks for saving me

And then he runs out in front of that circling car, the one originally meant to kill him, returning time to its rightful place. The Doctor, having died earlier in the episode, returns from whence he went, telling Rose to go to him, to go to her Dad.

Father's Day_Doctor Who 7

Rose runs out to Pete Tyler and stays with him till he’s gone, slightly changing time because this time, this time he didn’t die alone.

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After saying goodbye with a kiss on his forehead, Rose and the Doctor reunite, leaving 1987 hand in hand.

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Some Favorite Quotes

never going to start world war 3_Doctor Who

ROSE: But it’s not like I’ve changed history. Not much. I mean he’s never going to be a world leader. He’s not going to start World War Three or anything.

DOCTOR: Rose, there’s a man alive in the world who wasn’t alive before. An ordinary man. That’s the most important thing in creation. The whole world’s different because he’s alive.

why does everyone think we're a couple_Doctor Who

PETE: Listen, don’t worry about him. Couples have rows all the time.

ROSE: We’re not a couple. Why does everyone think we’re a couple? I think he left me.

you never used to like them mental_Doctor Who

ROSE: You’re not like this. You love each other.

JACKIE: Oh, Pete. You never used to like them mental.

 

What did you think of “Father’s Day?” Ready for more episodes that are mainly based on characterization? Sound off in the comments…

 

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Read the rest of my blog posts from  Doctor Who Diaries.

 

Photo Credits: BBC

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By on June 15th, 2014

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely blog and works as a YA Librarian.

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1 thought on “Doctor Who Re-Watch: Father’s Day”

  1. One of my favorite episodes, purely based on the wonderful character development and back story. I definitely like to agree with the notion of the Doctor being upset with Rose for her rash decision, but mainly at himself for putting them in the situation to begin with. It was another case of “i am so impressive” gone wrong. It was wonderful to see a very human Rose make a very humanly selfish decision/mistake and the consequences of it play out.

    Love the review, can’t wait for the next one!

    Reply

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