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The Family of Blood

ShowDoctor Who / Series III / Episode 10
First Broadcast2007/08/25 - 19:30 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksSynopsis Novel
Previous EpisodeHuman Nature
Next EpisodeBlink

This was a drawn out and occasionally boring episode. The resolution of the threat is almost incidental to John Smith, who gradually realises who he really is but wants to remain human. The Doctor, it seems, longs for an ordinary life.

There's much to think about in this story. We return to the theme of the lonely God. John Smith likes his ordinary life. He can see a future with Joan. From his dreams he realises that some aspects of the Doctor's life are horrible. He scoffs at a man who did not think to include love in his list of instructions to Martha.

In the end everyone and everything is against him. Martha, of course, insists he change back as he planned. She further claims that she loves the Doctor, even though she's only know him a short time. (She later denies this as something she said to make him turn back.)

Latimer returns the watch (it told him it was time) and describes the Doctor, “He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night and the storm and the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and he can see the turn of the universe … and he’s wonderful.” And most of all Joan insists that he change back, for if he doesn't his dreams will come true and the Family will live forever and wreak destruction. And still the Doctor refuses. And, in the end, this becomes tiresome for the viewer.

After a slow-paced episode, everything is wrapped up rather quickly. John and Joan have a vision of their life together, before John dies of old age. The very life the Doctor yearns for but cannot have. The Doctor changes back. He tricks the Family and destroys their ship.

Baines relates how the Doctor defeats them. “He never raised his voice, that was the worst thing. The fury of the Time Lord. And then we discovered why, why this Doctor; who had fought with Gods and demons, why he had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind. ... We wanted to live forever, so the Doctor made sure that we did.” Each member of the Family was entrapped for eternity.

The Doctor asks Joan to come with him but she refuses. The Doctor gives Latimer, (who simply had abnormal levels of psychic ability) the watch, and the Doctor and Martha leave. We see Latimer and Hutchinson in WWI. Latimer looks at his watch, sees that it is time and avoids an artillery strike. We flash forward to a poignant memorial service in the present where an aging Latimer remembers the fallen. The Doctor and Martha are in the distance watching.

On the whole, the story for this episode, was weaker than usual. It seemed too long for two episodes, but too short for one. A bit of research reveals it is based on a New Adventure novel. This may explain the problem, trying to condense a novel into a couple of episodes. Although they both have the same author and the episodes seems quite different.

That all said, it's thought provoking. What must the Doctor's life be like? It may seem all fun and adventure, but perhaps there's a lot to be said for an ordinary life, for love and family.

[Update:] A second viewing was a bit more rewarding. I might have been a little harsh; this wasn't such a poor episode after all. Still not one of the better ones in the new series though.