Day 7 – Favorite Episode
“Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood”
My favorite episode of Doctor Who is actually a two-parter by one of my favorite writers, Paul Cornell. “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood” tells the story of The Doctor and Martha hiding from a group of aliens that have attacked them, needing The Doctor’s Time Lord life force to stay alive. In order to escape them, The Doctor hides out with Martha in 1913. The trick? In order for The Doctor to be untraceable to this family of aliens, who can smell out his life force, he contains his Time Lord essence in a fob watch that he entrusts to Martha, and lives a life for three months as a human being named John Smith. He has a career as a teacher at an all-boys school, he falls in love with a woman named Joan Redfern, and he lives a life of quiet wonder that The Doctor never gets a chance to have. Meanwhile, he has entrusted Martha with his life, which she protects with hers as she lives a humiliating life as a maid watching the man she loves fall in love with someone else.
I love this story, because we get to see The Doctor live as the species he so admires. It isn’t just that he falls in love – though his relationship with Joan is beautiful and heartbreaking – but that he gets to be human. He gets to understand what that really means.
I love this story, because we get to see how strong Martha is. So many people see Martha as weak because of her feelings for The Doctor, but it is her enormous heart and the way she owns her feelings so fearlessly that make her strong. When she believes in something, she will fight for it. This first big mission of hers guarding the fob watch (and The Doctor’s existence as a Time Lord) prepared her for evangelizing The Doctor later on in order to defeat The Master. This story shows Martha at her best.
I love this story because The Family of Blood is frightening, and yet, really charming. The way they refer to each other as “Son of Mine” and “Father of Mine”; the way the son sniffs around like an animal for The Doctor; the way they kill people and use the bodies to walk around and communicate.
I love the little runt of a boy who ends up helping The Doctor and Martha, and though he isn’t the best in military training along with the rest of the boys in school, he ends up fighting in the war when he’s older and becoming a war hero.
I love that The Doctor makes the most difficult decision of his life by choosing to give up his humanity. And I love that we get to see him at his most ferocious. He punishes each member of the Family of Blood by giving them exactly what they wanted: immortality. But he gives them this in the coldest way possible, and it sent a chill up my spine to watch him be that way.
Also, there were evil scarecrows. How could you not love evil scarecrows?
So there you have it, “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood” are my favorite episodes of Doctor Who. Incidentally, the episodes are based on Paul Cornell’s Docotr Who novel, also called Human Nature, for those who care to read it!