The Family of Blood
|185b – "The Family of Blood"|
|Doctor Who episode|
The Family of Blood ready to chase The Doctor.
|Script editor||Lindsey Alford|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Length||2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes|
|Originally broadcast||2 June 2007|
"The Family of Blood" is the ninth episode of the third series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Preceded by "Human Nature", it is the second episode of a two-part story written by Paul Cornell adapted from his Doctor Who novel Human Nature (1995), co-plotted with Kate Orman. The episode was first broadcast on BBC One on 2 June 2007.
It is 1913 in England, and war has come a year in advance as the terrifying Family hunts for the Doctor. When John Smith refuses to accept his destiny as a Time Lord, the women in his life—Martha Jones and Joan Redfern—have to help him decide.
In a Doctor Who Magazine interview, Executive Producer Russell T Davies characterised the "Human Nature"/"Family of Blood" two-parter as perhaps being too dark for the programme's audience. In 2008, both "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" were nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.
Following the events of "Human Nature", the Family of Blood hold Martha and Joan Redfern captive at the village dance and are forcing John Smith to choose which of them to sacrifice. While John struggles to understand what is happening, Timothy Latimer briefly opens the fob watch containing the Doctor's Time Lord essence. This momentarily distracts the Family, enabling Martha to grab a gun and escape with the others back to the school. John sounds the alarm and helps to organise the school's defenses while Martha and Joan search for the watch.
The Family assault the school with an army of animated scarecrows, but the schoolboys, who have military training, defend themselves against the first wave. When the Family shows John that they have discovered his TARDIS, Joan accepts the truth that John is really the Doctor. The Family continue their assault while John, Joan and Martha escape to an empty house in the village. They are found by Timothy, who returns the watch to them. Discovering that the Doctor has escaped, the Family begin an aerial bombardment of the village from their hidden ship. Martha and Joan implore John to use the watch to become the Doctor and save everyone. John breaks down in tears, reluctant to give up Joan. The two share a vision, enabled by the fob watch, of what their lives would be like together as humans.
John makes his way to the Family's ship, and stumbles in clumsily while offering to surrender the watch in exchange for the Family stopping the bombardment. The Family open the watch and discover it is empty, meaning that John has already changed back into the Doctor. The bumbling was a ruse to quietly initiate the ship's self-destruct mechanism. The Doctor and the Family escape the explosion, but the Doctor captures them and issues each member an eternal punishment. He pushes the mother out of the TARDIS into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, wraps the father in unbreakable chains forged in the heart of a dwarf star, traps their daughter in every mirror everywhere in existence, and suspends their son in time before putting him to work as a scarecrow. Narrating this conclusion, the son realises that the Doctor was capable of defeating them from the start, but chose to hide instead out of mercy. The Doctor returns to Joan and offers her a chance to travel with him in the TARDIS, but she refuses. The Doctor offers to start over with her, but she rebukes him for having chosen to hide in her time period; she asks, as a way of making a point (and assigning blame), whether anyone would have died had he not done so. The Doctor leaves his journal with her and departs.
Timothy bids them goodbye and the Doctor gives him the fob watch to keep. One year later, during a battle in World War I, Timothy remembers a vision of a bombing and avoids being killed. Later, in his old age, Timothy spots the Doctor and Martha in attendance at a Remembrance Day ceremony. Timothy, the Doctor, and Martha silently acknowledge each other as Timothy still clutches the watch.
A clip of the Doctor confronting the Empress of the Racnoss in "The Runaway Bride" is shown when Latimer opens the fob watch at the school.
John Smith's wedding and the Remembrance Day memorial scene were filmed at Llandaff Cathedral. The building used as the school is a private house, the Grade I-listed Treberfydd in Bwlch a few miles south of Brecon.
The Doctor, in the guise of Mr Smith, is convinced that his parents were called Sydney and Verity, the writer's reference to the programme's original creators Verity Lambert and Sydney Newman.
Comparison with the novel
The novel featured the Seventh Doctor and Bernice Summerfield, with their roles replaced on television by the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones. Key changes from the novel include the fate of the villains, who in the novel are shapeshifters called Aubertides. In the book, the explosion traps them for eternity in their own "temporal shields", although the irony of them now living forever is not commented on. Another alteration to the ending is that the Aubertides have captured Joan, and are holding her hostage for the biodata module. When the Doctor arrives, pretending to be Smith, the module is not empty, but contains the John Smith persona. One of the Aubertides therefore becomes Smith, and betrays the others, sacrificing himself to save Joan.
The scenes with the restored Doctor and Joan are also different; in the novel, the Seventh Doctor admits he cannot love Joan the way John did. The Tenth Doctor believes he is capable of everything John was capable of, although there is a clear difference in his demeanor after he has been restored to a Time Lord. Joan can sense the difference and this is just as distressing for her.
The last scenes of the episode are based on the novel's epilogue, although, in the novel, Tim does not join the army, but saves the life of a character who was destined to die in the War (not Hutchinson, who does) as a member of the Red Cross, and at the memorial service he wears a white poppy. This contrasts sharply with the episode, where Tim's reaction to being told "You don't have to fight" is "I think we do".
Martha's blog for the episode starts "Long ago in an English winter". This was the last sentence of Cornell's first New Adventures novel Timewyrm: Revelation. The last sentence of Human Nature is "Long ago in an English spring", concluding a pattern that continued through Love and War and No Future.
Along with "Human Nature", "The Family of Blood" was nominated for the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. David Tennant won the Constellation Award for Best Male Performance in a 2007 Science Fiction Television Episode for his performance in this two-part story.
In 2008, The Daily Telegraph named "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" the seventh greatest Doctor Who episode. In 2009, Doctor Who Magazine readers voted it as the sixth best Doctor Who story of all time. Matt Wales of IGN named the two-part story the best episode of Tennant's tenure as the Doctor, describing it as "stunningly produced" and praising Tennant's performance.
- "Doctor Who UK airdate announced". News (Dreamwatch). 27 February 2007.
- Doctor Who Magazine (386). August 2007. Missing or empty
- "2008 Hugo Nomination List". Denvention 3: The 66th World Science Fiction Convention. World Science Fiction Society. 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
- "Walesarts, Llandaff village, Cardiff". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
- "Treberfydd official website". Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "St Fagans Natural History Museum, Cardiff". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
- Shimpach, Shawn (2010). Television in Transition: The Life and Afterlife of the Narrative Action Hero. John Wiley and Sons. p. 204. ISBN 1-4051-8536-8.
- "2008 Constellation Awards". Constellation Awards website. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
- "The 10 greatest episodes of Doctor Who ever". The Daily Telegraph. 2008-07-02. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- Haines, Lester (2009-09-17). "Doctor Who fans name best episode ever". The Register. Retrieved 2011-08-15.
- Wales, Matt (2010-01-05). "Top 10 Tennant Doctor Who Stories". IGN. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Tenth Doctor|
- The Family of Blood on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- "The Family of Blood" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "Human Nature" / "The Family of Blood" at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- "Human Nature" / "The Family of Blood" at Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- "We are the Family of Blood": episode trailer
- "The Family of Blood" at the Internet Movie Database
- "The Family of Blood" reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
- "The Family of Blood" reviews at Outpost Gallifrey