If any further evidence were needed that this new series of Doctor Who is more about Rose than it is the Doctor, then Father’s Day is the ultimate proof. Why did Rose rush into the Tardis upon learning it’s also a time machine at the end of the first episode? No, it wasn’t just a joke, she had a serious motive and a plan, somewhere in her head, to see her dad before he was killed in a tragic car accident. Foreshadowing, again, done right!
Father’s Day is filled with drama and sentiment. It tells a heartwarming story of family reunion and concludes it with a brave sacrifice. Characters grow and learn and it’s all very emotional. It makes us care for these characters and learn a little more about them. In that respect, it’s a successful episode. The flip-side to this is that it doesn’t really make much sense.
Apparently, the Time Lords used to step in and stop wounds in time from happening, but now that they’re all gone, this sort of accident can happen. And yet, it’s never happened since, and it doesn’t really explain how it happened or why. We must simply consider it a freak accident and let it slide. This story portrays time as a kind of magical realm with guardians and destiny, rather than a scientific dimensional concept. Why does the Tardis turn into a normal phone box? Magic. Why do all the phones start picking up the first ever telephone message? Magic. Why does the car keep appearing and disappearing? Magic. Why does the nature of Pete’s death change but nobody remembers Rose being there or the world ending? Magic. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey. Brush it under the carpet and move on.
I like to think you can mix an emotional character-driven story with a solid grasp of time travel logic. Doctor Who manages it occasionally, but this particular story is weighted too heavily towards the former with not enough consideration for the latter. Still, purely as a piece of drama, it’s rather effective. Pete is an endearing character, and although Rose initially learns that the reality doesn’t live up to the stories, she finds a man she is proud to call her father anyway.