I just finished watching the last of the two-parter Doctor Who episode "Human Nature/Family of Blood" and drying my face.
This was the only other episode in the Doctor Who series that made me weep openly. Granted, I'm a crying man. Seriously have gotten blubbery in my old age. I'm moved by so much anymore. But even having said that, Doctor Who is my go-to guy for action, fun, thrills and adventure. I don't watch for crying, so when it moves me, it's really something special for me.
The thing that got me in these two episodes was when The Doctor, having given up his Time Lord nature to become human and hide from interstellar hunters, is told finally who he really is and how he has to give up the humanity to become The Doctor again. The Doctor, as the human "John Smith," practically melts as he realizes that his whole life is a lie. His hopes, his dreams, his newfound love--can never be. And that in realizing this, he is being asked to die out and let this "Doctor" person awaken in his place.
John Smith doesn't want to die. He doesn't want to believe that he isn't real. And David Tennant perfectly, PERFECTLY conveyed that agony. It was a brilliant show that will not go unnoticed, I guarantee you.
But this story met me on two fronts. First, Martha was finally treated the way I would expect her to be treated in Earth's past. With this story, I can willfully and gleefully forget the rubbish (as they say in England) of the last two-parter and it's blatant disregard for the facts. I didn't want to see Martha disrespected because of her skin color, any more than I wanted to be disrespected for mine when I was in Missouri--but it happened anyway. To deny that is losing the opportunity to educate people to the fact that it's real and it happens and it needs to STOP. Putting black Martha with a time traveling, beloved character is the opportunity to get that across to people who love the show.
Paul Cornell was the first writer in the Martha storyline to have gotten it right. That was my joy from the first part "Human Nature." I even got a chance to tell him so on his blog, and he responded twice to me as well (I start 17 comments down, he responds, I respond, then he responds again)! So that was alright then.
But now with "Family of Blood" suddenly I found myself experiencing a whole new set of personal issues, not from the Martha character this time, but with John Smith's plight. Paul Cornell tapped into what it's like to be terrified that your whole life may prove one day to be a failed experiment (In actuality, he wrote this story first in 1995 as a novelization when Doctor Who had already been canceled and all we had were the books). That all the goals you've set up for yourself will be revealed to be one big hopeless sham. That unbeknownst to you, you never had the potential that you thought and hoped you did. That you were doomed from the start.
That fear blossomed and raged in me as I watched David Tennant do some serious justice to those emotions. In fact, if I didn't now know that I was leaving George's house by September, I might have jumped into a well of depression. Because I've got some powerful goals to achieve by my birthday, and if suddenly someone were to pop up and tell me, "No, actually, you'll never see it. You won't ever write a published novel. You won't ever grow closer to your friends. You'll never work through your issues and find The One you'll marry. You'll never have a son or a daughter. In fact, you aren't really anything now. All this passion you've been pouring out for the past five years? It's nothing. It never was anything. Now give up and die. Someone more important than you needs this body."
Could you just imagine?
When I turned off the comp, I thought back to the only other episode that moved me like this, and I looked it up. Did you guys hear my stunned cry when I found out that Paul Cornell also wrote "Father's Day?"
Paul Cornell turned out to know a little something about what's ticking inside of me. I'm so glad I got to converse with him before I found that out. Because now I'm apt to just be a blubbering fool in any future concourse. :) I'm glad to add him to my list of emotional allies. In other words, "Heroes."