two-part Doctor Who television story Human Nature/The
Family of Blood is based upon the New Adventures
novel Human Nature. Though there are differences between
the two narratives, surely they are too similar to happen
in the same continuity without us accepting some enormous
The main difference between the book and the television story
is that in the novel the Doctor seeks human form in order
to better understand the human condition, whereas on TV he
is hiding out from the Family of Blood.
The villains in the book are a family of Aubertide shape-shifters,
who also provide the device that transforms the Doctor into
John Smith (as opposed to the chameleon arch used in the television
serial). However, their plan is similar to that of the Family
of Blood - they want to gain the Time Lord's abilities by
stealing his bio-data module (which takes the form of a cricket
ball in the book, rather than the pocket watch seen on TV).
Though the television story is set in 1913, while the novel
takes place a year later in 1914, the setting is still a boys'
school. And although Joan Redfern is a school matron in the
television episodes but a science teacher in the novel, in
both stories she is widowed, becomes Smith's love interest
and objects to teaching the boys to fight. The student Timothy
Dean is renamed Tim Latimer for TV but his role and character
remain practically identical.
So, is it at all possible for these two stories to be reconciled
within the same continuity? If so, why doesn't the Tenth Doctor's
list of things for Martha not to let him do include falling
in love? Surely he would know better the second time round?
is a tricky one. However, just as I did when I responded to
a recent Family Guy nit-pick,
I find myself inspired by the DC Comics Universe.
The superhero comic books published by DC have similarly seen
history repeating itself over the decades. Origin stories
have been altered or reset. Characters (for instance, Supergirl),
settings (such as the bottle city of Kandor) and situations
(like Superman's departure from Krypton) have been changed
and then often restored to resemble their former selves. These
changes have been explained as parallel universes or alterations
to the space/time continuum.
In the worlds of Doctor Who, we also have an explanation
for how characters such as Joan and Timothy could reappear
in slightly different forms. There is strong evidence that
War altered certain historical events (for instance,
apparently removing the Time Lords and the Daleks from throughout
time and space). In the current timeline, it seems that Joan
chose the nursing profession instead of teaching, while Timothy's
mother married a man called Latimer rather than one named
As to why the TARDIS should land in such a similar setting
to the last time the Doctor became a human, remember that
it is the ship that chooses and imprints the Doctor's new
identity as John Smith. Asked by the Doctor to do this, it
may be that the TARDIS follows its instructions far more precisely
than the Time Lord intended. In selecting a suitable back
story for John Smith, perhaps the ship decides to match the
conditions of that previous transformation as closely as possible,
homing in on the location of the current timeline's Joan and
Timothy, individuals who proved so pivotal the last time the
Doctor's bio-data was being hunted by hostile aliens.
It makes sense that the Tenth Doctor should record a list
of more than 20 directives for Martha to follow, as opposed
to the list of just nine that the Seventh Doctor gave to Benny
in the novel, because the Doctor would have learned a lot
from his previous experience. However, I agree it is odd that
his directives still don't mention the risk of Smith falling
in love. In fact, this is curious even if you don't consider
the novel as canon, because the Doctor recently fell in love
with a human (Rose) while he was actually a Time Lord.
I would suggest, therefore, that the Tenth Doctor disregards
the possibility of falling in love precisely because of his
recent loss of Rose. Either he assumes that he can never love
again under any circumstances, or his subconscious blots out
the subject altogether.
Right, I'm off to my own chameleon arch now, to try and turn
myself into a normal human being. Some hope...