Doctor Who #1023: The Descendants of Pompeii

"Our family had a guardian angel..."
TECHNICAL SPECS: Released on YouTube 17 May 2020.

IN THIS ONE... The descendants of the characters from The Fires of Pompeii have a little Zoom chat.

REVIEW: A relatively unambitious webcast produced for The Fires of Pompeii global watch party, it IS written by Pompeii's original writer, James Moran, and has Murray Gold doing a little bit of music for it, which really does take you back to the RTD era specifically. Francesca Fowler and Tracey Childs play the modern-day descendants of their characters from the episode, also a mother and daughter, chatting online. It seems their family unit is very similar to the Pompeian family's - the dad's an architect, there's a brother, etc. - but while I'm not surprised Capaldi did not come back as the dad, it's kind of a disappointment they couldn't get the whole cast in there. It would have been so great with his surprise participation.

As is, it doesn't add a whole lot to the canon, pointless chit-chat about characters we don't really know, and a meditation on synchronicity (see Theories), with the family line seemingly following a repeating pattern of jobs and dynamics, and the daughter (named after the character from Pompeii as an added by of synchro) wondering if the family's been protected by some guardian angel through time - cue Doctor's Theme - a revelation that really comes out of nowhere, but is of a piece with one of my least favorite elements of the RTD era, namely the weepy-eyed declarations about a Messianic Doctor. Bleh. I also feel that if you're going to put a Pompeii Research folder on Evie's desktop, she should reference it when mentioning repeating professions. Of course, while architect was the dad's job in the original episode, it's not like everyone in the 21st Century is built on that Ancient model. Why is "police" one of the repeated jobs, for example? I can only think that it's an inside joke, Tracey Childs playing a copper in Broadchurch (which is Doctor Who-adjacent at this point). As a broad-spectrum Whovian, I would have rather alluded to the character of Elizabeth Klein, also played by Childs, who has been variously enemy and companion to the Doctor, and a member of UNIT, depending on the timeline. Oh well. I know I'm asking too much.

THEORIES: What is this odd synchronicity about, and how is the Doctor involved? Sounds like there's an untold story there. We know it's possible for the Doctor to fly trough time and meet up with Caecilius' descendants and make sure they're all right, but what is the virtue of pushing them towards certain professions? Is it the effect of him or Donna saying, "I think you probably have a talent for..."? But then, there's also the matter of descendants looking a heck of a lot like their ancestors, a TV trope surely, but I mention it because if this is true across the board (and it might be why time travelers would say something ABOUT the ancestor, spontaneously), then the Capaldi Doctor who have more readily recognized his new face, no? Or that's just regenerative crisis confusing him, and seeing the Capaldi face over and over again through history actually cemented it in whatever part of the Time Lord subconscious manages regeneration. Let's also remember the Amy lookalike in Pompeii (and again bring up Klein) and ask whether there's something weird going on in Pompeii, some kind of weird temporal effect brought on by the fact the 7th Doctor is also there (the audio The Fires of Vulcan) as is Captain Jack (possibly multiple times running his Volcano Day scam). Seems like that event is tied up in temporal knots as much as Angel-ridden New York.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - It's well acted and plays on some nostalgia, but ultimately forgettable as it can't meet fans' expectations.

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