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Human Nature (TV story)

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Human Nature
Human Nature 645
Adapted from: Human Nature
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companion(s): Martha
Featuring: John Smith, Joan, Tim
Main enemy: Family of Blood, Animated scarecrows
Main setting: Farringham, 1913
Key crew
Writer: Paul Cornell
Director: Charles Palmer
Producer: Susie Liggat
Release details
Story number: 185a
Season/series: Series 3
Premiere broadcast: 26 May 2007
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1x45 minute episode
Production code: 3.8
Confidential: Alter Ego
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Production order
Blink The Family of Blood
Memorable moment
Hearts, dreams and journals - Dr Who - BBC sci-fi03:22

Hearts, dreams and journals - Dr Who - BBC sci-fi

Another memorable moment
The Doctor's Ultimatum - Dr Who - BBC sci-fi02:17

The Doctor's Ultimatum - Dr Who - BBC sci-fi

Human Nature was the eighth episode of the third series of Doctor Who. It introduced the Chameleon arch and its ability to change Time Lord DNA, making the Doctor human. The episode was based on a novel of the same name.

Synopsis

England 1913, school teacher John Smith experiences amazing dreams of living an incredible life as a mysterious adventurer called "the Doctor", fighting monsters and seeing far away worlds. Is this man just a look-a-like of the real Doctor with a psychic link, or could there be another answer for all this?

Plot

The Tenth Doctor and Martha barely make it into the TARDIS as an energy weapon discharges behind them. After ascertaining that their pursuers had not seen their faces, the Doctor explains that they are being pursued by aliens who have stolen a Time Agent's vortex manipulator and can follow the TARDIS anywhere. He gives her a watch and tells her his life depends on it…

In November 1913, at the Farringham School for Boys, schoolteacher John Smith wakes up from this dream. Martha comes in as his maid to bring him breakfast and addresses him as "Dr John Smith". He explains to her that he sometimes has dreams of being an alien adventurer from another world, and she was with him. He notices the watch on the mantelpiece of his bedroom and claims he's from the Earth, but she shows him a paper showing he's in 1913 and he's completely human.

Later, Smith runs into Matron Joan Redfern, the school's nurse, and they chat about the boys. She wonders if he'll be going to the local village dance and he rather awkwardly falls down the stairs. Martha comes to check up on him but Nurse Redfern casually dismisses her as a maid who would have no medical knowledge. Smith talks about dreaming that he has two hearts but Redfern confirms he is a normal human with only one heart. He shows her his journal of his various dreams and the creatures he's seen such as Daleks, Cybermen, and the TARDIS. He also has pictures of Rose, although she disappears from the later entries. Nurse Redfern leaves with the book and when Martha goes after her, she asks how Martha came to be there with the Doctor.

Meanwhile, a group of John's students are studying in their dormitory room. One of them, Timothy Latimer, is bullied by a fellow student, Hutchinson, as much for his obvious intelligence as for his uncanny and unsettling ability to know things he shouldn't or couldn't possibly know, like where Hutchinson's father is posted while serving abroad. Another student, Jeremy Baines, tires of teasing Latimer and announces to Hutchinson and the others that he knows the location of a secret stash of beer in the woods, and will bring some back for the boys to enjoy in secret. He sneaks out by climbing down a ladder outside his window.

At the same time, Martha is freezing outside the local pub, complaining to her fellow maid, Jenny, that it's not fair that they have to freeze outside just to have a beer. Her modern attitude amuses Jenny, who wonders where she gets such ideas. Martha then notices a green lights shooting through the sky; John Smith arrives and greets them, explaining shooting stars to them. Martha doubts this, being exceptionally careful to protect the Doctor. She runs off to investigate with Jenny following her.

Human Nature 304

The inside of the spaceship.

Baines has just found the cache of beer, in the woods near the school, when he sees a strange green light land on the field just beyond the woods. Curious, he investigates the light source, and stumbles across an entrance to an invisible spaceship. Martha and Jenny arrive just moments after the ship briefly becomes visible, but miss seeing it as the cloaking device turns back on.

Inside the ship, Baines talks with the spacecraft's pilots, whom he can't see, who call themselves the Family. He wonders why he cannot see them, making the Family ask why he would what to see them. Baines answers that it's because he wants to know what they look like. A raspy female voice explains that it can be easily done as soon, they will look very familiar. Baines screams in terror.

Hutchinson and the other boys are getting impatient back at the dorm when Baines returns, his search for the secret stash of beer apparently being "unsuccessful". He is also behaving unusually, sniffing the air as though he has a cold. His eyes are also open completely, but none of the other boys seem to notice, saying there's another stash somewhere else.

Human Nature 393

The Tenth Doctor transforms himself into a human.

Martha rides out on a bike to an old hut, which houses the TARDIS on emergency power to keep it hidden from the Family. She enters and greets the time machine, something that makes her think she is cracking up now. Martha thinks back to how the Doctor warned their pursuers would never stop following them. He gave her a watch saying it contains "me," and said the Family's life spans were running out so they only needed to hide until they die. She remembers how the Doctor used a chameleon arch to rewrite his biology and transform himself into human. The TARDIS took care of everything else, creating a new identity for him. She turns on a recording the Doctor made prior to enacting his plan. She reviews the entire thing, but finds nothing pertaining to the strange sighting. She now worries that she may have to bring the Doctor back if they have found them, as it was the last resort the message said to use in that scenario.

Joan asks John to sketch her in his journal, being surprised at how beautiful she is in his eyes. They kiss as Martha walks in on them by accident. She excuses herself, mumbling that love wasn't on the Doctor's list. She finds refuge in the TARDIS, and reviews instructions. But the instructions are notably lacking: the Doctor did not foresee that his human self might fall in love, obviously something he never thinks of. However, she is more concerned about the strange green "shooting star", something the Doctor didn't mention either. On the subject about "John Smith" falling in love, Martha is annoyed and depressed that it wasn't her he fell in love with.

Meanwhile, Latimer is summoned to John's office to retrieve a book. While John looks for it, Latimer is drawn to the pocket watch that contains the Tenth Doctor's Time Lord memories and abilities. The boy opens it, briefly seeing the Doctor's world, and strange voices speaking of a "Time Lord," but closes it quickly as he hears Smith approaching. Latimer slips the watch into his pocket and scurries away, unnerved.

Elsewhere, Baines senses the trace. He telepathically reports to the others the status of the Doctor's wherabouts, and declares that it's time to activate the soldiers.

On nearby Oakham Farm, Mr Clark confronts some scarecrows that have appeared on his property. He thinks they are some of the local boys pulling a prank on him, but when he pulls the straw out, Clark finds they are just scarecrows. The animated scarecrows promptly surround him. He becomes the Family's Father. Meanwhile, another young girl, Lucy Cartwright, is walking down a road when animated scarecrows ambush her. She becomes the Family's Daughter.

John is giving weaponry training to the boys when the Headmaster arrives. The other students blame Latimer for slacking off. Latimer is haunted by a vision of the future and Hutchinson under attack. While Hutchinson takes Latimer off for punishment, Baines seems to notice something odd about John Smith but dismisses it. On a walk together, Joan informs John that he wrote about a war starting the next year, but he dismisses the idea, hoping peace will reign. As he continues talking, he notices a woman and her carriage getting dangerously close to a piano on a rope. Instinctively seeking to save her, John grabs a nearby boy's cricket ball and tosses it to start a chain of events that stop the woman just as the piano comes crashing down just feet away from her. Joan is impressed, but Smith says it was luck. He then asks her to the dance that night. Walking back to the school Joan tells John that she thinks that "the Doctor" is the kind of man he wants to be and his dreams are his subconscious' way of trying to get to be so. They notice a scarecrow askew and John fixes it. Joan asks him where he learned and he reflexively says Gallifrey. However, when questioned about its location, John isn't sure.

Human Nature 685

The Family of Blood uses scarecrows.

Meanwhile, the possessed Baines, Mr Clark and Lucy use their animated scarecrows to capture Jenny, who becomes the Family's Mother. Jenny then returns to the school and engages Martha in conversation. Martha quickly realises Jenny has been taken over. She runs to Smith, who is with Redfern preparing to go to the village dance that evening. She finds that the watch is gone, and tries in vain to restore him to his Time Lord configuration without it. However, Smith assumes Martha is delusional and thinks his fictional stories are real. Annoyed, Martha slaps Smith, telling him to wake up. Smith, shocked at Martha's behaviour, promptly fires her and leaves for the village dance with Nurse Redfern.

The Family break into Smith's office and search it, as the scent is traced back to him. They find the flier for the dance and decide to follow. At the same time, Martha has arrived with the sonic screwdriver, prompting Joan to admit she feels something off about John. John, having enough of Martha's "games" is left speechless when she shows him the device he's seen in his dreams. Latimer is still watching Smith from a distance, curious about him. The Family crashes the dance, demanding Smith tell them what he knows. However, Lucy/Daughter of Mine has been there as well and overheard Martha's attempts to get the Doctor's memory back, telling her Family the Time Lord is within their grasp.

However, John easily points out that he is human without any memories of the person he was before. Baines/Son of Mine is amused, seeing the Doctor went as far as erasing his memory along with changing his biology. As the Doctor is useless to them like this, they try forcing him to change back by threatening him. Remembering Martha said Joan was important to him, the Family takes both hostage and order John to choose between his friend and his lover.

Cast

Crew

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects

Sound







Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.


References

Culture

The Doctor

Foods and beverages

History

Species

Technology

Weapons

  • The weapons used by the Family are sonic.

Story notes

  • When the Doctor is speaking to Joan he names his parents as Sydney and Verity. This is clearly a reference to Sydney Newman, the original creator of Doctor Who, and Verity Lambert, the first producer.
  • This is the first occurrence of an explicitly racist comment within the new series directed at a companion.
  • Radio Times credits David Tennant as 'John Smith', and not the Doctor. On-screen credits read 'The Doctor/Smith'.
  • During the video instructions that the Doctor has recorded for Martha, a deleted scene for the episode reveals that instruction number five stated that the Doctor hated pears (before a number of improvised statements by Tennant that were intended to be "fast forwarded" when shown). The declaration of the Doctor's distaste for pears was removed, and the fast forward implemented just before this instruction was said, as the BBC felt that it may encourage children to stop eating pears.[source needed]
  • The BBC logo does not appear on screen at any point during the episode, whereas it usually appears at the beginning of the cold opening or during the opening titles.
  • In the beginning of the episode, when John Smith is walking through the school, the old Bunyan hymn To be a Pilgrim is heard. The lyrics may be taken to reference the return of the Master, and even his ship the Valiant.
  • This story introduced the Chameleon Arch, which would play a major role in TV: Utopia.
  • The sketches in Smith's sketchbook marked the first visual acknowledgement in the revived series of any incarnations predating that of the Ninth Doctor, although TV: School Reunion previously re-established the fact that there were incarnations prior to the Ninth.

Ratings

  • 7.1 million (overnight)
  • 7.74 million (final ratings)
  • 0.87 million (BBC3 repeat ratings)

Filming locations

  • Llandaff Cathedral, Llandaff, Cardiff
  • St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff
  • Tredegar House, Newport
  • Treberfydd House, Llangasty, Brecon
  • BBC Broadcasting House, Llandaff, Cardiff
  • Cwm Ifor Farm, Caerphilly

Production errors

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • Joan puts her stethoscope in her ears backwards when listening to John Smith's single heart.
  • During the shooting class outside at 25:28 you can see a bus drive by in the distance
  • When John Smith throws the cricket ball to stop the baby carriage from reaching where the piano is going to fall, the rope is revealed snapping just seconds after the ball has left his hand. In the wide shot showing the aftermath, the carriage is a good fifteen feet from the crashed piano.
  • The Dalek in the flashback has an inversed symbol whereas in the actual scene the symbol's written position is different.

Continuity

Home video releases

Bbcdvd-s3-v3

Series 3 Volume 3 cover

  • This episode has been released with The Family of Blood and Blink on the Series 3 Volume 3 DVD.
  • It is also part of the series 3 DVD box set.


External links


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