Human Nature / The Family of Blood:
|ep 1 –||In the opening scene of Human Nature (right after the title sequence), watch out for some comically bad marching from the group of schoolboys — especially the boy in the middle at the very back, who makes the classic mistake of swinging his left arm forward with his left foot (and vice versa) making him look very silly indeed!
[This is what's known as a "schoolboy error"]
|ep 1 –||Over the same opening scene, we hear schoolboys singing the classic hymn "To Be A Pilgrim" (a.k.a. "He Who Would Valiant Be"). While the original hymn was certainly around in 1913 (it was written by John Bunyan in the 17th century), the exact wording and orchestration we hear dates from 1917, four years after the episode's setting.|
|ep 1 –||Surely I can't be the only one who finds it highly odd and impractical for Martha and the other maid to be scrubbing the floors in their best black dresses and white aprons? Not to mention, why do it in the middle of the school day, when teachers & pupils are walking about and liable to slip on the wet floors? Much more realistic for work like that to be done when everyone's asleep, and by housemaids wearing plain dresses and coarse aprons.|
|ep 1 –||Nurse Redfern must have gone to the same medical school as Martha (see Smith and Jones) as she makes a hash of using the stethoscope to listen to John Smith's heart — first, she puts the earpieces in backwards (they're supposed to point towards the front) and then, rather than unbuttoning Smith's shirt and heavy waistcoat, she just plonks the chestpiece on top of all his layers of clothing!
[But she still manages to hear his heart clearly — maybe they don't make stethoscopes like they used to?]
|ep 1 –|
[That should have been a clue to his true identity — we all know doctors have dreadful writing!]
|ep 1 –||When Baines leaves the school to fetch the beer, there's bright sunlight streaming through the windows, but when he actually reaches the beer buried in the woods it's pitch black. Was the booze really that far away??|
|ep 1 –||When Martha first goes back to the TARDIS, just before she has her flashbacks of what happened to the Doctor, keep an eye on the top of the screen — in a couple of medium shots showing Martha standing at the console, there's a soft black bar cutting the top of the picture off. Very odd!|
|ep 1 –||Choosing a fob watch as the object storing the essence seems "highly illogical" as Mr. Spock would say. Yes, the Doctor uses a perception filter to make Smith think it's "just a watch", but what's to stop Smith from opening the bloody thing to, you know, look at the time? Furthermore, since the watch is so important, why doesn't the Doctor instruct Martha to keep it in a safe place, rather than it leaving it lying around on Smith's mantelpiece for anyone to get their hands on? Why not keep it inside the TARDIS, for example?|
|ep 1 –||Just after Mr. Clark puts his hand through the scarecrow in his field — keep an eye on the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, to see the shadow of a boom mike moving.|
|ep 1 –|
|ep 1 –||Lorries aside, there are multiple other problems with the machine gun scene:|
|ep 1 –||Why is the falling piano full of talcum powder??|
|ep 1 –||Speaking of the piano, would it not have been far easier, rather than Smith being a clever clogs and relying on an improbable cricket-ball-Heath-Robinson-solution to save the day, to simply yell, "You with the pram! Stay where you are!"?
[Yes, yes, I know, that wouldn't show how clever and brilliant he could be... Doesn't make it any less illogical!]
|ep 1 –||After the piano hits the ground and we see a long shot of the whole chaotic scene, two problems become apparent.|
[In fact, the windows are so small, even if the glass and the entire window frame were removed, I wouldn't be sure you could even fit that piano through the gap...]
|ep 1 –|
|ep 1 –||During the waltz scene, everyone on the dance floor does a decent job of keeping in time with each other — shame they're completely out of time with the music! The waltz playing on the soundtrack is at a much faster tempo than the dancers' movements.|
|ep 1 –||When the Family storm into the dance hall, Clark repeatedly yells for silence, but nobody was talking anyway!|
|ep 2 –||At the start of The Family of Blood Martha appears to have a spot on her forehead, but by the time she gets to the school it's gone.|
|ep 2 –||The whole "school with a machine gun" problem from episode 1 is back, and worse this time, as it clearly belongs to the school and hasn't been brought along for the day by the local army unit.|
|ep 2 –||There's an odd moment during Baines's conversation with the Headmaster: during one of the shots from behind the Headmaster (as Baines says "War is coming"), a second or two into the shot, the cameraman realises that Jenny is partly out of frame to the left and pans the camera left to bring her fully back into shot. It's subtle, but very off-putting when you notice it!|
|ep 2 –||As the schoolboys stack sandbags and prepare for the Family's imminent attack on the school, we cut to a shot of Lucy (the girl with the red balloon) looking out of the window — and you can clearly see that it's raining heavily. But for the entire rest of the scene (before and after this) not a single drop of rain can be seen!|
|ep 2 –||During the "Martha recites the bones of the hand" scene, you might be too distracted by Freema Agyeman's rapid-fire delivery to notice that she doesn't keep her thumb in the same position between takes — towards the end, her thumb very visibly cuts from being fully extended to being tucked against her palm to being fully extended again.|
|ep 2 –|
[For all we know it's a double standing in for Jenny too, but she's looking down at the ground, so it's impossible to tell]
|ep 2 –||As the armed schoolboys wait for the scarecrows to break through the door, you can clearly see their breath fogging in the cold. Oddly though, it doesn't seem to be that cold for everyone! Neither the Doctor nor the headmaster's breath are fogging when the camera cuts to them — and when the shooting stops, nobody's breath fogs any more.
[Did all that gunfire warm up the room??]
|ep 2 –||During the battle scene, one of the close-ups shows a schoolboy firing a Lee Enfield rifle with the bolt clearly visible on the left-hand side (i.e. the right as we look at it on screen). I'm reliably informed that rifles of the time were not made in left-hand models — remember, this was an era when southpaw kids often had their left hand tied behind their backs in school to "encourage" them to be right-handed!|
|ep 2 –||How can the scarecrows survive having hands stuck through them and having their arms ripped off, but they don't survive getting shot?|
|ep 2 –||Lucy holds her balloon in different hands during the course of the episode — which wouldn't be a problem normally, but you can see during close-ups that the string is actually tied to her wrist! The switching is particularly noticeable during Lucy's confrontation with the Headmaster — as she walks in, the camera shows her from behind and she's holding the balloon in her right hand. Cut to a front view and it's in her left hand. It stays in her left hand for the next three shots, but switches back to her right hand when Martha says "Mr. Smith!" Then back to her left hand in the next front view of the girl, then back to her right hand in the next shot from behind. It switches one last time to her left hand when she says "you're funny" and stays there while she dispatches the Headmaster.|
|ep 1-2 –||Speaking of the balloon, it's obviously a lighter-than-air balloon, and of course helium balloons are common today, but were they really that easy to come by in 1913?
[It would have been hydrogen rather than helium for a start, but still extremely unlikely to find these in a small English village I'd have thought!]
|ep 2 –||When Smith has the "flash forward" of his future life with Joan, as we see him lying on his deathbed, the gravitas of the scene is undermined slightly by the sight of David Tennant's prosthetic "aged" face peeling off near the hairline.|
|ep 2 –||Given how trigger-happy the Family were earlier in the episode, why don't they use their guns against the Doctor during the climax?
[It's not a fatal flaw, but it does add to the nagging feeling that the Doctor's defeat of the Family was awfully easy — press a few buttons on their spaceship while they stand there not noticing? If only every enemy was that thick]
|ep 2 –||When the Family are running away from their ship before it explodes, look behind Baines and Lucy to see a silver object in the background — which looks very much like one of the pyrotechnic mortars used in the subsequent explosion.|
|ep 2 –||When the Family's ship blows up, presumably the "cloaking device" would have blown up too, i.e. the ship should no longer be invisible. So why can't we see any debris from the explosion?|
|ep 2 –||When the Doctor puts the scarecrow mask on Baines, the head is tilted down at a slight angle. Cut to the Doctor walking away and suddenly the head is tilted upwards instead.|
|ep 2 –||While suitably poetic, is hiding a human "suspended in time" inside a scarecrow really a practical idea? Imagine the fright it'll give some poor farmer if he ever tries to move it! (Not to mention the subsequent police investigation, upset for Baines's family, etc.)|
|ep 2 –||And speaking of poetic justice, doesn't the Doctor's punishment of the Family seem uncharacteristically vengeful? Remember, he only went to all the hassle of becoming human because he was "being kind" and waiting for them to live out their 3-month lifespan. Granted, he's clearly miffed at the destruction they caused (not to mention his heartbreak at having to "kill" John Smith and leave Joan) but does that explain why he goes to the exact opposite of kind and instead of letting them die, keeps them suspended in time forever?
[I shouldn't complain too much: keeping the Family alive does open up the possibility of a sequel at some stage. Hard to imagine it'd be as good as this though!]
|ep 1-2 –||Since we're on the topic of the Doctor's motivations, let's stop for a moment and ask why he bothers with his convoluted plan of becoming a human. Surely there were other options? For example: the Doctor knows the Family only has three months to live. We see the Doc hide the TARDIS in a shed on "emergency power so they can't detect it" (and sure enough, the Family only find it because they followed Martha's "scent" from the school). So instead of the risk and hassle of becoming human and having to integrate into 1913 life, why not land the TARDIS somewhere really inaccessible (a desert island? an underground cave?), stick it in emergency power mode, and have the Doctor and Martha skulk around the inside for three months?
[Though of course that would instantly change this two-parter from "possibly the best episode ever" to "possibly the worst episode ever". It'd still be more watchable than The Sensorites though!]
|ep 2 –||Why does the Doctor park the TARDIS on a hill in the middle of (apparently) nowhere at the end, when saying goodbye to Joan?|
|ep 2 –||As public schoolboys, both Latimer and Hutchinson would have been recruited as officers upon joining the army — but when we see them in the WW1 battle scene, neither of them are wearing an officer's uniform (which would have included a collar and tie, and their rank visible on the cuff of their jacket).|
|ep 2 –||During the remembrance service, the minister reads the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon, which is the traditional Remembrance Sunday exhortation ("age shall not weary them", etc). Couple of problems here — first, she reads the verses out of order! As the scene starts we hear her say the lines "They have no lot in our labour of the day-time / They sleep beyond England's foam" but then she jumps to "They went with songs to the battle, they were young", which is 2 verses earlier in the poem! Secondly, the poem isn't actually contained in the prayer book she's reading from — which you can tell from the cover is The Alternative Service Book 1980, a standard Church of England prayer book used during the 80s and 90s.
[Maybe she had the passage written on a loose slip of paper tucked inside the book, but there's no visible sign of this]
|ep 2 –||Also during the service, we get a good look at elderly Latimer's medals, but while he has other WWII medals, he appears to be lacking his 1939-45 British War Medal (which all WWII participants received). He also has a Military Medal about halfway along — which, as a gallantry award, should have been at the left, according to proper medal etiquette.
[Though I'm told that mixing up the medals may have been deliberate, since under UK law it's an offence to impersonate a member of the military or police force, so in films and TV they might deliberately mix up medals or other insignia to make them technically "out of uniform"]