Yes, Arthur Henry Rostron IS the name of the captain of the Carpathia, and he was from Bolton, Lancashire. Close enough to Manchester for a Doctor with a Salford accent to feel some kind of kinship, perhaps. In any case, the idea of the TARDIS as the Carpathia, coming to the rescue of people in distress is a compelling one. The Doctor certainly has compassion and he would certainly not ignore a distress signal. He has answered such calls in the past. In ‘Dalek’ The Doctor and Rose answered an SOS from the Dalek in Van Statten’s bunker, and trouble for The Doctor in the classic series occasionally came from such sources.
Another starship named after a science fiction writer bites the dust. In the Theta Sigma series the SS Alduous Huxley and the SS Ray Bradbury both met with misfortune. And here the Robert J. Sawyer has its passengers and crew wiped out. I know I’m not making space liner travel sound very safe. But after all, these colonists were facing the sort of dangers the pioneers of the American West faced and three ships out of a whole fleet is probably not bad odds.
Baby Tammy is the only survivor, and of course, Rose and The Doctor both find themselves falling for her. The issue of their future together is opened up again by her presence. They are both reminded that The Doctor promised to find a way for them to have children of their own. Tammy is their practice at being parents together, and it works out fine for them, but they know they have to give her back, and that is where it becomes an emotional minefield.
A story without any real action, where the bad guys had already been and gone before The Doctor and Rose got there, which is mostly about emotions may not satisfy the traditionalist fan who wants monsters and chase scenes, fights and special effects. But I make no apology for exploring The Doctor’s feelings about making the step into ‘domestic’ that he avoided for so long. There are plenty of action stories in this series. But inbetween there are stories like this one. For those who know Doctor Who is about more than just monsters.
Incidentally, the park depicted in the last scene is Avenham Park in Preston. It has been the inspiration for several stories, in fact. In Theta Sigma, the story A Perfect Day is entirely set there, and in the New Lords of Time stories Ghost Train also takes place entirely within the same park. I didn't name it in any of the stories as I wanted to give the impression of a generic park, and in any case, in the Theta Sigma stories it was meant to be in London.