Thursday, May 19, 2011

Doctor Who - The Doctor's Wife by Neil Gaiman


Comic Book fans like myself have been waiting for over two years for this episode since Gaiman let it slip that he was commissioned to write an episode. The biggest question is was it worth the wait? The answer is a resounding YES!!!

Gaiman crafted a tale that showed how he's a natural fit for Doctor Who's particular brand of sci-fi especially under the reigns of The Moff's run. Its an exciting, sad, happy, fun romp that has tons of continuity references without being inaccessible to newer viewers. Gaiman also introduced some of his typical bizarre characters into the episode particularly with Auntie and Uncle who were brilliantly realized by Gaiman and played amazingly by Elizabeth Berrington and Adrian Schiller.

Which brings me to Idris played to absolute perfection by Suranne Jones. She was everything a female personification of the Doctor's TARDIS should be; funny, quirky, sexy (both in body and name) and having a few brief tiffs with the Doctor. Gaiman stated that he couldn't believe no one had done this story before and after you see it and how brilliant it is, its hard to believe no one has especially under the Davies reign. (In fact, at one point I did suspect Astrid from Voyage of the Damned was going to turn out to be the spirit of the TARDIS in that episode since her name was an anagram of TARDIS and she was turned into energy after dying to be sent off wnadering the universe. But now I'm glad that never happened because this episode was much better than that one.) And there are so many great lines and moments from this episode especially brought about by Idris being the TARDIS that you just know this is going to become one of the most quoted and rewatched episodes from The Moff's era. I loved two bits especially: Idris making the TARDIS whooshing sound to prove that she's the TARDIS to the Doctor and the line from Amy responding to the Doctor's excitement that Idris is the TARDIS and a woman; "Did you wish really, really hard?" I also loved the lines about her being called "Sexy" by the Doctor. They will probably never bring Idris back because it would feel contrived to do so but I know there will be a huge section of fandom wishing for her return someday.

Another thing I really enjoyed was even though the Doctor leaves Amy and Rory locked up in the TARDIS to get them out of the way from the interactions with the Doctor and Idris, they don't disappear from the action. In fact, there's quite a bit of potential character development from it as we get to see Amy's possible guilt projected by the telepathic House at how she's sometimes treated Rory. The projection of the abandoned Rory screaming at her and then writing DIE AMY, KILL AMY before he dies obviously comes from a deep seated knowledge that she has taken him for granted repeatedly even after he seemingly died in Amy's Choice and died for real in Cold Blood. I'm hoping that she will start trusting and appreciating him more and that he will grow to be more confident and secure in their relationship before they inevitably depart the TARDIS crew whenever that happens. I'm hoping that's the journey we're taking with these two characters because sometimes I just want to slap her for not treating him like a proper husband by trusting him and treating him with a little respect at least occasionally and I want to slap him for being so insecure all the time. On a side note, Rory has died so often that some members of fandom are calling him Kenny. If he continues to die in nearly every story I hope we get the following exchange;

Doctor: "You killed Rory!"
Amy: "You bastards!"

Its a bit of harsh language for family TV but it almost has to be said.

TARDIS corridors! Its about bloody time! I think the post-2005 series has not given the audience the full appreciation of just how big the TARDIS really is inside. There have been references and a wardrobe and an alcove with a trunk in it but nothing on this scale and I could see newer viewers not really getting the picture that its much bigger than just the console room. Now that they've spent the money and built a set of corridors, hopefully we will get to see them again on occasion and maybe even other rooms in future.

The title is a quite misleading (although its obvious where it comes from) which is slowly becoming a staple since the show's return in 2005 but unlike The Doctor's Daughter and The Next Doctor particularly The Doctor's Wife is a story that doesn't leave you disappointed after finding out the title is false. The problem with the former two titles being that what the characters actually turn out to be while interesting and good are still a big let down from your expectations which is a mistake on the writers' part. Your title shouldn't be better than your payoff and leave people disappointed. If you're going to do the deceptive title thing, the payoff should be equal or greater than what the title made you think it was,

The only downside for the episode that I can think of is that it was never fully explained what House was exactly. But perhaps there wasn't more to it than the explanation given and my brain is just looking for more details where there aren't any.

My list of favorite fourteenth stories in order from best to last:

1) The Five Doctors by Terrance Dicks
2) The Doctor's Wife by Neil Gaiman
3) The Deadly Assassin by Robert Holmes
4) The Crusade by David Whitaker
5) The Shakespeare Code by Gareth Roberts
6) The Time Monster by Robert Sloman and Barry Letts
7) The Wheel in Space by David Whitaker and Kit Pedler

This was a tough one! The Five Doctors wins because I do love me a bit of fanwank and its one of the most fun stories ever even if its not the best written or achieved story ever. Its just pure fun! A lot of fans hate fanwank because they feel they have to be above such things and they don't want to be thought of as fanboys but I'm a FANBOY and fiercely proud of it! They often cite how stories like this are inaccessible and how they alienate casual viewers. I honestly think that the general audience appreciates stories like this far more than anybody thinks. Imagine if The Moff had a story with the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors together for the 50th anniversary? I bet ratings and audience appreciation figures would be higher than normal even if the story was just ok in and of itself. I think that its mostly self-loathing fanboys who hate these sorts of stories rather than the general public. Partially because the general public doesn't analyze it to death and doesn't think about it beyond their watching experience and can appreciate a fun romp. That's my opinion anyway.