Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Doctor's Wife"

“The Doctor’s Wife” is the long-awaited episode penned by Newberry award winning novelist and comic book writer Neil Gaiman. Fans have hoped Gaiman would bring his peculiar fantasy/science fiction sensibilities to a Doctor Who episode since the revival of the series. “the doctor’s wife” does not disappoint either fans of Gaiman’s previous works and Wholigans. It is also interesting to note that while Gaiman is British, he currently resides in Minnesota, so we have at least a kinda sorta American writing for the show. A little, at any rate. The BBC does not like the filthy colonists handling their property.

The great part the having a high profile freelancer pen an episode is the virtual guarantee it will not come across as filler. “The Doctor’s Wife” deals with some time lord history, shows us more of the TARDIS interior than we have ever seen before, and establishes there exists an emotional connection between the doctor and the TARDIS. Certainly not filler.

The doctor receives a distress call from a Time Lord he once knew well. Answering the call, the TARDIS arrives in an alien junkyard and immediately shuts down. It has been captured by an entity known as House. House has trapped and killed many time Lords over the centuries. The Doctor tricks Amy and Rory into locking themselves inside the TARDIS so he can investigate the fate of the Time Lords alone.

He discovers Idris, a woman who is the living embodiment of the TARDIS, though she is slowly fading away. The two banter about as they attempt to piece together another TARDIS from scrap parts of previously trapped TARDIS of other Time Lords. Meanwhile, House toys with Amy and Rory by forcing haunting visions on them as they flee through the corridors.

In the end, the Doctor makes it to his TARDIS in time to save them. Idris sacrifices herself to repower the TARDIS and defeat house. Before she goes, she leaves a message--the only water in the forest is the river. I assume that is a reference to River Song. If so, it may hearken back to “The Forest of the Dead,’ the episode in which she sacrifices herself. As obtuse as Steven Moffat likes to be, one assumes there is a less obvious implication.

Did Idlis remind anyone else of Helena Bonham Carter? She did me. As an ugly American, I am not familiar with actress Suranne Jones, so I may very well be insulting the heck out of her. Unintentional, if so.

The feel of the episode is pure, surrealist gaiman at his best. There are some elements that come across as a darker Alice in Wonderland, which may explain my Carter connection, and a lot of gothic horror elements that brought back fond memories of Gaiman’s Sandman from the early ’90’s. If I have any lament, it is how the limited budget stifled potential. When I saw Amy and Rory running down a corridor, I knew it would be the same one conspicuously over and over again. I am not complaining too much, mind you. I appreciate what the creative team does with the resources it has. But still, it is bad when I am not absorbed enough in what is going on to ignore the budget saving elements.

‘tis a small gripe, however. “The Doctor’s Wife” is the best episode so far in the sixth season, narrowly edging out the sophomore effort in my mind. Hopefully Gaiman will get another turn at the series with a period piece or one dealing with mythology like American Gods, my favorite of his novels.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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