Saturday, August 23, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Girl in the Fireplace"

Steven Moffat has quite a skill at spinning creepy stories that also tug at ye olde heartstrings. Case in point: the is episode. The clockwork androids, which sound a lot like what the alien in “Tooth and Claw” envisioned, were incredibly disturbing with their inhuman physical features coupled with 18th century French grab. Like I said Friday night, the British know how to make disturbing science fiction. With all that said, “The Girl in the Fireplace” was essentially a love story.

The TARDIS arrives on a derelict spaceship in the 51st century. After some snooping around, they discover an exact replica of an 18th century French fireplace. The Doctor investigates and discovers it is a portal to a little French girl’s bedroom. Her name in Reinette and the year is 1727. The Doctor touches the fireplace in a certain spot and it spins around, placing him in Reinette’s room. It is months later for her, but she remembers the Doctor and is not afraid. He hears a ticking noise under her bed and when he looks, discovers a clockwork robot there. The android has been scanning Reinette’s brain, but will only say that she is incomplete and will not explain why he is interested in her. The android and the Doctor duel until he tricks the android into coming close enough to the fireplace to be returned to the 51st century.

The Doctor returns through the fireplace to find many years have passed and Reinette is a grown woman. She is also promised to be the future queen of France. But she hasn’t forgotten him in fact, she has a thing for him. The Doctor uses telepathy to determin why the androids would want her mind. Using telepathy is apparently a two way street and Reinette also learns who the doctor is and how lonely he is, as well. She smooches him and he develops a little thing for her, too. Back on the ship, Rose and Mickey make a grisley discovery--Parts of the ship have been replaced by actual human parts. Eventually, the TARDIS crew encounters another android at another point in Reinette’s life and reveals they had no spare parts to repair the ship, so they started using the crew. They need Reinette’s brain to run the ship, but they believe it won’t be compatible until she is thirty-seven years old.

There are a couple of humorous scenes interspersed here and there. Rose and Mickey return to the 51st century and get captured by the androids while the Doctor escorts Reinette to a party. He returns , seemingly inebriated, just in time to save the two of them from being carved up for spare parts. The doctor also encounters a white horse which factors into the climactic scene.

The androids attack the court at the Palace of Versailles when Reinette is thirty-seven. She is at the fireplace calling for the Doctor to come to her rescue, but he does not. She and the king are taken to the central hall in order to have her head chopped off. Suddenly, the Doctor rides through a time portal behind a mirror while riding the white horse. (Geez, this would be so cliché if not done as well as it is.) By breaking the mirror, the Doctor severed the time potal and the androids wind down. Unfortunately, he has also broken the only way for him to get back him. Before he resigns himself to a life in 18th century France, Reinette takes hi to a replica of her old bedroom. She had it built to exact specifications. The Doctor thumps around and finds a link to the 51st century. He tells Reinette to pack and bag and pick a star she’d like to visit and leaves. He returns two minutes later in his time, but six years later in hers. Reinette has just died at the age of forty-two, but she left a letter for him. It was a bittersweet “I know I’ll never see you again my lonely angel” kind of thing. The Doctor mopes over lost love as the TARDIS fades away into time. When it is gone, a portrait of Reinette is revealed to have been hanging on the wall behind it. The ship, still adrift in space, is the S.S. Madame de Pompadour, her royal title.

I’m enjoying the second season a whole lot better than the first. I like how each Doctor, although he is supposed to be essentially the same person, has a distinctly new personality with each regeneration. I never could have pictured Christopher Eccleston in this episode. It just wouldn’t have been believable. Now, David Tennant and Sophie Myles (Reinette) are an item now, so a great deal of their hot to trot bits were genuine. I’m sure that made things much more believable. You know, I’m also bet I’m not alone in hoping Moffat takes over when Russell T. Davies decides he’s had enough of the TARDIS, no?

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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