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Wednesday, 30 of September of 2020

Doctor Who – “The Doctor’s Wife”

No, but I always took you where you needed to go.

The Doctor and Sexy

A boy and his TARDIS

How friggin’ beautiful, nay (dare I say it?), sexy is this episode?

Pardon the squeeing, but it’s just such a glorious meditation on the Doctor and his only actual companion, the one that chose him (and that he chose), and that they’re the ones who go on jaunts around the universe and time, with a couple of “strays” tagging along. The show (at least since the re-launch) has never really addressed this issue, of the Doctor’s special bond to the TARDIS.

I mean, yes, there’s little bits that don’t exactly work (poor Amy and Rory), but the episode on the whole is kind of just entirely giddy at the prospect of having the TARDIS be personified (literally),  allowing the two to actually talk to each other, and have their dynamics, often only expressed with either frustration or little bleeps and blops and breaking down. But even through this all, the two have remained together for 700 years. Longer than any companion(s), just the two of them. The last of their kinds in the universe.

The idea of an inanimate object suddenly being given voice and/or new embodiment (Why hello, Holodeck!) isn’t anything revolutionary, but “The Doctor’s Wife” carries with it this sense of history and awe that many such stories lack. While the Holodeck may be a vital part of the day-to-day living of on any given Federation starship, the Enterprise never up and got put into a human body for the crew to experience what the ship thinks of all of them (of course, the Enterprise lacks the personality that the TARDIS has been given over the years by the Doctor).

And what’s uniquely wonderfully about the episode is that even though the TARDIS is in another body, the adventure of travelling with the TARDIS still happens, and isn’t overplayed. The sheer meta-ness of building a TARDIS, powered by another TARDIS to get that second TARDIS back into her proper home isn’t commented on, making the fun wholly innocent and delightful.

The title, a wonderful little bit of direction and misdirection (did some of you really think we’d get a juicy River episode that quickly?), works so snugly and well that it doesn’t feel as on the nose as it should. Neil Gaiman creates a truly self-contained space that, by the halfway point, I suspect was the setting for, and populated by, the leftover cast of an off-Piccadilly Circus performance of Beckett’s Endgame, which gives the world even more of a trashbin feeling.

Smith is particularly on fire in the episode, giving every ounce of the Doctor’s personality, from glee to wonder to anger to outright fury, careening between each beat without hamming it up. Really, if this episode doesn’t help solidify a position as Smith as better than Tennant (yeah, I said it), I don’t know what will. Suranne Jones acquits herself well, though her mannerisms and costuming feel very Helena Bonham Carter sometimes, and she and Smith have an instant amount of chemistry that every guest star should envy.

But the Amy/Rory stuff is a mess. I appreciate that even when in the TARDIS, due to budget constraints (like always) they both must run through the same hallways over and over again instead of through rooms, but it doesn’t offer much. I like that Amy’s anxieties about leaving Rory alone for 2,000 years is an issue, but good grief, do we need to “kill” Rory every episode? It’s getting kind of gratuitous. Likewise, I can only assume that Rory’s standing as a nurse is going to be vital, since they mention it every episode now.

Even the quick aside at the start, reminding us that the Doctor dies in 200 years, seems a bit odd. The narrative redundancy the show is currently engaging in is a little odd for it. I can’t tell if this is an effort to make the show more accessible or something else, but Who‘s inherent timey-wimey-ness is what makes it special. It expects its audience to keep up with it, and I like that.

But who cares right now? The episode is such a fun and emotional hour that these things are quibbles that really only detract from the otherwise best episode of Doctor Who since Moffat took over.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • “I’ve got mail!”
  • “Sorry about mad person.”
  • “Oh, tenses are difficult, aren’t they?”
  • “Your chin is hilarious.”
  • “Where my thief?”
  • “It’s just what they’re called. It doesn’t actually mean he knows what he’s doing.”
  • “You gave me hope and then you took it away.  That’s enough to make anyone dangerous. God knows what it will do to me.”
  • “Are all people like this?” “Like what?” “So much bigger on the inside?”
  • “Okay, right. I don’t…I really don’t know what to do. That’s a new feeling.” [slaps self]
  • “Do you have a name?” “Oh, 700 years. Finally he asks.” “But what do I call you?” “You call me…Sexy.” “Only when we’re alone.” “We are alone.” “Oh, well, come on then, Sexy.”
  • “I had a PE teacher just like you.”
  • “Which one’s Amy? The pretty one?” “AAGH!” “Rory, what’s wrong?” “It’s like I’m getting a message.” (He delivers without a hint of sarcasm or irony.)  “Hello, pretty!” […] “The pretty one?!”
  • “Amy this is, well, she’s my TARDIS. Except she’s a woman. She’s a woman and my TARDIS.”  “She’s the TARDIS?” “And a woman. She’s wo-man, and she’s the TARDIS.” “Did you wish really hard?” “Shut up, it’s not like that.” (He delivers just like a little kid would.)
  • “Another Ood I failed to save.”
  • “The size of a planet. But inside. You. Are. Just. So. Small.”
  • “No. Bunk beds are cool. A bed…with a ladder! You can’t beat that!”
  • “Doctor, do you have a room?” (Surprisingly poignant line, really.)


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