While traveling in the TARDIS with Rory and Amy, the Doctor hears a knock on the TARDIS doors. Bewildered and no doubt curious, he answers, only to be presented with a mysterious box which ...
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While traveling in the TARDIS with Rory and Amy, the Doctor hears a knock on the TARDIS doors. Bewildered and no doubt curious, he answers, only to be presented with a mysterious box which carries a distress signal. Believing it to be from a fellow Time Lord, the cosmic nomad whisks himself and his companions outside the boundaries of the universe on what should be a rescue mission. But what everyone finds is a dark Junk-yard planet populated by the bizarre Auntie, Uncle and Nephew. Last and not least among the strange inhabitants is a mentally unstable woman that goes by the name of Idris who may or may not be "The Doctor's Wife". Written by
Idris censures The Doctor for the way he enters the Tardis - pushing the doors inwards whereas she points that the sign on the Tardis says 'Pull to open' Whilst it is true that the original police box doors did open outwards, the sign in question is part of the Tardis that contains the telephone for the public to call the police. The sign saying 'Pull to open' is an instruction as to how to access the telephone, not the Tardis itself. This smaller door does indeed open outwards, and therefore is, pulled to open. See more »
Neil Gaiman is a writer renowned for the some what bizarre and unusual and with a strong cult fan base so It's little wonder that Steven Moffat should have approached him to script "The Doctor's a Wife". He's like the dark side of Terry Pratchett which has never fully been aloud to escape and It's evident in what is a richly imaginative and bold story which promises much but left me feeling a little short changed. It would be safe I believe to class it as a dark fairy tale, a grim romantic love story of sorts peppered with the trademark Gaimanesque touches that the man has become synonymous. From the very first opening scene you know you're in for something a little removed from the usual run of the mill episode and in this respect it is rewarding. We're welcomed to an opaque junk laden netherworld, a place inhabited by a couple of unbalanced individuals resembling patchwork hobo's. The duo convince a young woman named Idris to have her soul and mind drained from her body, leaving it empty to make way for a disembodied spirit. Meanwhile in the TARDIS the Doctor hears a knock on the doors of the space/time machine. Odd considering It's still in motion and travelling through space. Upon answering he finds a small electrical box which carries a distress signal and to the bewilderment of his companions Amy and Rory, the Time Lord whisks them out side the confines of the universe itself. Believing that he will find surviving members of his own race who weren't killed in the Time War. But who he does find is Idris who now may or may not be "The Doctor's Wife".
I'm going to assert that right from the word go you know this has all sprung from the mind of Neil Gaiman, with It's hidden realm that is a hybrid of "Alice in Wonderland" and with his propensity for playing with names which he attaches to his oddball characters. Parallel Auntie, Uncle, Nephew and House with Door, Old Bailey, The Marquis De Carabas and Hunter from his novel "Neverwhere" and his stamp becomes apparent. But this Isn't a bad thing, actually It grabs your attention and makes you identify with what is essentially a dysfunction-ally quirky pseudo-family. But most notable amongst the guest characters given It's title is that of Idris who appears to have been lifted out of a Tim Burton movie. She's Gaiman's Gothic fairy tale princess. An amalgamation between Yvaine in "Stardust" and Mrs Lovett in "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street". Portrayed with erratic, eerie but paradoxical endearing charm by Suranne Jones she is tantamount to be the one companion the Doctor has always had but hasn't within the context of the plot. There are some neat little quirks like the message box which bangs on the doors of the TARDIS (and eventually leads to a further effective plot device later on) to the the oddball family having being overgrown rag-dolls that have been patched together from the remains of the deceased. Gaiman does indeed attempt to wow the senses and he does so with admirable aplomb. He exploits and fiddles with the mechanics of the TARDIS to such a degree in which Amy and Rory find themselves enveloped in a complex trans-dimensional labyrinth which ultimately leads to one of the most unsettling moments viewers of the series have seen. If this doesn't give the kiddies nightmares then I don't know what will.
What I found distracting however was the the hyper-drive pace, as with previous episodes in the current series so far we're given far little time to breathe before Gaiman pushes us on to the next part of the story. It's as if he's concerned that it will over run and we are not being aloud to sit back and let ourselves take in what's happening before jumping ahead to the next chapter. The presence of an Ood, apparently due to budget restraints meaning that a new creature and costume couldn't be designed and created feels time-worn and slightly imitative given It's connection to House, TDW's prime antagonist. A gravelly monotone disembodied voice that speaks through an Ood and delights in manipulating and exploiting people's fears. It just calls to mind the Beast in the 2005 episode "The Satan Pit". While you could quibble that the whole alien being taking over the body of a living person has been done so many times before in the new series. Think "New Earth, "Human Nature" and again "The Satan Pit" and you notice a significant trend.
Never the less, although flawed TDW is thus far the most accomplished episode of the latest series. The performances from the guest and regular cast for the most part are first rate with Matt Smith forging excellent chemistry with Suranne Jones in the little time they have together. Arthur Darvil is likable as always and actually gets more to do and doesn't feel for once as if he's just along for the ride. But I'm less convinced with Karen Gillan who is stilted as Amy. Beautiful as she is she's not as effortlessly believable as previous companions.
Breaking new ground and with some sublime moments it is something that had potential and while containing some masterfully conceived moments it is also countered by waves of de-ja-vu. I still however defy anyone not to be in awe at least of Gaiman's imaginative ambition and his moments of genius. And with what appears to be another dark instalment with next weeks "The Rebel Flesh" to look forward to I can't help but feel excited.
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