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Doctor Who XXXII.4: The Doctor's Wife

May 14th, 2011 (10:44 pm)

The Doctor's Wife was clearly a novelist's episode. It was driven by conversation to an extent greater than most instalments of modern Doctor Who, in the sense that story detail was discussed rather than characters' inner emotional lives. There was a pleasing fleshing out of Time Lord culture; the starting pistol has been fired for ten thousand fanfics about the Doctor's relationship(s) with the Corsair, whether in male or female forms. (So: one Time Lord at least could change sex when they regenerated.)

In terms of Doctor Who's heritage, there was an obvious influence from The Celestial Toymaker, which Neil Gaiman probably saw as a child, House's servants having some parallels with the Toymaker's toys. There was a Russell T Davies trope, the mysterious cryptic message; and Rory appeared to die again. If I had been a child I would have been terrified that Rory's decayed corpse would turn round and rant at Amy (never going to happen on an early evening these days); as it is I was only mildly apprehensive.

There was never any real secret as to whom the Doctor's Wife was going to be, from the cross-editing of the disappearance of the TARDIS Matrix (a nice touch - the TARDIS has an Eye of Harmony, we learned in the TVM in 1996, and now it has a Matrix too - lots of fun in imagined universes possible) and the awakening of the hollowed-out Idris, now with the TARDIS's 'soul'. I liked the personified TARDIS - after over three decades avidly following this programme, it was marvellous to meet her at last.

Great to have the reflective coda at the end, and it's in keeping with the apparently restored innocence of the Doctor, but his underlying knowingness and lingering post-Eccleston and post-Tennant sexual jealousy, that he allocated Mr and Mrs Pond bunk beds.

Comments

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: May 14th, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
Liz & Pertwee

Playerking and I watched together. And were left in awe, vowing to watch it again -*several times*. From where I stand, this was Gaiman at his best, messing with people's heads, and I think the visuals were quite Sandman, too.

I liked the way canon was established in a throw-away line. I know I have said in the past that I did not belive timelords could change gender. I stand corrected. Bring on Joanna Lumley.

I did not read much in the bunkbeds, though, except excentricity, and a bit of friendly, teasing maliciousness (rather than actual malice, intended or otherwise). After all, he did give in quite easily. I suspect there is now a raised double bed with a ladder...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 14th, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)

I thought of the raised double bed with a ladder too!

I suspect reconstructing an older control room was inadvisable given that the Tennant era one still existed (though a new 1983 console room has been built for The Doctor Who Experience), but I liked the nods to earlier models in the console room the Doctor and Idris/TARDIS patched together - the shaving mirror from the 1976/77 console room particularly.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: May 14th, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
Liz & Pertwee

I didn't spot the significance of the mirror. I was hoping for another console room or two to turn up (not realizing how far into the story we were already at that point), but playerking pointed out possible lighting issues with the older ones.
Also, I suspect they may have been too small for the patchwork Tardis to land in without obliterating everything.

Both patchwork Tardis and junk yard will need very close scrutiny in due course...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 14th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
Davison Clock

Size is certainly a factor with the old sets, though the 1983 console room was designed to open out a little, as seen in The Five Doctors.

Posted by: sharaz_jek (sharaz_jek)
Posted at: May 15th, 2011 12:33 am (UTC)

Not to mention One's first console room which doesn't really end as such.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 15th, 2011 12:37 am (UTC)

Yes - the 'original' control room in its first state gave an impression of being potentially infinite, thanks to the brilliant whiteness, and in the second and third stories one could imagine it just folding out forever revealing new food machines and bedrooms and more.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: May 16th, 2011 02:05 pm (UTC)
Great Minds Think Alike
Me

I thought of the raised double bed with a ladder too!

So did I! And who wouldn't want one?!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 16th, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Great Minds Think Alike
MattKarenArthur

I imagine Amy and Rory will find a four-poster bed, of some exotic wood found on a planet unknown to human beings, with thick curtains of intricate damask. To climb into it, though, they have to negotiate a steep set of stairs carved out of the wooden panels; but they are rewarded not only by perhaps the most comfortable bed ever, but the indigo-turquoise dappled night sky of the nesting world of the spacefaring Charrigo birds. It's something I think the Doctor, and the TARDIS, might do.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: May 15th, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
dalek

"...there was an obvious influence from The Celestial Toymaker, which Neil Gaiman probably saw as a child, House's servants having some parallels with the Toymaker's toys"

I think Neil Gaiman would have been two years old in 1966. They reminded me somewhat of J.F. Sebastian's toys in Blade Runner, and I'm pretty sure Mr Gaiman will have seen that.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 15th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)

He would have been five, coming up to six - he had his fiftieth birthday party last year.

The Blade Runner influence is there too, in the junkyard as well, which resembles a 1980s vision of a near-future city, collapsed.

Posted by: wwhyte (wwhyte)
Posted at: May 15th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)

There was also lots of The Brain of Morbius -- a graveyard of spaceships and patchwork people.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 15th, 2011 11:49 am (UTC)

Of course... and while Gaiman himself cited The Invasion of Time as an influence for the use of the interior of the TARDIS as a threat, what we saw was more reminiscent of Logopolis and Castrovalva's use of the ship, with (I thought) touches of Star Trek's Enterprise.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: May 16th, 2011 02:07 pm (UTC)
Me

Castrovalva's use of the ship

Especially the unfilmed scene where Rory gets trapped in the Zero Room.

That said, I thought the hexagonal corridors reminiscent of the Liberator from Blake's 7, although I suspect the inspiration was the hexagonal control console.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 16th, 2011 02:19 pm (UTC)

I'd not thought of that, but the interior of the TARDIS has become quite Liberator-ish.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: May 16th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)

more clutter, though...;-)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 16th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
Zen

True, true, though less so in the corridors (save for the occasional mad/dead Rory).

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: May 16th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
K9

also true.
BTW, I associated Castrovalva, too

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: May 16th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
Davison Clock

Castrovalva was a definite influence - one early version included the Zero Room, after all.