Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Doctor's Wife (2011)

The eleventh Doctor in the previous Tennant's control room (squee!)

Written by: Neil Gaiman
Directed by: Richard Clark

Or is it?

The general consensus all over the interwebs seems to be that this episode was a triumph, and one of the best episodes of Who ever. As a Doctor Who fan of *mumbles* years standing, I naturally find this tremendous, and the fact that, to some extent, I wonder what on earth they were all watching is my partly my own fault of course. I avoid spoilers, as a rule, but am enough of fan to notice the level of secrecy surrounding an episode, so while I watched this without knowing what would happen, I was aware of the build-up, and thus perhaps primed for "oh..."-ishness, which is a horse of very dangerous kidney. (In my own very particular case -- obviously Doctor Who isn't made for just me, that would clearly be disastrous.)

Anyway, the thing about Doctor Who I like best is the Tardis. But, having been told by Doctor Who Magazine that this episode would "change the way we see a key part of the series mythology"1 and yet also being familiar with the the works of Lawrence Miles, these revelations weren't gosh-wow surprising to me, even without spoilers. (To be fair, "normal" people who switched over to Doctor Who Confidential after this episode would have found that programme helpfully re-playing clips like the famous "Does he still stroke bits of the Tardis?" conversation between Rose and Sarah Jane from School Reunion, so is it really quite that mythology changing anyway?)

Of course, none of this would have mattered if the characters of Uncle, Auntie, and the original Idris had been as interesting as they first seemed, but they were all offed in short order. And even this wouldn't have mattered (for absurd Tardis fanboys like me, at any rate), if the "more of the Tardis than we've seen since the show's return" had been more than corridors with Star Trek style doors that went "scchwwissssh!" (even though, uniquely amongst anything Star Trek, I love that.) This mention of Star Trek is apt, I think. A fan of Trek told me this week that they liked this episode because the Doctor's affection for The Ship reminded them of Kirk's love of The Enterprise. But Doctor Who isn't (or shouldn't be) Star Trek, or even an sf or cult series at all; it's not when it's been at its best, I'd aver.

Aho! I've still watched this twice, and may yet do again. But an episode where the highlights (to be clear: for me; I'm odd) were "I like biting, it's like kissing, but there's a winner!" and "Did you wish really hard?" --- "I'm sexy!", is not even the best episode of the Moffat era. (That's Amy's Choice, which is one the best ever.)

1 Issue 434.

[Credits: The "Previous Tennant" gag appears thanks to the vigorously witheld permission of Mark Blackmore]