Thursday, May 19, 2011

DOCTOR WHO Episode Review - The Doctor's Wife

Doctor Who written by Neil Gaiman, a highly episode and many a geek's fantasy come true, but although on paper this matchup could only result in an excellent fan-favourite episode, unfortunately it left me disappointed and mostly, bored.

After the Doctor receives a Time Lord's S.O.S. in the mail, he and his companions fly off outside the universe. When they arrive, the Tardis' soul is transferred to a crazy woman's body by some sort of creature. The crazy woman, two other patchwork weirdos and an oud all live on this entity which keeps them alive by fixing them with Time Lord parts. Now the Tardis is an empty shell, the creature inhabits it and flys back to the universe with Amy and Rory captive inside. While the creature is messing with their minds and trying to destroy them the ever-heroic Doctor and the human Police Box build a new Tardis out of remnants and save Amy, Rory and the old Tardis.

This episode leaves so many questions unanswered. First of all, why do they suddenly feel that there's no need for backstory or explanations anymore? This time the creature didn't even have an identity beyond a name ('The House'). It was not explained how it came to be there, whether it has a physical body or not (I assume not considering it's inhabiting the Tardis as a means to return to the universe), but then what is the thing that the people are living on? An asteroid? A dense lifeless piece of rock? How could that be used as a body? Or if it's a planet, how did it end up outside of the universe? What kind of planet was it? It seems like a pretty big deal to me, if a whole planet suddenly disappears from the universe, but apparently Doctor Who doesn't care to find out.

The core idea could be interesting (although not particularly original. Futurama, and I'm sure other shows, have already humanised their spaceship in one episode) but when you dig a little deeper, there are just too many loose ends in this episode. I couldn't stand the Tardis as a woman either. She was like a particularly dumb and excitable puppy - ditzy, wide-eyed and of course like virtually every other female presence on the show, in love with the Doctor. But where as puppys are adorable, I expect a bit less cutesy-wutesy banter (was she supposed to be sexy?) from a centuries old time and dimension travelling console that's had to put up with the Doctor, and a bit more gravitas and wisdom.

A few sentimental scenes came off as merely trite and the rest just seemed to be acted out by a pantomime cast. Meanwhile, as Rory and Amy were trapped in the Tardis we get such lovely scenes as Rory having died (yet again - third time in four episodes) after so many thousands of years which he spent scrawling 'Die Amy' and 'Kill Amy' on the walls. First of all, this seems totally out of character. He loves her so much he's already waited 2000 years for her as a centurion, but now it's happened again he blames her for just leaving him there and hates her so much that he wants her dead. Secondly, since when is Doctor Who set in Silent Hill? People have complained before that the show has become too scary for kids. I thought they were over-reacting at first - there's nothing wrong with family entertainment being a bit dark and spooky - but scenes like this are just cold, nasty, unneccessary and have no place in a family show. Surely they could have thought of other, more subtle ways to show how the House was messing with their heads?

I think that this episode was probably the worst possible outcome of this collaboration. I tried to like it - I really love most of Neil's work and have been enjoying Matt Smith as the Doctor for the most part, but this just fell flat. It wasn't written by Neil Gaiman, the highly acclaimed fantasy writer behind American Gods, Coraline and Sandman, but instead by Neil Gaiman the Doctor Who fan, trying to figure out a way to justify his 'special feelings' towards a blue police box.
A massive disappointment. Fingers crossed for something better next week.

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