Last week it was the third three episodes of the current season of Doctor Who, with a planet called America and the moon landing and Richard Nixon and aliens you completely forget about once you turn your back and then pirates and alien medical Sirens and this week it’s dead spaceship graveyards and the creepy disembodied voice of Michael Sheen and a mad woman who’s bigger on the inside and who might just be “The Doctor’s Wife” and also the guy who brought you The Sandman is writing the words…
1. It wasn’t all that impressive.
2. That’s not true. It was really good. It was a very lovely, very silly episode. I felt like it was getting mega-hyped across the internets, that Neil Gaiman was being set up as the savior as all of Doctor Who and all of science fiction and all of television and men and women and children and puppies and humanity and that all the stories of the universe would be made more beautiful because he sat down one day and wrote “INT. TARDIS” and went from there…
Granted, that’s a bit ridiculous. Maybe it was just me reading a little too much into all of it. The hype that I was personally feeling built up around this episode, well, there’s no way it could’ve lived up to that, but it didn’t really need to, I guess. It was good.
3. I remember reading that the episode was originally called “The House Of Nothing” and was supposedly a good bit longer. This is probably when it was first intended to be done last year and proved to be too expensive to be filmed at the end of Series 5’s production. Supposedly one of the several early drafts included a scene with the TARDIS’ swimming pool, something that has gotten quite a few mentions in the Matt Smith era. That said, I would’d liked to see this expanded a bit more.
Also would kill to read more about the evolution of this story.
I know there’s something that British writers all say, how they’ve all been lucky enough to grow up watching Doctor Who so they therefore all have at least one Doctor Who story somewhere in their head, but other writers aren’t Neil Gaiman. Or, at least, other writers haven’t set the asses on fire like the announce that Neil Gaiman would be writing this episode did over a year ago.
4. Idris, the female embodiment of the TARDIS, was amazing. And even more amazing was Suranne Jones’ bringing her to life. I felt like too much was cramped into too tight of a space. This is me again saying that I would’ve loved to see this episode expanded.
5. Classic Neil Gaiman though. Patchwork people. The scattered debris in a spaceship graveyard, each item with its own story to be told. A talking planet. Aunties and Uncles and Nephews. A little steampunkyness. A sense of horror that’s far more sinister than you’re expecting. The only thing missing here was a talking cat or perhaps a bird.
Or if the Doctor could have a pixie punk big sister who brings death with her touch… and also teaches people AIDS awareness.
6. “Biting’s excellent. It’s like kissing, only there’s a winner.”
7. The Timelord buddy of the Doctor’s, the enigmatically titled Corsair (with his ouroboros tattoo), is mentioned to have changed gender from regeneration to regeneration. You can already feel the heat of internet chatter demanding a female 12th Doctor already.
That said, Joanna Lumley was really good in her brief cameo as the Doctor in Steven Moffat’s The Curse Of Fatal Death, wasn’t she?
8. I love that the TARDIS has archived all the previous control rooms, even the ones that have yet to happen. All of those Desktop themes! Ha ha.
The only thing really super duper missing from this episode: What did the TARDIS think about exploding last year and destroying all of time and space, hmmm?
9. Rory is Kenny from South Park.
He was turned to ash by a ancient looking alien in a dream. He was shot and killed by a Silurian last year and sucked into a smiled-shaped crack in the universe and erased from time. Then he came back as a plastic centurion in a universe that rebooted. And then last week he was drowned in the ocean while running away from an alien harpy. And this week… neglected and left to age away into nothing in a darkened corridor in the TARDIS. Well, Rory, you know what they say. You only continuously murder the ones you love.
10. One rumor I read was that Rory, like so many other things, is not supposed to exist in this new universe after Big Bang Two, and that it’s only Amy’s constant love that keeps him existing, but the universe keeps testing that. That’s kind of nasty, but I like it for some reason.
12. Bunk beds!
Again, I like the idea of the Doctor being childlike, of being a little boy who loves playing with box that flies him about in time and space, of always running away from real responsibilities and what have you, but at the same time… does he have to be totally clueless about all aspects of human sexuality? I think not.
That said, a bed with a ladder is wonderful.
14. The previous TARDIS control room!
It’s nice to see this call backs to the previous era, the RTD era of Doctor Who. I’m glad they’ve really acknowledged that the Ood is one of the best designs for new monsters/aliens in the new series, and yet they’ve unfortunately written themselves into a tough spot by making them a peaceful, benevolent race who holds hands and sings and what have you. It’s hard to use them as scary glowy-eyed monsters now, except only occasionally.
15. That bit where the Doctor opens up the cabinet and sees all those old Time Lord psychic distress boxes, the “little boxes that will make you angry,” was very poignant, and perfect. That’s one aspect of the Doctor’s backstory that they’ve not done much with the Eleventh Doctor, the continuing emotional fallout of the Time War and the death of all the Time Lords, etc. Which I guess I’m fine with, especially since they don’t want to do the Eleventh Doctor as guilt ridden as the Tenth Doctor was.
But of course he wants to be forgiven. We all want to be forgiven for something, I suppose.
16. Suranne Jones as Idris, the embodiment of the soul of the TARDIS. Too good. Such a simple story, about a guy who’s spent 50 years on TV traveling around with a time machine and for the first time he gets to talk to her and she gets to talk to him. Explains why they’ve really ramped up the Doctor referring to the TARDIS as “She” the past few weeks.
17. Especially loved that her first words to the Doctor are “Goodbye” and the last thing she says to him is “Hello.”
18. For no reason at all other than “just because,” here is Kenneth Branagh on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson discussing Doctor Who and Roger Moore and Sean Connery and “The Dalek,” the sexual move that you can do with other people, but also by yourself…
It’s worth it alone to see two very talented and very dirty old men talking about the hotness of Karen Gillan.
19. “The only water in the forest is the river!”
Side note: River Song and the TARDIS seem to get along pretty well, don’t they? It’s nice to know that in the Doctor’s future, his wife and his… other wife… are on good terms with one another.
21. My feeling is that Amy Pond is still River Song’s mother. River Pond? That’s just plain funny right there.
22. Even though it was a minor part, Michael Sheen was wonderful as the voice of The House. That said, should they ever go older for the next Doctor (and if they keep him male), my vote would be for Sheen, who’s quite the chameleon. I quite like the idea of a future Doctor having been a vampire several times, having romanced Liz Lemon, and also having been Tony Blair.
23. Anyway, not a great episode, but a greeaaattttt one. That Neil Gaiman knows how to write something that is weird and funny and so fucking touching, doesn’t he? What could’ve been a rather disturbing tale about a man in love with his vehicle actually became somewhat beautiful, and still disturbing, but wonderfully so. And empowering. And “sexy.” I love that the Doctor may have stole the TARDIS, sure, but she stole him right back, because he was the one for her, the only one crazy about for her…
I could wax on for a good bit about it all, but it all comes down to this… The Doctor tells the TARDIS that she is not reliable, and that she never takes him where he wants to go. But she counters with a simple reminder, that she always took him where he needed to go.
Next time: We’re getting closer to the mid-season break/cliffhanger and the guy who wrote the British version of Life On Mars is going to take the Doctor, Amy, and Rory to the future of Earth with doppelgangers and solar tsunamis and a whole mess of weird, interesting stuff. See you then.