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TV Review: Doctor Who – “The Doctor’s Wife”

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Deep down, I think every fan knew that the publicity summary for this week’s episode of Doctor Who was just to get people talking. Time Lords? Like they would really do that. Also, “The Doctor’s Wife” is an unimaginably teasing title, and one that ultimately, like the earlier episode “The Doctor’s Daughter”, is proven false. I think I can safely spoil that as I don’t think anybody was expecting it to actually be his wife.

The impetus for this week’s episode is the Doctor receiving a message from a Hypercube – a handy little device that records Time Lords’ thoughts and sends them through time and space. He follows it to the source, a junkyard outside the universe (yes, outside the universe, a feat said to be impossible except when it isn’t), where he meets a rather odd family. There’s Auntie, Uncle and Nephew as well as House, the sentient junkyard asteroid outside the universe (good name for a band, that).

The main attraction here is Idris, the rather mad yet oddly sane woman who the Doctor takes to calling ‘Sexy’. I call her ‘Bitey’ myself, after a Homer Simpson quote (ten points if you can place it). She spends most of the episode getting her time travel tenses wrong, and has decidedly different views from the Doctor on who Amy (i.e, the pretty one) is, and turns out to be a rather interesting opportunity for fanfiction writers everywhere to recreate similar scenarios for their own amusement.  

There are two concepts that power this episode that are best left unspoiled if you haven’t seen them yet. Both are absolutely wonderful in their execution. The hint I’ll give you for the first is a quote from the episode: “the little boxes will make you angry”. The second is, well, the plot of the episode, pretty much.  

Fans of the show will be pleased to know that this episode is absolutely steeped in Who lore, going back as far as the first episode of the show. There are a couple of interesting revelations in there for fans if you’re eagle-eyed enough to spot them. One in particular opens up some interesting casting possibilities for the Doctor in the future and another puts a time-span on his travels. One reference to such things bugs me a bit though, namely: ‘The sign on the door says pull to open, and I push, every time!’ (paraphrased). However, the sign refers to the telephone box on the door, rather than the doors themselves. A small point, but it bugs me.

The reason this episode is so steeped in the show’s history is that the writer was Neil Gaiman, one of the more well-known users of mythology and world-building. He is most known for writing the Sandman series, as well as American Gods and Coraline (later adapted into a rather excellent movie). He has gone on record as saying that he knew what a Dalek was before he had ever heard anything of real world myth and legend of the Egyptians and Greeks, and you can tell how much knowledge he has accumulated about the show.

In my honest reviewing opinion, the highlights of the episode were the impressively nice Alan Rickman-alike voice of Michael Sheen (the sparkly effeminate leader of the Volturi from Twilight: New Moon), the rather spooky green-eyed Ood (somehow managing to look creepier than when their eyes were red), and the cute little touch at the end when Rory and Amy tell the Doctor that they don’t want bunk-beds in their bedroom. The Doctor’s naivety in this matter (or apparent naivety, anyway) is really heartwarming and funny. Special mention, however, must go to the line: “Biting’s excellent. It’s like kissing, only there’s a winner.” Only a genius of Gaiman’s calibre could’ve come up with that, and I was so enamoured with the line that I immediately texted it to my girlfriend with the thought that she might appreciate it. (She did.) 

Those are just my highlights of an already great episode. It somehow manages to be dark, happy and deeply informative all at the same time. There were some low points, as there are in everything (such as Rory dying. Again. They’re turning it into a joke now.) but overall, it was a fantastic episode and absolutely worth seeing, and as soon as possible.

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About Scott Varnham

  • 10 points to Mr Trick! And I didn’t know about the Jekyll line, may have to watch that.

  • Mr. Trick

    “I’ve sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrooke!”
    “Is there a chance the track could bend?”

  • Scott Hamilton

    Only Neil Gaiman could have written a line like “Biting’s excellent…”? Erm, no. That was certainly Moffet, or Gaiman impersonating Moffett. That same line was in Moffett’s Jekyll. “Killing. It’s just like sex, only there’s a winner!”