Married to the Machine
Written By: Liam Walters
Originally being planed for series 5, but having to be moved due to budget reasons, we are finally able to the much looked forward to ‘The Doctors Wife’, penned by the amazing fantasy horror writer, Neil Gaiman. This episode has been much discussed by the Doctor Who fan community for some time, and although an excellent episode, was actually entirely different to what the fanbase had in mind when they heard the title ‘The Doctor’s Wife’.
Warning: From This Point Onwards, I Will Be Talking Spoilers.
So I’m not going to lie… I absolutely loved this episode. One of my favourites since Moffat took over, if not since the revival of the show back in 2005. Everything about this episode was fantastic, from the superb writing, the magnificent directing, some of the best acting that I have seen off Matt Smith since he entered the role last year, and Murry Gold completes the episode by giving us some beautiful music.
So I could spend several paragraphs repeating myself (there’s still hope) but for now I think it may be better if we go back to the start of the episode and work forwards. Den of Geek couldn’t even talk about the full intro sequence in their Spoiler Free review, and I can see why. Before we even see the actors name on screen, were given a big juicy plot apple to sink our teeth into, as we not only see The Doctor take the TARDIS to outside the universe in search of other timelords, but we also witness the TARDIS breaking down with a brand new twist on things, that we have never seen before.
There are many things that I need to compliment the writing for, and this is one of them. The fact that we are sort of promised a Timelord story, from the introduction, only to be given a stolen TARDIS story instead, would to many seem like a bit of a cheap shot. But in reality, it does not feel like that at all. The Doctor does truly take this seriously, believing he may have found survivors of his race, and only up until the reveal that it was actually just a hoax, in order to bring The Doctor to the asteroid, that the audience believe it may well be too. But you are so captivated in the changing story structure that come the reveal, you don’t actually feel the episode has been cheapened in anyway, which would not be the case for most other instances that would use this scenario.
The re-introduction of an Ood was quite interesting, especially one that could not talk due to the translator ball not working. I think it added quite an edge, since it was being controlled by House, it would have no reason to talk. House could talk to The Doctor, Amy and Rory just fine on its own, if House made the Ood talk, then it would just feel a bit cliché. Fortunately, Gaiman has taken away that possibility, and not only that, made the Ood quite a bit more frightening in doing so.
The chemistry between Idris and The Doctor is something that comes off spectacularly well, not just because of the great writing, but the fantastic acting between Matt Smith and Suranne Jones. There are some really touching moments between them, but also some laughable moments too. The final moment between Idris and The Doctor is possibly one of the greatest Who moments since the shows’ revival. I cannot applaud Smith enough for his outstanding acting during the scene, with the Doctor on the edge of breakdown, having to say goodbye (or hello) to the TARDIS/Idris, knowing that he will never be able to do so again.
In my Review of ‘The Impossible Astronaut”, I applaud Smith for his portrayal of The Doctor’s darker side, something that we did not get to see that much in the last series. Smith is slowly cementing himself as one of the better Doctors. True, I still prefer Tennant, but even so I must confess that Smith is a great actor, and a fantastic choice for the role, finally being able to prove he can show off more than just ‘Zaney Doctor’.
House is an interesting villain, as he is something that has no actual physical being. As he is able to infest the TARDIS itself, it does ultimately make it an almost un-defeatable foe. Although it is defeated through the whole thing of making a mistake that leads of its own demise, once again, although this is also clichéd, the way it is written feels natural, rather than a nice coincidence (which unfortunately, even Moffat couldn’t avoid in ‘Day of the Moon’). With having House as an entity, rather than a being with physical form, allows the writing to go into a more psychological horror aspect, that works brilliantly with who as we saw in the Russell T Davies story ‘Midnight’.
When hearing that this episode was originally planned for the last series, I was sceptical. At the point it was suppose to be, Rory was dead. Due to switching series’, Rory had to be written into the episode, and I have to admit, if I did not know from the start, I would never had guessed. Gaiman finds how to keep Rory in the episode without him just becoming a spare wheel that occasionally does something. Instead, he has a clear and positive role in the plot.
Seeing the old console from the RTD years was quite nice as well. Although it could have been nice to see an even older TARDIS, with already having to build one console (which was the blue peter winner’s design), it does make sense that they did not build a whole new, old TARDIS, for nostalgia’s sake, when they could easily rebuild off the set of the last console room. Unfortunately, now we are talking about the TARDIS interior, I have to admit that something that has disappointed me about this episode is that we did not actually get to see much more of the TARDIS. We always hear of the swimming pools, bedrooms and corridors, but we only ever really see one corridor.
Coming to the end, we are given a little spoiler for episodes ahead ‘The Only Water In The Forest Is The River’. Now, maybe I’ve just become use to Moffat’s use of misdirection, but I really don’t think that this will refer to River Song. It feels too easy for it to be River Song. If anything, this whole episode is about misdirection (From the previews, it seemed like it would have a big impact of the series, instead it was a fantastic stand alone episode), then, from the introduction, we are led to believe its a timelord story (and instead were given a stolen TARDIS story). I just find it hard to believe that in an episode that has been surrounded by fantastic misdirection, that they would leave such plot point so obvious.
With a fantastic story like this, I am truly hoping that Gaiman will write more Doctor Who stories for future series’, as this has been one of the best.