REVIEW: Doctor Who – The Doctor’s Wife

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Wow… I had high expectations for this episode knowing it was written by Neil Gaiman, and I can honestly say it exceeded all of them. This is a very exciting season and I’m impatient to get back to the main plot, but this episode went a long way to overcome that. In fact, it may be one of the greatest single episodes in ther series’ history.

Spoilers then, now and later.

The action is set on a small planetoid outside the rest of the universe that attracts The Doctor’s attention after he receives a distress call from another Timelord. Gaiman puts The Doctor through a full range emotions from elation to rage as the mysteries surrounding the call for help unfold. The way we’re presented with characters with nondescript names like Auntie, Uncle, Nephew and House just compounds the intrigue further in such a simple way. Gaiman manages to create a sense of wonder around everything with this approach and I can’t help but think about their origins.

I was assuming the episode might be about River Song from the title, but what we see is so much better. Gaiman puts together a classic tale of The Doctor by focusing on the other “companion” that’s been with him since the beginning, the TARDIS. Being made human presents the audience with a new character that they’re instantly connected to. It would be like the narrator from Law and Order walking into Jack McCoy’s office only infinitely cooler as Suranne Jones does her best to channel Helena Bonham Carter. The TARDIS has been in as many episodes as The Doctor and here she’s presented in every way as his equal, exactly what you’d want from his “wife.” My favorite aspect of their realtionship was the notion that she stole him and ran away all those years ago rather than the other way around.

All the Gaiman oddness you’d expect is there and the episode definitely makes reference to things that might be coming later this season. The TARDIS exists in all times simultaneously so it’ll be interesting to follow all the seemingly meaningless things she said while in human form. The most intriguing line was clearly, “the only water in the forest is the river.” We saw River Song die back in the two part Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead episodes and River, the Silence, and now Forests have now all been a part of this season. It’s also worth noting that Amy Pond represents another body of water to keep in mind.

There are so many other great elements on display in this episode like The Doctor not knowing what to do to save the day, seeing him rebuild a TARDIS from spare parts in a time machine graveyard and running through parts of his TARDIS we’ve never seen before (including the Tenth Doctor’s control room). I also can’t keep from thinking about Gaiman’s quote that he wrote this story for last season without Rory in the script and had to add him back. He managed to create a creepy and compelling series of moments for both he and Amy that were simply amazing. Again it raises questions about what exactly Rory is, but they’re hardly worth worrying about with everything else going on.

I don’t want to overstate things, but The Doctor’s Wife may be my favorite single episode of the show. It’s certainly one I’d now recommend if someone wanted to check out Doctor WhoBlink is still the go to episode I’d recommend checking out if you’re only going to watch one, but this is a great option as well. It’s easily in the top three episodes of the new series, and the top 10 all time. Catch it again tonight at 8PM (as well as 11PM and 2AM) or on BBC America and stick around for this week’s new episode, The Rebel Flesh. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Read more Doctor Who on MyLatestDistraction,
including reactions to each new episode on BBCAmerica.

The Curse of the Black Spot / The Rebel Flesh

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