Monday, May 25, 2015

"What Makes You Think I Would Ever Give You Back?" - Revisited Review of "The Doctor's Wife"

Revisited Review of Doctor Who 6.04 - "The Doctor's Wife"

Written By: Neil Gaiman
Team TARDIS: Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Adversary: House, Patchwork People
Originally Aired: May 14, 2011
Number of Episodes: 1

See and mark well how my brain works. Because I have been bone-dead-tired for pretty much most of the day. Even caught a nap this afternoon, but I'm still ready to collapse into bed. But what happens at 10:30 at night when I should be cuddling up with my pillows and blankets? Brain says "Nope - you've gotta write about "The Doctor's Wife." And do it RIGHT NOW!" So - that's what I'm doing.

I'm not even stuck on the episode as a whole - though it certainly is one of the very best revived Doctor Who has to offer. I'm more interested in thinking out loud about the Doctor and Idris. Who is revealed to be (Four Year Old Spoilers Ahead!) possessed by the soul of the TARDIS. The conceit of this episode is clever in that you don't have to be steeped in Doctor Who history and lore to understand the story. All you need are the basics - the Doctor's TARDIS is the one constant in his life, it's been there since day one, he has a connection to his ship - which is much more that any typical spaceship (so sorry Enterprise and Millennium Falcon - you're both handy to have in a tight spot, but the TARDIS wins for... pretty much everything else). While the people who have been immersed in Doctor Who for a long time do get their own treats and Easter Eggs in this episode, an extensive knowledge of the show isn't necessary to enjoy and love the beauty of this story.

The Doctor's relationships with his companions come and go. He looks upon all his companions with fondness regardless of how they parted. But that they point - they left. Or he left them. Or they were forced to leave. The point is, they aren't there anymore. But the TARDIS is. That mad old box which is a cross between a DeLorean and the wardrobe to Narnia with its own version of a soul, always listening to the ramblings of a mad old man who is a cross between HG Wells and Father Christmas. Aren't they just a pair - rushing about in time and space with nothing in particular to do, and no where in particular to do except travel everywhere.

He rambles, she listens. He runs, she rackets about. They're always together - the Doctor and the TARDIS. And for once, she gets to respond to him and it is absolutely and precisely brilliant to listen to. The title of the episode may be "The Doctor's Wife" - and they certainly do bicker like an old married couple. But beyond the TARDIS airing her grievances about the "Pull to Open," (which - that point is debateable) and the Doctor bringing home strays and everything else she pokes at him about - she still

There is something simple in the beauty of this story. While the surrounding trappings of the disembodied House and the Patchwork People and even the trouble Amy and Rory get into serve to move the story forward and give the episode a reason to exist - those things are the "B Plot." They almost don't matter. The real story here is the Doctor FINALLY getting to speak to his One True Love face to face. And, in spite of Amy's "Did you wish really hard?" quip poking fun at the stereotypical male fantasy of his vehicle being made into the form of an attractive woman - there is so much more to this relationship than low-hanging jokes about the male psyche. Because the Doctor is no ordinary dude and the TARDIS is no ordinary ship. This is more than exploring the Doctor's backstory and giving him motivation and history and whatever - this is exploring a complicated core of the entire Doctor Who mythos without giving everything away. The mythos is explored, but the mystery and the wonder remain very much intact.

And that is why "Alive" is so very sad in the end. For while the TARDIS is always there and always will be, this time of speaking to the Doctor face-to-face has ended. She can no longer express her love and affection to the Doctor in so many words, which was such a challenge for her in the beginning of this adventure. And, while the Doctor does understand her feelings (and his own) - sometimes, it's just nice to hear those words from the person you care about. It's a story about life and death and love, but without life and death and love. Not in the way we usually express it, anyway. And that's probably what keeps rolling through my head over and over again about this story - the sadness of endings, the joy of newly discovered relationships, the realization of what you had all along (and what will always be with you, though in a different way than you first thought).

Just a mad man with a box? Sure, if you want to look at it that way. But this story makes the Doctor and the TARDIS so much more than that. Which is something I will always, always, always love about it.

Amy: Look at you pair. It's always you and her isn't it? Long after the rest of us have gone. A boy and his box off to see the universe.
The Doctor: Well you say that as if it's a bad thing. But honestly it's the best thing there is.

The Doctor: Are you there? Can you hear me? No. Obviously not. Okay. The Eye of Orion or wherever we need to go. {the lever moves on its own and the TARDIS takes off}.

(Originally Reviewed May 14, 2011)

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