The Matt Smith Review: Part 14 - The Doctor's Wife

What We First Thought: The internet is going to explode!!!! 

When I first saw the reaction to The Doctor’s Wife, I honestly didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  Written by fantasy author Neil Gaiman, the story sees the TARDIS literally jumping into a human and talking to The Doctor!  On paper it sounds very bizarre, but somehow the episode makes it look as normal as, say Rory being killed, and the fact that it’s easy to understand, is the real strength of this episode.  Is it the best episode EVER though? No, not really. It isn’t even the best episode of series 6…

I don’t know what it is with fans and hype.  I can guarantee you that if another writer had written this, it wouldn’t attract such praise from those who are so upstanding about it. I feel sorry for Gaiman in a way – his work will always be so overrated, just because his name attracts people who judge things on name only.  The Doctor’s Wife is actually a decent episode as it goes, but reactions like these put people off. I know it puts me off!  It’s these same people that forget all about those people behind the scenes, such as the directors and production designers, who do so much to make a celebrity writers dream come true, but get no credit off fans whatsoever.

When the story kicks off, I just found that the dialogue that The Doctor uses (‘come here – you scrumptious little beauty’) is just so jarring and out of character for him, that it seemed it was written by someone who didn’t  really have a handle on the character, and it took me out of the story a bit.  Saying that, when the story settles down, the dialogue is fine and the bits with The Doctor and ‘TARDIS’ are excellent.  I thought the ‘patchwork’ people were interesting and The Doctor being so offended by them seemed ironic towards the end – as he built a TARDIS console out of scrap!  The whole ‘luring Timelords’ plot was also pretty well done and apart from producing a moment for long-term fans to get excited over, it gave newer fans/viewers some much needed knowledge about Timelords that wouldn’t normally get covered.

It’s clear that Gaiman knows his Doctor Who history, as there’s some great lines that sum the show up – the idea that the TARDIS stole the Doctor, was a great moment that didn’t need time to explain the entire backstory.  Suranne Jones saying to Matt Smith ‘..first time you touched my console’ had my Carry On-filled mind laughing out loud. And I don’t even watch Carry On films! Suranne was brilliant in this though and it was a performance that was so far removed from what she has done before -including the bizarre Mona Lisa she portrayed in the Sarah Jane Adventures!  In fact, the whole cast seemed to revel in a script, that once it got into the action, ran very fluidly and made the somewhat bizarre concept seem normal!

However, I feel that there’s some sloppiness going on in the script too – why did Amy continue to get sucked in by the illusions that House created, AFTER Rory told her that House was playing with their minds? And why didn’t Rory question the psychic message that he received off Idris, as something that House is doing to trap them? I realise that not having explanations saves time, but Gaiman has shown he can do clever dialogue - and as we’ve seen throughout this series so far – only one line is needed.

I would have liked to have seen something mentioned about the fact that the original Idris was murdered, but nothing was said about it! Maybe all this and more was in the original script, which I believe had to be vigorously re-written due to budget constraints.  In fact – this story was supposed to appear in the last series!  I know Gaiman has said that he would like to novelise this story and if the BBC oblige – it should be an interesting read!

Overall, I’ve learnt that The Doctor’s Wife is the ultimate fanwank that’s always worth a watch - it's full of cheeky lines (It’s a bed. With a ladder. You can’t beat that) and backstory that would normally confuse people, but instead was handled with great care and acted out very well  But is it really the best episode ever?

What We Think Now: Hope everyone has calmed down a bit. (Even me!)

Your (5 Word) Reviews

@AbelUndercity: "Smart. Fun. Scary. And Sexy" 
@Mr_Brell: "Weird, wonderful and rather good"
@JayMcIntyre1: "Not what I expected"

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  1. First time commenter, long time reader! :P

    Of course I only come here to comment because I really do not know how I feel about this episode. The hype that started even before the episode screened had me a little perplexed but I have been watching the show since the early 70s so I'm also use to fandom reaction or over-reaction, as the case may be.

    For my money The girl who waited is far superior in almost... damn it! It just is superior.

    The Doctor's Wife is indeed fanwank. There is nothing particularly bad about it as a one-off episode but there is nothing, in my mind, great about it. I found the last moments un-moving. I did not cry (I cried bucket loads during The girl who waited) I couldn't get my head around the idea that The Doctor would care that the TARDIS (she/it is the TARDIS not Idris) was going from flesh (and useless to him in that form) back to the whatever... Heart of the TARDIS???

    I found it labored and manipulative to the extreme. I'd call it bad writing only I know that Moffat has done the same thing with Who and I do like it when Moffat does it. Perhaps I let the over-hyped nature of fandom get in the way of my final enjoyment of the episode.

    Let's put it this way, when I first saw Caves of Androzani I enjoyed it and balled like a child (well I was only 12) but the way this episode is talked in fandom now, well I don't get it... It was a great Peter Davison episode but then he didn't have much to work with during his time.

    If I was to say to someone who has never watched Doctor Who... Watch CoA it's brilliant... Well, no, just no. You really have to know the show first before you can truly enjoy this story.

    So,I guess over-all this was more for fans of Gaiman than Doctor Who fans as a whole.

    That's OK, but I'm not really looking forward the rumoured return of NG in series 8 and it's because of the fans. The hype will ruin it for me.


  2. Thank-you, thought I would have got some abuse for this from Gaiman fans! I agree, The Girl Who Waited was great but I doubt it'll get any awards or accolades since Tom MacRae isn't a 'name'. I've got nothing against Gaiman, he's done a great job with this episode, but I feel that's there's better episodes that don't get half the amount of praise.

    Now imagine if Joss Whedon wrote a Doctor Who episode! ;-)

  3. Did anyone notice that the patchwork people are like Igors from the older and more venerable Terry Pratchett world? If it weren't for that tiny detail, I think I'd have enjoyed this episode more.


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