Review of Doctor Who ‘The Doctor’s Wife’

Neela Debnath

Episode 4 3 300x202 Review of Doctor Who ‘The Doctor’s Wife’SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 4, series 6/32 of Doctor Who

After much speculation from the teasing title of this episode, all has now become come clear. It is not River Song who is the Doctor’s wife but the old girl herself, the TARDIS, short for Time And Relative Dimension In Space, in case you were wondering. For one week only the little blue box that’s bigger on the inside than the outside was personified into a barmy but rather wonderful woman.

This was the first story about the TARDIS and explored the origins of the ship, along with the Doctor’s relationship with his longest-serving companion. Dressed in what appeared to be a cast off from Helena Bonham-Carter’s wardrobe, Suranne Jones gave an energetic and zany performance as the TARDIS, mirroring the Doctor’s character.

The interplay between the Doctor and the TARDIS is interesting to watch, particularly as one tried to claim ownership over the other. She is his TARDIS which he stole and yet she chose him, he is her thief. She let him steal her because she wanted to see all of time and space rather than being a museum exhibit. Ultimately, they belong to each other and ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ was a beautiful but tragic love story of two beings that could never truly be together.

It has been implied that the TARDIS had a consciousness but up until now she never communicated directly with the Doctor. He always speaks to her, never quite sure if she hears him, but as it turns out she has been listening to him all along. We finally understand her unreliability; the TARDIS takes him where he needs to go not where he wants to go.

Science fiction and fantasy writer Neil Gaiman mixed romance, tragedy and horror, managing to strike a balance while telling a simple story. However, the horror sequence involving Amy and Rory running for their lives through the labyrinthine corridors of the TARDIS took on quite an adult level of horror.

Since Doctor Who began in 1963 there has always been a debate about whether or not it is suitable for children. The boundaries of what children are afraid of changes from generation to generation however, this episode contained some psychologically disturbing scenes reminiscent of ‘Event Horizon’. It is questionable which section of the audience was more scared – the children or the grown-ups.

There was writing scrawled on the walls, for the second time in the series, and something that appeared to be Rory’s skeleton but more of that later. Then there was the moment where Amy stumbles across the mad, wizened old version of Rory who has grown old waiting for Amy which was quite unsettling. Perhaps the most frightening moment is where the villain, House (voiced by Michael Sheen) spoke through Auntie and Uncle, his voice coming out of their mouths.

House was a disembodied voice which left much to the audience’s imagination. Similarly, in Torchwood’s ‘Children of Earth’ which was aimed at adults, the invading aliens were never seen only ever heard. But whether the average child will find the psychological horror scary is questionable.

The one thing that is apparent is that children’s television has upped the fear factor. For example, the Trickster from the Sarah Jane Adventures is a terrifying creature with an eyeless face and fangs, wearing a black hooded robe, yet the programme is shown during the teatime schedule on children’s television.

On a final note, the Rory-gets-killed fatigue has now officially set in, this is either the third or fourth time Amy has been distraught over the death of her husband. There have been reports that one of the major characters will die in this series but it is unlikely to be Rory given his resurrection rate. The question is: how will he be kicking the bucket next week?

Picture: BBC

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  • ian beaverstock

    “Ohmigod they killed Rory, you bas@#*#!” With possible sex changes mentioned in the episode to boot, is Who following a South Park story arc? 

  • Laurence Roberts

     The sex change thing dosnt really apply per sa . Tennants Doctor has already mentioned being female . And Gallefrians regenerate and are thousands of years old , the premise of their characters is they change bodies as much as other people change favourite clothes . Their aliens remember they don;t think or always react as humans in that universe would ;) . Brilliant episode .

  • Laurence Roberts

     Oh and Rory , probably didnt “die” in that episode . It was most likely Amys fears of Rory dying (also note he wasn’t really affected by the illusions ;) ) really affected by the illusions ;) )

  • bobbellinhell

    Moffarse continues to prove that he can parody Doctor Who just as badly as his predecessor. He calls himself a fan but he’s only really interested in a campy soap-operatic interpretation of the show.

  • Guest

    Well, it was more watchable than that craÞ about pirates last week at any rate. 

    And Torchwood wasn’t aimed at adults so much as adolescents and faghags. Not that I’m homophobic but all the same-sex kissing (and the hetero kissing for that matter) became tedious rather quickly and just looked like space-filling due to lack of plot.

    Of the three series, The Sarah Jane Adventures frequently had the best performances, so it’s a shame there will be no more of them.

  • Guest

     Instead of what, exactly? Doctor Who has never been hard sci-fi. It’s always existed in this slightly odd, fantasy-sci-fi-pantomime realm.

  • EasyTyger

    ‘This was the first story about the TARDIS and explored the origins of the ship, along with the Doctor’s relationship with his longest-serving companion.’

    Um… no, got to disagree with that. Plenty of old stories where this happens, from 1963 onwards with Edge of Destruction/Inside the Spaceship and pretty much every couple of years since then. Rarely quite so much exposition as this, but lots of information on the origins of the TARDIS coming out in snippets – with a motherlode in The War Games.

    ‘It has been implied that the TARDIS had a consciousness but up until now she never communicated directly with the Doctor.’

    Again, don’t really think that’s true. Lots of examples of the TARDIS directly communicating with the Doctor, most obviously the ringing of the cloister bell, and on a couple of occasions with telepathy. First time the TARDIS has turned into a women and spoken though…

    oops, no it isn’t. BBC Books did the whole ‘TARDIS as living, breathing women’ thing for a couple of years, not that long ago, from which Neil Gaiman presumably nicked the idea…

    This is a nice review with some thoughtful comments, but I don’t think the reviewer has watched much Doctor Who in the past. It’s probably a good thing to not be saddled with that sort of baggage but at the same time it’s not particularly good journalism to take a wild punt on a few ideas and present them as fact…

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