Monday, May 16, 2011

REVIEW: Doctor Who - The Doctor's Wife


I told myself going into writing this episode review that I have to keep it short as I've done with most of these and not ramble on and on but really knew I couldn't do that. 

Why? Look who wrote it. One of my all time favorite writers working on my all time favorite show. The show that takes up one large part of our living room in books, dvds, comic, and toys and the writer who has his own bookcase in the same living room. Or as Mar told me, "Doctor Who and Neil Gaiman. I'm surprised you aren't passing out in excitement."

But in all honesty I was out of town when this episode showed so I had to wait. Wait and stay away from spoilers which ended up making our trip to many great National and State parks that much better for me because I turned off a lot of my Twitter feeds and such to my phone. So I guess I could also say thanks to Neil Gaiman for helping me enjoy my time away to try and calm some anger that had entered my life.

This reminds me of how things connect. How you find yourself to like something. How a writer or artist enters your life. How those lines lead you down other lines to find things you enjoy or even people you end up dating. The first movie Mar and I ever saw together was Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy at a Air Force base theater.

Doctor Who was a huge part of my youth. We didn't have many TV channels during those times, Hell for the longest time PBS was it and that is how I ended up not only gaining a love for Doctor Who but also for British Television in general. Count in All Creatures Great And Small, Are You Being Served?, Red Dwarf, and so many others. Thank you PBS.

Oh, and a side note. I would have never gotten into comics if not for Spider-Man being on The Electric Company. Can't imagine me without comics and Doctor Who in my life. It would probably be like most people without their base beliefs, those bibles and such, and no matter how weird it may seem, a lot of my base beliefs come from comics and Doctor Who.

And now back to Doctor Who. Around the age I started to get into larger works of fiction to read I saw in the credits of a Doctor Who episode, The Pirate Planet, the name Douglas Adams. Then on one of many trips to the local library I spotted the same name on a book called The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. See the connections hitting? By fate a few months after I finished reading that book my local PBS station showed the mini-series. I was hooked on his writing and read everything he put out into the world that I could find.

Then lets pass years later to a friend mentioning to me a book about Douglas Adams by a writer named Neil Gaiman. Then he told me I should also check out his book that was part of DC Comics adult Vertigo line of comics called Sandman. Now I've never been the biggest fan of either so called "adult" or "realistic" fiction. Give me aliens, give me the strange, give me something that takes me away. My childhood had enough "adult" and enough "realistic" for a lifetime but my friend got me reading it in time and I never regretted it. In a way that opened my reading brain further to the works of everyone from Terry Moore and Grant Morrison to Margaret Atwood and a study of Philosophy in college but the strings that lead to those connections would take far to long to explain.

Still haven't read that Douglas Adams book by Neil Gaiman though?

Every since that first time reading Sandman from which I was introduced to Neil Gaiman's work I've enjoyed everything he has released. And if you want to ask my favorite book of his I would say American Gods and my favorite Sandman story is The Wake; which is how I hope someday someone will write a funeral for the Doctor with that much life in it. But this isn't a write up about a funeral, its a review of The Doctor's Wife.

Took me long enough to get the episode didn't it. Sorry. The Doctor's Wife was very creative; which is to be expected with seeing who wrote it but some of the things that stood out for me was the acting and the visuals. I went in telling myself not to expect too much. Keep telling myself don't expect a movie from a TV shows budget and I think more people should think that way. I tried not to wish wish wish for all of his books wrapped into a Doctor Who universe sandwich and it worked.

The special effects on the makeshift TARDIS spinning through space in pursuit of the blue box was stunning. I just loved the bouncing spinning effect. The sets had a lot of craftsmanship but they didn't over do it; which I think would have been so easy to do. Do what you need to tell the story. The only visual I didn't like is something I've had a problem with from the beginning of New Who is when looking at a CGI TARDIS, especially looking at it floating in space, it really looks too animated, too polished but I think that's an in general issue with not only CGI but most modern movies period.

This episode had the best acting of the season so far and I think every episode has been spot on acting wise. But from Amy and Rory to The Doctor and Sexy, man, that was some throwing of roses on stage acting right there. Matt Smith is just so good at acting when other things are happening besides him speaking. Not to say he doesn't deliver dialogue well but some actors when not speaking are just background. Not Matt Smith. Mar thought there was a little hint of Sweeney Todd in Sexy and if there was, nice touch. I loved the energy between The Doctor and his true love.

I stayed away from spoilers before watching and that made each moment that much more special for me. Going in thinking from the name of this episode this was going to be about River Song, and there was a River reference wasn't there? Some how the surprise of what The Doctor's Wife was actually referring to just made my heart jump out in total fanboy joy and not many things do that with this older man much these days. But Doctor Who still can.

"I've got mail!" made me want to go back and rewatch The War Games; which I think is a very underrated story. For those that don't know The War Games is the last 2nd Doctor story which lasted a whole season. I have it on tape but no longer have a VCR so I need to get the DVD someday.

I thought the inclusion of an Ood was a really nice touch. One of the reasons was you keep thinking it was going to have more of focus but how the Ood was used was great. As a viewer you had grown to love and care for the Ood but this one was just frightening. Though the Ood have always had that touch of true alien to them. The type of alien that causes feelings of prejudices and fears deep in dark places we all have.

This episode raced out with emotions, raced out with references, and raced my heart back to that youthful heart of a fan just watching a TV adventure and loving every moment of it. Not thinking about it like a writer, not thinking about it like someone who will be writing a review, not thinking about what everyone else will be saying later. When the episode was over I was smiling and the only other thought I had was- I wish Douglas Adams was around today to write a episode.

5 out of 5 stars



JH said...

Strange how we pick up on things like the writing. I read a YA vampire book (I am not completely anti-vampire, just the sparkly ones) and as I was reading it I had a whole "this is Doctor Who" moment. I checked up on the author and discovered that he was a writing consultant for the show at one point
I also picked up on the Sweeny Toddishness of it all. The actress they got to play Sexy was perfect. I was almost wondering if since the TARDIS has so much power if she wasn't somehow behind the pregnancy mystery...entwining a little bit of herself into Amy's unborn child so that she can be with her thief.

Cee said...

Who was the writer of the vampire book?

I was talking to Mar when the whole pregnancy thing came up and told her maybe the TARDIS is trying to bring the Time Lord race back?