Doctor Who - The Doctor's Wife (Series Six, Episode Four). It's business "as usual" for The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), when the door of the TARDIS knocks... in deep space. The Time Lord receives a distress signal from an old friend and they follow it to a junkyard planet where lives a very strange family.
« Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high. There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby. »
Directed by Richard Clark and written by acclaimed author Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Sandman, Neverwhere), The Doctor's Wife was originally intended for Series Five but was delayed due to budget issues and replaced by The Lodger (aka The Cheapo). Arriving now is in many respects a blessing for the episode, standing alone from the risky contrived high concept story arc Who boss Steven Moffat has chosen to embark into. No "clues", no soap subplot, no questions, no tricks. Just a self-contained tale of adventures in space and time with touches of surrealism, poetry and humour in the spirit of Douglas Adams. And an unusual and charming love story too.
Gaiman's story is a welcome reminder of what can be Doctor Who at its height. A strange world covered with junk- with a nice Caro and Jeunet feel - is inhabited by an odd dickensian patchwork couple, Auntie (Elizabeth Berrington) and Uncle (Adrian Schiller) and a green-eyed Ood called Nephew (Paul Kasey). A seemingly zany young woman named Idris (Suranne Jones, between Elsa Lanchester and Helena Bonham Carter) could be a part of a trap but who is she actually? « Biting is excellent. It's like kissing, only there's a winner. » And the voice of Michael Sheen (rehearsing for a James Earl Jones biopic?) plays a game of cat and mouse with Amy and Rory.
« Fear me, I've killed hundred of Time Lords.
- Fear me, I've killed all of them. »
Mr and Mrs Pond running through corridors has the sweet flavour of BBC 80s sci-fi, while Neil Gaiman revisits the origins of the Doctor with a wonderfully original twist. Not only 80s BBC, funnily the "Mail box" is very Cursor in Automan. The Doctor's Wife is an instant classic and let's hope Gaiman will come back for more. Better, make him the next showrunner. Better, knight him for restoring the faith of some of us in the modern version of Doctor Who during 45 minutes - and make him the next showrunner.
The episode and the essential Doctor Who Confidential which followed are an ode to why we love our madman in a box. Once upon a time...
« Do you believe any of this stuff?
- I was there. »