S32 (6) 4 – The Doctor’s Wife

Home Forums Episodes The Eleventh Doctor S32 (6) 4 – The Doctor’s Wife

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    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Repeated on BBC3 on Saturday 2nd Fenruary this sees the entry of Neil Gaiman into the Whoniverse.

    Our original thoughts on this can be found here.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    After watching The curse of the Black Spot on the repeat yesterday I dug out my recordings of this.

    I adore this story and find that it really does reward repeat viewings. Surrane Jones is delightful as the Tardis in human form. Also I think this is a great showcase for Matt Smith who is on blistering form.

    After Christmas, Neil Gaiman was talking about the episode and apparently his first script (originally intended for series 5) had the Great Intelligence as “House”, and Moff asked him to change that “because he had something else in mind”. Which may indicate that he has been playing a long game and the GI will become a recurring menace.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    I really love this episode. As i might have mentioned, i love Moffitwho in general, but this episode almost stands out to me the way Moffit episodes stood out in RTDwho.

    One thing that struck me, re-watching it, is how so much of the design of this episode resembles an elaborate stage set.

    Also, when House is messing with Amy’s head, showing her an old Rory saying how they come every night and hurt me made me think of TATM. I’m not saying all that was planned at the time, but it does form part of a recurring theme of Amy and Rory parted, to one no time has passed, to the other, years. Auton-Rory didn’t age, but he does still have two thousand years of memories tucked into his head (I love that in a way he is older then eleven), in TGWW, it happened to Amy, here and in TATM it’s Rory.

    We also have ‘basically: run’ with another hint of the dangerous nature of the Doctor. And the moment when he realises that everything will be alright, because the body holding the Tardis is dying, and he uses delaying tactics until she does so. Which is, as River might say, cold, but unavoidable. (Leaving Rory to stay beside the dying body, best person for the job.) It’s also interesting the way he moves between being desperiately happy at the idea of there being another time lord, to disturbed but hopeful at the idea of there being many time lords left, to greif and anger when he discovers what happened, all the way to using the fact that he ‘killed them all’ to try and intimidate House. (strictly speaking an exaggeration?)

    I love the idea that it was, in fact, the Tardis that wanted to see the universe, so she stole a timelord and ran away with him. And Amy asking ‘did you wish really, really hard?’. And Matt Smith constantly switching between an ancient, battle scared being and a barely pubescent boy (embarrassment, and ‘bunk-bed’s are cool’).

    Question for the Knowledgeable ones: Would it not have been possible for House to be the GI and escape into the world at the end of this episode? Did Gaiman make the change because he insisted on the Tardis destroying House at the end, or is, as @phaseshift suggests, Moffit playing a very long game re:GI that would be inconsistent with this episode?

    p.s. also loved the Tardis’ comments about the Doctor picking up strays, and considering Rory to be the pretty one.

    kimtaro @kimtaro

    This is really bothering me – how come when Rose absorbed the energy of the TARDIS, she almost died. But when the woman Idris was filled with the soul of the TARDIS, she was totally fine. Well, not totally fine, but she wasn’t dying as quickly as Rose. Also, Idris ended up with the consciousness of the TARDIS, but Rose did not. Hm…

    GothamCelt @gothamcelt

    Loved this episode. One of the very best. If Samuel Beckett had ever written a Who story – this would have been it.

    The Krynoid Man @thekrynoidman

    I’m a member on two Doctor Who related forums (including this one), and I must be the only person on both who doesn’t like it. Never understood what’s so good about it.

    GothamCelt @gothamcelt

    “Well, an element of conflict in any discussion’s a very good thing. It means everybody is taking part and nobody left out. I – I like that”.

    Anonymous @


    I’m a member on two Doctor Who related forums (including this one), and I must be the only person on both who doesn’t like it. Never understood what’s so good about it.

     I guess the most important thing in this episode, is learning new things about the Doctor. Maybe they were only new to me since I have only watched the BG episodes from “The Doctors Revisited” series (if you already knew about the things I learned, then that could answer your question).

     Beyond that to answer what’s good, I first tried to answer, “What’s not so good about it?” 

    I drew a complete blank on that one, so IMO the answer to your question has to be everything. 

     I don’t want to write an entire recap of the episode, but the key points for me are:

    1.  The new things about the Doctor, in this episode it is revealed that the TARDIS is a living being that can make and has made decisions on her own.  Learning that the Doctor hasn’t always been flying the ship is, as revelations go, earth shattering to me.
    2. The story was highly interesting and entertaining to watch.  A powerful being named House steals the TARDIS (I’ve only seen the Master do that before).  The Doctor is left stranded with Idris (his TARDIS in a body) and has a very short time to return Idris to the TARDIS control room before she dies. To make things worse, Amy and Rory are trapped inside the stolen TARDIS and are being tormented by House, who eventually intends to kill them. I thought it was great.
    3. All of the characters get involved in the action and have pivotal roles in resolving the plot.
    4. The dialog when the Doctor and Idris meet for the first time was informative, hilarious, and endearing.
    5. Idris is Sexy (just repeating a key point, the names are practically interchangeable now) 🙂
    6. Petrichor is the smell of dust after rain

     The last one is just a small detail from the episode I thought was cool. There are many more but I don’t know how to describe them. I still can’t think of anything that I don’t like in this episode, not even a small detail.

     @kimtaro – just some of my theories on your questions

    Re: Rose not living as long as Idris after absorbing time energy, one reason could be that the Idris’ body had some TL parts to it that made it last longer (House was using TL parts on the other people there).  

     Re: Rose having consciousness, the body Idris took over in TDW had its soul removed before Idris got into it. That might have something to do with theory one as well.

    Craig @craig

    Craig @craig

    Rory is back.

    Craig @craig

    And a message from Suranne Jones!

    janetteB @janetteb

    @craig thanks for posting. Loved Rory’s Story. Laughed a lot and somehow having trouble with watery eyes now. Not sure why…



    winston @winston

    @craig  I watched this one again and I just can’t believe how well written it is and how the Tardis has been been brought to life only to break our hearts.What a genius idea, to put the Tardis inside a women so the bad guy can inhabit the Tardis instead. We got to know the little blue box we have loved for so long.Ever since this episode I have felt more connected to the Tardis as a separate companion of the Doctor. Like the Doctor, I always know she is in there.

    This time though I paid more attention to the strange inhabitants of the “House”, Uncle and Aunty and poor Idris and the Ood. I found these  mismatched people to be properly creepy and yet they had somehow managed to survive and form a very dysfunctional family.Weird characters.

    Great episode.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    A little late to this party but here we go. Like Eleventh Hour, this was always another one of my comfort Whos, although I have to say I seem to have gone off it just slightly of late. I do love the metatextual cleverness of the title (JNT had it as fake story in his notes at one point to see if there were leaks in the Who office, or so the story goes.)

    I think perhaps I’m feeling a little ambivalent to Neil Gaiman at the moment. This is partly because I just couldn’t get along with Good Omens — I’m sorry, but I just can’t listen to that much Queen, even ironically. I do feel though that his best work was in Sandman, which was proper inventive and weird, compared to often mawkish and self-conscious quirk of recent years. And for me, TDW was falling into that category (and Nightmare in Silver doesn’t survive it as a story). The junkyard world and Uncle and Auntie especially seem to be the major examples of it in this ep.

    However, this rewatch has made me amend my curmudgeonliness a little. It’s a great episode and provides all the right feels and thrills. The only really flat stuff is the Amy/Rory stuff in the TARDIS and as Gaiman’s really interesting and definitely worth checking out Twitter feed explains this was largely down to budget constraints. It would have been great to see the planned scenes in the swimming pool etc. As it is, while they’re low-key, these scenes are still effective because they’re rooted in the character work already done — and it speaks to Gaiman’s skill as a writer that this is the direction he went in. On a more superficial level, it’s a shame that both this and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS haven’t managed to give us a really interesting TARDIS interior yet.

    In fact, he writes 11, Amy and Rory really brilliantly. So much so that it’s odd that Silver is so lacklustre. Perhaps he just didn’t like the 11/Clara dynamic quite as much. But all the callbacks to Rory the Centurion, fish fingers etc etc. are just great here.

    As are 11’s interchanges with Idris, which form the real joy of this episode. Their ‘goodbye’ scene is genuinely touching and Suranne Jones does great work in suggesting what a great female Doctor could look like.

    It was also kind of nice seeing the Eccleston TARDIS again, if briefly. It might have been nice to have seen another console room from the past (or perhaps even from the future) but that was obviously beyond the realms of budget.

    And if nothing else, this episode should probably be lauded for making everyone go off to look up the meaning of petrichor….

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Also rather late to the party. It seems working from home involves a lot of, err, work. 🙂

    What struck me on this re-viewing was the character work. Gaiman’s given some considerable thought to the way a multi-dimensional time machine would relate to time and seems to have ended up with an Idris who sees past, present and future in the same way that we’d see left, in front and right. Sexy’s a bit like someone trying to drive a car when none of the other drivers can see right.

    But what also struck me, given that we’ve also re-watched Day of the Doctor recently, is how much Day of the Doctor is developing the ideas Gaiman came up with here. The Moment, especially. And the calculations.

    @jimthefish I agree that Amy and Rory’s TARDIS scenes were a bit bumpy. Some bits worked beautifully (as when Amy found a decayed skeleton, or the dark corridor) and others didn’t. The changing gravity, for example, could definitely have been improved with a bigger budget. Or any budget. But I’d disagree that Suranne Jones is playing a Doctor. She’s playing a TARDIS and her performance is very finely judged as a ‘one-episode’ performance. The eccentricity and strangeness is great in one episode, but at that level, over a longer period, it would drive the audience insane. See Jo Martin for an example of a one-episode performance judged for probable call-backs.

    I dunno about Uncle and Auntie, because on a rewatch there’s a strong feeling of nothing there beyond the performance. But that may be deliberate; they have mannerisms but no ‘soul’. Puppets, not people.

    I just can’t listen to that much Queen

    Nobody wants to. Even Crowley would like to hear something else occasionally. But it’s proof of Crowley’s demonic nature that, whenever he’s around, every piece of music anyone tries to play invariably turns into a track from Queen’s Greatest Hits. 😈

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    The Moment, especially. And the calculations.

    I’d have to check but I’m pretty sure that The Moment as a Who concept predates both Moffat and Gaiman. Part of me wants to say that it feels like a Lance Parkin thing, though it’s possible that it was one of the Time War names reeled off by RTD at one point. Certainly, I’ve always felt that it must be some kind of close relation to the Apocalypse Device of the comics.

    The eccentricity and strangeness is great in one episode, but at that level, over a longer period, it would drive the audience insane

    It would certainly be toned down over the long term, yes. But that’s not wholly what I was meaning really. I was thinking more in terms of the whole look, the fairytale madwoman costume as well as the un-selfconscious alien oddness of the performance. Yes, she’s playing a TARDIS and the performance reflects that but there’s still a sense of how a female Doctor could be played, rather than the ‘over-caffeinated Play School presenter on the school run’ that we currently have.

    See Jo Martin for an example of a one-episode performance judged for probable call-backs

    Yes, I’d agree. Although what do we actually know of JoDoc other than she’s kinda ruthless. We were given very little of actual personality in Judoon (and even less in Timeless, when she was reduced to a Exposition Node). All Jo Martin’s character work was done for the character of Ruth and next to none for her Doc. Perhaps they’ll be some in s12. I’d be tempted to say that Chibs can’t write the Doctor if it wasn’t for the fact that he did great work writing for 11. But it says something when I find that the most vividly I’ve ever seen 13 written is in a short story by the previous showrunner.

    But it’s proof of Crowley’s demonic nature that, whenever he’s around, every piece of music anyone tries to play invariably turns into a track from Queen’s Greatest Hits

    That’s undoubtedly true on the meta level. But counterproductive on the level of actually getting people to watch your show. I have to admit I only got through one episode of Good Omens before deciding not to bother with the rest. And it wasn’t just the annoying levels of Queen either. While the performances were good (Well, Michael Sheen was as great as ever. Tennant, I felt, was phoning in something pitched halfway between 10 at his most dickish and Kilgrave) but the writing seemed to me to be Gaiman at his most overly mannered. I do think he’s a very good writer when he trusts his own ideas but descends into a self-conscious ventriloquism at times, especially when he’s collaborating on something. (It might be argued that it’s there in The Doctor’s Wife a little too. There are a few moments where you get just the slightest feeling that he’s trying to ‘write like Moffat’, although it’s maybe difficult to tell what with rewrites and everything.) But in Good Omens, the moment we got the faux-Adams God voiceover, I had a feeling was going to struggle with it. If you start a show by rolling your eyes at it then you’re probably not going to recover.

    johnnybear @johnnybear

    This episode is one that I liked! Shades of Brain of Morbius!!! The little white boxes from War Games return here and the possibility of returning Time Lords was awesome. So much so that you don’t feel too disappointed at the end when it turns out to be a false catch! The scenes in the TARDIS corridors were good and very reminiscent of the old Hartnell episodes and even the odd Tom Baker or two!


    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    I decided to skip Curse of the Black Spot because it’s not really related to the series arc and because pirate stories always seem to bring out the worst in plank-walking, scenery-chewing, cutlass-waving, talk-like-a-pirate-ing (Avast ye landlubbers! Belay the foc’sle!) Only pirate-ship I’ve seen that doesn’t suck was the one in Stardust, with Robert de Niro camping it up as the captain and the crew indulging their captain’s little foibles; written by Neil Gaiman. (Speaking of whom…)

    The Doctor’s Wife isn’t really related to the series arc either *but* it’s a cracker!

    Is this the first time we’ve heard that Time Lords can change gender? Even if it’s a long-dead one like the Corsair turns out to be?

    “What is this place, the scrapyard at the end of the Universe?” – love the Hitch-hiker reference.

    Idris is marvellous as the soul of the Tardis. I have to say Auntie and especially Uncle are excellent as well, in their deadpan approach to life and death.

    Delightful conversation between Idris and the Doctor as she explains who she is. And I love the way Idris inverts the ‘stole a Tardis’ meme – “Borrowing implies the intention to return the thing that was taken. What makes you think I would ever give you back?”

    And the immortal lines “You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go!” “No, but I always took you where you needed to go”

    “You ever wonder why I chose you all this years ago?”
    “You were unlocked”
    “Course I was”

    Oh, and this exchange is so delightful I can’t help quoting the whole thing –
    IDRIS: I directed him to one of the old control rooms.
    DOCTOR: There aren’t any old control rooms. They were all deleted or remodelled.
    IDRIS: I archive them, for neatness. I’ve got about thirty now.
    DOCTOR: But I’ve only changed the desktop, what, a dozen times?
    IDRIS: So far, yes.
    DOCTOR: You can’t archive something that hasn’t happened yet.
    IDRIS: You can’t.

    And another –

    AMY: She’s the Tardis?
    DOCTOR: And she’s a woman. She’s a woman and she’s the Tardis.
    AMY: Did you wish really hard?

    And the climactic confrontation in the Tardis control room –
    Fear me. I’ve killed hundreds of Time Lords.
    DOCTOR: Fear me. I’ve killed all of them.

    Altogether a delightful one-off episode, that managed to establish quite a lot of canon without, so far as I know, retconning anything.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    One thing I *wish* had been left in – just Listening to Neil Gaiman’s commentary, apparently the scene where the Doc builds a Tardis from scrap – apparently in the original script, he couldn’t find any bits of Tardis, and Idris says that’s because they still have their chameleon circuits on, she switches them off and old washing machines and bits of junk metamorphose into Tardis parts. I would have loved to see that moment.

    winston @winston

    @dentarthurdent   I really wish they had left that in, it would have made an excellent episode a little more magical.

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