Saturday, May 14, 2011

Doctor Who "The Doctor's Wife"


The latest episode of Doctor Who, "The Doctor's Wife" was written by Neil Gaiman. It is the first episode he's written and I hope it will be the first of many.

The episode examines the relationship between the Doctor and his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space). This is a relationship that has gone largely unexplored in this long running series.

The TARDIS was first said to be a living ship way back in the 1964 serial "The Edge of Destruction"

I primary watch the new series, so it was in "The Rise of the Cybermen" that I first started to appreciate that the TARDIS was alive. In that episode the TARDIS ends up traveling into another dimension and dies, but the Doctor saves it by giving it some of his Time Lord energy, "I've given it one year of my life."

Throughout the course of the new series the Doctor has commented on several occasions that he only sometimes/somewhat controls where the TARDIS goes. He implies that he has it set to travel to pivotal points in time, sort of space time tipping points. Though it had never been specifically mentioned my theory was that the Doctor only goes to points in time where the TARDIS senses evidence of other time travelers or alien technology where it should not be.

I think it's funny that the Doctor will often assure his companions that they are going to go somewhere nice a relaxing, such as when the Doctor takes Amy and Rory to Venice. But the TARDIS only travels to tipping points, so in Venice they encounter Aquatic alien vampires. The Doctor has also said things like he doesn't like to go to boring times so he never lands on Sundays.

This episode is a first for two reasons. 1) the TARDIS is truly personified for the first time when it's essence is put into the body of a women named Idris and 2) The TARDIS tells the doctor that she/it is just as much of a thrill seeker as he is and that's why he's always finding himself on adventures.

I found this to be truly refreshing and long overdue, because though "The Heart of the TARDIS" was said to be a living entity and though the Doctor has been known to sometimes sweet talk it or "rub bits of it" as Sarah Jane mentioned in "School Reunion," the TARDIS has never been shown to have a personality of its own.

Up until this point it's been more of a vehicle. I thought the Doctor was fond of it because it took him from place to place. He loved it the way some guys love their sports car. This episode puts a whole other spin on their relationship. In essence it is a symbiotic relationship the TARDIS wanted to see the universe and so did the Doctor and as Idris put it, "you were the only one (Time Lord) crazy enough to give me what I wanted."

This episode is a bit tragic because for the first time the Doctor gets to actually have a conversation with his fellow adventurer of some 900 or so years and he learns that the ship choose him as much as he choose it, but it is only for one brief adventure and when he returns the energy into the shell of the TARDIS he knows that they won't be able to speak again. (Don't ask me why the Doctor can't make the TARDIS capable of speech, he just can't).

I think the episode is called "The Doctor's Wife" because the relationship between the Doctor and his TARDIS is the defining relationship of his life. He constantly fills his ship up with people he calls companions, but his real life-long companion is the TARDIS itself. It is his best friend, his most trusted ally, his greatest defender, and a constant believer that the work he is accomplishing is for the greater good. If that doesn't describe a wife's role than I don't know what does.

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