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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “The Doctor’s Wife”

(all spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! this is a love fest only — all complaints and bitching must come from a place of love / previous: “The Curse of the Black Spot”)
Okay, so the Doctor’s wife is not — at least here — River Song. And not some being that has only just now popped into existence the way the Doctor’s daughter did. The Doctor’s wife is his TARDIS. We knew he was in love with his car. And I knew the TARDIS has been in love with him all along.

So it’s cool that Doctor Who finally explored this. But did it have to be so wonderful? Did it have to be so heartbreaky? Thank you. Thank you so much, Neil Gaiman. Like I need this achy void in my gut on a Sunday afternoon. Like I need to be all weepy over a police box and a crazy lonely Time Lord. Fantastic. I’ve got problems of my own, you know. But noooo: You couldn’t just leave it all alone as a silly kiddie show about a madman with a box. You had to give us something that changes everything we’ve thought about the show. Thank you. Like I needed more reasons to obsess over Doctor Who.

Okay, not everything’s changed. As I said, I, too — like Gaiman, obviously — have felt all along, since my early days as a fan who can’t stop thinking about this stupid show from a million different angles, that the TARDIS is alive, in some way. That it has some sort of volition and some kind of emotions. That it loves the Doctor, as much as a multidimensional semisentient time and space machine can be said to love anything. That it takes care of the Doctor by getting him into the trouble he loves so much.

You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go. –the Doctor

No, but I always took you where you needed to go. –Idris

I so called that!

But this:

You stole me and I stole you… What makes you think I would ever give you back?

And this:

I wanted to see the universe, so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one mad enough.

Never in a million years had it crossed my mind that the TARDIS wanted to escape! Never had I imagined that it wanted adventure! All of a sudden, the entirety of Doctor Who — 50 years of TV show and 700 years of the Doctor’s travels — needs to be considered from the TARDIS’s perspective!

And perhaps the Doctor is going to be forced to reconsider his own life, too, yes?

This was all just heartrending torture to watch, right up to this:

I just wanted to say hello. Hello, Doctor. It’s so very very nice to meet you.


Because this wasn’t pitiful enough, apparently:

For just the briefest of moments, the Doctor was hopeful for an end to his loneliness — “Somewhere close by there are lots and lots of Time Lords” — and then that hope is ripped away, and his aloneness is only amplied. Gah!

The Doctor has always been pretty much a madman, but he does get pushed beyond a bend in this episode. Look at the look on his face when he’s decided to built a console room from scraps and fly away:


And then just a resigned, forlorn bittersweetness, by the end:


Stupid Doctor Who

Random thoughts on “The Doctor’s Wife”:

• And there’s the other dark, insane-making stuff here, between Rory and Amy in the House-occupied TARDIS:

Two thousand years I waited for you and you did it to me again!


Here’s the question: Does the behavior of Rory in these bits represent genuine bitterness on Rory’s part, or merely Amy’s guilt over how she imagines he feels? Or both?

• The junkyard at the end of the universe? Nice to nod to both Doctor Who’s own beginnings, with that very first episode set partly in the junkyard in Totter’s Lane, and the influence of Douglas Adams on the show, certainly in the spirit of the new series.

• In just those few lines about the Time Lord called the Corsair, we get a lot of game-changey stuff, too. Like the fact that Time Lords can change sex when they regenerate: fans have always speculated about that, but now it’s canon. More implicit in the stuff about the Corsair, however, is that he is just one of many renegades. We’ve never had a lot of confirmation that there were others like the Doctor himself. There’s been the Master and the Rani, of course, but now we know there are other “good ones” — by which we can presume, I think, that “good ones” means not just “not evil” like the Master and the Rani but “not stuffy and hidebound” like the stay-at-home Gallifreyans. We’d only previously met Drax and Romana… though even she did not start out as anything other than one of the stuffy, hidebound ones.

• They burned up the swimming pool. No more swimming pool jokes. Unless the Doctor adds another swimming pool. He could do that.

• “Pull to Open”? But that refers to the little door behind which is the phone, doesn’t it?

• Is it wrong or weird that when Idris mentioned an old console room, I was expecting to see this:

or maybe this:

but never this?

• “The only water in the forest is the river.” Surely this refers to River Song in the “forest of the dead,” the dead Library, right?

• Great quotes:

“Oh, it’s the warning lights! I’m getting rid of those, they never stop.” –the Doctor

“Welcome, strangers. Lovely. Sorry about the mad person.” –Uncle

“Biting’s excellent. It’s like kissing. Only there’s a winner.” –Idris

“You want to be forgiven.” –Amy
“Don’t we all?” –the Doctor

“He’ll be fine. He’s a Time Lord.” –Rory
“It’s just what they’re called. It doesn’t mean he actually knows what he’s doing.” –Amy

“You gave me hope and then you took it away. That’s enough to make anyone dangerous. God knows what it will do to me.” –the Doctor (though that God makes me cringe: the Doctor wouldn’t say that, I don’t think)

“Are all people like this? So much bigger on the inside?” –Idris

“I really don’t know what to do… That’s a new feeling.” –the Doctor

“Oh, my beautiful idiot. You have what you’ve always had. You’ve got me. –Idris

“Another Ood I failed to save.” –the Doctor

“Fear me: I’ve killed hundreds of Time Lords.” –House
“Fear me: I’ve killed all of them.” –the Doctor

“She’s a woman, and she’s the TARDIS.” –the Doctor
“Did you wish really hard?” –Amy
“Shut up, not like that.” –the Doctor

(next: “The Rebel Flesh”)

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
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  • innpchan

    Lots of thoughts:

    No McGann regeneration.  I shall console myself with an anthropomorphic TARDIS, a Gaiman script, and an Ood.

    Was the bit about Sexy Old Girl Thing having archived all the old control rooms a dig at the BBC’s lack of proper archiving practice that resulted in the loss of so many, in physical and video form?  (Guess that circled wall panel was all they could scrounge up.)

    Best line in a night full of them:  “Did you wish REALLY hard?”

    Why was there a mirror on the makeshift TARDIS console?  Same as for the ones in the White House bathroom, orphanage, pirate ship, etc., I suppose.  If someone can come up with an actual reason please tell me.  (WAG: somehow Belldandy and the Pirates are going to reflect themselves all about in the season finale and save the universe.)

    Was that Marvin’s voice?  It was really bringing me down.
    I think the most important point we can take from Sexy Old Girl Thing’s handy parting hint is that wherever the forest is, Amy isn’t there.  Also, can it be that while she calls our heroes My Thief/My Beautiful Idiot, The Pretty One, and The Orangey Girl, she knows River’s actual name?

  • innpchan

    Additional thought on The Corsair’s tattoo:  The Snake of Ouroboros was the symbol of Robert A. Heinlein’s time and universe-jumping Time Corps in his later novels.  Reference? Or could The Corsair have had a seat on the Circle?

  • DuffPaddy

    Yes, the difference in quality between this episode and last week’s meh-fest was astonishing. My missus reckoned it was the best New Who ep ever, and whilst I wouldn’t go that far I can easily put it in my Top 5: it was all sorts of wonderful. My only criticism would be that I found it hard to pick up some of the dialogue from the background noise, especially when Idris and the Doctor were travelling in their Heath Robinson TARDIS (designed by a Blue Peter competition winner, BTW).

    The Confidential was easily the best this year too, with Gaiman reading out passages from the script and lots of classic clips illustrating the Doctor-TARDIS relationship over the years. Though with all due respect to the fine folk in Catering, I could probably have done without their “Day in The Life” segment…

  • NorthernStar

     Does the behavior of Rory in these bits represent genuine bitterness on Rory’s part, or merely Amy’s guilt over how she imagines he feels? Or both?
    More the latter, I think.  Rory doesn’t really have it in him for bitterness, particularly that extreme, no matter what terrible things happen “every night” (the darkest the show has ever hinted at.)  Unless, of course, ugly memories hide behind that door in his head…
    Did he really have to “die” again though?  A moment that should have been chilling was in fact just “*sigh* again?

    Loved this episode.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

     Oh my god, I know, right!? I swear I must have cried 5 times watching this.

    I hit the instant replay on the speech about the Corsair a couple times. There’s a lot of important stuff he says there. Of course, we all know Rule One: the Doctor lies, but still.

    “The Corsair”. That’s awesome.* 

    Can the 12th Doctor be a ginger-haired woman? That would make me so happy.

    Considering lines like “It’s just what they’re called…” and “Did you wish really hard?”, Neil Gaiman understands Amy Pond better than Steven Moffat does.

    I suspect “God knows…” is not an actual appeal to a deity, but rather a turn of phrase designed to scare Uncle and Aunt and House.

    When the Doctor tells the TARDIS to “finish him off”, and she does, I’m reminded of River’s description of “the Doctor and the TARDIS”, the ones from whom armies flee.

    The TARDIS is now forever, canonically, “she” now, isn’t she. Woe betide the wags who try and refer to her as “it”.

    I loved how Idris/the TARDIS can see in both directions of time. Very nice little detail to view her behavior through.

    OK, so… corridors, bedrooms, squash courts (plural), archived old control rooms**, desktop themes (“corral” is now canonical, thank you 5th Doctor). Can we please have at least one episode set entirely inside the TARDIS? And not in that cheating “Amy’s Choice” sense, but really, really explore the TARDIS?

    And finally.. not to be a killjoy, but this isn’t really the first time the Doctor and the TARDIS have spoken. In “The Parting of the Ways”, when Rose looks into the Time Vortex, she’s inhabited with at least a part of the TARDIS’ “soul”, isn’t she? That would kind of mean the Bad Wolf isn’t really Rose at all, but the TARDIS, wouldn’t it?

    *Sometimes I really wish Russel Davies hadn’t written the Time War to end with all the Time Lords gone. Just Gallifrey locked away, and only a handful of Time Lords left, all of whom hate the Doctor for what he did. It wouldn’t take much of a retcon to do that.

    **OK, I’m an idiot, but that was the 9th/10th Doctors’ control room, yes? A boring choice, but, well, they kinda blew the set budget for this episode on the JYatEotU.

  • Isobel_A

     That episode made me so happy, of course heartbroken, but happy!  I’ve been enjoying Matt Smith for the last series or so, but still had some missing-Tennant sort of feelings until now.  Matt Smith was truly excellent in that episode.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

     One of the things I love about Matt Smith’s performances, is that you see flashes of the 9th and 10th Doctors in him. Bits of things, certain line deliveries, certain inflections, certain ways he holds himself physically (and Smith is a very physical actor) come straight from Chris Eccelston and David Tennant.

  • Isobel_A

    Yes – I’m coming to realise that his acting (and hence is Doctor) is a lot more nuanced than I initially picked up on.

  • Bargebt

    Wow, the doctor saying “finish him off.” Whoa.  Never knew him to sound so cold and dark and murderous.  So unlike his usual passive-aggressive attacks on his enemies.  Shows his fury after seeing the pleading Time Lord boxes, and the double-cross that again, there were no more other Time Lords.?

    Did you see the look on The Doctor’s face when Aunt touched Amy’s face?  The ominous sound track helped, but this definitely looks to me like a significant (and not very good) detail that will be important at some time. 

  • Karl Morton IV

    The Doctor’s makeshift TARDIS console had a mirror for the same reason that the wood-paneled console room had one. ;)

  • Karl Morton IV

    Darn! That was meant to be a reply to innpchan but somehow I don’t seem able to operate the “reply” button properly. Ah, well.

  • Lynn

     I would guess from his perspective he had a lot of his own guilt to work off after accidentally shooting her, too.

    There does seem to be a lot of lingering insecurity with him that he’s never enough…which she isn’t entirely helping with, but I can’t seem him ever going beyond just not wanting contact.  I can’t see him actually hating or wishing harm.

  • Lynn

     I got the sense with the river line (and most of Idris’s lines) that she had all the information they could possibly want, but almost no way of connecting that information to real world things.

    She knows the names Amy, Rory and River, but doesn’t readily connect the name Amy to the Orange Girl she’s looking at with her human eyes.

  • Can we please have at least one episode set entirely inside the TARDIS?

    Yes, I want that, too.

    I don’t think all the Time Lords are gone. I mean, there’s plenty of narrative room for a Time Lord (or more than one) to show up who weren’t anywhere near Gallifrey and so survived. Beyond Romana, of course. But Romana could show up anytime, and that would be fine with me.

    I’m an idiot, but that was the 9th/10th Doctors’ control room,
    yes? A boring choice, but, well, they kinda blew the set budget for this
    episode on the JYatEotU.

    Yeah, it’s the previous console room. I’m surprised the set still exists. I would have bet big money on it having been struck. Why else redesign the console room, from a production standpoint, if you’re going to reuse the old one? Or perhaps the set had been struck but the bits were in storage, and so it wasn’t hard to rebuilt it…

  • Weimlady

    If the Doctor calls the TARDIS “Sexy”, but doesn’t get why Rory and Amy don’t want bunk beds, what does this tell us about what a Time Lord’s idea of “sexy” is?


  • I saw the snake and the first thing I thought was: *the Mara*…

  • Was the bit about Sexy Old Girl Thing having archived all the old
    control rooms a dig at the BBC’s lack of proper archiving practice that
    resulted in the loss of so many, in physical and video form?  (Guess
    that circled wall panel was all they could scrounge up.)

    Well, the Peter Davison console pictured in my post *does* still exist, because it’s on display with a rondel-paneled wall and everything, at the Doctor Who Experience!

  • Someone please tell me I wasn’t imagining things, and that the Cloister Bell really *was* ringing for a bit there … the TARDIS letting her thief know that she’d been stolen.

  •  I suspect it tells us that the Doctor could come up with some very creative uses for that ladder.

  •  There was a mirror on the makeshift TARDIS control because the little girl who designed it, put one there.


    I’m more interested in why Rory has said in each episode that he is a nurse – also, I reckon he will die for real by the end…hence all the almosts, and that River may kill him.

  • Lynn

     I’m guessing his approach to most of life mirrors the xkcd comic ‘Grownups’: http://xkcd.com/150/

    “We’re grownups now, and it’s our turn to decide what that means”

    He knows how things work, he just doesn’t find it all that interesting.  Cool seems to be defined by him as something he doesn’t get to see very often.

  • Weimlady

     You weren’t imagining it.  She got off one ring before she was stolen, and then later several rings.  Someone who’s watched it more than once will be better able to detail it, but I definitely noticed those two cloister bell ringings.

  • Tammy R.

     I’ve spotted flashes of ALL of the previous Doctors in Matt’s Doctor.  In fact, after Idris’ projection faded away at the end, I saw, very clearly, the First Doctor in his posture and the lines of his face as he turned away from where she had disappeared.  And the Second Doctor was quite evident in ‘The Beast Below’ when he ‘pushed the eject button’, so to speak.  His passion for style (at least as he sees it) is so very Third Doctor, even if his manner of expressing that passion is different.  I could go on, but I’m sure most of you would get bored of that.  But Matt seems to bring so very many reflections of previous Doctors to his performance that David and Christopher never really did.  None of the others really did that very much.  I think that is one of the main reasons why I feel Matt is my favorite Doctor: because he really does embody The Doctor as a gestalt of all  his incarnations.  I just LOVE that!  And he is so very obviously OLD, this young body notwithstanding.  I never got that sense of age off of David or Christopher, but Matt just exudes ‘old and getting tired’, ESPECIALLY in the beginning of ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ when he’s walking down the shore toward his doom.  That man is unbelievably ancient at that point, and so very, very tired.

    Matt is just brilliant in this role.  I hope he stays as the Doctor for several years to come.

  • Bargebt

    I watched it for a second time with subtitles, and it did read “(cloister bell)” several times. 

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    I thought “the Millennium Group”, but the Mara is better.  If anyone other than Christopher Bailey could write a Mara story, it would probably be Neil Gaiman. 

  • EvebiarD

    I thoguht he looked funny becasue he noticed her hand, and her having an unusual hand was the significant detail, not that Auntie touched Amy’s face? 

  • Eve

    I thoguht he looked funny becasue he noticed her hand, and her having an unusual hand was the significant detail, not that Auntie touched Amy’s face?

  • Bargebt

    “Rory! Amy!  Get the Hell out of there!”  It seems like he says some very out-of-character things in this episode.  Minor swearing, I guess, but first time I remember hearing him swear. 

  • DuffPaddy

    Wow. That post was just … bigger on the inside.

  • Mike McGarry

    I think the Time Lord voice we hear from the Ood Translation sphere is Doctor number 8, Paul McGann!

  • Tammy R.

     Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

  • The Doctor has used “hell” more than once in New Who. Which is noticable since it’s far stronger language than he’s ever used before.

  • Yeah, I also thought it was the weird hand he was noticing.

  • I keep seeing flashes of Peter Davison in Matt Smith’s performance: both of them captured the “old man in a young man’s body” thing so well.

  • Dr. Rocketscience


    I never got that sense of age off of David or Christopher

    Oh, I dunno…

    “Just this once, Rose, everybody lives.”

    “I’m so old now. I used to have so much mercy.”

  • O.P.

    I’m sure someone else knows this specifically, but it seems to me that Rory “dies” in a number of episodes. 

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I mean, there’s plenty of narrative room for a Time Lord (or more than one) to show up who weren’t anywhere near Gallifrey and so survived. 

    Deeper still than that, the mechanics of what the Doctor did to Gallifrey and Skaros is only weakly defined. They’re locked away somewhere that you can’t get to them, can’t interact with them, can’t find them anywhere in space and time*, and yet the Doctor constantly encounters beings who remember them, and even recognize him as a Time Lord. So, they must still exist, in some way, somewhere in time.

    Why else redesign the console room, from a production standpoint, if you’re going to reuse the old one? Or perhaps the set had been struck but the bits were in storage, and so it wasn’t hard to rebuilt it…

    Certainly the latter, but quite possibly the former. Producers, set designers and props-people are loathe to destroy anything from an ongoing series**. Redressing sets and props is loads cheaper and faster than building anything from scratch. Once a series is cancelled, however, all bets are off.

    *Not without losing one’s sanity, of course. ;)

    **Case in point: in 1989 I got to visit the set of Star Trek: TNG. one of the sets I saw was a small bridge set. Our tour guide informed us that this was the Enterprise bridge set originally built in 1978 for Star Trek: TMP. It had been redressed many times at that point.

  • As someone said on Twitter, it’s kinda getting to the point of “Oh my God, they killed Rory!”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Those bastards!

    And now that I’ve participated in a South Park reference, pardon me while I go kill myself. 

  • DuffPaddy

    Oh, most definitely a good thing: you packed a lot of good stuff into that paragraph. It  conjures up a picture of a whole Russian doll of previous Doctor incarnations with Matt Smith’s at the outer shell.

  • Tammy R.

     Oh, they mentioned it quite a few times, yes, but I never really FELT it coming off of them the way I do from Matt.  Does that make sense?  Matt’s Doctor doesn’t need to tell us he’s old.  He just *is*, in every move he makes, even when he’s dancing around and running and jumping around like a demented puppy and enjoying this new young body, he’s still ‘old’.  I can’t describe it any more clearly, unfortunately.  I wish I could.  I just never felt that from any of the other Doctors, either in NuWho or Classic.

  • Joanne


    I’m surprised the set still exists.

    Remember Neil Gaiman first wrote this episode before they started filming on any Eleven episodes – so even though it got postponed, they knew they needed an old TARDIS set – easy enough to keep it around, I guess, if you have the space!

  • Tammy R.

     Oh, good, thank you!  I was afraid it might have been a nice way of saying I went on too much.  :-)

  • Bargebt

    Like I said, I like to watch it a second time with subtitles.  Otherwise I never would have known that Idris says “I love you” as her bodily form vanishes at the end.  Since I don’t see that anyone has mentioned it, I’m wondering if anyone here heard it.  Kind of cliche, but like I said, it was barely audible, but captioned. 

  • Bargebt

    Just wanted to say again that The Doctor totally shocked me by saying “Finish him off, girl!” as the Tardis attacked House at the end.  Doesn’t he usually fling somebody out into the Vortex or to another planet?  Or was there still a risk that House could eat more Time Lord Tardises?  Between that and the gun-slinging in Day of the Moon (ok, he was just sonic-ing, but he certainly didn’t object) he really is endorsing much more lethal force than I’m used to.

  •  I don’t hear an “I love you,” and it’s not on the subtitles on iPlayer, either.

  • Bargebt

    I used DirecTV subtitling.  I don’t hear it either, just a soft whisper. 

  • Alice

    On the subtitling I was watching,  it called Idris “Tardis Idres”, giving way half the plot.

  • whitecloudsbluesky

    You can *just* barely hear it in the episode, but when they showed the same clip at the end of Doctor Who Confidential, the line could be heard very clearly.

  • Leontinemay

    Oh my gosh, how cute!  That little girl totally gets it.  

    I thought the mirror was there so we could see Idris’s reaction shot without cutting away from the doctor.  But no, it’s just so he can look at himself.  *snort*.

  • Leontinemay

     He is brilliant, and you’re totally right about the sense of age and history that he manages to get in there.  And then he looked so heartbreakingly boyish and tiny sitting in his little hammock swing thingy at the end.  

  • Leontinemay

    Doctor, do you have a room?  And no response.  Genius!  Do you think he sleeps?

    I was shocked by “finish him off” too!  Between that and the Silence genocide situation and not just tolerance, but delight at River’s gunslinging, this doctor is turning awfully bloodthirsty.  It makes me uncomfortable.

  • Mike McGarry

     I didn’t hear it in the episode but it is in the confidential clip.

  • Weimlady

     I think Rory reminds them in each episode that he’s a nurse, because it’s not just a profession for him, it’s who he is.  He’s asserting his identity. I like it–every time he says it, and says it with such dignity and gravitas the way he does, I am reminded that he is not the tin dog, in any way shape or form.

  •  I wonder if the implication is not just that the TARDIS is an independent entity with a POV, but that the TARDIS as “The Doctor’s Wife” is the Doctor’s “better half”. If the TARDIS selected The Doctor from all the other Timelords to explore the Universe (only he was mad enough), then what role has she played in extending the Doctor’s character, and further differentiating him from his own kind? Exactly what has that briode nebuliser been doing all along?

  • Valeyard.  ;) 

  • Leontinemay

    Oh.  Eek!  

  • innpchan

    Combine this with Moffat’s interviews about this season being the ghost train that shows just how dark this man (The Doctor) can be, and it’s Eek indeed.

  • innpchan

     Ah!  Finally!  Sorry, the post/reply function was goofying on me for a few hours. 

    Well, I won’t accuse the little girl of being part of the Grand Moff’s Master Plan, but here is yet another episode with a prominent reflection!  That’s four for four. 

  • everstar

     when Rose looks into the Time Vortex, she’s inhabited with at least a part of the TARDIS’ “soul”, isn’t she?

    I’ve always liked to think that Rose looking into the Time Vortex transformed both of them.  Rose became Bad Wolf, and the TARDIS became (and therefore always has been and always will be) a little bit Rose.  It’s disgustingly sentimental of me, but that’s the kind of person I am.

  • everstar

    Was Idris the name of the original person or is it another acronym?  I keep trying to make it IDRIS except I can’t decide what it would stand for.  (INTER DIMENSIONAL RELATIONS IN SPACE or some such.)

  • whitecloudsbluesky

    Name of the original person, as per Neil’s Twitter.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

     I’m only opposed to this in that it violates my opinion that the less of Rose left in this universe, the better. >.>

  • everstar

     Your response would be why I don’t often tell people about that idea.  XD

  • Leontinemay

    Shouldn’t we have another regeneration before we have to worry about the Valeyard?  Or am I counting wrong…

  • TateruNino

    Called it. Right down to who stole who. Everyone who’s listened to me spout TARDIS theory over the decades probably nodded and smiled. A moment of smugness….. right. All done, moving along.

    “The only water in the forest is the river.” Surely this refers to River Song in the “forest of the dead,” the dead Library, right?

    Pretty sure this is referring to something we haven’t seen yet. Possibly distinguishing River from Ponds.

  • erma-w

    Loved this ep! 

    But… well, call me crazy, but what was the bright, wispy, interstellar gas feature in the background, towards the end of the episode, after the TARDIS was back in the universe again and shown in the depths of space? The shape of the bright feature looked rather like the cracks in the universe from last season. This episode may have originally been intended for last season, but the post-production certainly took place this season. Are the cracks back? (Or am I imagining things?)

  • Alex

    Adam, I also think that the man River kills is Rory. 

  • Dr. Rocketscience

     Hey, guys? According to IMDb, the voice of House was Michael Sheen. I thought it was vaguely familiar, but I also know that I’m not terribly familiar with British TV actors. 

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Haha. Fair enough. :-) 

  • “The only water in the forest is the river.” Surely this refers to River Song in the “forest of the dead,” the dead Library, right?

    Well, but why include a cryptic hint for an episode we’ve already seen? I took it to be a clue for something coming up this season.

  •  I heard it, but I watch the show in a quiet room with headphones.

  • Yeah, it’s definitely there.

  • Tammy R.

     I’ve seen it twice now, first with subtitles and then again without.  I didn’t see it captioned, but I swear I heard it both times, just a whisper as she fades away.

  • campcamp

    I’d have trouble flinging this one to a rock. This guy is a matrix. So bad it can port into tarsis and invade. I don’t think it’d be possible for doctor who to win a second time.

    And the doc said , finish him off in low regretful tones. The house killed hundreds of time lords and ate all of Sexy’s sisters. In fact, if the house hadn’t been so smug about his superiority, the doctor would be dead. And the house killed corsair.

    So yeah, there was no choice.

  •  Well, we don’t even know that Hartnell was the first Doctor. He’s just the first Doctor we met. In fact, something Tennant’s Doctor said during Time Crash made me think Hartnell may have been the Doctor’s first regeneration, not his first body. (“In the beginning, I was always trying to be all old and important, like you do when you’re young…” or something similar.) How long would it take a Time Lord to get old enough to look as old as Hartnell? Certainly far more than 900 years, if the current Doctor didn’t physically change at all in 200.

    This actually ties in to something my friends have discussed, about how each regeneration reflects the subconscious desires of the Doctor at the time of his death. I figure the original form of the Doctor was quite young when he regenerated into Hartnell, which is why he “chose” such an old body; so people would take him seriously. I haven’t seen much of the Troughton or Pertwee years, but I remember Pertwee being very proper and his own way, and I think Tom Baker’s spaciness was a direct reaction against that. Davison, more than anything else, was extremely focused, and probably the most outwardly sane of all the Doctors, which was probably over-correcting for Baker’s flighty nature.  I didn’t see much of the next two, and we barely got to know McGann. We know Eccleston’s primary emotions were guilt and pain, and Tennant burned those away with rage. Tennant’s Doctor, however, was starting to scare himself with his rage at the end, and Smith’s Doctor seems much more gentle in a lot of ways, and also more emotionally demonstrative. I also agree with him channeling the best bits of the past Doctors. I think the complexity and range of Smith’s Doctor is actually a sign that the Doctor himself, as a being, is finally growing up, or at least becoming much more self-aware.

  •  I knew it was Sheen and still couldn’t hear his voice in House!

  • Well, but why include a cryptic hint for an episode we’ve already seen?

    You do realize we’re talking about *Doctor Who,* right? :-> Timey-whimey and all that…

  • (“In the beginning, I was always trying to be all old and important,
    like you do when you’re young…” or something similar.) How long would
    it take a Time Lord to get old enough to look as old as Hartnell?

    But a Time Lord in his first regeneration would still be very young, even if his first body endured for hundreds of years, no matter how “old” that body looked. That’s what I took from that line.

    Similarly, I doubt that Time Lords would base “seriousness” on apparent age, not when the young-looking person standing in front of you could be millennia older than you. (If the Doctor were going to choose an older body, maybe that’s why he regenerated into Pertwee, because now he was among short-lived humans who do tend to equate physical age with seriousness.) So this:

    I figure the original form of the Doctor was quite young when he
    regenerated into Hartnell, which is why he “chose” such an old body; so
    people would take him seriously.

    strikes me as not a reason to suspect that Hartnell’s was not the Doctor’s original body. Though there could be many other good reasons to suspect that. And I agree with you about each regeneration balancing out or responding to the last: I’ve long felt that way too.

  • Lifeisacarousel

     Actually, I heard it as “I’m alive” – reiterating what she was saying before. I sort of think it was her way to comfort him, so that he’d remember that the Tardis *is* in fact alive and though “the strays” he brings in may pop in from time to time, she will always be there with him.

  • There was a Hartnell episode that established the TARDIS as sentient… and then there was the Boomtown episode during Nine’s tenure that had “her” defend everyone by exposing Margaret to temporal forces, de-aging her.  So, I’m not entirely surprised that the TARDIS totally wants to snog the Doctor every chance she gets.  She’s a sentimental thing, after all.

    But this totally ruins this fanfic idea I had of a time-traveling Captain Kirk running into a future USS Enterprise, in a future era where Federation ships are organic and sentient… and the Enterprise-Rose (no more number/letters, just names) totally wants to bed Kirk.

  • Dustin J Becker

    Adored it.  Wept.  Absolutely my favorite Matt Smith episode.  But one thing I didn’t like was that we learned nothing about Idris herself, who she was, where she came from, why she was the one killed.  Or if the takeover of her body left her dormant, perhaps, and left some possibility of saving her.  I found it problematic that the narrative didn’t seem to care about her at all, and just needed any female body to serve as a suitable, disposable receptacle (Gaiman should know better than to skirt so close to misogyny).  It disturbed me that no one, not even the Doctor, cared about her, and only mourned the loss of a chance to talk with the TARDIS.  And why did she disintegrate when the TARDIS left her, not merely collapse? 

  • O.P.

    Creating Tardises — this has happened more than once.   

  • Leontinemay

    Drave.  I think you just blew my mind a little bit.  

  • O.P.

    These are things which I also would have liked to understand.  Ditto with who Aunt and Uncle were.  and did we ever know how the Ood ended up there, and why House had made him a malevolent slave, when Ood are naturally good and loving?  The deaths of Aunt and Uncle were also very off-hand. 

    I had read that some actors had been wary of Neil Gaiman’s ability to write for TV.  Did you see him reading the script on the Confidential?  Would normally be pretty dry, as scripts are basically dialogue with general details spelled out.  He had essentiall written a colorful, detailed story.  It was beautifully evocative prose.  Amazing that it was depicted so accurately on screen.

    This was the most heart-wrenching Doctor Who moment I can remember; it beat out the somewhat luke-warm “I don’t want to go” Tennant farewell.  It was so easy to feel The Doctor’s heartbreak at finding only desperate cries for help instead of other Time Lords.  And one thing which was only alluded to in the past was spelled out by Amy: “You want to be forgiven.” He finally acknowledged it straight out, instead of running around the universe trying to forget, or saying “Bad things  happened.  It was a bad day.”

    I also keep forgetting to mention the terrifying “kill Amy” graffiti on the Tardis corrider walls  – how similar it was to the frightening writing on the walls in the orphanage.

  • Dustin J Becker

    Smith’s acting here was his finest in the role, and his line, “Don’t we all,” was heartbreakingly delivered. And his fury at Auntie and Uncle was the
    most righteous I’ve seen him since his line in Beast Below, “Nobody
    human has anything to say to me now!” That’s still my favorite line
    from him.

  • Lady Tenar

    Yes, that whole mindfucking sequence with Amy and aging Rory was terrifying and disturbing–Gaiman all the way, the guy certainly knows how to come up with some really emotionally upsetting stuff. It’s funny how this episode was so Doctor Who and yet so distinctively Gaiman at the same time.

    Ood are naturally good and loving but that was one of the lobotomized, commercially sold Ood. House could do with him whatever he wanted. I guess I wasn’t particularly bothered by the Doctor’s lack of interest in Idris. I just figured that he accepted that she was dead, a victim of House just like Aunt and Uncle.  Some background for how all of them got there would have been nice icing but I didn’t find it particularly implausible, just not gone into. There’s any number of explanations for how they could have had the misfortune to find their way there. Certainly I didn’t see anything misogynist about the whole thing, and those who are familiar with my posting history know that I found something misogynist about a lot of things.

  • Lady Tenar

    The Doctor becomes more revenge-minded and emotional when he’s had the possibility of an end to his loneliness dangled in front of him and then taken away.  It’s kind of like 10’s revenge on the Family of Blood. The way I saw that, he didn’t just do all that to punish them for killing innocent people. He did it, on some level, because they made it necessary for him to give up being John Smith, a man with a chance at a happy and fulfilled life, which the Doctor feels he can never have. I think the Doctor had a similar vendetta against House for raising his hopes about the Time Lords. It was personal.

  • Lady Tenar

    Agreed but, to be fair, this was one of the more effective “They killed Rory!” sequences. *shudder*

  • Alex

    Is he really that much more bloodthirsty than usual? When you think about the monumental evils that are the Silence (manipulating and ruling humanity for millenia) and House (killer of hundreds of Time Lords and god knows what else), they’re on par with the Daleks.  Moreover, both the Silence and House got their one chance the Doctor always gives them.  It’s just that, as always, they turn him down.

  • O.P.

    Ooh!  Ooh!  I know!  I point at that episode (Beast Below) as significant because he really isn’t empathising with the humans for a change.  “Be the best you can be.”  and when they weren’t, he was angry and very disappointed..  After having humans destroy a great treaty he had enabled, no wonder he was furious.  Clearly he was on the “side” of the original Earthlings, and I don’t blame him for being disgusted with humans.

  • J.T. Dawgzone

    Hush, you! I’ve had that theory, too, but I don’t want to be true :(

    That little girl-designed Tardis console is too cute. Bless kids and their imaginations.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Indeed. In fact, someone on another site has suggested that DW fans engage in a drinking game in which everyone has to take a drink every time Rory dies. Of course, if you want to get drunk faster, try taking a drink every time Amy glares at Rory or the Doctor. Or every time River Song says the word “Sweetie”….  

  • Tonio Kruger

    Perhaps Rory does it for the same reason the Doctor is always reminding people he is the Doctor…. 

  • Danielm80

    Neil Gaiman has been answering questions about the episode over at the Guardian website. (You have to click on each answer to get the full text.)


    He says that there was a lot more backstory on Idris, and other characters, in early drafts of the script.

  • Danielm80

    I had read that some actors had been wary of Neil Gaiman’s ability to write for TV.

    That strikes me as odd. Neil Gaiman has written for at least two other television series, one of which he created. He’s also written  screenplays for quite a few movies. Strange.

  • Fison

    Barely audible in the episode, having watched it twice, but definitely there, having been clued into its presence by the very different sound mix on Confidential.

  • allochthon

     The weird hand had Corsair’s tattoo. Corsair had been dismantled to help make Aunt and Uncle.

  • cats

     See, I think the reason 10 fell hard for a human was because she’d been inhabited by his Tardis.  It actually makes the whole ridiculous Rose thing retrospectively okay.   Gaiman clears up a number of points like that, almost politely —  for example, giving voice to what we all, not just Amy, must realize about Rory — he can’t be that much of a doormat.  He must feel some anger at Amy for consistantly treating him like dirt.  He’s repressing it like crazy but it’s got to be in there.  Brilliantly done.  And I was willing to bet money this crew would completely screw up even a Neil Gaiman script. 

  • allochthon

    So… Idris definitely says that the control room they’re going into is “a future archived” room. They’re always going on about how they’ve spent 700 years together. Yet we saw 9 regenerate into 10 into 11, and we saw 7 regenerate into 8.

    I know the doctor always lies, but does the TARDIS? Or is this just a really bad case of timey-wimey? But methinks Matt isn’t #11, and this has something to do with the death at the beginning of this series.

  • O.P.

    sometimes I don’t know where my mind is….don’t know where I read it but it was actually Gaiman himself talking about trepidation in writing tv scripts…sorry…thanks to my significant other for bringing out the wet noodle. 

  •  *bow*

  •  What a relief it was that House, despite all his malevolence, didn’t chose Uncle to be the host for the TARDIS matrix.

  • DuffPaddy

    Not sure if this has been mentioned here yet, but if you follow the clues on the BBC website’s episode guides (by picking out the italicised words in the synopses), you get to this rather strange secret video:


    I’m pretty sure I heard the phrase “It’s about time”, which is uttered by The Doctor in that video, also spoken by Idris/TARDIS in this week’s ep. Oh, and “It’s about time” was also used as the tagline for the Paul McCann TV movie.

    Could there be anything in this, or am I chasing shadows?

  • “Analysis Lessons” anagrams to “Lonely Assassins”. Coincidence?

  •  Oh, I know. The way he said “Don’t we all” made me feel like somebody reached into my chest and squeezed my heart with both hands. Smith is fantastic!

  • Leontinemay

     Nice catch – surely not a coincidence!  But…them again?  

  • Dustin J Becker

    It sounds like you’re talking about the Silurian two-parter.  I don’t remember any discussion of a treaty in Hungry Earth or Cold Blood.  Beast Below was the episode with the Starship UK, powered by a relentless tortured star whale. 

  • Dustin J Becker

    I meant to say, “I don’t remember any discussion of a treaty in Beast Below.”

  • Barrem01

     Is naming the bad guy/thing “House” an oblique shot at Hugh Laurie who managed to escape British TV to a high-paying Fox gig, while Moffat’s excellent “Coupling” bombed when remade over here?

  • While I can see what you’re talking about for going from personality to personality, William Hartnell has been defined as the First Doctor at least twice in the series.

    #1 – in the Three Doctors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYVS6O2Gy-g at 2:35 into it, Random Time Lord says “Show me the earliest Doctor” then they show William Hartnell on screen. 

    #2 – in The Five Doctors – First Doctor: “Regeneration?” Fifth Doctor: “Fourth” First Doctor: “Goodness me, so there are five of me now!”

    It’s quite possible that Hartnell’s incarnation did age, but Time Lords age slower for a while, then age with a bang at the end…since he was around 400 when he died I think.

  • personally though, I do wish that there had been a few before him….would’ve been kind of cooler in a lot of ways, deeper.

  •  Good to know. I admit there are some large gaps in what I have seen. I only saw a few episodes with Troughton, and none with Hartnell until the internet. I remember some specific stories with Pertwee, and I saw almost all of Tom Baker and Peter Davison. After that, I hardly got to see any episodes until the movie, and I’ve seen everything since then. Ahh, the woes of a child with an early bedtime and a crappy TV that could only receive PBS maybe 30% of the time, in a place that only showed Doctor Who late at night. The only reason I’ve seen so much of Baker and Davison is that I caught a few really long pledge drive marathons in a row one summer.

  • Tal Greywolf

    At the very end, you could sense the doctor feeling his age when he’s standing in front of the console, and he softly says to the Tardis,

    “Are you there? Can you hear me?”
    followed by, “Just a silly old…”

    Just the way he said it conveyed his age and his concern for his partner though all the centuries.

    Equally, when Idris/TARDIS began to reassert herself, the way Matt Smith said this one line sent a chill down my back.

    “Finish him off, girl.”  He spoke it in a tone I don’t think any Doctor evoked, of a person who having lost his chance at absolution with the loss of the Time Lords and having nearly lost his TARDIS, didn’t care about anything but revenge.

  • bronxbee

    i absolutely heard that.  it was a just barely thing… but definitely there.

  • Vora Lundar

    I had never really noticed how much the Doctor calls the TARDIS “old girl.”

    Its probaly a good thing that the TARDIS wasn’t put into Sarah Jane, because of this!

    And if you don’t understand that, go back and watch the earliest Tom Baker stories.

  • Doctor80

    I’ve just rewatched this episode and felt sorry for Neil Gaiman actually, because Moffat has just negated a big part of his story. Idris says that she stole the doctor and that she wanted to see the universe. But in The Name of the Doctor it is Clara’s echo that suggests to the doctor which Tardis to steal. Moffat robbed the Tardis of any input and autonomy.

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