(NOTE: the review below is SPOILER-FREE, although the Talkbacks beneath it may not remain so for long...)
Before we go any further, if anyone out there has any rare(?) or favorite media from DOCTOR WHO - past or current - images in particular (although my interest is in no way limited to just pictures), please consider sending 'em along via THIS e-mail address (be sure to specify how you'd like to be credited if I present your contribution on this site). I'd love to incorporate a bit of odd, interesting DW-related media (pics? embeds? etc.) at the top of every DW READER REACTION Talkback - but I'm hoping to locate material that isn't commonly known, which by its very nature is a bit of a challenge. While I'd like to keep said media more or less focused on the actual series whenever possible (all Doctors), this media could feasibly include glimpses at vintage/ongoing/upcoming merchandising, fun pics from fandom, etc. So, thanks...very much...in advance if you have any ideas/contributions towards such ends. Now, onto this week's business...
Saturday brings us "The Doctor's Wife," a bizarre, surreal, and ultimately touching episode scripted by the mighty Neil Gaiman. Originally intended to air towards the end of last Season/Series, "Wife" was bumped to this Season/Series due to budgetary concerns. It was replaced by "The Lodger," a considerably less daunting and costly undertaking (that's the one where The Doctor plays football/soccer).
"The Doctor's Wife" doesn't advance this Season's/Series' overall "Silence Arc" to any significant degree, although there are a few cursory references to that arc's existence - lest viewers drift too far from the bigger picture.
This said, the episode broadens the overall WHO mythology quite a bit and in several ways - pointedly and vividly considering one of The Doctor's most pivotal relationships while shedding intriguing new light on a meaningful past event - a decisive instance in The Doctor's life which, arguably, was the most defining moment in the whole of DOCTOR WHO. 'Tis notable that such mythologically relevant conceits would be approached and addressed by someone other than DW's reigning head writer, but...not surprisingly...Gaiman avails himself quite nicely here, deftly tapping into the heart, soul, resonance, and humor which characterizes the best of DW. For all of its vast notions, the "The Doctor's Wife" is surprisingly small and intimate at its core - but, conceptually, it still stands high beside the most sprawling, effects-laden mega-pieces DOCTOR WHO has realized to date.
Whether you love it, hate it, or find yourself impervious to its funky and abundant charm, "The Doctor's Wife" will leave an indelible imprint on the WHOverse - not in terms of Amy or Rory or River or Silence or whatever, but in terms of who The Doctor is and his relationship to what's around him. These notions will endure far past this episode alone, and glide beneath the surface of every WHO adventure to come. In short, interesting and poignant new subtext has now been injected into...or at least clarified for...DW. This subtext is something many of us had suspected for some time, but it's now made crystal clear. Said subtext retroactively contextualizes past happenings about which we've previously heard only sketchy references - and could feasibly inform the series for years to come.
Guests this week include CORONATION STREET's Suranne Jones (in a tricky, integral, and wonderfully performed role), and Michael Sheen (sorta) as "House". Not "House" from the TV series of the same name, he's a different kind of House...but he isn't a House...although people do....aww, forget it. Geeks may remember Sheen from his recent turn as Castor the nightclub dude in TRON LEGACY. Directed by Richard Clark (who preciously brought us the DW episodes "The Lazarus Experiment" and "Gridlock" - the latter of which is one of my personal favorites - can't get enough Brannigan!), "Wife" emerges as a welcomed and significant improvement over last week's sleepy and confused "Curse of the Black Spot."
Because it does rattle our established thinking and loosely supported preconceptions a bit, my sense is "The Doctor's Wife" might well move into history as a particularly divisive episode. One could easily, and perhaps even properly, argue that this episode is a bit silly or dorky - and when I step back and consider the matter objectively, I suppose that's a difficult notion to dismiss entirely. But those who embrace its warmth, poignance, and fanciful obscurity - as I did - could well themselves remarkably affected by what it has to say about some long-cherished DW conceits, and moved by how such musings are ultimately realized.
"The Doctor's Wife" premieres the evening of Saturday May 14 at 9/8c on BBC AMERICA here in The States. Talkbacks dedicated to Readers' Reactions towards the episode are now open for business below.
We're looking forward to WHOvians near and far conversing about all things WHO via the Talkback below.
Accordingly, I'd expect a significant amount of "Doctor's Wife" SPOILAGE to start rolling in 'round late morning/early afternoon U.S. time (Saturday May 14) - which is natural as it will broadcast in the U.K. a number of hours before it appears here in the U.S. on BBC America.
So, as far as this Talkback goes...
Readers from U.S. and other territories? If you wanna stay virginal regarding "Wife" until you've seen it for yourself...you may wish to tread very carefully herein after mid-morning U.S. time Saturday May 14, as SPOILERS may well be afoot and we won't be doing anything to discourage them after it hits in the U.K.
So there you have it. Enjoy the show...
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coming next week:
"The Rebel Flesh"