Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Doctor Who: The Doctor's Wife
I have a love-hate relationship with Neil Gaiman. First of all, I have to respect him since my high school and early college dating scene has been with goth theater girls, so my familiarity of his Sandman comics kept many a girlfriend in my early dating life wet. I also really liked most of the Sandman comics as well as some of his other works (most notably, when he has a co-author). However, as I got older, I started to realize that too much of Gaiman's work falls within a very strict scripting. There is little exploration beyond the style that he writes well at. That isn't a put-down. He's damn good at what he does, but eventually I decided that I wanted to see different things other than fanciful quasi-good characters painted with broad strokes more interested in getting out a singular good line of dialogue rather than actually develop as a character. So I felt Gaiman behind. Plus, I started to sleep with non-goth girls, so there wasn't a need to be up to date on his writing anymore anyhow.
From time to time, I've picked up a Gaiman story to revisit his style of storytelling and while the stories are never bad, per se, they are all such cookie-cutter formula for his style. We get fanciful, yet unexplained things that happen as if for no reason other than to dictate that Gaimon wishes to write a fairy tale, and not a proper fiction story, so that he can be excused from logic or science or rational plot devices to bring his story to a conclusion. Again, this is fine. He does it well. But I've outgrown that. Or, more accurately, I've found a certain niche of girl who can still get turned on without in their heads pretending that I am one of the Endless.
So, I was a little worried about Gaiman taking on a Doctor Who episode. Sure, Doctor Who isn't science-fiction... It isn't even science-fantasy; it is pure fantasy. So, it is within Gaiman's realm of writing style. But what would he do with the characters that I know and understand that are not a part of his universe. I mean, sure, the Doctor's name begins with a capital "D", but he shouldn't be treated as Dream, Destiny, Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destiny and Destruction.
However, it turns out that it wasn't that bad. The story was pure Gaiman. He introduces us to fanciful patchwork characters in the form of Auntie and Uncle who seem interesting, but are left unexplained, and then are summarily discarded unceremoniously once the last interesting bit of dialogue is extracted from them. The TARDIS is inexplicably put into a human shell to deliver interesting dialogue (rather than to develop as a character, such as discovering a purpose or meaning to being a living creature) and then is discarded at the episode's end. The existing characters, primarily Amy and Rory, are characters that Gaiman did not create on his own and therefore were offered the least interesting role in the story. Amy's psychological torture by "House" was rather uninspired and didn't really fit the character well. Gaiman was much too interested in playing with his own creations than evolving someone else's characters. But, to his credit, he didn't make their marriage "teevee interesting" by making them jealous of one another.
But the episode had some charm to it. Gaiman's good at that. The episode was supposed to be in last season's stories, but it was bumped due to budgeting and was replaced with the cheaper to produce (and more interesting ) episode, "The Lodger". But it still wasn't a bad episode. Just one that I fear is ultimately forgettable because it does not really fit well in the over-all arc of stories, but it doesn't stand out as a particularly grand one-shot episode.
*Seeing the old-style TARDIS console that the Doctor built was a little bit of fan-boy nostalgia for me.
*Yes, there were good lines of dialogue in the episode.
*The TARDIS thinks Rory is pretty.
*The episode looked like a Gaiman story. I'm counting that as a positive because it at least had his feel in the visuals as well as the story.
*There were interesting characters introduced in the episode.
*Those interesting characters were never developed and quickly discarded once it was realized that to continue to give them lines would mean that they should probably be developed.
*The existing characters (Amy, Rory) were really given an uninspired path as the focus was on the one-shot characters instead.
*The fact that they explored more of the TARDIS outside of the console room was interesting, but the fact that it was merely the same hallway used again and again made the gigantic TARDIS interior seem even more claustrophobic than other episodes where we only see the console room.
*Rory died yet again in a Doctor Who episode.
Molly: (So, as usual, Molly is sitting next to me as we do this. Due to her age, her portion of the review will be in Q&A form. I'll transcribe everything that she says and format it later.)
Chuckie: What did you think about the episode of Doctor Who, "The Doctor's Wife"?
Molly: I liked it, but not very much.
Chuckie: Why not?
Molly: Um, that she was being mean to River. River kissed the Doctor first and she kissed the Doctor and that wasn't a very nice thing to do to River.
Chuckie: Okay. Wow. I wasn't expecting that.
Chuckie: Because usually you like everything and you are fine with having upwards of seven boyfriends, so I didn't think you'd be upset about the Doctor kissing multiple people.
Molly: It's not seven boyfriends. I only have one, two, three. Three. Well, maybe four. Or five. But not seven, Daddy.
Chuckie: Who are they now?
Molly: But it's not private, Daddy. You said people read reviews and so it's not private.
Chuckie: Fair enough, Pixie. So, what did you like about the episode?
Molly: Um, I don't know. I liked that the Doctor was happy.
Chuckie: What made him happy?
Molly: Because he got to talk to the TARDIS, but then he was sad because he couldn't talk to her again. The TARDIS.
Chuckie: So, tell me what happened in this episode.
Molly: That... um... he... um... um... she... um... she... she was with her Auntie and Uncle.
Chuckie: Who was?
Molly: The girl.
Chuckie: Well, what girl?
Molly: The TARDIS.
Chuckie: So what was the story about? What happened in the story?
Molly: Um, the Doctor and the girl TARDIS made a, with the old TARDIS, they made a TARDIS with the old pieces.
Chuckie: And what did they do with it?
Molly: Um, they goed somewhere. They goed and saved Rory and Amelia Pond. Um, he said that they had to run. He said, "Run!" He said it to Amelia and Rory and they ran inside the TARDIS. Um, and then it tricked Amelia Pond. It was pretending to be Rory.
Chuckie: So, what happened to the girl TARDIS at the end?
Molly: She disappeared. Poof. She was the TARDIS again.
I'm a little TARDIS,
a little blue TARDIS,
And I don't know what to do.
Then I found a girl named Molly
And I flyed her to America
And we went to the beach.
Chuckie: Nice song, Pixie. So, are you going to sing a song for every episode now?
Molly: I don't know. Maybe.
Chuckie: How did you like this episode compared to the other ones this season?
Molly: Medium. Can we do stars and suns and all that now?
Chuckie: Sure. How many stars would you give this episode?
Molly: Fifty million sixty-one. Wait. I accidentally made it too much.
Chuckie: Okay, we can fix that. How many stars then?
Chuckie: Okay. Out of how many?
Chuckie: Molly, we've gone through this before. It can't be out of zero, otherwise it's not a real number.
Molly: What? Fine. Then ten.
Molly: I want to do moons.
Chuckie: Sure, how many moons, Sweetie?
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of, um, nine. At least I'm going backwards.
Chuckie: Are you giving it any suns?
Molly: Um, yeah.
Chuckie: How many suns?
Molly: Three. What? I'm doing everything in order.
Chuckie: Okay. So, let me guess then. It's out of eight suns?
Molly: No! Out of seven.
Chuckie: Okay, you got me there, I guess. Who do you think would like this episode?
Molly: Um, the people that would want to watch Doctor Who and that would like this episode.
Chuckie: That's a pretty safe guess. So, which did you like more, this episode or the pirate episode?
Molly: Pirate because the siren was a nice doctor.
Chuckie: What do you think would have made this episode better?
Molly: If there was a little more everything nice.
Chuckie: Like what? What nice things were missing?
Molly: Um, that they tricked Amelia Pond and they got trapped.
Chuckie: So, you'd prefer that everything was nice and there was no obstacles for the characters to overcome?
Molly: What's obstacles?
Chuckie: It's something in the way of the characters achieving their goals.
Molly: What is goals? Is it like when someone is on a team? Like a goalie?
Chuckie: Well, that can be a goal. In that case, the obstacle would be the other team trying to stop you from scoring, and your goal would be to get a goal.
Molly: Like in a hockey team?
Molly: And a soccer team?
Molly: How about baseball team?
Chuckie: Yes. Any team sport. Anyhow, would you prefer that there were no obstacles?
Molly: Yes. Because the Doctor could get more points than the other team.
Chuckie: Metaphors are tough at four, aren't they?
Molly: Mm-hm. Like you really want to win real bad, but you try real hard and you might not win, but you still might.
Chuckie: Okay, anything else you wanted to say about episode?
Molly: Um, Rory asked a question for the Doctor, "Do you have a bed?"
Chuckie: What was the answer?
Molly: Nothing. I think that the answer was "no", do you, Daddy?
Chuckie: I don't know.
Molly: Do you think the answer is no?
Chuckie: I don't know.
Molly: I think the answer's no.
Chuckie: That's fair enough.
Molly: Okay. Review's over, Daddy.
So that's our review. I thought it was pure Gaiman and, despite that, it wasn't bad. It wasn't anything great or memorable, but it surely was much better than the pirate shit that was offered last week. Entertaining, but forgettable. However, I was dreading much worse.
I give it three out of five stars. This rating is with full knowledge that the episode probably left a number of my ex-girlfriends with damp sofa cushions just by the fact that Gaiman was writing.
Molly gives it one out of ten stars, two out of nine moons and three out of seven suns. I would be shocked that this is probably our first review in which I rated something higher than her, but I have no idea how the hell her rating system works anyway.