I’ve always wondered about Idris. Before she became the vessel through which the TARDIS speaks, who was she? How did she end up on House? Was she a collection of mismatched limbs like Aunt and Uncle? Or a whole being, transported, like Nephew? How did she alone retain her name?
Of course she was bait: the fragile frame in which to trap a timeship’s soul. But how did House come by her? What life was left behind? Who loved her, mourned her, missed her? Who searched for her? What place did she fill on that unknown world, before she was stolen from her life, and her life stolen from her?
THE DOCTOR ambles among the stalls, hands in his pockets, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. Ahead of him, a slim, dark-haired woman moves quickly from merchant to merchant, her back to him as she haggles for her flowers and her fruits. He pays her little mind – until abruptly she turns, and they find themselves face to face.
THE DOCTOR: You!
IDRIS: I’m sorry. Do I know you?
THE DOCTOR is speechless
CUT TO: MAIN TITLES
“THE DOCTOR’S GHOST”
Are you afraid?
I recently stumbled across a show from a few years ago featuring not one but two of DW’s fabulous lady guest stars: Suranne Jones (Idris, “The Doctor’s Wife”) and Lesley Sharpe (Sky Silvestry, “Midnight”). The two co-star as police detectives in ITV’s Scott and Bailey: Jones as erratic but brilliant DC Rachel Bailey, nicknamed Sherlock, and Sharpe as her steady family-woman partner and best friend, DC Janet Scott. Just watching them together is treat enough, but the show as a whole fills a role rarely seen on television: police procedural drama led entirely by women, in front of and behind the camera.
The two main characters are women. Their boss is a woman. Most of the writers and directors are women. Minor characters – cops, victims, perpetrators – may be men or women. But the major male characters are love interests, exes, and comic relief. It’s a big switch for the genre, and a welcome one. The scripts are strong, the acting flawless. This isn’t a bone thrown to women: it’s the real thing, done really well. It’s a model for what half of all television should be.
Recommended for fans of police drama, as well as fans of these two spectacular actresses.
I was going to post a bunch of links related to the new trailer, but as it turns out, I only have to post one: Doctor Who’s Day Trailer Roundup
Missy’s reaction and of course The Fan Show were key for me. Michelle Gomez is a delight in everything she does, and Christel’s squee level nicely matches my own. But plenty of other stuff at the link looks fun too. And then there’s ANOTHER Fan Show waiting which I haven’t even seen yet: Fanimation
We are rapidly running out of weekends on which to screen “Survival” before the premiere. After such a long wait it’s hard to believe that it’s almost here. Knowing it’s Capaldi’s last makes it bittersweet, but my excitement remains undimmed – as does my intent to watch Rona Monroe’s classic before her triumphant return.
The latest piece of DW news is full of win.
The Return Of…
On the surface it’s all about the baddies. Capaldi has not been shy about his hopes for an encounter with the original Cybermen of Mondas. They of the spooky cloth faces introduced their race in the First Doctor’s final episode, and were never seen again. Until now…
But the buried lead is even more fun. A while ago I observed the empty space where a director’s name ought to go on the final two episodes of the season. Given how the last two seasons ended, I was hoping for another round of Rachel Talalay. And indeed, my hopes are answered.
Last but not least is the inclusion of one final name in the major cast: Michelle Gomez. Of course I’d already heard that she’d be back – but to have her for the final two-parter – very nearly the final of this Doctor’s career – is extra bonus fun.
More here, in the Who’s Day roundup.
At the end of last month, a new trailer appeared:
Since her introduction Bill has reminded me of Rose, and never more so than in this trailer. The look on her face as she speaks of danger is the same one Rose wears in her first episode, as the Nestene’s hiding place comes crashing down around her. That love of risk. That sensation of aliveness at the edge of death. That youthful invulnerability.
This season is going to be a lot of fun.
It is interesting to note that the three-episode arc of “Tooth and Claw,” “School Reunion,” and “The Girl in the Fireplace” has instigated more of my writing than anything else, anywhere, ever. (For example, this is the 4th post resulting from one conversation about one of the three episodes.) The reason for this I think is how much great character stuff happens in these three stories.
Across this arc we see the best and the worst of Rose. In “Tooth and Claw,” we see her compassion for the frightened maid, and her courage and leadership in helping the women escape the barn. But she’s also at her most callous in this story, provoking the Queen and joking with the Doctor in the face of others’ fear and grief. In “School Reunion” we see her petty jealousy, but we also see her overcome that jealousy for friendship and a unique bond with one of very few women who understands her experience. In “The Girl in the Fireplace,” we see the depths of her compassion and her commitment to help others, as she sets aside any feelings she may have about the Doctor in order to comfort and save Reinette.
This arc sets up Rose’s downfall. Rose spent S1 learning to trust the Doctor and herself, and expanding the boundaries of her own capability. In S2 she’s out to have a good time. She has stopped worrying about the risk, having perhaps too much faith in hers and the Doctor’s abilities. She never considers the real danger posed by the werewolf, and cares too little for Lady Isabel’s loss.
These three episodes are Rose’s last hurrah. Fans on rewatch can see the darkness gathering ahead. I don’t doubt the Doctor sees it too, though he’s happy to ignore it as long as he can. But not until “Rise of the Cybermen,” when she faces finding and losing her family all over again, when she loses Mickey, does Rose begin to understand the cost of her adventures. She’s young enough to think she’s invincible, and that the good times will last forever. After S1 she may even think she’s earned it. The balance of S2 serves as a nasty surprise.
Rose isn’t the only one who gets rearranged this season. “School Reunion” sees the Doctor face the consequences of his lifestyle. It sees Sarah Jane learn to accept what has happened to her, to see the good as well as the bad – setting her up for her own televised Adventures. “Reunion” and “The Girl in the Fireplace” set up Mickey’s final transition from idiot to savior of worlds. None of these characters is ever the same again.
There’s a quote from “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” that feels relevant here:
“Every time you see them happy, you remember how sad they’re going to be. And it breaks your heart. Because what’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.”
They’re going to be sad later.
The Verity! Podcast on “The Girl in the Fireplace” brought up an idea that I had never seriously considered in the context of Doctor Who, but which is clearly relevant: polyamory, or the ability to love more than one.
American society is fixedly monogamous. Any type of relationship veering from the man-woman-marriage-children prototype gets a raised eyebrow at best, violent discrimination at worst. “Soul mates” are a trope many people attempt to apply to real life, often with painful results. Yet many people love more than once. The widowed or divorced person who remarries doesn’t (necessarily) stop loving their original partner. A person may love a long string or collection of people, each one different and unique.
It may not have been intentional on the part of either showrunner, but modern Who definitely pushes the boundaries.
In “The Girl in the Fireplace” (and in real life) Reinette is a married woman who is lover to the King. In the story she also falls in love with the Doctor. In her world of eighteenth century France, this is normal, as the Doctor tries to explain to his companions. But it’s also normal in the Doctor’s world. The Doctor loves Rose, but he also loves Sarah Jane. The Doctor marries River, but he also mourns Clara. The Doctor loves the TARDIS, but he equally loves his companions. The Doctor had a family once: does he ever stop loving them?
In a long life one may love many times, or many people all at once. Love for one isn’t diminished by love for another. The Doctor has two hearts and dozens of lifetimes: it seems natural that he would love a lot. It seems natural too that anyone of his courage, compassion, and charm would be easy to love. (All of us have fallen for him, right?) And in this world, can too much love really be a bad thing?
All it takes is a big enough heart(s).