you there? Can you hear me? I
need you now.
promised. The clock on the mantle is
18th Century France, Earth.
Madame de Pompadour finds the court at Versailles under attack from sinister
clockwork killers. Her only hope of salvation lies with a mysterious stranger
known simply as the Doctor.
For her entire life, the Doctor has looked over
EPISODE FOUR REVIEW
An intelligent and intriguing opening sequence,
in fact a sequence that accosts judgment and expectation of what is to come.
Is this pure science fiction or pure historical drama?
Immediately, the viewer is arrested.
Steven Moffat's THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE continues the
theme of this second NEW SERIES of stories - love and loss
is the same whether on present-day Earth, millennia in the future or deep into
Earth's past. The psychological bereavement felt by the Doctor (and inevitably
his companions) caused through the unresolved Time War. More than 2005, so far
this series, Tugging and masticating the hearts strings week after week after
week but how long the viewers stay with this dragged out scenario. It will become
tedious and unrewarding.
Blatantly, THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE is,
if you attach a FRIENDS-style sub-title, ".the one the Doctor has sex". In Moffat's parlance,
the Doctor "dances" with an eighteenth century Vicky Pollard with an insatiable
appetite for unbridled passion. The obvious electric frisson between Tennant
and Sophia Myles made the encounter more "Oh, Yes!" than "Oh, Yuk!" And, about
Maybe for the first time, the plot was more CLASSIC SERIES DOCTOR
NEW SERIES DOCTOR WHO . Non-sequential Time leaping or passage
is an archetypal device throughout science fiction. NEW
SERIES 1 held at bay
such deep-rooted irrationality fearing that it would alienate the casual couch
potato, but, in NEW SERIES 2 (borne from the success attained),
we touch on it full on. Haphazard Time windows onto the past from the 51 st century,
despatching droids (from a key-shaped spaceship) to monitor the life of Jeanne-Antoinette
Poisson (later to become the mistress of King Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour)
until she is "complete". Why? The neatly-tied-bow-on-the-chocolate-box ending
is worth waiting for its simplicity and satisfaction quota.
The key to the success of this episode is the ravishing, sumptuous and warming
atmosphere created by combination of art direction and cinematography.
Renown for a historical accuracy and depth, DOCTOR WHO has,
once again, proved that it effortlessly outclasses when depicting 'history' on
television. In this NEW SERIES 2 , the scale is, of course,
seemingly larger than the CLASSIC SERIES however the attention
to detail is inspiring. The colour palette designated to demonstrate the passing
months from spring through to winter charmed, as did the arrays of gilt candelabrum
subtly prominent dusting each room with an ephemeral light. Combined with Ernie
Vincze's masterful choice of camera filter, the episode was perfect.
The expertise continued unabated in the
costume creations, not only for the 'clockwork
droids' but also for the cast and extras. As Executive Producer, Davies stated
in the accompanying CONFIDENTIAL series, the concern was too
be bold and lavish and not strictly 'period accurate'. Whether accurate or not,
the bravado and regal-esque displayed was more chaste than camp.
Special visual effects are the bread-and-butter, make-or-break for DOCTOR
WHO , and sometimes the most simple can be the most breathtaking. The
key-shaped spaceship turning remorselessly, elegant clockwork service droids
twitching relentlessly and a transmat device operating were all beyond criticism.
Sophia Myles instilled within Madame de
Pompadour a coiled, predatory tension in every scene, which, I am sure, was willed
on by every viewer, to release and ensnare the so innocent ("little boy") Doctor.
The sexual enticement could have been played for laughs but the skill of both
Myles and Tennant restrained that opportunity. Thankfully. For DOCTOR WHO to
watch their hero 'chatted-up'
and then whisked away for a quick 'foxtrot' or 'tango' (I suppose that many homosexual
fans of the show would have preferred Scottish Tennant to have attempted the 'Gay
Gordon') was either a "Yes, get in there" or a "No, it's the McGann kiss all
over again - sacrilege". For me, "lucky man!"
Scene: The Doctor has just 'joined' minds with
REINETTE: A door once opened may be stepped through
in either direction. Oh, Doctor. My lonely Doctor. Dance with me.
THE DOCTOR: I can't.
REINETTE (Insistent): Dance with me.
THE DOCTOR: This is the night you dance with the
REINETTE: First, I will make him jealous.
THE DOCTOR: I can't.
REINETTE: Doctor. Doctor who? It's more than just
a secret, isn't it?
THE DOCTOR: What did you see?
REINETTE: That there comes a time, Time Lord,
when every lonely boy must learn how to dance.
Piper and Clarke are relegated to being "two-tin dogs" in
Moffat's story as Rose and Mickey become CLASSIC SERIES companions,
getting into trouble and asking the questions of "What?" and "Why?" that the viewers themselves
are asking. Of course, as 'senior companion', Rose relishes the role of educating
her former possessive "get yer kit off" boyfriend. Nice role reversal and one
that Mickey 'the idiot' willingly accepts.
Tennant breezes through the episode as he
has just won the BAFTA for "Playing
a role that an actor was destined to play". He has pitched his version of the
Doctor/ DOCTOR WHO so eloquently and with
so much substance that you start to think you could watch his performance year
after year after year. Admittedly, he cannot deliver the consummate, awe-inspiring
performance that Eccleston did (or Hartnell achieved in 1963) but he is very
watchable in the same way that Davison was in 1982. A charmingly terse rendition.
THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE was,
I think, the first true 'science-fiction-fantasy'
story for this NEW SERIES. It had a hardcore science fiction pedigree that could
have dismissed viewers to the bowels of ITV1 but this was offset by an equally
predominant parallel plot of love and seduction and loss (a theme that is running
throughout this NEW SERIES 2).
I don't know about you but I was hooked.
Moffat will not have the same fan success that he previously enjoyed in NEW
SERIES 1 but he will the appreciation of viewers, and could be rewarded
by BBC WALES as the appointment of Executive Producer (and
Head Writer) for DOCTOR WHO in 2008 once Russell T Davies steps