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Published on May 7th, 2006 | by Brian A Terranova

The Girl In The Fireplace

What a trip this week, we were given all the best bits of drama all in one 45 minute adventure, and yet there is still more to come.

Steven Moffat has done it again, easily giving all the other writers of the show a run for their money, without rehashing his previous success. That isn’t to say he didn’t reuse an idea or two.

Dancing, one gets the impression that Mr. Moffat really enjoys dancing. And bananas. Still if they are the only two reused ideas then who are we to complain.

Usually you can find a plot hole or two in a script, not due to poor writing, but more so due to rewrite after rewrite, however I did not find a single one this time, even down to the last second of the story tying the entire adventure up and making the use of Madame Du Pompadour completely understandable.

Back on the subject of “dancing” for a moment, it was brilliant to see that the Doctor could fall in love with a woman other then Rose, somehow it makes their relationship a bit more normal for the Doctor. And being one who strays away from spoilers, it was an idea that took me completely off guard, and in the end moved me nearly to tears.

While we’re at then end, might as well talk about it. Unlike last year’s previous success of The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace leaves us with a not so happy feeling. Sort of like Father’s Day all over again. Many have suggested that the Doctor meeting Sarah Jane Smith again was his Father’s Day but I would beg to differ.

Last year Rose was presented with the impossible, the chance to see her father alive and well, but in the end she lost him all over. Here the Doctor may not have found an old friend, or relative, but he is still left with the same feeling of the unexpected joy and then the return of the terrible loss that this Doctor has been all too familiar with.

So not an uplifting ending but I suspect the Doctor will pull through with a little help from some friends.

Did I say friends? Yes, yes I did; Mickey Smith is now among his traveling team of do-gooders (sorry had to say it) and I have to say a job well done; for once he was treated with proper respect in a story. There were no moments of the bumbling Mickey of previous stories; instead we got to see another side of him and one that I hope we get to see a lot more of. This may be the first time since the new series began that I got the feeling of a proper TARDIS team. No disrespect to Captain Jack.

This week the 45 minutes seemed to be enough, the story didn’t feel rushed or padded. Instead it was a brilliantly timed and maximized script. Steven Moffat could teach a class on how to write a script to fit the timeslot.

Not to jump around her, but I would like to talk about Sophia Myles as Madame Du Pompadour. Aside from being an extremely beautiful and talented actress, Sophie Myles seemed the perfect person to cast as the woman to capture the tenth Doctor’s heart. The onscreen chemistry was so strong you could almost see the sparks.

Now to give a nod to the Doctor Who design team, with particular mention of the Clockwork Men, who were absolutely flawless in their conception. With their impressive clockworks set beneath a protective glass dome, one could almost believe these creatures really could work.

In short, can I say that after the full review? The Girl in the Fireplace, like Mr. Moffat’s previous two-parter from series one, was a total success. And after saying that I find it to be a shame that he has not been listed as a writer for series three.

Anthony Dry was not as impressed…

So, The Girl in the Fireplace aired last night, written by Steven Moffatt who gave us the wonderful two-parter in series one of The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. My expectations were very high, unfortunately though it didn’t hit the mark for me and left me scratching my head in disappointment for the second time this season.

Firstly though praise must go to the settings, they were very, very well done, looked gorgeous on camera and really set the scene well, the scene where we are first introduced to the clockwork robot under the bed was chilling, but, that aside the same couldnt be said about the rest of a story that promised so much.

Maybe im just ‘old school’ but why all of a sudden do the writers of this new series feel the need to make the Doctor more emotionally human? Is it because we had thirty years of a time-travelling virgin (yes he had a backstory but that was offscreen) and all of a sudden they feel the need to get his rocks off? Sure, i understand The Doctor cares, and always has done over the years for his companions, loving their variation, their personalities, has always cared for people he was trying to save – but never anything more. Now he wants to get to know and indeed take with him every new woman he meets – Rose, Lynda (woman blown out into space by the Daleks in POTW) and now Madame Du Pompadour.

Theres more than a hint of attraction there and of course we’ve had the kissing, the flirting the staring-in-the-eyes and it just doesn’t feel right. What happened to the quirky Timelord sticking his nose into situations, putting himself about, being a bit eccentric and keeping platonic? And how come, in all the adventures he has amassed over the years, the many women he has met on his travels that all of a sudden they are falling for him and him for them?

Another point is, in trying to keep things fresh the new series is constantly trying to surprise us. The scene where the Doctor bursts through the mirror on horseback, lands and then winks at Madame Du Pompadour made me laugh. Seriously could you imagine Troughton, Baker, McCoy or Davison doing that? Because apart from a few slights on personality The Doctor is the same man. Is it because Tennant is young? Well Peter Davison was younger still when he took on the role but they didnt feel the need to make him some sort of all action hero. And while i’m at it where did the horse come from? It just wandered in? Anyway there’s many more questions to ask and I could pick more holes in the episode but I wont, suffice to say again that the 45 minute slot went against the programme for various reasons.

So as i’ve said two out of four so far. It wasnt as bad as New Earth but it was close. It’s the first episode i can really recall of a romantic nature, a far cry from the days of action and adventures in time and space. Tooth and Claw and School Reunion were very enjoyable of course so all is not lost and next week sees the return of The Cybermen with the excellent Greame Harper at the helm.

It seems as if the good Doctor has all of a sudden become some sad, desperate traveller, his character seems to be changing ever so slightly, but I dont want it to, the reason I loved the show in the first place was because of his character, because he was a different sort of character, because he met all these wonderful characters and enemies, people like Trau Morgus or The Graff Vynda K. Now they want to make him like everyone else AND confine him to EARTH. Yes earth. Once upon a time the Doctor actually travelled through the galaxy now he has become a resident of the planet, at least in the Pertwee years he was bloody stuck on the thing….

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Doctor Who and me go way back. I first discovered it on my local PBS Station WHYY in the suburbs outside Philadelphia when I was a young kid; though I am uncertain of the exact age.




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