Well, that was better than last week. It wasn’t great, mind you, but it was pretty okay. Of course, I’m one of those guys who thinks Neil Gaiman hit his creative high point near the end of his run on Sandman and has been heading steadily downhill ever since, so “pretty okay” is about the best I could have reasonably expected.
So what did I like? I liked that the TARDIS assumed her name was “Sexy.” I enjoyed the interactions between the TARDIS and the Doctor in the last half of the episode, especially getting the TARDIS’s perspective on her relationship with the Doctor. The fact that she says that she chose him (and not the other way around) was great. And given that she’s a creature who sees all of time at once, her hints about the future were intriguing and useful, too. They helped Rory get into the second control room, yes, but they also set us up with a mystery for the future. “The only water in the forest is a river,” she says. Hmm. Well, that could be a reference to River Song, obviously, especially since we first met her in the “forest of the dead.” But if the only water in the forest is River, then that doesn’t bode well for Amy “Pond,” does it? The episode had a few funny moments, too, such as the construction and flight of the makeshift TARDIS and the TARDIS’s attraction to Rory.
What didn’t work for me? Well, the sets, costumes, and self-consciously quirky guest actors didn’t connect with me. The entire vibe of the episode reminded me of a Tim Burton movie circa 1998. And that’s not a compliment. Some of the plot didn’t quite gel, either. For example, how did these people get to House in the first place? They were just humans (and an Ood), right? Why did House keep the Ood around at the end, but kill the humans? Where did House get the Time Lord “help boxes,” anyway? Why did House start calling the TARDIS by the name Idris? When did she get that name? And did we really need to see Rory die yet again? This is getting to be a bad joke. Rory’s become the show’s Kenny (from South Park). The talking asteroid thing called to mind those stupid space whales from that not-very-good episode last series, too. Maybe House was a lost space whale? And I can’t say I understand why Steven Moffat, Neil Gaiman, and the rest of the crew seem to think that men want to have sex with the TARDIS. I don’t get the whole let’s-sexualize-machinery thing. But then, I’m not into cars, either.
But my biggest problem with the episode was that the audience knew within the first 3 minutes that the TARDIS has been displaced into the body of the Helena Bonham Carter wannabe, which made the next 15 minutes of the episode (where the supposedly brilliant Doctor catches up with us) rather pointless and painful to sit through. I was twiddling my thumbs through those early scenes, waiting for the Doctor to figure out what we already knew so we could just move on already. Yes, yes, the TARDIS is in the body of a human. That idea isn’t very original or interesting so can we just get past it and move on with the plot? The climax of the episode was decidedly weak, too. The emotion at the end from the Doctor and Rory felt unearned and unwarranted. After all, the TARDIS wasn’t dying; she was just leaving her stolen human body. If those two guys wanted to mourn for anyone, they should have mourned for the poor woman who owned the body originally! (Was that Idris?) I also thought they missed a great opportunity to show us more of the TARDIS’s interior. They finally leave the control room and what do we get to see? Some really lame, “sci-fi” hallways. Whoopee. Where was the churchyard that houses the cloister bell? Where was the library? Where was the oft-mentioned swimming pool, for God’s sake?! The best the production team could muster were some cardboard, hexagonal corridors. And then they started talking about old control rooms and I got excited again. I thought maybe we’d get a glimpse at the original, William Hartnell console. Or maybe Tom Baker’s. But, no. We just got David Tennant’s control room. That’s the opposite of fun.
One last thing – did anyone else catch the reference the Corsair’s gender swapping? Fans have speculated for years about whether or not Time Lords can switch genders. Now that we know they can, could a female Doctor be in the cards?