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May 12, 2006

The Slow Path

That title up there really sums how I feel about this review. For various reasons I have been lagging behind just about everyone else contributing to this little blog we call home. Snatching five minutes here and there to read a bit, only to find that some other bright spark has got in first with that finely crafted euphemism for shagging or perfectly captured my thoughts on how the Tenth Doctor is rapidly turning into the Jason King of space and time.


But I persevere with my humble typing - and you know why? It's because it's damn good FUN ! And that's what The Girl In The Fireplace was too. Cheesy, romantic, touching and above all FUN to watch. It's the first episode of this season that I have thought: " I want to watch that again straight away". But more importantly, the first one that my wife (she who really dislikes old "weasel face" Tennant) has sat through and at the end turned to me and said "That was really good". High praise indeed.

For me, there was no doubt that the Doctor DID in fact fall in love and that he DID make the beast with two backs with the gorgeous Madame. Just think about how much time could have passed for him between being asked to 'dance" and turning up back on the spaceship apparently drunk. It could've been days or even weeks, due to the distortion effect between the two time periods. Plenty of time to develop a deep loving bond.


And no, the world didn't implode due to the collective gnashing and wailing of a few hardcore fans, nor did the Internet crack in half with outpourings of bile - this was accepted as part of the quality storytelling.

What is interesting is the way that this tenth Doctor is developing (or not) his relationship with Rose. Several times in the course of the episode he seems almost ready to abandon her in favour of his new love - a far cry from the Eccleston version, who needed Rose as an emotional anchor. He plays the shining white knight to save Reinette, with no expectation of a way back, leaving Rose to her fate. However, I'm not sure if this is part of the overall season arc, or just inconsistent characterisation. I'm hoping it's the former. (Oh, and I did get where the horse had come from, I just think it came across badly on screen).

Mickey and Rose played the roles of Fred and Daphne in the "Whooby Gang" pretty well, with Tin Dog Boy actually coming off better for once as the duo uncovered the mystery of the empty ship. The clockwork androids were beautifully realised and suitable creepy - like sinister clowns but with better dress sense. I'm just sorry that some of the bit part actors seemed to give unintentionally wooden performances.


The production design was uniformly excellent though, as the BBC is rightly renowned for, and the horse through the mirror effect only slightly fake-looking. It did look like everyone was having a ball making this episode, and I'm sure Mr Tennant made sure he had plenty of retakes in his snogging scenes with Sophia Myles. I know I would. The chemistry between them was electric.

I think I would have liked to have seen Mickey go through the portal to give Madame her five year warning, simply because we have seen the "Rose bonds with another woman" shtick played out too many times already. Plus it would have been humorous to see his bumbling attempts at coping with being in the 18th-Century.

Those last scenes with a heart-broken Doctor were among the best this series has ever produced. And as for those final closing moments...when like an exquisite piece of, well clockwork I guess, everything comes together and it all makes perfect sense. Fantastic.


We mere humans are stuck here on a linear route through our lives, and the time travelling lifestyle of the Doctor may seem like an exciting one. But maybe, sometimes, the slow path is the easier one.


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