“The girl in the fireplace” – Season two, episode four
The Doctor – David Tennant
Rose Tyler – Billie Piper
Mickey Smith – Noel Clarke
Sophia Myles – Reinette
One of the advantages the episodic format gives shows like Doctor Who is that the writers get a chance to play around with all sorts of concepts, and experiment a little. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the later seasons of Smallville so much, for example, because you never knew what you were going to get. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it is never boring and gives great scope for creativity. I can just imagine the writers sitting around and throwing in ideas for this one. Steampunk and clockwork? Why not? Love story? Sure!
It’s Steampunk In Space!! Awesomely awesome I like the longer story arcs we get in New Who, but when the individual episodes are done this well, I love them too. This one is a standout.
This episode has so much to talk about! Given the previous episode, the theme of mortality, and how a, if not immortal, long lived being like the Doctor interacts with short lived humans was very timely. I also enjoyed the way her perceptions of the Doctor changed, which mirrors the differences between how we watch the show as children, and then as adults. And, of course, the idea of the Doctor as the hero, quite literally riding to the rescue, was something that resonated with me.
One of the other interesting things about this episode is that you could take someone who has never seen Doctor Who before, and knows nothing more about it than it’s a British sci fi show, and it would stand up completely on its own. It’s so self contained that it works as a stand alone sci fi love story, yet more excellent writing.
This is another of my favourites, and further evidence that Steven Moffat’s (as writer) take on the show was going to be hugely important to New Who. After being supremely cheeky in “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” by addressing the idea of the Doctor flirting and possibly having a sex life (albeit couched in metaphor!) as well as being very relaxed around different sexual orientations, he follows up with this story which unashamedly gives the Doctor a romance.
However you feel about Rose and whether what’s going on between her and the Doctor is romantic or not (it can certainly be read either way at this point), there is no mistaking what is going on with him and Madame De Pompadour in this story. Kissing! Mind-reading! White charger! Doom!