We are finally back with some more New Who at 10. This time, the fan favorite episode we are revisiting is “The Girl in the Fireplace.” Not a surprise that this is a fan favorite, since it was written by the Moffat. Of course, again, this is pre show runner Moffat, so it was before we blamed him for every nit picky thing we don’t like about the series, and just enjoyed his normally complex stories. It seems like most of his work during the RTD days was far and away the best writing on the show. His episodes seem a little darker, a little more serious. Plus, he gives us some great “monsters.” This time, the monsters are some clockwork robots who are trying to piece together their ship so they can get home. The one thing their missing is a “brain” for their ship, and since their ship is the Madame de Pompadour, they need her brain, the original Madame de Pompadour’s brain, when she reaches the right age that is. This means they have created a portal to her time through her fireplace, and this is what the Doctor discovers and is able to talk to her first as a little girl, and then as she gets older, since time is passing more quickly on the other side of the fireplace. In the end, the Doctor has to take a one way trip to her time to save her from the robots. He’s ok with that, because he wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his time with her. However, in classic Doctor Who and Moffat fashion, the time travel rule just barely established is broken, and the Doctor is able to return to his TARDIS. When he goes back to get Madame de Pompadour, it is too late, she has already passed away.
That’s the summary of the episode. A couple of thoughts I had this time around. This was really a last-ditch effort by the show runners to give the Doctor a romance life outside of Rose, and somehow sever those romantic ties. They already brought Mickey back, but it was too late. The romance was what everyone was expecting, and they couldn’t hide from it. The whole time, as I was watching this, I felt like the Doctor was cheating on Rose. I think that may have been a common feeling among fans, so what should have been a nice, yet gif romance felt wrong somehow. I really struggled with this because it almost makes the Doctor out to be a player (do the kids still use that term?), when I don’t think he is. Personally, I like when the Doctor has no romantic connections, to his companions or anyone else. I have enjoyed Capaldi’s Doctor for that reason, until the whole weird Clara-Doctor-Danny Pink love triangle, then it was ruined. I think at this point, there was nothing that could stop the romance between Rose and the Doctor, so this last effort was doomed to be a failure.
The other thought I had was how similar this story was to Amy’s first story, minus the fish fingers and custard. The Doctor meets Madame de Pompadour when she is a little girl, finds her in danger and promises to be right back, comes back years later. In “The Eleventh Hour,” the Doctor shows up and meets Amy as a little girl, Amelia, actually, she is danger, he wants to help and promises to be right back, comes back years later. Both Amy and Madame de Pompadour believe he was an imaginary friend from their childhood, only to find out as adults that he was in fact real. Madame de Pompadour was, in fact, the original girl who waited. Just a little thought I had.
I really enjoyed this episode quite a bit. I loved that Madame de Pompadour was equal to the Doctor in almost every way, which is probably why he was so attracted to her. Plus, I enjoyed the interaction between Mickey and Rose. The blatant disobeying the Doctor to go look for the robot on the ship is why we love his companions. He always tells them to not run off, and of course they do. Plus the robots, the clockwork robots, were really cool monsters. It was cool to see them return in “Deep Breath.” But my favorite part of this episode, by far, is the horse. The horse on the spaceship, and the Doctor breaking through the horse to rescue Madame de Pompadour. That is a classic Doctor Who moment, and for me, one of the most memorable moments from this episode. This is another example of Moffat at his best, and a prime example of why he took over as the show runner for the series.
I would definitely recommend this episode. It is one of my favorite Rose episodes, probably because she plays such a minor role in the story. This is also where I start really feeling bad for Mickey, because this is where he starts realizing that he is losing Rose, and he’ll never really have her back. And, apparently, she is tough to get over because in the end, he choses to stay in an alternate reality where she doesn’t exist, instead of going home where she does, just to get away from her. Talk about being over dramatic.
What did you think of this episode? Is it one of your favorites from the 10th Doctor, or is it average at best? Let us know in the comments. Our next New Who at 10 will take a look at “The Fires of Pompeii.” This of course is Peter Capaldi’s first appearance in Doctor Who. What will the tie end up being between this episode and the current Doctor? Who knows. It will probably end up being something lame in the end.