So: Neil Gaiman wrote an episode of Doctor Who. Even writing those words is fantastic. Yet the episode itself was something else entirely.
Fantastic is a word which does not begin to sum up my feelings for it. It was spellbinding, beautiful, completely and unreservedly fantastic, and just genuinely one of the finest episodes of New Who ever (dare I say it beats Blink for all-time best? It needs a second viewing to be sure, but its damn close)
The premise is frankly fantastic: what if The Doctor met the TARDIS? What if “she” was a real she?
Enter Suranne Jones as Idris, the “mad bitey lady”, who is infact inhabiting the soul of the TARDIS. A tardis called Sexy.
While there was a lot to love about the episode, the relationship between Idris and the Doctor was what will make it an instant classic. From the scenes in the cage, where we learn of their very first exchange – The Doctor stroking the console and calling it beautiful – to the scenes in the TARDIS graveyard, their interaction is simply sublime. It is clear that they are as close to husband and wife as any two beings ever were.
When we hear Idris speak of her plan to find a Timelord and explore the universe, we finally hear the other side of the story – up until now we’ve always assumed, as the Doctor has, that it was the other way around, and the idea of the sentience of the TARDIS stretching to this great a depth is one we’ve never really explored up until this point.
The fact that they have never been able to talk to eachother until now is tragic, but the final resolution – as Idris speaks of her happiness at having even a few hours with her Doctor, it was enough to send chills down my spine.
Away from this, it was also brilliant to finally see a part of the TARDIS which isn’t the central control room. As Amy and Rory are forced to run for their lives around the seemingly never ending tunnel systems, the colour scheme immediately recalls several of the TARDIS’ of classic Who, and the sight of the pair walking on to Nine and Ten’s flight deck was enough to make me literally squee outloud.
Michael Sheen’s villainous, bodiless House was a particularly scary villain, in that you really felt he could have killed our heroes at any time, and that he was really just playing with them - toying with the mice running around his little maze before finally finishing them off.
From the mind of Neil Gaiman has come one of the Doctor’s greatest adventures, and it’s so clear that he’s a huge fan – the way he’s built this story comes from a place where every fanboy in the world can surely relate. My only question: when can we get Gaiman back? Because we need more episodes like this!