In Joint First: The Girl In The FireplaceNote: After much debate, we couldn’t separate the three Steven Moffat-penned stories, and have only mildly copped out by crowning all three of them out champions. The man is, bluntly, a genius.
This should not have worked.
Oh, the bit with the wind up monsters was great. The smashed clocks was a lovely touch. The baddies were menacing. In fact, save for a bizarre horse, it was lovingly crafted and put together.
But this episode was a love story. A Doctor Who love story. And everyone who has sat through any attempt to do that before in this show knows what to expect. Rose? Martha? Jack? They’ve all attempted it in recent times, and it’s been passable. Poor Paul McGann’s only stint in the Tardis was hampered by some romantic nonsense too. We still shudder at the thought.
But The Girl In The Fireplace? Well. It was just, y’know, lovely. Really lovely. And I never thought I’d write that either.
Moffat’s pen for the first time plays with the time options at his disposal, meaning the episode is structured around the Doctor popping into certain parts of Madame de Pompadour’s life. When she’s a wee bab, he first saves her from the clockwork, wind-up menaces. But as he meets her again and again, there’s just something there. You can tell it’s all serious and real, too: Tennant stops goofing around, which has the same effect as sending distress flairs into the air in the middle of a yoga class.
And, as I said at the start, it shouldn’t have worked. But it does, quite wonderfully. Even though you knew they couldn’t get together, even the most hardened fan must have wished for a second that they could. Must be going soft.
Restrained and avoiding pretty much every pitfall put in front of it – although the horse was odd, and Rose and Mickey may as well have just sat it out – The Girl In The Fireplace is simply marvellous.
Superlatives exhausted already. Blimey.