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10 July 2012 @ 02:44 pm
The Randomizer: The Girl in the Fireplace  
I loved The Girl in the Fireplace when it was first aired so I was interested (again) to see if my reaction to it was different in hindsight.

I've heard it described as both cold and heartless which strikes me as odd. Even if you consider the central love story somewhat contrived (and, I don't know, this is Doctor Who and it is no more contrived than a 100 other classic love stories out there), it's hard to deny its underlying themes of missed opportunities and time passing give Tennant and Myles plenty to get their teeth into.

I was a bit concerned, approaching it for a second time, that the puzzle box aspect of it would be detracting from the core story, characters would jump through plot hoops that weren't related to character just to maintain or resolve the puzzle. However this isn't really a "puzzle" story. In fact it doesn't really present itself as a puzzle until the final shot gives you the solution and, to be honest, the "puzzle" and "solution" are really just the macguffin that allows the rest of the story. Far from the characters being subservient to the puzzle, the puzzle is here subservient to the characters.

That said our two central characters, the Doctor and Madame de Pompadour, are both operating with a kind of brittle yet conspicuous intelligence. They keep the appearance of emotion at bay with casual witticisms, like the characters in an Oscar Wilde play. This is a cold sort of romance in comparison to the far more demonstrative affection of the Doctor and Rose, here very much backgrounded by Mickey's presence in the Tardis. Again I was a little concerned that this was going to be a "their eyes met across a crowded room" kind of romance which tends to irritate me, but the script works quite hard to suggest they know each other better than this both with the way the Doctor and Reinette rummage through each other's minds and with their extended, though unseen, acquaintance at the Versailles ball.

I even enjoyed Rose and Mickey's scenes, sidelined as they are. Mickey has come a long way from his appearance in Rose and I'm sorry we didn't see more of him in the Tardis since he acts as a good counter-weight to Rose's obsession with the Doctor. Much as Rory is later to act as a counter-weight to Amy's obsession.

So I still love this story. I think, as romances for the Doctor go, this is easily my favourite. I believe in the way Reinette both surprises and understands him. And I still love the final shot, the twist in the tale which makes sense of a question you weren't even aware you were asking yourself. I think this is great in the way many short stories are great, it couldn't maintain itself over any longer a time but for the 45 minutes it has, it is wonderful.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/72810.html.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on July 11th, 2012 06:52 am (UTC)
I have no idea where I heard the story, I remember there being discussion about it so it must have been a forum, mailing list or LJ somewhere. It's highly unlikely to have been Outpost Gallifrey.