Oh the perils of Countdown Conflict Syndrome. This week not only was my #14 already taken , so was my #13, thus we move sharply (and happily) to my #12, but for the purposes of the overall countdown #14, Steven Moffat’s second Doctor Who script, The Girl in the Fireplace. This was the Moff’s first real foray into timey-wimey, with parallel sidereal timelines, and it all worked magnificently well.
Even if you didn’t know that David Tennant and Sophia Myles were in a significant relationship at the time, the chemistry shown by the two characters on-screen was so apparent it positively leapt off the screen. The scene where they are each walking through the mind of the other, was playfully carried out, and the pull of Madame de Pompadour even to the Doctor was palpable. But the triumph in the scripting was in making Reinette not only a force such that it would intrigue both the Clockwork Men and the Doctor, but an intellect capable of discerning most of what was happening to her, on both sides of the fireplace.
Reinette, not Mickey or Rose, has the audience point of view in this story, wondering why she has been so selected by the Clockwork Men (as an aside, the Doctor’s admiration for their design is shared here too). The final revelation as to the why of it all makes so much literal sense it is both amusing and tragic simultaneously.
The problem with these all-time classic stories sometimes, especially as the list(s) winnow down to a precious few, is that the near-universal acclimation these stories share make us think we know these stories, beat for beat, perhaps a bit better than we actually do. Contrarily it’s also best to keep these all-timers a bit at arms length, taking them of the shelf sparingly, literally and figuratively once in a while to remind yourself as to why you fell in love with them in the first place.
#13 next week…