Synopsis: When the Doctor follows a distress call from what he believes to be another Time Lord, the Doctor puts Amy, Rory and his beloved TARDIS in jeopardy.
Review: Right off the bat much anticipation had been building for this episode due to the fact that it was written by Neil Gaiman.
Gaiman is a big name science fiction and fantasy writer with lots of great work under his belt, including the comic book series Sandman and Stardust, which was adapted into a movie a number of years back.
So understandably, this episode had a lot of exceptions to live up to from both the fans and the media, and I have to say it delivered.
The story sees the Doctor and his companions land in a bubble that exists outside the known universe. While he is there, he meets Auntie, Uncle and Nephew, who at first seem to be warm and welcoming until it becomes apparent that they are just pawns in a larger plan, which has been concocted by the evil but sentient HOUSE, who is voiced wonderfully by Michael Sheen.
Also on the planet is the mysterious Idris, who is played by Suranne Jones, and happens to be a vessel for the consciousness of the Doctors TARDIS, which seeing it is in danger downloads into Idris.
It all turns out that HOUSE has an appetite for Time Lords time machines, and The Doctors Tardis has gone beyond being just food, but is actually needed so that HOUSE can fly out into our universe in search of another food supply.
This is a very clever little plot device by Gaiman, and what’s even more pleasurable is the homage he is paying to the classic series of Doctor Who by setting much of the action between Idris and The Doctor in a junk yard. For those not familiar with Classic Doctor Who, we first met the Doctor back in 1963 in a Junk Yard in the middle of London, and it was also in that Junk Yard where we first learn about the TARDIS.
What this episode does well is illustrate that the TARDIS is as much a character in Doctor Who than The Doctor is, and I really enjoyed the fact that The TARDIS was able to speak to the Doctor through Idris as they work together to get their Ship back from House and save Rory and Amy whose lives are in grave danger.
Allowing the Doctor to have a two way conversation with his TARDIS really lifts the lid a little more on the mythology behind Doctor Who and reveals that the Doctor’s mode of transportation is a life form in itself, and will die unless Idris is able to get back on board the TARDIS and upload her consciousness back into the ship.
While the Doctor and Idris struggle to build a make-shift TARDIS out of junk Rory and Amy are playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with HOUSE who has taken over the TARDIS and is trying to use it as a weapon to slowly see off Amy and her Husband. This allows for us to get an inkling of how big on the inside a TARDIS is but proves a little disappointing because all we get to see is a lot of corridors and no rooms other than the console rooms from David Tenant's time on the show, which ultimately plays a big role in the stories resolution.
This episode serves to enrich the mythology of Doctor Who because we are given new thoughts to chew over. In the past we have always been led to believe that the Doctor stole the TARDIS in order to escape the monotony of his fellow time lords on Gallifrey, who watched over time, but chose never to act to change things when stuff went wrong. However, we learn in this story that The TARDIS chose the Doctor to run away with not the other way round.
A funny moment is an argument the Doctor has with the TARDIS where he says you never were able to get me to where I wanted to go. Which TARDIS countered, ‘No, I got you where you needed to go!’
We see brilliant acting performances here from Suranne Jones as Idris, who is the consciousness of the TARDIS and Matt Smith, and the moment at the end where Idris has to upload the TARDIS consciousness back into the TARDIS console to defeat HOUSE is a quite poignant one. Especially when she appears to the Doctor after the fact to say Hello, when she is really saying so long. Meaning that the relationship is back to a one way conversation.
We get to see three console rooms in this episode, and we learn that there are over thirty such rooms in the TARDIS and it is also revealed that the Doctor can add and delete rooms from the TARDIS as and when they are needed.
All in all this was one hell of an episode and I’d love to see Neil Gaiman write more Doctor Who. In fact I’d go as far as to say that this is a potential HUGO Winner.