“The Girl Who Waited” – Review: Redux

Rory “I’m not on my own. I’ve got my wives.”

The Girl Who Waited

I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the March 2012 Official Doctor Who Convention held in Cardiff (much as I am also fortunate enough to be going to the 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Excel in a little under three week’s time). It was at this convention that one of the panels, ‘Creators and Directors‘, focussed on “The Girl Who Waited”, appropriately enough given that the Millennium Centre itself had featured in the episode. The session was hosted by Gary Russell and the guests were Neill Gorton (Millennium FX), Robert Allsop (Designer), Marcus Wilson (Producer), and Tom MacRae (Writer). This was the kind of detailed analysis that fans adore, giving Tom the opportunity to describe the various stages that the script went through under guidance from Marcus and the team. Interestingly, Tom described television as a writer’s medium while film was a director’s one, illustrating this by saying that he viewed his script as a blueprint from which the show had to be built. Once this blueprint was out there, folk like Neill and Robert would start to plan their approaches.

Perhaps the fact that I was witness to this excellent critique of TGWW, that I hold it in such high esteem but there are an awful lot of wonderful things working in its favour. The first thing to consider is that this is Series Six’s ‘Doctor Lite’ episode with Matt Smith’s inclusion being limited to the waiting room in the very first scene and the TARDIS set itself other than that, so this story is fairly and squarely all about Rory and Amy. It is also a story for which the budgets were not especially high, but rather than this limiting the feel of things it actually serves to enhance the story, with the Two Streams Kindness Centre’s bleak whitewashed appearance having an appropriately clinical feel and where the budget could have skyrocketed with possibilities that the plot threw up, instead it paired back like an acoustic set from your favourite band.

So the story itself is that the TARDIS crew arrive on the planet Apalapucia (come up with a better spelling if you can) but rather than finding the number two holiday destination in the universe they find it locked down in a state of quarantine, where a deadly plague is threatening the inhabitants. By a quirk of plotting, these inhabitants are all being kept inside different time streams meaning that, bar a couple of holographic projections, the only people we see are the Doctor, Rory, Amy and, erm Amy. This is because Amy gets separated and plonked down in to a time stream that is running faster than the Doctor and Rory’s. By the time that these two navigate the TARDIS to meet up with Amy, over thirty-six years have passed. Future Amy, voluntarily played by Karen Gillan in prosthetic get-up, was hardened and bitter and suffering from the isolation, although she had also developed a keen survival instinct. It was a great performance from Gillan and a not a little bit heart-breaking throughout for both Amy and Rory as all their scenes were played out against this backdrop of trying to find a way for only one of the Amys to survive.

The only criticism of any kind that I can throw at the episode is the fact that the voice of the Interface was played by Imelda Staunton, and I would’ve dearly wished that she could’ve been a significant on-screen guest role, although even that might have dissipated the episode somewhat. May be one day she’ll come back to Doctor Who and dazzle us. However, for now we can glory in the rewatching of this masterpiece from the pen of Tom McRae. Even the Handbots were a nice little addition to the gallery of 21st century Doctor Who monsters, they weren’t particularly threatening of tough to defeat (the bit when Rory crowned one of them with the Mona Lisa was a laughable) but visually and in terms of providing an immediate threat in plot terms, they were great. Also, interesting to note that the first seeds of Rory and Amy coming to a decision to leave the Doctor seemed to be sown here.

Highlight: Karen Gillan’s best episode ever.

Lowlight: Rory disabling a Handbot by jamming a painting over his head. Erm, what?

Talking Point: Why don’t you tell me your talking point in the comments?

Demon’s Run Rating: 20 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 10th September 2011

Marathon Status: 84 down, 18 to go

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