The One About

The Doctor's TARDIS

DVD Box Set
NTSC Region 1
box set

DVD Box Set
PAL Region 2
box set

7-episode volume
See below for Blu-Ray options
(Doctor Who Story No. 221, starring Matt Smith)
  • written by Neil Gaiman
  • directed by Richard Clark
  • produced by Sanne Wohlenberg
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 45 minutes
Story: A Time Lord distress call leads the Doctor to a small asteroid outside of the known universe, where an age old trap is sprung once more, pulling the TARDIS consciousness into the body of a woman. What will the TARDIS say to the Doctor, now that she can talk? And what will it take to save Amy and Rory from the evil now lurking in the corridors of the TARDIS shell?

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Audio commentary by writer Neil Gaiman.
  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: Bigger on the Inside (12 min.) adding Matt Smith (The Doctor), Suranne Jones (Idris),
    executive producer Steven Moffat, and producer Sanne Wohlenberg.

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide to the season instead.

Now, this is my kind of fan-fantasy episode. An alien planet, with a TARDIS junkyard, we see a TARDIS being built from pieces, we get TARDIS interior corridors for the first time since "Attack of the Cybermen" (story no. 138) (holy mackerel that's been a long and unnecessary wait!), and the idea is just kind of cool. Plus, the TARDIS finally gets to speak as a character, fulfilling a character arc that began in "The Edge of Destruction" (story no. 3) and is only just now coming to fruition. I'm there!

The downside is that the guest characters are a little bizarre and feel underdeveloped. Idris perhaps gets the shortest end of the stick, as we never find out during the episode itself who she was, where she came from, or why for heaven's sake she would be so compliant in walking to her death. I'd have been keen to bring her back to life at the end and answer some of these questions. It's bizarre that our four regulars don't show more concern for her, or indeed that they and the writer don't seem concerned at any point with helping any of the guest characters that actually exist in this story. But, I'm going to cut this story a lot of slack, because it does so well in delivering elements that we should have had much more of previously.

The writer is obviously a fan of the classic series, bringing back concepts like the psychic "mail" box from "The War Games" (story no. 50), and the idea of deleting rooms to create thrust from "Castrovalva" (story no. 117) although that always did seem a tad hokey.

I got goose bumps when Rory and Amy decided to head for the old console room, picturing the definitive masterpiece from seasons 15 through 25. Then they burst into the silly one from seasons 27-30. Uggghh. I'm a bit disappointed, but whatever. The story still manages to make up for this with the style of the make-shift TARDIS - at last a console room that truly harkens back to the good old days of the show. I love it.

The new corridors are kind of neat, but they do look a bit too designed. The problem is one of function - where are the rooms that they are supposed to lead to? You can get so much more out of just a couple of flats, pillars, and doors - both constantly changing maze-like corridors, plus tons of different rooms are possible with that approach. Apparently the writer wanted the Zero-Room and a few other places at one point; let's hope we didn't lose them only due to set-building budget concerns.

Suranne Jones plays the humanoid avatar for the TARDIS in this story, and does a remarkable job of it. Of course the audience is ahead of our other regular protagonists in figuring this out for quite a while, perhaps a bit too long in fact, but it still works well enough. I like the fact that the TARDIS sees all of time at once, and has to make a great effort to distinguish between past, present, and future. Early on, she seems to be having a kind of "regeneration crisis" adjusting to the new body and new way of interacting with the world, but thankfully it's kept quite short, and her skills and good qualities come to the fore quickly enough to sidestep most of the traps a new Doctor would have in his first story.

Of prime interest is the Doctor's relationship with her, now that he has a completely new and more conversational way of interacting with her. Gaiman's lengthy knowledge of the series proves useful here, making it truly feel like this is the vehicle that has been with the Doctor during all those hundreds of adventures, finally getting a chance to express herself. I do especially like the fact that, even though she likes to call him her "thief", she actually takes just as much responsibility for first buggering off from Gallifrey with him all those years ago. She's got her own proactivity nailed. Good stuff.

Music by Murray Gold
A full suite of music from the story
is available on the 2-disc audio CD album:
Doctor Who: Original Music from
Season 32 (aka "Series 6", 2011)

More info & buying options

So, who the hell tried to title this episode "The Doctor's Wife"? I don't think the word "wife" is mentioned even once in the dialogue, and that really obviously isn't the relationship the Doctor has with the subject of today's episode. The only logic there seems to be to plant a red herring about River Song's identity. Once you've seen the season, you look back on this title and shake your head and cringe. "Wife" is so inappropriate and pointless. Well, I know what I'm calling this one.

Today's villain is, quite frankly, a bit silly. Strange it is that "House" needs to use the mouths of the other humanoids in order to talk, and yet once he inhabits the TARDIS (which clearly can't talk) and has no other humanoids under his control to talk though, he just carries on babbling like before. Oh well. He isn't the story's draw, and this time around, he doesn't need to be.

Regeneration vs. Reincarnation

So, the Corsair was a Time Lord who liked sex changes, was he/she? Well, I'm all for gender being up for grabs during reincarnation, which all physical lifeforms can participate in. (Now if only science fiction would use a spade to talk about spades instead of trying to soften it with some bizarre metaphor....) But Gallifreyan regeneration, which gives you a fully mature body and fairly intact memory, and deposits you back on the spot and in the midst of your previous relationships... best not to go there. Wait till your 13 lives are toast, then reincarnate, taking only your soul with you, for the gender-bender. Then you can change species too, while you're at it; most souls do. Now, mind you, if a human being can have a sex change surgically, it stands to reason a Time Lord can too, and the regeneration process might be brought into play there if they were clever. My story-telling, series-creating instincts tell me it might not be the best thing to allow gender-benders into natural regeneration. I think Star Trek's Trill species have already taken the concept as far as good taste allows, and repeats would be pointless. And as much as I might go with a new Doctor-Who-like series with a clever, rebellious female Time Lady as the lead, this should be a new character, not the next actual Doctor. Let the man be a man (and grandfather), throughout his thirteen (or more) connected Time Lord lives.

I'm not normally a fan of one-person audio commentaries, as it's always more fun to listen to two or three people bounce off of each other. That said, writer Neil Gaiman does very well on his own in the commentary track for this episode, providing a ton of behind-the-scenes information and insight into the creation of the episode and the reasoning behind the little details. I have to say, I can't remember a better solo commentary anywhere, so don't be put off by the fact that he's all by his lonesome here.

Well, this is another one of season 32's good ones. This script could still use some work, but I've a real warm and fuzzy spot for the ideas in this episode, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

International Titles:

Français: "L'Âme du TARDIS"

The French translators get a star here for their title for the story - literally: "The Soul of the TARDIS".
If only all languages could have had that instead...

This story has become available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
14-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
14-episode box set
for the U.K.:

(Limited Edition)
DVD 7-episode volume

Blu-Ray NTSC Region 1
14-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada

Blu-Ray PAL Region 2
14-episode box set
for the U.K.:

(Limited Edition)

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes feature little more than the plain episodes.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Almost People"

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