The Girl in the Fireplace
Episode / April 9, 2016

Aired 6 May 2006 ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ is a superb story in its own right, easily the best of the Tennant era so far, but its placement following ‘School Reunion’ is a masterstroke in and of itself. Just as ‘School Reunion’ focuses on what it means to love and to lose the Doctor from a companion’s perspective, ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ flips the scenario and allows the Doctor to experience those emotions himself. Setting the tale in pre-Revolutionary France, writer Steve Moffat realizes that the strength of the extraordinary Reinette, or Madame de Pompadour as she would come to be known, would make a natural love interest for the Doctor. Moffat had briefly toyed with the aspect of the Doctor’s sexuality in ‘The Doctor Dances,’ but it was quite low-key and Eccleston proved quite adept at playing it off through his cheeky grins. And while Tennant’s Doctor still has some reservations about romanticism, the loneliness his character feels and the instant chemistry he and Reinette share certainly help him to at least entertain the notion. It’s quite telling for the Doctor in general that he seems a little uncomfortable with the whole act of kissing when Reinette…

Deep Breath
Episode / February 11, 2016

Aired 23 August 2014 In the allotted amount of time that Peter Capaldi graces the screen in ‘Deep Breath,’ it’s apparent that he is a very different Doctor than his immediate predecessors, still just as willing to take charge and confront danger (now aided by attack eyebrows) but in a seemingly more deliberate and terse manner. As it is, though, ‘Deep Breath’ is a story about Clara rediscovering the Doctor just as much as the Doctor rediscovering himself, and both Capaldi and Jenna Coleman wonderfully deliver a sense of vulnerability and apprehension at the start. But as the Doctor is off confronting the mystery at hand, ‘Deep Breath’ becomes much more of a contemplative character piece for Clara as she tries to reconcile the transformation with the help of Madame Vastra. It is in these conversations that the heart of the episode resides, adding previously unexplored and resonating depth to the characters of Vastra and Jenny. Despite the astuteness and reason present throughout these talks, it takes a surprise cameo from Matt Smith’s pre-regeneration Eleventh Doctor to set her mind at ease in a lovingly delivered scene. Capaldi, in particular superbly sells the sense of heartache and loneliness he feels…