Doctor Who: Revisiting THE GIRL WHO WAITED

Tom Pheby presses the red button...

The Girl Who Waited is my sort of Doctor Who. I'd not re-watched it since it was first broadcast on September 10th 2011 and had actually forgotten how good it was - well there's lots to choose from, it's hard to keep up with them all.

A trip to the paradise planet of Apalapucia and the promise of sunsets, spires, and soaring silver colonnades is enough to entice Rory and Amy to venture off with Matt Smith's Doctor, even if we know its unlikely that it will live up to expectations. It's like the promises from less reputable travel agents on the High Street, but when you arrive the pool is inflatable, the wildlife is comprised of rats and cats, and the accommodation doesn't have it's roof on yet. Well that's nearly always how it pans out for me!

Apalapucia is just a series of shiny white rooms and corridors, but there is a door with two buttons, one green, the other red. Amy conveniently forgets her mobile phone and goes back to retrieve it whilst the Doctor and Mr Pond (Rory) enter by pushing the green button. Amy arrives at a closed door and presses the red button and enters a totally different room. Let the drama begin....

Both rooms are in a different time stream running parallel to each other, and Amy's is a tad quicker than that of the chaps. Whilst the Doctor tries to locate the fiery redhead by way of a giant magnifying glass, Pond is attacked by a group of Ikea hand robots that try to insert pins in her Scottish bottom - apparently it's "a kindness"! After a few adjustments the Doctor and Rory arrive in the same time stream, but unfortunately Rory finds Mrs Pond 36 years after the event, a bit jowly, wrinkled and a little bit grouchy - well this keeps happening to the poor love so it's completely understandable in my book.

In the years in between she's become self sufficient, a lot brighter and teensy bit kick-ass. She's covered in white armour panels and clutching a sword that could lacerate thin air. Amy has morphed into a female William Wallace and is killing handbots just to pass the time (or as part of some sort of intergalactic fitness regime) and she is no mood for the Time Lords excuses, no matter how plausible they might seem.

Matt Smith's Doctor almost takes a back seat in this one. He's there of course, delivering his scientific bumph as we expect, but this is secondary to the love story of Amy, Rory and.... the other Amy - 36 years older. Tom MacRae’s script is a delight, inventive, witty and thought provoking, especially with the sting in the tail at the end.

Karen Gillan's performance as both the Amy's was perfect. At times in the series she had become almost incidental and like brightly coloured candy floss, but at least here she got to produce another side to the character, and at one point when both Amy's meet it is genuinely touching. Re-watching this Arthur Darvill was less annoying than I have found him for ages, I wish that he could either have been a full time hero or a goofy drip, but not both in the same episode. When he does the comedy side his timing is perfect, but when he puffs out his chest I don't buy it.

There's a poignant part of the script where Rory tries to appeal to the older Amy to help his missing wife.
RORY: Oh Amy, why won't you help yourself?
AMY: He wants to rescue past me from thirty six years back, which means I'll cease to exist. Everything I've seen and done dissolves. Time is rewritten.
RORY: That's, that's good, isn't it?
AMY: I will die. Another Amy will take my place. An Amy who never got trapped at Twostreams, an Amy who grew old with you, and she, in thirty six years, won't be me.
RORY: But you'll die in here!
AMY: Not if you take me with you. 
At this point it tugs firmly at your vest and tweaks at your heart strings (or it might be indigestion, I was eating pizza!).

There's also a notable absence of guest stars in this episode (unless you count the Go Compare robots), but it doesn't harm or effect the show in anyway, in fact it proved to be refreshing. Big names can strangle an episode, clutter or detract from the story (although thankfully in Doctor Who this is rare), so at least we could focus fully on the plot without looking at each other on the sofa saying "That's Whassisface from Corrie".

What we do get to reconnect with is the idea that the Doctor, although Genius, can be cold hearted and selfish in his decisions, and this is no more apparent than when he leaves Rory at the door to decide if the older Amy should enter the Tardis. He can emotionally distance himself when the need arises and Smith plays this out to its full potential, stern and forceful and then dewy eyed, like a child that's been told the frog spawn in his jam jar has to go back in the Pond (pun).

Overall, The Girl Who Waited was a really enjoyable story to re-watch. It's an excellent example of how to do a "Doctor lite" episode, and how to do it well. It was a treat seeing it again, makes me wish I hadn't waited...

Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter
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