Doctor Who

Season 2 Episode 4

The Girl in the Fireplace

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM May 06, 2006 on BBC America

Episode Fan Reviews (39)

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out of 10
685 votes
  • A love story that doesn't involve Rose.

    How wonderful it is to have two amazing stories back-to-back! The last episode was School Reunion where we saw the return of Classic companion, Sarah Jane Smith, and where Mickey decided that rather than staying home as the surveillance tin dog, he would join the TARDIS crew and go on some travels of his own. And lucky for Mickey, his first adventure in The Girl in the Fireplace is one of the best from this series. This episode, more than any other in the Davies era, has a resemblance closer to a fairy tale than to traditional sci-fi . what most people think of when they hear the term 'sci-fi'). It is written by Steven Moffat (always a plus) and literally has something for everyone. If I have to recommend an episode for a person newly interested in Doctor Who to start with, The Girl in The Fireplace is always on that list as it showcases some of the best elements of the show.

    What do I personally think of this episode? I love it! The writing is tight and has an almost magical quality to it. You have to try really hard to find a plot hole and even then there is usually a line somewhere explaining it away, so you probably just weren't listening closely enough. The sets and costumes are absolutely gorgeous and there is a nice contrast between the period language of 18th Century Versailles and the modern Rose, Mickey, and The Doctor himself. Rose wasn't annoying, Mickey was actually perceptive, and The Doctor fell in love with a woman who (while still quite young for him) is actually quite mature and wise. I give The Girl in The Fireplace a 10/10.

  • Best episode in 30 years.

    I've been watching Doctor Who since the 70s, and this is my favourite episode ever.

    Tennant isn't my favourite doctor, due to the megalomania of the character and overexposure of the actor later in his tenure. When The Girl in the Fireplace aired, I was quite enamoured of David Tennant, and thought his portrayal of the Doctor was everything it ought to be, that is, heroic, quirky, intelligent, curious, funny, compassionate and even a little romantic.

    The monsters in this episode are, as the Doctor says, "beautiful" and a touch scary - but not so much that a child wouldn't be glued to the screen (for Doctor Who always was, and always should be a kids' show - I want my kids to watch it).

    There's timey-wimey stuff, fantastic anachronisms and the Doctor's compassion enables him to see that the monsters' problem can be solved, removing the threat to humankind (so often a feature of Doctor Who).

    My review is almost over yet I have totally undersold the athletic qualities of this episode, the enigma of the opening scenes, and the closing image.
  • The Girl in the Fireplace

    The Girl in the Fireplace was a perfectly entertaining episode of Doctor Who and I really enjoyed watching. The story was awesome, the enemy was creative and intriguing, and The Doctor makes another connection with a great female from the past. I liked how every thing played out and enjoyed the touching scenes in the end. I look forward to watching what happens in the next adventure!!!!!!!!!
  • And, I mean that in the sense of this having been just as wonderfully poignant as, say, any episode of "Ghost Whisperer."

    From the research I've done, on the real Madame Pompadour, she was not just a secretary, in name only. Unlike the young women introduced to strangers by their philandering married bosses of today. Nope! She started out as the wife of Lenormand D'Etoiles (the nephew of some financier). So, when she became the secretary of King Louis XV, she had the administrative training to go along with the title. In other words, she was loved for her brains as well as her beauty. And, obviously, the Doctor was no exception to that rule. For that matter, neither were the maintenance androids trying to repair that 51st-century spaceship. I admit it. The ruthless efficiency they demonstrated, in re-interpreting their basic programming, made them almost as scary--to me--as the Daleks, themselves! Just the same; action and comedy relief took second place to sentiment, this week. And, I wouldn't have had it any other way! I kind of sensed what would happen when the Doctor told Rinette to wait two minutes. Only to be told in the next scene, that Rose and Mickey had been waiting for him for almost six hours! Like I said, up top. I cried at the end, just like I do for any episode of "Ghost Whisperer." Still, being a Time Lord, it would be no problem to use the TARDIS to keep his promise (and appear for Rinette within the aforementioned two minutes). I mean; her letter didn't specify that he had broken that promise. Only that she was still waiting for him! So, he could very well have made that sixth visit, after all. And, just never got around to making a seventh one. Yet, just the same, the news of Rinette's death must have brought home the point he had made to Sarah Jane. That, with the combined life-spans of all his regenerations, he is somewhat cursed to outlive those he comes to love as friends (or even something more).
  • The best episode to date, hands down. Brilliant but heartbreaking.

    A truly haunting love story between the Doctor and an 18th century noblewoman, Reinette, who is the focus of the clockwork crew of a ship from the 51st century. From the age of 7, Reinette has had visits from the Doctor, a man whose memory stayed with her to the day she died. Where for the Doctor only minutes have passed, for Reinette it is years, during which she longs to meet him again. A gifted, talented, remarkable woman, she captures the Doctor's heart as effortlessly as he captures hers. The exquisite actress, Sophia Myles, transforms a character that could have been merely interesting into a captivating, charismatic, delightful woman who delivers the most beautiful speeches so eloquently she wrenches your heart. Her final letter to the Doctor, watching the hearse drive away and the Doctor's subtle devastated reaction bring tears to your eyes. In addition to the love story, is some truly great comic moments – the Doctor finding a horse on the ship who follows him around; as Rose uses him as a threat, he strolls in singing, wearing sunglasses and his tie around his head!, Reinette: "This is my lover, the King of France." Doctor: "Yeah? Well, I'm the Lord of Time."; Rose tells the Doctor he can't keep the horse and the Doctor retorts that she has Mickey!

    One thing: the sight of that clockwork thing standing over the bed, very freaky, looks too much like a clown at that moment, but strangely, at the end, where you see the golden gears inside it's head, it really is as beautiful as the Doctor said.

    Lovely touch at the end – They couldn't figure out why Reinette had been chosen and the last scene shows the name of the ship: Madame de Pompadour.

    Season 2 has had great episodes but this one just blows the others away. Utterly fantastic casting and the writers went above and beyond here, the entire episode is a masterpiece.
  • Definately the best episode of this season.

    Definately the best episode of this season. This episode stands out with the fun, drama and emotional moments. It is quite creepy at times, especially when the Doctor is looking under the bed.

    The Clockwork Droids were the best creatures or monsters in the history of Doctor Who. They were very cleverly made and the idea of what they are and what they're there for is brilliant. The Doctor thought he outsmarted them but it turns out, he stopped them from going home.

    It is quite sad at the end because Reinetter was waiting for the res of her life for the Doctor to return, and he didn't get there in time.

  • When the Doctor, Rose and Mickey are stuck in the future and the past, the Doctor finds the one thing he never expected: love.

    This is one of the best episodes of the new Doctor Who I have seen. The construction of the plot and characters is so complete and unique. The mirroring of the future spaceship and Versailles is beautiful. Even though they only meet so very few times in her perspective, the romance and connection between the Doctor and Reinette is completely believable. Sophia Myles is simply brilliant as Madame de Pompadour. Any other actress would not have had the same perfect chemistry that these two had. The quality of this episode is exceptional. Although my favorite part has to be the music playing over each scene. It is perhaps my favorite score in any television episode I've ever heard. The slow courtship of the Doctor and Reinette is amazing how it spans her lifetime. From their first meeting to the last, it has this great quality of intensity and yet is very sweet as well. I really cried when he comes back to find that she has died in his absence. The only part I do not like is where he has jumped through on the horse, with very little regard to Rose and Mickey back on the ship. I really feel that it is a very disturbing move for the Doctor to make. He really had no plans to get back to them, and they would have been stranded, left to die, in that ship. Excepting that fact, it is truly great. The best scene is as the TARDIS is leaving, and you see the portrait of Madame de Pompadour. And you see the name of the lonely ship. It breaks my heart every time.
  • There's not just Rose...

    "The girl in the fireplace" is a very complex story set in a spaceship in the 51st century and in 18th century Versailles. The Doctor, Rose and Mickey find a special fireplace through which the Doctor goes and finds Reinette/Madame de Pompadour on the other side of it. She is threatened by clockwork robots and he tries to keep her save.
    But there are more passages and they always lead to different times of the life of Reinette. And the older she gets, the more he is drawn to her and we see him developing feelings for her. He would even leave Rose behind and spend her lifetime with Reinette. It is great to see the Doctor being, well, in love, sort of.
    But the really great thing about this episode is the concept. Those two timelines, which are actually parallel in the spaceship, give the story an interesting perspective. And they also lead to great moments like the horse in outer space, following the Doctor's every step.
    And the episode also has really creepy villains. Those clockwork robots give you the creeps with their smiling masks and the strange ticking noise.
    So, thanks to Steven Moffat for writing such a beautiful, scary and emotional episode!
  • One of those episodes that stops you in your tracks. It fulfills everything you want from Dr Who and in common with this new take on it, it adds real heart.

    I have to take my hat off to the writer - I mean it takes some kind of an imagination to get a time lord, a spaceship, clockwork monsters, the whole Dr Who ethos, a love story, historical facts, unrequited passion and Mickey the Tin Dog into 45 minutes.

    It's a bit like Stephen King movie adaptations: the best don't rely on the scariest monsters, but on the human aspects behind the story. The clockwork monsters here are disconcerting, but not terrifying. They have a purpose that even they don't understand. They are relentless but also sad at the same time.

    And the casting of Sophia Myles as Mme De Pompadour is inspired. She is a criminally underused actress, and whilst we all know that Rose has a big place in both of the Doctor's hearts, it's great to see him in a kind of Cathy/Heathcliffe, Romeo/Juliet situation.

    A really lovely episode.
  • Clockwork Dreams Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Euros Lyn


    Rienette/Madame Du Pompadour: “You’re scared of a broken clock?”
    The Doctor: “A little bit yeah”.

    After this episode, I’m certainly going to be a little more wary of the clocks I have at home thanks to the baddies in tonight’s instalment. This wasn’t a mind bender of an hour but a time bender.

    Let’s say that Mickey’s first adventure as a fully fledged companion instead of a hindrance with The Doctor and Rose is one that he won’t be forgetting any time soon when the TARDIS lands onto a 51st Century ship that not only has human parts running its operation but it also acts as a gate throughout various time periods of a young girl named Rienette, who in turn is shown to be quite extraordinary in more ways than one.

    Not only is Rienette the girl who grows up to become King Louis XIV’s mistress Madame Du Pompadour but on top of that, she’s also being pursued by a bunch of Clockwork killer robots who literally need her brain for their ship as well as having quite the connection to The Doctor too.

    Played by David Tennant’s real life girlfriend, Sophia Myles is actually quite adept of playing quite the regal role that it’s almost hard to believe she’s the same actress who took part in that dire vampire/werewolf film Underworld three years ago. Her performance in this episode is great and personal factors aside, her and Tennant’s Doctor spark off each other remarkably well.

    I was a little surprised that the young girl The Doctor had saved from a lone Clockwork Killer at the beginning of the episode would grow up to be an influential historical figure but Madame Du Pompadour’s reaction to seeing The Doctor after so many years by kissing him, had our Doctor acting really laddish. “I just snogged with King Louis’ mistress” is something worth bragging about compared to another famous other woman in Monarch history I suppose. Although rather than this remaining entirely juvenile, there was a level of seriousness between The Doctor and Rienette that was greatly addressed.

    Not only did he save her both as a child and as an adult from the Clockwork Killers but there was also an intense attraction between them. He even kind of stalked her while she was chatting to Katherine in the garden at one point as well as discovering more about why she was wanted by the Clockwork Killers when she allowed him to read her mind. Little did he realise that it works both ways but more on that later though.

    It seems the Clockwork Killers need her brain for the ship but can only use it when she hits the 37 mark of her life and it doesn’t take them long to eventually track her during that particular time period in her life. Rose really did appear genuine when she was expressing empathy to Rienette and explaining things in lieu of The Doctor but it wasn’t until Rienette actually managed to get onto the ship and overhear her future self call for The Doctor that she really took note of the situation and then our clockwork foes finally got her and King Louis.

    As killers went, this Clockwork was certainly impressive, if not exactly the world’s best for conversation and although Madame Du Pompadour refused to give in and fear them, they managed to still be effective. Not only that, they also weren’t that easily defeated (pity a show like Charmed never took note of that concept, even with their most mundane of demons).

    It seems that The Doctor freezing them with fire extinguishers (twice) and even throwing anti-oil (the latter during a scene where a snatched Rose and Mickey were nearly done for it and The Doctor pretended to be drunk – at least I think so) at them slows them down but like them being able to take commands from Madame Du Pompadour, it does nothing to stop them from the task at hand.

    In fact, it isn’t until The Doctor gatecrashes Rienette nearly losing her head while on horseback and effectively telling the Clockwork killers that they weren’t going to succeed in using the infamous mistress’ brain that they actually stopped, surrendered, wound down and more or less just died as a result. And that’s ignoring the writer’s obvious puns about winding up and clocks throughout.

    Still though we got a briefly nasty twist where The Doctor’s heroics also cost him the time vortexes between 18th Century France and the 51st Century space ship, resulting in them closing.

    This momentarily left Rose with the prospects of no Doctor, a broken down police box and a complaining boyfriend, so it wasn’t hard to feel for her once again. Although The Doctor appeared sad, he didn’t seem overly broken hearted about keeping company with Madame Du Pompadour (or was that just David Tennant happy to be working with his girlfriend?), until the courtesan showed her the original fireplace he had first used to encounter her and managed to return to Rose and Mickey.

    The episode then takes a more dour turn with The Doctor brooding over missing an opportunity to properly say goodbye to Rienette (though he is given a letter, where she once again draws a common link to him and her). She got to him by being able to read into his own pain and even Mickey had a great turn by getting Rose to lay off the questions. Though in fairness, Rose was once again excellent and sensitive to The Doctor and his feelings for Rienette.

    Also in “The Girl In The Fireplace”

    Exact Time Date: 1727 France. It came as no coincidence that the Clockwork Killers ship was called SS Madame Du Pompadour, although I wonder if the 51st Century part has anything to do with Captain Jack or Torchwood.

    Rienette/Madame Du Pompadour: “What do monsters have nightmares about?”
    The Doctor: “Me”.

    The Doctor: “Goodness, how you’ve grown”
    Rienette/Madame Du Pompadour: “And you do not appear to have aged a day”.

    Rienette/Madame Du Pompadour’s talents included being an actress, courtesan, artist and a dancer. We didn’t actually see her which was nice because Tennant captured The Doctor’s anguish over her without that kind of scene.

    Katherine (re King Louis XIV): “Every woman in Paris knows your ambitions”
    Rienette/Madame Du Pompadour: “Every woman in Paris shares them”.

    Was it me or did the horse following The Doctor seem a little similar to what we got with Kate in Lost this season? Except the horse here is white.

    Mickey: “The King’s wife and the King’s mistress?”
    The Doctor: “France, different planet”.

    Rose: “You’re not keeping the horse”
    The Doctor: “You keep Mickey”.

    Little bits: The Doctor wanted to name the horse Arthur, a snide remark was made in regards to Camilla and The Doctor talked about bananas and dancing was positively mentioned again. Those last two things are vital tips that Steven Moffat was responsible for this episode.

    Rienette/Madame Du Pompadour (to The Doctor): “Such a lonely little boy. Lonelier then and even lonelier now”.

    Rose (re The Doctor): “Look what the cat dragged in”.

    If you add this comment and her later one – “Lonely Angel”, plus the “Lonely God” statement from “New Earth”, then it seems the writers are trying to tell us something.

    Rienette/Madame Du Pompadour (re Clockwork Killers): “They are five years away”
    Rose: “For you, I haven’t got five minutes”.

    It seems Rose’s 80’s hairstyle is back again as well as a bespectacled Doctor. As always, I approve.

    The Doctor (re Fireplace portal): “Wish me luck”
    Rienette/Madame Du Pompadour: “Oh”.

    Rose: “Are you alright?”
    The Doctor: “I’m always alright”.

    Standout Music: This episode was loaded with great score music. Some truly exceptional score music might I add.

    Better than I expected, “The Girl In The Fireplace” is another visually stunning, historically intriguing and character, although in fairness, it’s really David Tennant who dominates proceedings. Four episodes in and this second season has certainly been relentless in giving us top quality and imaginative episodes. I really can’t wait to see if what that creativity will have in our Cyberman two-parter, which incidentally enough is next week’s instalment. This season is certainly getting interesting.

  • Okay, rule one, we must never see the doctor drunk

    Even though this was written by Steven Moffat the genius behind the empty child last year you can't expect him to over perform on every occasion.
    This was the reason why I was unsure of whether this episode would be any good (well it did have 9.5 before it was aired).
    The plot of this episode is long winded though clever. The basic gist is sort of like 18th century French Big brother with very, very dated robots (clockwork for christs sake!)
    I admit, Moffat has a fluid script here, even though the plot is slightly strange and difficult to fit together at times. It has the usual jokes, but if Doctor who continues to rely on jokes the fear factor will gradually decrease.
    There is one main problem I found with this episode. I'm not saying Doctor who should always be traditional, I'm glad for it to go in different directions (can't wait for the satan pit) but romance?
    Romance isn't the way to go, the Doctor is always thought of a as god-like figure who watches on the side lines while other people are falling in love. Always there to give advice. But this episode shows the doctor's weaknesses more than ever.
    "yu're thick, An so's ya dad" the doctor never gets drunk. I'm all for adventurous new episodes with a different way of doing things, but I think this episode is too much too soon.
  • A nice concept spoiled by a weak plot and a silly ending (many spoilers ahead)

    I was very disappointed with this episode. I felt that it was the weakest episode of the new Who so far. Although it had several things going for it, the episode as a whole fell rather flat. I did like the concept, but I felt that it could have been so much better with a better script, a more sensible plot, definitely a better ending.
    Anyway, there were a few things I liked about the episode, so I’ll talk about those before I start trashing it...
    The costumes were gorgeous. One thing I do like is big foofy dresses, and this episode filled its quota very well. Mickey and Rose were great in this episode. Mickey’s glee at getting a spaceship on his first go, Rose acting the seasoned space traveller, the banter about the Doctor’s companions... The clockwork dudes did look very cool, both with the masks and without. The Kiss I actually quite liked, although I know many people didn’t approve. For me it fit in very well with this idea of the Doctor’s curiosity and eagerness for new experiences – he’s obviously so pleased with himself afterwards that you can’t help but laugh.
    The horse. It was a stupid idea, but David Tennant had good chemistry with it.
    The Doctor Drunk! Yes, that was fun, and it was ok because he wasn’t properly drunk after all.
    I actually liked the character of Reinette, despite all the things wrong with her. She had some terrible stuff to do, but still on the whole she was likeable.
    The Doctor being all sad. David Tennant played it very well, even though the circumstances surrounding it I was not impressed with.

    Okay, now we’ve got that out of the way...
    The payoff was stupid. The reveal of the name of the ship had this air of: “Oh, aren’t we clever, this is why they did it all”, but I thought it was just silly and they could have come up with a much better reason. The whole story was just ridiculous generally. It felt like a real effort to suspend my disbelief – it felt like: “Let’s make the Doctor fall in love, let’s add some plot to make it happen” rather than “What would happen if the Doctor met Madam de Pompadour”.
    The “mind meld” – what the heck was that?! All that stuff about the Doctor’s lonely childhood... I like the idea of the Doctor’s loneliness, but it was so heavy-handed and artificial. In School Reunion it was so well done, and arose naturally from the plot, but here it was like they just wedged it in to make the episode sadder.
    The ending was terrible, and it wasn’t properly explained at all how the Doctor managed to get back. For one thing, Reinette had been told that all of the time windows were closed, so even if he could still get through the fireplace, how would she know? And the technobabble was dreadful, and didn’t make me believe at all. In fact, all of the technobabble in this episode was awful. I have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, and this was some of the worst I’ve ever heard. It was like the writer just couldn’t be bothered.
    The fact that he apparently couldn’t go back to see her before she died was a bit unbelievable. Come on dude, you have a TARDIS. OK, maybe he wouldn’t be able to manage it, but surely he’d at least try? Instead of just moping about?
    Writing the Doctor stupid to make the plot work, to me, is a sure sign that you’re doing something wrong. I mean, come on, he knows that the connection in the fireplace is dodgy – if he really wanted her to come he would have brought her through straight away.
    And excuse me. The Doctor already knows how to dance. Remember last season, there was an episode called The Doctor Dances? Thank you.
    So, yes... I wasn't very impressed with this one. Definitely worth watching for the few good moments, but at the end I felt so cheated that I had to go and watch Genesis of the Daleks to cheer myself up...
    Let's hope this is the only blemish on an otherwise good season.
  • And just when you think it can't get more bizarre... there's a horse! *SPOILERS*

    One of the most surreal episodes of Dr Who I've ever seen (and if you've seen any of the 1970s ones, that's a bit of a strong statement), The Girl In The Fireplace combines romanticism, doomed love, killer clockwork mechanicals, a 51st-century spaceship and a horse called Arthur in an amusing, touching story that unfortunately falls a little flat. The Doctor, Rose and Mickey find their way onto a spaceship which has enough energy coursing through it to punch a hole in the universe. Which it has done. In several parts of the ship, time windows have opened to eighteenth-century France where a young girl called Reinette is menaced by sinister clockwork droids. The Doctor jumps in to save her, thus starting off a race around the ship and through time to find out what the clockwork killers want and why. Meanwhile, Mickey and Rose find out something distinctly unpleasant about the ship...

    The script starts out very well, but things go a little awry though as the story unfolds. The reasoning behind the clockwork droid's repeated attacks on the French court is incredibly weak and sadly undermines a lot of the great work that is otherwise in the episode. Another stellar guest performance by Sophia Myles as the adult Reinette ; her scenes with David Tennant sparkle with some real chemistry and her scene with Billie Piper in which she acknowledges that she cannot have the Doctor without the monsters is absolutely great. Good work too from David Tennant and Billie Piper who are now incredibly comfortable in their roles- again there is a focus on the loneliness of the timelord and Rose's jealousy at there being another woman in his life. Unfortunately, Noel Clarke isn't really given much to do. There are some wonderful scenes- the horse crashing through the mirror in the ballroom at Versailles is especially good- and there is something definitely creepy about the clockwork droids. It's just a shame there couldn't be something more substantial to hang them on.
  • I thought that this storyline was poor and really didnt interest me.

    I nmy oppinion this is the worst episode of Doctor Who in the past two seasons, it was poorly written and the action scenes were very poor. I think thw whole purpose of this episode was to Tell everyone that the Doctor is Lonely.I did like some bits and the funny parts were good although there wasnt too many of these. This would not be an ideal episode to base your oppinions on Doctor Who because nearly all of the episodes have been really good but this one let the series down.Overall avoid this episode because its the worst one.
  • Have to admit that I enjoyed this episode more than I thought I would.

    On the surface, it's a mix of absurd story ideas. A love story for the Doctor is going to struggle against long odds just to be acceptable or believable, especially with the limited development time available in the 45 minute format.

    And "a spaceship from the 51st century stalking a woman from the 18th" is certainly an inventive idea, but any attempt to explain why that is happening is going to strain credulity, even in a Doctor Who context.

    Let's start with the Doctor/Madame du Pompadour romance. I'll be the first to admit that Sophia Myles is stunningly beautiful, and would no doubt turn the head of just about any red-blooded man who noticed her. She's also playing a character that was quite accomplished and intelligent in real life, and her performance brings that out fairly well in the limited time available. That being said, the Doctor isn't normally given to noticing anyone, and indeed it's possible to argue that the attraction in this story is one-sided. The advances and flirting certainly all come from Reinette, and the lengths that the Doctor is willing to go to in order to save her life and protect history (since history tells us that Madame du Pompadour did not die at the hands of clockwork robots) are perhaps no more than he would have done for anyone else.

    The time needed for a genuine relationship to develop is the crucial missing element in the story, both for the Doctor and Reinette. At best she enjoys either flirting or toying with the Doctor, and he lets himself be pulled along perhaps by the sheer novelty of it all. Certainly he seems to treat her kiss as something to be proud of because of who it was that kissed him. "I've just snogged Madame du Pompadour!" he says exultantly, after first listing her accomplishments. As for her motives for kissing the Doctor when she'd only met him twice as a child, who can say? It certainly doesn't make much sense in the context of the story. To be honest, it makes her look rather easy. That's not a character trait to admire. At least when she becomes involved with the King she's sleeping her way to the top, though that too is hardly admirable. In essence what we have is not so much a love story as it is the story of Reinette perhaps trying to hold on to the mystery of this man who keeps appearing in her life. I'm just trying to explain what's on screen. We're told it's a love story, but the events that are acted out for us don't support that description. There's no time for love to develop, and there's no depth to the relationship. Perhaps Reinette hopes that a good kiss and some flirtation will entice the "Fireplace Man" to remain longer so that she can learn more about him. After all it's worked on other men in her life. This theory holds at least until the point the Doctor suddenly gains the ability to read minds and has his read in return. There certainly appears to be a bit more genuine affection in the final scenes where Reinette tells the Doctor about the one remaining link back to the spacecraft. The two seem very relaxed and happy in each others company, and the Doctor's sadness at Reinette's death is certainly heartfelt. Once he opened the letter and knew that she had never seen him again, going back to visit her in the TARDIS became impossible.

    So where did this ability to read minds come from? We've never seen it before, though I admit it's plausible given the Doctor's limited use of telepathy in the past. Susan displayed some talent for telepathy, the Master was able to hypnotize rather easily, and Time Lords are supposed to enjoy telepathy among themselves, so it's not inconceivable that the Doctor suddenly has the ability to mind-meld with a human. It's just highly convenient as a plot device.

    It's so highly convenient that I'm tempted to be really irritated at the sudden appearance of the Doctor's new ability, but I'll let it go. Convenient or not, it's certainly a shortcut around the time limitations of the episode and suddenly the Doctor and Reinette are intimately acquainted. Just how intimately acquainted depends on whether the 'dance' metaphor from last season still refers to sex and whether the Doctor went along for the ride. You can read it either way. If you like the Doctor as a cosmic Casanova who beds attractive women he barely knows while he's supposed to be in love with Rose, you can read events one way. If you prefer a more virtuous Time Lord, you can go that route, despite the obvious intent of the author.

    During the final encounter with the robots, the dramatic entrance of the Doctor as a heroic 'knight on a white stallion" is entirely in keeping with the self-sacrificial nature of the character, though his abandonment of Mickey and Rose is hard to explain. He saves Reinette's life, but (as far as he knows) strands himself in 17th century France, and strands his traveling companions in a 51st century spaceship with no means of returning home. When he asks Rose, "how long did you wait?" it doesn't really make sense. Neither she nor Mickey can fly the TARDIS, and the Doctor is surely aware of that. What else could they do but wait? Perhaps it's just a case of the Doctor trying to save face and mend hurt feelings. Moving right along, there's a lot less to say about the clockwork robots, proving yet again that this series of Doctor Who frequently puts character above plot, which is detrimental to the story far too often. Plot holes are papered over with sentiment while the writer hopes the audience won't notice or won't care. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I think that the attempt is successful in "The Girl in the Fireplace", though in all honestly I must confess that the story is crazy. As a means of tying the spacecraft and France together, we have repair robots who create time windows and travel back in time to find the person their ship is named after, so that they can use her brain to repair the main computer, but only when she's the same age as the spaceship. It's so off-the-wall and creative that I'm willing to enjoy the idea tremendously and buy right into the premise.

    The robots themselves are inventive, from their mannequin-like period dress and masks, to the clockwork-filled clear heads underneath. Having the first one that we encounter hiding under a child's bed is just a wonderful conceit.

    I have to address the issue of 'self-awareness' in the new series of Doctor Who. I would define this as actions or dialog which pulls me out of the story and reminds me that yes, I am watching a TV program. This is frequently a failing of Russel Davies scripts, but it crops up here as well. "The Doctor and the monsters," Reinette says at one point. "It seems you cannot have one without the other." And with that meta-textual line my suspension of disbelief is shattered and I'm thinking about Doctor Who the program rather than remaining engaged in the story. Any time that someone says "Doctor Who?" it does the same thing. And it's very annoying.

    There are other things to like about this story apart from the Doctor/Reinette relationship and the robots. It's Mickey's first trip in the TARDIS, and his enthusiasm is wonderful to watch. The fact that he and Rose get along with no hint of Rose's usual jealous streak is a breath of fresh air. I'm sick of Rose's jealously and tired of the character for that matter. It just seems like her story was told last year, and there's not really anything new to say about her. It's a lot like Charley Pollard, whose story came to a good conclusion in "Neverland" and then the character seemed to stagnate. Rose has been irritating in "New Earth", "Tooth and Claw", and especially in "School Reunion" where the claws came out with Sarah Jane. She's much better here, and I hope continues to do well in future. As of this writing I haven't seen any stories beyond "The Girl in the Fireplace", so I don't know how the character develops over the remainder of the season.

    Some of the dialog is almost poetic. References to "The slow path" to describe linear time, or Reinette's phrase "In your world there are rooms where the days of my life are pressed together like the pages of a book" are wonderful to hear.

    Overall, the story has an appeal that transcends the crazy premise, but it never lives up to the billing as 'a love story for the Doctor'. But it is inventive, it's different and it's sincere, which sets it apart and elevates it above much of the new series. It's well worth the time to watch it.
  • An excellently written and though out story which was unusually let down by a bad pint of Tennants.

    If there is one thing that has niggled me above all others with this new version of Doctor Who is the fact that it doesn't have the old 4 episode story structure. I think it robs the story of some peril and rushes development and i think this story had the capacity to be at least a 4 parter.

    This story is very well written and thought out, right up to the last scene that neatly explains a lot without the Doctor explaining everything to a companion. It had drama, humour and genuine sadness. However..............

    Dear Mr Tennant.

    I have really liked your portrayal of the Doctor and was in full favour of you taking over the role. I must assume in this episode that you were simply showing off for your bird. The drunken Doctor scene was painfull to watch but the worst example of OTT-ness was when you nearly creamed yourself on the sight of space age clockwork. Please refrain from such antics in future as you have the oppprtunity and skill to be one of the best Doctors of all if you reign in your wide eyed Tom Baker impressions


    A genuine fan.

    Also interesting to note how this episode ends on a downer which is the complete opposite to Stephen Moffats last script where everybody lived

    I know that Doctor Who is only 45 minutes per episode no because TV people think people have miniscule concentration levels now but surely the success of shows such as Lost, Prison Break and 24 shows we can have 4 Parters again now a days.
  • Possibly the best episode of Doctor Who ever!!!

    The Girl in the Fireplace is up there in my favourite episodes of Who ever! The script was poignant and beautiful in every way. David Tennant shone for the first time as The Doctor for me and Sophia Myles played Reinette superbly! The whole concept of the episode is 'out of this world' and Steven Moffat is a Who legend with the three fantastic stories he has delivered so far. This episode was wonderful from start to finish and every moment was enjoyed immensely by my family and I. Another great thing about this episode was the costumes which were amazingly designed and spot on in my opinion. 10/10 for the superb Moffat!
  • Sparks between the Doctor and Reinette

    This episode and "Idiot's Lantern" were two of my favorites for season 2. The lost time between the visits - Reinette's v. Doctor's time - was a speeded up reminder that although he has companions, they are temporary because of who/what he is. When the Doctor told young Reinette to lie still in her bed as he was looking under it, I was was jumpy from the start. Those clockwork "giant dolls" were excellently creepy!
    Touching, with a pinch of silly antics of Rose and Mickey.

    The connection between grown Reinette and the Doctor was sweet and sexy. There were sparks flying between the actors - I don't know if they began dating AFTER filming that episode or the chemistry was due to the fact they were already dating, but it was snapping.
  • One of the over-all best episodes of the show... including "Classic"

    I REALLY like this episode... its touching, heartbreaking, scary, and occasionally funny!
    While I'm not usually a fan of the "Guest-Historical-Superstar" episodes, this one was different then the Dickens episode, or the Shakespeare episode later on... this one showed how human the Doctor has become, and how he can be hurt as bad as any human... the love story between him and the Madame de Pompadour was beautifully handled...
    furthermore, the creepiness of the clockwork drones is great... as well as the concept of the ship's AI going insane and attempting to patch itself up with biological components of the crew... the final scene in which the ship's name is finally revealed stunned me with its brilliance.
  • My friends often remark that the revival of Doctor Who does not capture the "essence" of the original serials. Not one of them disagrees with my assertion that this episode is not only an instant classic, but one of the all-time greats.

    This episode is so remarkable that I don't know where to start. The dialog is sharp, and witty without being annoyingly so. Sophia Myles steps into the role wholeheartedly, and gives and moving performance. Sometimes, especially of late, I get a little bored with the whole "Doctor in Love" angle that the new series dabs in. But this episode is fine example of how it can be done in a powerful, yet intellegent way. Kudos to Steven Moffat for writing another brilliant episode of Doctor Who. Although I thought he had slipped in the fourth series of Coupling, the Doctor Who episodes have shown that he is still a remarkable talent, and quite versatile in his ability to write episodic television.
  • The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey land on a spaceship is dotted with portals leading to 17th cetury France and the life of Renette Pouselle. The Doctor has to foil the clockwork mosters before Madame de Pompadour is "complete" and her life runs out of time.

    This, is, in my opinion, the best episode! This is the most romantic episode in Doctor Who so far, this ground-breaking move was met with disaproval from some of the older fans. Mostly it was met with delight from the younger, newer audiences. This episode is genius: it portrays David Tennant at his best, not to metion Doctor Who as a show. This episode made me laugh, cry, grin, cover my eyes, and even gag in disgust. I fully appretiate the beautiful plot, dialogue, and character portrayal. I say- bravo Stephan Moffat- the master of random but funny interjections!!
  • Tightly written, well-acted, it's a heart-breaker of an episode.

    What a fabulous but heartbreaking episode! "Girl In The Fireplace" is one of the best in the series that I've seen so far. Although some errors might be a little distracting, none were glaring enough to spoil. It was certainly the first time I'd seen the Doctor so vulnerable, and it was both touching and fascinating to see this side of him. I have to applaud David Tennant and Sophia Myles for their performances; they were dead-on excellent! The sets were not perfect, but remarkable; the clockwork robots were startling and beautifully designed. On the downside, I prob'ly won't be eating any pork roast for a few fortnights...
  • The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey land on a spaceship that seems abandoned but holds several doorways to Madame de Pompadour's life.

    I particularly like this episode because you can see the jealousy of Rose for The Doctor seems to have eyes for Madame de Pompadour.

    This was a sad episode. The Doctor was saving the Madame from the Clockwork Droids who apparently thought that they needed the Madame's brain for their ship to function. This information seems confirmed by Rose and Mickey as they roam the ship and discover what seem like human body parts all over the ship-connected to the hardware of the ship.
    There, of course, must be a sacrifice made and The Doctor puts himself at risk to save this Madame. She seems to be his soulmate-which made her a victim as that she would never see him again after the last time. The Doctor is always lonely, and this only seems to verify that he can not even have his soulmate.

    It was a good episode. It was nice to see the doctor working his "magic" again. I wonder sometimes-how all these things happen. Shouldn't the Doctor be able to see all this? Why is there no record of any of these events taking place? You would think that the Doctor would already know that these events had happened and I wonder why he is interfering? Who knows??? Great episode!!!!
  • Absolutely Wonderful, one of the best episodes of the new serieses!

    Where to begin! It is funny, sad, adventurous and brilliant. We see the Doctor meets a horse and a French Aristocrat and Mickey gets a spaceship on his first go. Steven Moffat is a genius. Last year he wrote the two-parter 'The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances' and that was magical, but this is even better. It is witty and it flows beautifully. You understand everything in the episode. There's a clever plot ending in ironic circimstances. The Doctor falls haplessly in love with Madame de Pompadour and Rose almost becomes jealous. Also it is the sad story of the poor Clockwork Robots, who are so naive, that they open time windows. It is one of the best episodes!
  • Stunning...Simply Stunning

    I finally got around to watching this episode, it has been hanging out on my DVR since it originally aired on October 20th, and I was floored. It really doesnt get any better than this. Its really hard to describe the depth of feeling expressed between the Doctor and Reinette. It was really a side of him we have not seen thus far...certainly not between him and Rose. Stuff like that generally doesnt effect me but I found myself getting very chocked up when I realized that, due to the time shifts or whatever was happening, that he was not going to be able to get back and take her to see the stars. Very powerful. One small aside...I think they did a excellent job in the way they wrote Louis XIV in that last seen. Wasnt really expecting him to be there and certainly didnt expect him to be so respectful.

    Special props go to Sophia Miles who I spend most of the episode trying to figure out where I had seen her before. Turns out it was from the Underworld movies. She was amazing in her role.
  • Uses the typical Doctor Who formula of history meets science fiction, but does so in a way which explores the Doctor's personal and sympathetic side.

    During Doctor Who's downward spiral, in the final years of Tom Baker's turn and the subsequent - and forgettable - years of Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and .... ahh, who cares about the other guy, Doctor Who was all about the action. It was almost as though the Doctor were second-fiddle to the events going on around him. Russell T Davies changed all that with his re-imagining of the Doctor in the first season. Now, it seems the writers are realizing the Doctor's human and emotional sides. He's centuries old. His home is destroyed. Everyone he cares about will be dead long before he is. He's a constant, weary traveller with no equal and only temporary companions in a big universe. This episode begins to explore those sides of the Doctor, and show him in a light that we feel extreme pity for him, particularly the ending. The action is wonderful, the story is ingenious, but what attracts and holds my attention is the character. Bravo to David Tennant for looking like a lost little boy, showing a glimpse of the depth of wretched loneliness the Doctor must feel.
  • Best of the series by far.

    This episode had absolutely everything that painfully lacks in most of the other 'Doctor Who' episodes so far; namely good dialogue, an intriguing and interesting story-line and Tennant not over-acting like a moron. The concept behind the episode is genius, with the Doctor finding an abandoned ship containing time windows to various point in the life of Madame de Pompadour. As he, Rose and Mickey stroll through her life, they come across mysterious Clockwork droids who are intent on scanning the woman's brain to detirmine if "she is ready". Here we finally get to see some use of Time Travel in the way that the Doctor appears throughout her life, even though it is just another day at the office for him. Best of all, the writer actually prepared a little twist, which really brought the episode together at the end and capped it off beautifully.
    The idea of a ship turning on its crew and using them for spare parts was also a really creative and interesting one in my opinion. The only quandry I have regarding the episode is why the hell were the droids all Clockwork? It was something that was never really explained at all, and I really doubt in the 51st century humans are going to be tinkering around with cogs and sprockets in order to make a maintenance droid. Still, but for that small thing, this episode was utterly brilliant, with a great sci-fi concept that was executed with great writing. We can only hope for more of this in the future.
  • Best Doctor Who episode ever?

    Reinette: Doctor. Doctor who? It's more than just a secret isn't it?
    The Doctor: What did you see?
    Reinette: That there comes a time, Time Lord, when every lonely little boy must learn how to dance.

    Possibly the finest episode of Doctor Who ever. Words cannot describe it. Clockwork droids, a spaceship, Time Windows, the Doctor lonely...again, it's got everything, absolutely everything. Maybe it should have been positioned later on in the season, as by comparison, most of the other episodes are pretty poor, and Rose jealous again dosen't work well. But then again, this is the Doctor's story, and a brilliant story it is too.
  • The Doctor, Rose and Mickey find a wreck in the 51st century with a time portal to a palace in the 18th century.

    This is probably one of the best episodes of doctor who casted since the very first beginning. The androids are really freaky made and there are some pretty nerve-wrecking points in this episode. Especially when, in the beginning, the Doctor enters the room of madame the pompadour for the first time, when she is a child. Then the clock on the fireplace is broken, but they still hear a clock. Then the doctor discovers there is such a time android in the room. This is one of the stronger points of this episode. Halfway the episode Rose and Mickey find a human eye and a human heart in the wreck, this has been made very realistic. At some points the episode is funny, exiting, scary but that is what doctor who is, isn\'t it?
  • This episode has one of the cleverest plots of any Doctor Who story so far.

    Before The Girl In The Fireplace was aired, I was unsure of what it would be like. Little did I know I was in for a great ride.

    I wouldn\'t exactly describe this episode as exciting, infact it had very little action, but a great storyline is all Doctor Who needs, especially with Russell T Davies as the head writer! The more times I watch this episode, the better it seems. With the characters going back and forth in time, it was perfect and great to be following one woman, Madame De Pompadour. She was excellently cast, as Sophia Myles played the part exactly how it needed to be. The ending was good too, emotionally and the spaceship floating in space at the end was probably pivitol to the plot making sense. Fantastic!

    Following on from School Reunion, I didn\'t think an episode like this could do well, but it did!
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