Talia and Lucia are back to talking about series two, where pre-revolutionary France is on a spaceship, the Doctor gets over the fact that Reinette isn’t a seven-year-old way too quickly, we gush over Madame de Pompadour, get vocal about our dislike of certain tropes in Doctor Who and Moffat’s writing, and advocate for why you don’t need trauma in your life to appreciate the good things.
Talia Franks: Hello and welcome to the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey podcast!
Lucia Kelly: I’m Lucia Kelly, expert at applied analysis, and I just snogged Madame de Pompadour.
Talia Franks: And I’m Talia Franks, media critic, fanfic enthusiast, and monsters have nightmares about me!
Lucia Kelly: And we’re here today to talk about The Girl in the Fireplace. The fourth episode of Series Two of Doctor Who.
Talia Franks: The Girl in the Fireplace aired on 20th of October, 2006. It was written by Steven Moffatt, and directed by Euros Lyn.
Lucia Kelly: Reminder that time is not a straight line. It can twist it to any shape and as such, this is a fully spoiled podcast.
Lucia Kelly: We might bring things in from later in the show, the comics, the books, the audiodramas, or even fan theories and articles.
Talia Franks: With that out of the way, kindly remember that this is Versailles, this is the Royal Court, and we are French. So let’s get in the TARDIS.
Lucia Kelly: Okay. So we’re going to be changing things up from now on a little bit, I’m going to be giving the IMDb synopsis. Just to set the scene and remind you in case you forgot what this episode is about. I’m just going to give you a very brief IMDB synopsis and then we’ll move straight on to talking points.
Lucia Kelly: All right. So this is the episode where The Doctor, Mickey, and Rose land on a spaceship in the 51st century only to find 18th century Versailles on board. The time of Madame de Pompadour. To find out what’s going on, The Doctor must enter Versailles and save Madame de Pompadour, but it turns out to be an emotional rollercoaster for The Doctor.
Talia Franks: This is the episode where The Doctor gets over the fact that she’s not seven far too fast.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, he does. Oh my gosh. Can we, should we talk about that right now? Or do we want to start at the beginning?
Talia Franks: The beginning, the beginning doesn’t even start at the
Lucia Kelly: And—
Talia Franks: middle the beginning starts at the end. The beginning starts with the middle of the end.
Lucia Kelly: (Lucia laughs) Before we get into the episode, I just want to talk for a little bit about what this woman Madame de Pompadour was actually like, because she was a goddamn legend. I want to give a very quick brief overview because God damn, this woman was amazing.
Lucia Kelly: So, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson was born on the 29th of December in 1721 and she was born into a fairly well-to-do family, but definitely not nobility. There’s some question as to her parentage, because her mum was a bit of a free spirit. It’s the same thing as like Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft, of the daughter takes after the mother and it’s very much, like, strong female lineage.
Lucia Kelly: But basically her legal dad got into a bit of trouble with betting. He was basically the fall guy for a scheme and had to flee the country in order to avoid being executed. (Lucia and Talia laugh) And then it was like, it was cleared up later. But because of that Jeanne Antoinette was actually in the legal care of who we suspect to be her actual biological father, Charles Tournehem. Tournehem.
Lucia Kelly: I’m going to be saying a lot of French that doesn’t sound like French. I’m trying my best.
Talia Franks: It’s okay, I barely speak French at all. I speak French like it’s Spanish. I speak every language like it’s Spanish. Like Italian, (Lucia laughs) I pronounce it like it’s Spanish, Latin. I pronounce it like it’s Spanish, French, I will pronounce it like it’s Spanish, even Chinese, when I was pronouncing the pin yin, I pronounced it like it was Spanish. (Lucia and Talia laugh)
Lucia Kelly: So her legal guardian basically took care of her education and made sure that both her and all of her siblings were very highly educated which was unusual for the time. But she got brought home fairly early on because she always had ill health, so ended up having a lot of private tutors.
Lucia Kelly: But one of the things that happened was when she was nine, she had a very severe attack of what we suspect was whooping cough, and because her mother thought she was going to die soon instead of taking her to a Doctor, she took her to a fortune teller to predict (Talia laughs) how her life was going to be.
Lucia Kelly: And the fortune teller told them that Reinette would survive and basically one day quote “Reign over the heart of a king.” And basically from that point, her parents made it their duty to make sure she was in the best possible position ever at all time in order to make that come true.
Lucia Kelly: So suddenly she was getting all kinds of very particular education and she got set up with her guardian’s nephew, who was a rich man, and then her guardian cut everyone else out of his will so that they would inherit all of his money. And then the estate they had backed onto the King’s land.
Lucia Kelly: So like, they did everything to be like, “This woman is going to reign over the King’s heart. We are doing everything we possibly can,” and this is still when she is not noble, at all. She’s just like, a bit rich. And then she gets into all of these they’re referred to as salons. But they’re basically like exclusive highfalutin clubs where mainly men would just talk about politics and economics and what was happening.
Lucia Kelly: And she got entry to that because of her husband and became like, the only woman in the room and also was like, “I think this,” and because she was so outspoken, and influential, and charming, and whatever, she ended up actually making her own club, her own salon. And this was where the King supposedly first heard about her, is “This woman is making her own salon and making moves.”
Lucia Kelly: And then there’s this whole courtship thing, where she would go out against protocol and watching hunt, and then he would send her venison. She turned up at a ball dressed as Diana, the Huntress, like, in reference to the fact that she would go and watch him hunt. I know, she’s very bold, but they start this courtship. And—
Talia Franks: While she’s still married to her husband?
Lucia Kelly: While she’s still married to her husband, which in their vows, she literally says, “I will be faithful to you unless I get something going with the King, in which case, fair game.” (Talia giggles) Like, it—everything in her life was set up—
Talia Franks: So, so, so, he was her hall pass, the King was her hall pass.
Lucia Kelly: Basically! (Talia and Lucia giggle) And of course King Louie is also married. And this is where the whole idea of the Royal Mistress, as a position, comes in. It was understood in a lot of royal courts that marriages were political moves. Love had nothing to do with it. Liking your partner had nothing to do with it.
Lucia Kelly: So, Mistresses, of course on the King’s side only, if a woman took a lover that was adultery, but um, it was understood that, the King can have his political match and he can have his love match, and Madame de Pompadour was King Louie’s love match. For all intents and purposes, from all the accounts, they fell very deeply in love and it’s really cute.
Lucia Kelly: So like, even though when she has poor health and she’s not doing very well, he refuses to take another Mistress, and even though they’re not having intimate relations anymore, she is the Mistress of the house ,the castle as it were, and she gets super influential.
Lucia Kelly: So, she’s a patron of the arts, she’s super influential in the Rococo movement. She’s supports one of the very first encyclopedias. She’s huge into education. She has her own printing press. She learns gem cutting herself from one of the most proficient gem cutters that they could find—
Talia Franks: Damn.
Lucia Kelly: —and also like push it—yeah. So she’s crazy cool. And pushes the porcelain industry. She’s the personal patron of Voltaire and make sure he’s at all the right parties and getting connections. Cause she thinks what he has to say is what everyone needs to hear. And she essentially becomes the unofficial Prime Minister, doing stuff like appointing advancements and dismissals and getting into foreign policy.
Lucia Kelly: She’s a huge influence in the Seven Years War. Like she’s crazy, powerful, cool.
Talia Franks: Wow.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: It’s very unfortunate that she died when she was 42.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. So this poor health, she was always sickly. Eventually she contracts tuberculosis and dies at 42 and like—
Lucia Kelly: So, two things about her death.
Lucia Kelly: First of all, the rain that’s pouring in the episode when the carriage goes out. That’s not just for dramatic “Oh my gosh. So sad.” That’s actually historically accurate. It was raining when she left Versailles for the last time. And it’s noted that the King, this is so sad, he was not allowed to accompany her because it was not deemed proper, so he watched from the balcony and basically is said to have been like, “This is the best I can do,” like, “I can’t actually accompany her out, but I will watch her from the balcony.” And he was said to note, as it was raining, “The Marquise will not have good weather for her journey,” which is really sad. (Lucia and Talia commiserate)
Lucia Kelly: But also, she was such a cool lady, that even as she was dying, it’s noted that even her enemies were like, sorry to see her go. Like, she was sick, and they were like, “Oh … oof.”
Lucia Kelly: But yeah, no, Madame de Pompadour is so cool. I highly recommend looking into her life and what she’s done. She was an incredibly influential woman and one of the most just incredible people. And it’s really cool that this episode introduced her to so many people.
Lucia Kelly: But yeah, that’s Madame de Pompadour I’ve rambled for I don’t even know how long, but Madame du Pompadour is cool.
Talia Franks: Yeah, I haven’t been keeping track, but it was all very interesting. I loved hearing about that. I knew a little bit about her. I knew a lot of what you said actually, but I wanted to let the listeners know. And you did fill in a bit of the details.
Talia Franks: I’m a little stressed about this episode now that I know more about Madame de Pompadour, but—
Lucia Kelly: Oh no! Why?
Talia Franks: No, I just feel like I wish the episode had gone more into her story.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, me too. Sophie Miles does such a good job of portraying her. Given that it’s a very tight episode, so I guess they couldn’t really super get into it, about all of the stuff she does.
Lucia Kelly: I mean, Should we expect anything less of Moffat, but like—
Talia Franks: I think—
Lucia Kelly: —they (laughing) play up the whole sex pot thing? Like, “17th century sexpot” rather than “mover and shaker, political force to be reckoned with.” Um—
Talia Franks: Yeah. That’s what stresses me is I really wish they’d gotten more into her political ambitions and not just how she was in love with the King and in love with The Doctor.
Lucia Kelly: Oh my God. Okay. No, yeah. Let’s talk about this.
Talia Franks: Fine. We can talk about this. T here’s a point I want to get to later.
Lucia Kelly: Okay. I hate The Doctor and Reinette relationship. Oh! Also, I forgot to mention Reinette means “Little Queen”. That’s why they call her Reinette. It’s a nickname. (Talia laughs) They started calling her Reinette as soon as they got this prophecy from this one fortune teller. (Transition wobbles)
Talia Franks: Doesn’t “poisson” mean “fish”?
Lucia Kelly: It does. Yeah. She was actually very sensitive about that, because people who didn’t like her would make up mean rhymes about her, and do libel, and stuff like that.
Lucia Kelly: Being like, “Oh, look at Jean fish,” and she’s like, “No, I’m Madame de Pompadour. Listen to me.”
Talia Franks: Yeah, just circling back to her great performance as Madame de Pompadour. I loved the interaction between her and Rose, because I think it so much highlights her maturity, and Rose’s immaturity, and Rose’s savior complex, and how she’s like, “None of this was supposed to happen to you,” and , I feel like Rose is condescending in this moment when she’s like “It’s complicated to explain,” or whatever. And then she’s like, “No. Just be direct.” Like “I’ll listen. I can understand best I can,” and she just gets it, and she’s able to process it as much as someone from the 18th century can. And I feel like that balance is really authentic, and I just loved how it really heightened the idea that Madame de Pompadour is—I think she’s 32? At that point?
Talia Franks: She’s an adult. She’s the Mistress of the King, she’s elevated, she’s politically inclined, she’s educated. She’s got all this knowledge and sophistication and she’s like, “Be direct. Just tell me the thing, just get to the point, I’ll do my best to understand.” And Rose is just I dunno—I’m not trying to hate on Rose. You know how I feel about Rose, but the thing, is I just really like how, it dealt really well with their roles.
Talia Franks: And I feel like it struck that good balance.
Lucia Kelly: It reminded me a lot actually of the conversations in The Unquiet Dead between Rose and Gwenyth. Of Rose, assuming that she’s smarter or has a better handle on things or like “this poor woman from a quote unquote “lesser time” couldn’t possibly understand, and I’m here to save you,” and the woman being like, fuck you, I am perfectly capable of understanding what’s going on.”
Lucia Kelly: It’s very internalized misogyny, it’s very white woman feminism to me. Which again, we’ve had multiple conversations about before, of just how Rose thinks she’s better than everyone and it’s really detrimental.
Talia Franks: But I think it’s also accurate to the fact that Rose is really young, and I think we do have to give her credit for that. I feel like, again, we’re being biased by the fact that Billie Piper does not look 19 or 20 or however old Rose is supposed to be at this point. But Rose is pretty young and yes, she’s an adult, but she’s not particularly mature in a lot of moments, and she’s still struggling, and grappling, and I think has a lot of arrogance. And I think a lot of that arrogance is earned, because she has done some great things, but I do think sometimes she needs to be taken down a peg because—
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: —Sometimes people who accomplish great feats , get a little too caught up in themselves.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, definitely. Like, I want to be very clear. It is completely fine and actually great. It is great for characters to have flaws. Characters are meant to have flaws, if they were perfect, they wouldn’t be interesting and they wouldn’t create story. Like it is the character flaws, ideally, that push story, however, when they’re not examined, and when they’re not acknowledged, by the writers or the crew, that is when we get into like—
Lucia Kelly: I don’t actually mind that Rose has all of these things that we’ve been talking about. I just wish it was acknowledged more by the text. Like, I do love that Reinette is condescending right back when she says “Listen, child.” Which isn’t, there’s a bit of dissonance there because again, Billie Piper is 25, they look the same age.
Lucia Kelly: There’s always a moment that for me, where I’m like… “She’s not a child,” but in text, apparently she is. Um, yeah, I just—
Talia Franks: Yeah, no, I feel that.
Lucia Kelly: Even if what we were talking about, right? Was actually acknowledged in the text by Reinette, if Reinette had said “I can understand,” like, actually gone on Rose, because again, like I’ve just been saying she was a highly educated, highly intelligent lady, and I feel like she could’ve come up with some pretty cutting remarks. (laughter) That would have been great to see. (laughter)
Talia Franks: Yeah, there’s a really great YouTube video that my friend sent me the other day.
Talia Franks: About if an 1890 woman in a 2021 woman had a conversation it’s by this Youtuber. And I apologize if I am bad at pronouncing her name, but her name’s Karolina Żebrowska, but basically the 2021 woman talks like you know “You got political turmoil, stinky air, overall bigotry.” and at one point says “For your own sake, I really hope you’re not gay”. And then she’s like, “Don’t pity me. I’ll just be crying about it in my beautiful Victorian mansion, while my maid helps me put on a silk tea gown, and I’m relaxing in my beautiful library, reading letters from my six lovers, and I’ll be thinking about how you’re 27 years of age, unmarried and unemployed, living in your parents’ basement (Talia and Lucia wheeze laughter) and playing Among Us with your Zoom friends in the middle of a world pandemic,”
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, honestly.
Talia Franks: And then, (Lucia sighs) and like “You have vaccines, but you’re not using them. Some of you have not lost five children to Typhus and it shows.”
Talia Franks: Okay. Let’s talk about how the Moffat in this episode just jumps out, (Lucia sighs) because all throughout this episode, I kept thinking of how it reminds me of so many other Moffat episodes, and how The Girl in the Fireplace really feels like the blueprint for Amy Pond and River Song and Clara and all those other women that Moffat wrote.
Lucia Kelly: Oh yeah. Like it’s very—
Talia Franks: Like, the kissing The Doctor, when she first meets him, the meeting her first is a seven-year-old and getting over it way too quickly—Although, Eleven actually took a lot longer to get over the fact that Amy was seven and he didn’t like it when she kissed him. Sorry, slight digression.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: Moffat is good at making things creepy, but they’re creepy in the same way, like, this episode was giving notes of Listen for Me. It was giving notes of the Eleventh Hour.
Talia Franks: Even that line, “What do monster is have nightmares about? Me!” felt like a very Eleven line to me. Like yes, it’s something Ten would say, but also it reminded me of that whole speech that Eleven gives at Stonehenge. I don’t know. It’s just really opened my eyes to the fact of like, “Oh, Moffat really was laying the blueprint the whole time.”
Lucia Kelly: It feels like Moffat really worked within very strict and restricting script of like, “This is how The Doctor is,” “This is how “insert female companion” is.” He doesn’t actually leave a lot of space for alternate characterization or, the variety of humanity, which (laughter) is—
Talia Franks: Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: —Really frustrating.
Talia Franks: Yeah. It actually reminds me of—I have a friend and he was telling me that he doesn’t like watching Tennant very much, not because he dislikes Tennant as an actor or because he has anything particularly against the Tenth Doctor, but because the Tenth Doctor set the blueprint for what The Doctor can be so rigidly, and set the precedent of The Doctor has to be this conventionally attractive white man who acts in this particular way. And because he set that so rigidly, it didn’t really leave room for other ways for The Doctor to be, to really breathe.
Talia Franks: I think that’s why a lot of people dropped off when Capaldi started, and why a lot of people hate Jodie Whittaker so much, is because suddenly The Doctor wasn’t The Doctor anymore, because Matt Smith as a Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor, really feels like an extension of the Tenth Doctor, but a little bit different.
Talia Franks: Whereas, Twelve was a radically new kind of Doctor and that’s a good thing. Like, people change. Things should change. Thirteen is also a different type of Doctor, a different type of person. But the thing is at their core, they’re still The Doctor. Like Nine is The Doctor. And like Ten is The Doctor. And like Eleven is the Doctor, and Twelve, and Thirteen and, you know, and Three, and Four, and Five, and Six, and Seven, and Eight, and One and Two and Fugitive Doctor, and War Doctor and like, all of them. All of The Doctors are the same, but they’re different, in beautiful and complex ways. But Ten and Eleven are so … tightly linked—
Lucia Kelly: The fade between Ten Eleven …
Talia Franks: —it feels … incestuous (Lucia laughs) how closely linked to they are.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. Like, with all Old Who, each of The Doctors were very different and that was actually a strength, and this goes back to, back of house versus front of house, or backstage versus front stage, when it comes to production. That was a very deliberate choice. So when William Hartnell was getting on and couldn’t really perform the role anymore, they made the conscious choice to come up with this idea of regeneration.
Lucia Kelly: First of all, it’s a brilliant way of continuing the show, but also it’s about getting new audiences in, it’s about shaking up the show, it’s about changing the format. It’s about creating a new base for new audience members to come in while still retaining your old audience in a way that is cohesive.
Lucia Kelly: And even though it’s a radical choice, it doesn’t feel outside the world of the show. So that was a very deliberate choice. Every time there was a regeneration, it’s about reinventing the show to a certain extent. And I feel like that was very clear between Nine and Ten, and then Ten and Eleven are like, an inch apart.
Talia Franks: Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: They’re so close to each other, and—
Talia Franks: It’s interesting to me, how Ten and Eleven feels so close to each other, even though there was a showrunner transition, but Eleven and Twelve feel so distant, even though Moffat was writing both of them and there’s a companion tying them together, but it’s something I’ve talked about with a lot of people.
Talia Franks: How Clara in season seven, feel so different from Clara in season eight. Like, it’s the same actor, but it’s a different character. And then even Clara in season nine feels different from Clara in season eight. Clara changes so much. And that’s why it’s so funny to me, or at least so interesting when people say they hate Clara because I’m like “Which Clara do you hate?”
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: So it’s just—I—we’ve already—I hate the romance between Reinette and The Doctor. It shouldn’t exist. You can have an intellectual, incredibly significant, and important relationship between a grown man and a grown woman and it not be romantic. And that’s how it should have been. And I hate it.
Talia Franks: Yeah. One thing I really hate is the whole “The Doctor is worth the monsters” thing.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: Doesn’t sit right with my spirit.
Lucia Kelly: Mine neither. It reminds me a lot—and we will talk about it when we get to that line—but with the Beast Below. When Amy says, basically she’s talking about the Beast and how “All that trauma, all that brutality, and all it did was make it kind.” and she’s very clearly also talking about The Doctor in that moment. And I hate that line with visceral intensity. It is never the trauma that creates the kindness. It is not the brutality that creates the kindness. It’s not the hardship that creates the kindness. It is the person. It is the person and the person’s strength. It has nothing to do with their circumstances. Circumstances reveal personality. They do not create personality. And this line, “The Doctor is worth the monsters” is very similar vibe to that, of like, “Oh, there was trauma, but there were also good moments.” Like, I would rather have just the good moments, and if that comes with trauma, I don’t want the good moments because it isn’t actually worth it.
Talia Franks: Yeah. It reminds me of how a lot of people say stuff like “If there wasn’t bad things, we wouldn’t know what good things are.” And I’m like, “That’s not true at all.” I would still enjoy serotonin boosts if I never had depression. (Talia and Lucia laugh) Like, I’m just saying,
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. Yeah. It really bothers me when people have this misconception, that is reinforced by stuff like this, that traumatic events are somehow necessary or important, in terms of being, a well rounded person. Or you can’t be intelligent, or informed, or kind, if you haven’t experienced some kind of hardship, it’s the same sort of bullshit behind the idea of the traumatized, poor artists, right? That you can’t be creative if you’re not drawing from pain. And all of it—that is such destructive thinking.
Talia Franks: Mhmm
Talia Franks: Let’s talk about the fact that The Doctor strands himself in 18th century, France without sending Rose and Mickey back to the 21st century.
Lucia Kelly: Yes. Oh my gosh. This is stupid. It’s so—I hate it. I hate it. It’s so dumb.
Talia Franks: He could have used the TARDIS!
Lucia Kelly: He could have used the—Don’t give me the “We’re part of events now” bullshit. First of all, barely, and second of all, what really bothers me every time it’s like, “We can’t use the TARDIS. We’re part of events,” Bro, just go a year before. Wait it out. You’re time travelers. Have a year in pre-Revolutionary France. You can do this!
Talia Franks: Yeah. And like, the thing that bothers me the most is that Moffat literally goes back on this “we’re part of events now” in future episodes, like there’s an episode in season nine. He does exactly this. It’s the Twelfth Doctor. It’s two episodes, Under the Lake and Before the Flood, where The Doctor, he’s on this underwater base or whatever, and he’s trying to figure out the mystery of what happened.
Talia Franks: So he literally takes the TARDIS and goes back to like, a hundred years before to figure out what happened, even though he’s “part of events” and and then It’s so ridiculous he literally seals himself in a coffin and lives through a hundred years, just so that he can pop out and be dramatic at the end.
Talia Franks: Um, but he’s “part of events”, but he did it. It’s one of those things where it’s a closed loop where he did the thing, because he knew he was going to do the thing. But he totally went back in time and used the Tardis, even though he was “part of events.”
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. First of all. Why does he abandon Mickey and Rose? It makes no sense that he would do that. If he quote unquote “knew” he was never going to come back, like he would absolutely take care of Mickey and Rose first.
Talia Franks: Also, he—he’s a Time Lord. Like, it’s so infuriating, because the easiest thing for him to do, if he’s going to be stuck in pre-revolutionary France is to send Rose and Mickey back to the 21st century and just live through the next 200 years, and then meet up with them. He might be in a new regeneration, but he could just live through the next 200 years and then meet up with Rose and Mickey. That would have been a completely fine thing to do. Or even, program the TARDIS to send Rose and Mickey to like—it doesn’t even have to be send them back to the 21st century.
Talia Franks: Just send them to two weeks later, wait out two weeks, like you don’t need to—if he really thought that he was going to potentially die with the clockwork people in pre-revolutionary France. All he had to do was send the TARDIS back to 2006 or whatever, and then wait out—and the reason this is pissing me off so much is because there’s another point where there’s another Time Lord, who gets stranded and lives through a hundred years , and then confronts the heroes at the exact moment where they needed to be confronted, because he knows they would be there.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah it’s literally all set up so they can have, this completely stupid romantic moment between The Doctor and Reinette.
Lucia Kelly: Also I have questions. These 17th century French laborers, who removed the fireplace, did they find no 51st century gear anywhere on that. I’m sorry, if it’s connected? There’s shit there. If you say, literally, there is a basic physical connection, there is physical connections on both sides.
Lucia Kelly: You cannot tell me that this fireplace got completely dismantled and re-instated perfectly enough so that the thing can get connected back together again, without them finding something and yes, Madame de Pompadour could probably pay them off. That doesn’t mean it didn’t exist, (Lucia and Talia laugh) or that they wouldn’t have questions.
Talia Franks: Okay. I have another question. First of all, yes, they would have questions. This is entirely true. Valid point. I agree with you. Next point. Can we just talk about King Louie “You haven’t aged another day.”
Talia Franks: He has also not aged and also—
Lucia Kelly: I know!
Talia Franks: —that wig! That wig! It looked like it came from a dollar store!
Talia Franks: And his edges! (Talia and Lucia laugh)
Talia Franks: Like that whole scene. I know it was supposed to be a sad scene. I know that they were both mourning her, but all I could do was stare at his edges!
Lucia Kelly: I actually—
Talia Franks: Like were all of their edges that bad in 18th century France. Or was that just something wrong with the costume designer?
Lucia Kelly: I’m not educated enough to know. I’m going to put my bet on the costume designer though. Cause that was a King.
Talia Franks: Like it’s just—it’s just—
Lucia Kelly: And yes, standards change over time. But—
Talia Franks: They looked plastic. It was bad. Anyway. Louie’s wig game was off.
Lucia Kelly: I actually really liked the actor who plays the King. I think he’s quite lovely. I love the little like, slight—
Talia Franks: Oh yeah, the actor was lovely. He just had a terrible wig on. A terrible wig. It was bad! Anyway. Sorry.
Talia Franks: No! I have so much love for the production. Costume designers, in general, do a good job, but like for goodness sake, hire more Black women to do your wigs, goddamn. (Transition wobbles)
Lucia Kelly: I hate how stupid they make Mickey. It’s so annoying.
Talia Franks: It’s so annoying.
Lucia Kelly: He’s just this funky little goofy sidekick.
Talia Franks: I did appreciate the line though. “What’s pre-revolutionary France doing on a spaceship. Get some perspective.” I did think that was a funny line, I just wish it hadn’t been at Mickey’s expense.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, Also, Mickey’s question with a good question. This is like, the whole favoritism that The Doctor has about Rose, where Rose can only ask good questions. Like everyone else, whenever that’s a companion and he’s always like, “Rose asks better questions than you do.”
Lucia Kelly: No, she doesn’t. You just like Rose more.
Talia Franks: Yeah. Asking what Arthur was doing there is a good question.
Lucia Kelly: That’s a good question. What’s a horse, as in what is this living being that is clearly outside of the time doing on this 51st century spaceship? Is in fact the same question. It’s the same question.
Lucia Kelly: So, this episode actually gave me a very real, very debilitating phobia of masks, because I’ve watched it at a far too young age, and was terrified both of clockwork people that had under beds. That was nightmare fuel for a good while, but also like masks were a no-go for me. Cause it’s episode fucked me up. I watched it when I was like seven.
Talia Franks: The thing about this episode, that annoyed me is that he made clocks evil because I find clocks really relaxing, like ticking clocks I always get really soothed by the sound of a ticking clock, like to the point where I have analog clocks in every room of my house.
Talia Franks: And I’m like, “Fuck you, Moffat trying to make clocks evil. I’m not going to let you.” Anyway.
Lucia Kelly: I do love the droids as a monster. They’re very cool, but they mess me up as a kid.
Talia Franks: I do love this thing about Ten, about how he gets so into the monsters that he’s like in love with them, but he’s like, “but that’s not going to stop me from disassembling you,” and then it disappears.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. Do we want to talk about how The Doctor talks the droids into suicide? Yeah. It’s this really bizarre moment!
Lucia Kelly: Like, I understand that they’re droids, that they’re robots, except for the fact that they’ve very clearly got a personality and are sentience beings, and then the way The Doctor gets them to shut down is basically emotionally bullying them into submission until they shut down voluntarily, which I would categorize as a suicide, like—
Talia Franks: Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: —It’s really bizarre!
Talia Franks: It is pretty bizarre. And I think it’s just because we’ve been desensitized as a society to think of droids as not being people.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: Which is, I think not fair because I don’t know. I feel like the way that we selectively view droids as having personalities is interesting.
Talia Franks: Also, can we talk about the fact that Mickey hadn’t been shown around the TARDIS yet, even though they had time for a costume change? Also Rose’s hair is different again.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. So, the relationship between Rose and Mickey is markedly different between School Reunion and The Girl in the Fireplace.
Lucia Kelly: So many things were happening in School Reunion, and a lot of stuff that was directly about Rose’s relationship with Mickey versus Rose’s relationship with The Doctor and how messed up that all is. And then suddenly they’re buddy, buddy, again, like they’re not even acting like boyfriend and girlfriend, they’re acting like best friends.
Lucia Kelly: Like, this is the dynamic we wanted, but it doesn’t make sense.
Talia Franks: No, I get what you mean, because Mickey needles Rose about Madame de Pompadour, but without the kind of malice of an ex-boyfriend and more just the kind of like, “Oh, ha ha, I’m your best friend—
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: —and this guy that you like has another girl,” but then in the next episode, Mickey’s right back to being the jealous boyfriend.
Talia Franks: This episode feels like it’s taken out from the rest of the season or I dunno, it’s like an outtake.
Lucia Kelly: Interestingly, this episode was actually meant to be episode one of season two.
Lucia Kelly: That was where it was placed in the timeline. Mickey wasn’t meant to be on board. And then because of scheduling issues and various other things, it got moved around until it was after School Reunion. So Mickey got written in. But you’re absolutely right. That’s why it feels that way is it was meant to be the premiere, which would have been wild.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. Do you have any other points or things that you want to say before we move on to favorite moments and everything else?
Talia Franks: No. I just want to talk to you about my favorite moment.
Lucia Kelly: What’s your favorite moment? Hit me.
Talia Franks: My favorite moment is when The Doctor comes in super fake drunk, and he’s got his tie (Lucia starts laughing) tied around his head and he’s just doing his thing where he rambles and rambles and the aliens are like, “What the fuck?”
Talia Franks: And then he’s like, “You probably think this is a glass of wine.” And then he just dumps it on his head. I really liked that moment because The Doctor thinks he’s so smart, but then the droid undoes it and then they escape And one. I really love when The Doctor does his thing, but then I also like it when people put The Doctor in his place.
Talia Franks: So it’s like a dual favorite moment because like, Ooh, I like to see The Doctor being fun and funky and silly and also smart and smug. But then also I like to see people be like, you’re not as smart as you think you are. So it’s a dual thing.
Lucia Kelly: My favorite moment is also in that vein of people showing The Doctor up, which is when, okay, so first of all, there’s this like magical scanning that The Doctor does where he just looks at little Reinette and can tell that her brain has been scanned?
Lucia Kelly: Okay. But later on when she’s older and they do the mind-meld thing and she does it right back at him, and is like “A door, once opened, may be walk through in either direction.” That is my favorite moment.
Talia Franks: Yeah that’s pretty great.
Lucia Kelly: I love it so much. She’s so cool, and clever, and smart, and I love her, and I love it when The Doctor gets taken down a peg.
Talia Franks: Yeah, no, that’s great. I know we were talking about how we wish she was more political and less of just being sexy or whatever, but I did think it was really funny how he was like, “You might want to close that door. Oh wait. No,”
Talia Franks: I just thought that was kinda funny.
Talia Franks: I’d say my least favorite moment is The Doctor abandoning Rose and Mickey, because … da fuck?
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, for me it’s a toss up between that moment and Reinette kissing The Doctor out of nowhere.
Lucia Kelly: Cause I’m sorry if you have what I could only assume you’d rationalize as a very vivid nightmare, where these clockwork creatures and this strange man, and then you go back to sleep and nothing’s changed and then your imaginary friend comes back and everything’s real.
Lucia Kelly: Maybe it’s just not my style. I would not kiss him.
Talia Franks: I don’t think that Moffat has ever—aside from Bill—I don’t think Moffat has ever written a female character that hasn’t kissed The Doctor out of nowhere. Because it happened with Reinette. It happened with Amy. It happened with Clara.
Talia Franks: It happened with River. And it happened with Missy. There’s all moments for them where they just kiss The Doctor out of nowhere. And he’s like “the fuck?”
Talia Franks: Except for Bill, who I love and adore. She never kissed the Doctor. I don’t think. Yeah, I don’t remember her ever kissing The Doctor.
Lucia Kelly: There are times when I regret—-
Talia Franks: Wait no, and Rose kissed The Doctor! And Martha kissed The Doctor. And Donna kissed The Doctor too. Now I think about it. All of them have kissed the Doctor.
Talia Franks: Rory kisses The Doctor to actually in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship or The Doctor kisses Rory, and Jack kisses The Doctor, and yeah.
Talia Franks: Except for who passed Bill, like after Bill, The Doctor stopped kissing their companions. I don’t think of the Thirteen Doctors kissed any of her companions.
Talia Franks: Although Jack did kiss Graham.
Talia Franks: I think Reinette is the hero.
Lucia Kelly: I feel like The Doctor’s the Adam.
Talia Franks: I feel like the Doctor’s the Adam, yeah. Cause he strands Rose and Mickey in the 51st century.
Lucia Kelly: He’s kind of the worst.
Talia Franks: He’s the worst.
Lucia Kelly: The droids were doing their best, okay? The droids were doing exactly what they were told.
Talia Franks: Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: I don’t blame the droids at all.
Talia Franks: I don’t blame the droids at all. The drugs did chop up the crew for parts, but that was just because—they were doing what their program to do.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, no Reinette is the Hero and the Doctor is the Adam. So, how are we grading this episode?
Talia Franks: How are we grading this episode? I think—
Lucia Kelly: This one’s going to be interesting.
Talia Franks:—The production, aside from the wig, I would say as a five. The wig doesn’t detract it from being a five.
Lucia Kelly: I also, there was actually one other moment where I was like, “Ooh!” So, it’s really cool. The way that they made the fireplace set was basically the rotation is actually functional. That’s not special effects. They had one set on one side of the door and one set on the other and one was France and one was the spaceship.
Lucia Kelly: And that’s how they do the transition shots and everything like that. It’s a physical set. And the scene where Reinette shows The Doctor the fireplace? At a certain angle, you can see the spaceship set.
Lucia Kelly: You can just see this very low green light and little spaceships shape through the fireplace.
Talia Franks: I don’t think that’s enough to detract it from being a five.
Lucia Kelly: No, it’s not.
Talia Franks: I still call it a five. That’s like a coffee cup on the set of Game of Thrones. It doesn’t matter. (Talia and Lucia laugh) I still want to get production to five. I don’t think it’s worth deducting a whole point.
Lucia Kelly: Alright.
Talia Franks: Writing. I want to give a four.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. I’m leaning towards three honestly, but I feel like that might be a bit harsh.
Talia Franks: Yes, it’s very Moffat, but also we have to admit he became showrunner for a reason. He’s a good writer. Just because we don’t like, it doesn’t mean it’s not good.
Lucia Kelly: I will say this episode is incredibly well paced. Like the transitions—
Talia Franks: Really well paced. I hate that we’re getting Moffat episodes, such high ratings. It doesn’t sit right with my spirit!
Talia Franks: Anyway. Acting is a five.
Lucia Kelly: Acting as a five as always.
Talia Franks: Science? I feel like the science was pretty good.
Lucia Kelly: The science was pretty good. There were certain moments, such as the whole Doctor looking at baby Reinette and being like “You’re scanning her brain,” and I’m like, you’re not even going to have the pretense of putting this Sonic in her eyes? You’re just going to be a mind-reader now?
Talia Franks: I mean, The Doctor being a mind reader has precedent.
Lucia Kelly: I guess it does. It’s just annoying.
Talia Franks: I think the science is four.
Talia Franks: Rewatch ability. I need this episode in small doses. It’s not one of those episodes I can watch over and over again. So I would say rewatch, ability’s only a four for me.
Lucia Kelly: I definitely wouldn’t watch it like back-to-back, but I feel like it’s a very re watchable episode.
Talia Franks: It’s a very—it’s one of the more tolerable episodes of season two, but it’s definitely—It—it gives me indigestion
Lucia Kelly: I’m going to turn you around on Season Two. Season Two is good. Season Two is a fun time.
Talia Franks: I will admit that The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit are really good.
Lucia Kelly: All of the new seasons, I feel like Season Two is the rompiest. Like it’s the one with the most romps in it. Until the end, which I know a lot of people find emotionally devastating. Like until Donna comes around, maybe it’s the one where it’s like, “let’s just have fun.”
Talia Franks: That’s the only one season of not having fun. You’re just saying that Martha’s season is not fun.
Lucia Kelly: I don’t know. I love Martha’s season. I love Martha’s season, but Martha season has a lot more emotional depth to it throughout the whole thing.
Talia Franks: That’s just because Martha’s season is so … Tense.
Talia Franks: I feel like there’s a lot of pressure because of the Saxon arc. And also because the last three episodes are one episode and they’re about the end of the universe and also the Master enslaves her family, which we’re gonna get to the fact that a white man called the Master enslaves a bunch of Black people and forces them to work on his ship and then literally tortures them until they say sorry.
Talia Franks: He does that to Martha’s mom. We’re going to get to that.
Talia Franks: I have feelings. I have a feeling and the feeling is anger.
Talia Franks: I hate Simm’s Master. There’s so much fanfic that’s Ten and Simm’s Master, and I can’t read it even though I love fanfic. I can’t read it, cause I’m like ” fuck these white men and their white supremacy bullshit,”
Talia Franks: Lucy was right to kill him.
Talia Franks: Also, the fact—
Lucia Kelly: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
Talia Franks:—Also the fact that Simm’s Master is the one who turns Bill into a Cyberman? His violence against Black people is there. And it’s very real. And I’m sure that John Simm’s is a good person but his Master is terrible! And I hate him!
Talia Franks: I just want Missy and Sacha Dhawan’s Master are great—except for Sacha Dhawan’s Master pretends to be a Nazi.—We’ll get to that.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. We’ll talk about that too. No worries at all.
Lucia Kelly: So. All together. That is—
Talia Franks: Okay. But John Simm’s—, he tries to make a master race, like he makes the whole world into white men. Like I—just the white supremacy of it all.
Lucia Kelly: Literally—Literally the Master race. Like—
Talia Franks: I just—I can’t! I can’t with him!
Talia Franks: But we’ll get there!
Lucia Kelly: So. That is an 88%. And that is a B+!
Lucia Kelly: This has been the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Podcast.
Talia Franks: We hope you enjoyed this adventure with us through space and time.
Lucia Kelly: If you’d like to get in touch, you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talia Franks: Please rate and review us on apple podcasts and other platforms as it helps other people find us and our content.
Lucia Kelly: Special thanks to our editor, Dee, who has been a vital member of the Wibbly Wobbly team.
Talia Franks: That’s all for now. Catch you in the time vortex!