Dr. Who, that is. Last night’s episode of the long-running BBC series, Dr. Who, was simply brilliant. Why? Always look to the writing. Neil Gaiman, creator of Sandman, author of Coraline, and The Graveyard Book, and many more delights, wrote the episode.
I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of years ago at the World Science Fiction Convention, Anticipation, in Montreal. Twelve of us were selected to get a private coffee klatch with him, as he was the Guest of Honor that year (winning a well-deserved Hugo Award). It was a special treat and went by all too fast. During other days of the conference, Neil gave several lectures. We ate up every word, because his words are particularly delicious. But the best moment, the one that gives me chills when I remember it, was when he read to us. His stories, as amazing as they are on paper, are ten times the experience when he reads them to you.
So last night, when I heard the deep British voice of the evil spirit out to kill the good doctor and his friends, I first thought it was Neil. The voice had been manipulated to give it a slightly mechanical edge, but as it continued, I realized it wasn’t him. Turns out it was the wonderful British actor Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon). But it’s okay. Neil’s voice was all over the screen. The story had delightful moments of high silliness and also surprisingly frightening moments of terror. But the best parts reached even deeper. Neil’s conceit was brilliant, never done before in all the years of Dr. Who: the essence of his spaceship (The TARDIS) inhabits the body of a beautiful woman. Dr. Who takes his long history with his ship, and all his feelings toward it, and is finally able to talk to it and have it talk back, all though this lovely actress. Great concept, no? And in Neil’s nimble hands, it played out like a Mozart concerto. We were taken on a ride not just through space and time, but also through the heart.
As only Gaiman can do.