The Girl in the Fireplace

Region 1
box set

Region 2
box set
Region 2
plain 3-episode volume
(Doctor Who Story No. 175, starring David Tennant)
  • written by Steven Moffat
  • directed by Euros Lyn
  • produced by Phil Collinson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 45 minutes
Story: The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey discover an adrift 51st century spacecraft connected to the fireplace of a young girl's bedroom in 17th century Paris. While the Doctor's heroic curiosity compels him to solve the riddles of her clockwork nightmare, he soon finds himself even more challenged to face her growing infatuation with him.

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Picture-in-Picture commentary by actors David Tennant (The Doctor), Sophia Myles (Reinette), and producer Phil Collinson.
  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: Script to Screen (12 min.) adding writer Steven Moffat, director Euros Lyn,
    art director Lee Gammon, and executive producers Julie Gardner and Russell T. Davies.
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

Yet another adventure from writer Steven Moffat will have you glued to the edge of your seat trying to figure out exactly what is going on, as was the case with last year's "The Empty Child" (story no. 168). Outwardly, many things are now different, but inwardly, there are perhaps a few too many similarities, making one wonder at times if such repetition at half-length is worth it. But "The Girl in the Fireplace" has a few of its own outstanding unique elements too, and deciding which of Moffat's stories is best will not be easy.

The opening setting of 17th century France once more dashes our hopes for a real alien planet. Is this too much to ask of the new production team of this show that used to do alien planets all the time? Hopes rise though, as the TARDIS materializes aboard a spacecraft in deep space. Now maybe we'll get somewhere. So where exactly is this craft? Listen closely, or you'll miss it. The Dagmar Cluster, 2.5 galaxies from Earth. It looks pretty much like something seen in "The Empty Child", wherever that was. Repeat.

The TARDIS materialization is heard but not seen this time around, so David Tennant now gets his first five stories under his belt with not a single proper materialization in any one of them. Weird. In the end, not very satisfactory.

But, on the bright side, Tennant is preferable to Christopher Eccleston, and instead of Captain Jack Harkness, we have Mickey Smith. Improvements on both fronts. Yes, Mickey is finally traveling in the TARDIS. If Eccleston were still the Doctor, Mickey would be stealing the whole show at this point, but luckily David Tennant can more than hold his own. Mickey gets a lot of great bits in this story, boosting its ratings with me no end. Good show. Here's lookin' at you, Mick.

The hidden underlying premise behind this story.... but then I can only get into such spoilers in the In-depth Analysis version of this review.

Once again, there didn't seem to be any thematic point to this bizarre intellectual pretzel of a setup beyond freaking the audience out, so I found myself feeling detached and disappointed after my first viewing. Then, that night, I had a nightmare about.... well, the content of the story. Okay, Moffat has tapped into something primal and archetypal with his premise, so I'll give him back some points on this one. I'm a converted believer now. Kudos.

Even so, it's important to remember that nightmares are but a distraction from the real emotional heart of this tale....

Reinette as Romantic Interest / Companion?

Rose had better watch out. Here's yet another more interesting and attractive character for the Doctor to invite on board the TARDIS. Reinette could make such a better companion. And there's so much more going on romantically. Another great opportunity to replace Rose...

Murray Gold creates some wonderful new pieces for this story. Most famous will be the haunting romantic theme for Reinette, made available on CD. There's also some great light-hearted stuff for Mickey's exploration of the ship, and some excellent underscore for the nightmare scenes.
Music by Murray Gold
The final cue (3:44 duration) is available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who by Murray Gold
Silva Screen SILCD1224

More info & buying options

As an intellectual, figure-out-the-plot-riddles type of story, "The Empty Child" is probably the better narrative. But this counts for little on repeat viewing, when more lasting emotional elements come to the fore. In that sense "The Girl in the Fireplace" takes the cake. It wonderfully elaborates on an idea only spoken of in "School Reunion" (story no. 174), and drives a huge emotional charge through it. A very unanticipated style of story that adds brilliantly to the texture of Season 28. Nice.

This story has become available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Region 1
14-episode boxed set
for the North American market:

Region 2
14-episode box set
for the U.K.
Region 2
plain 3-episode volume
U.K. format only

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "Rise of the Cybermen"

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