Episodes: S2 Ep 04
Original airdate: 26 March 2005 (UK), 20 October 2006 (US)
Genre: Adventure / Drama / Sci-Fi
Running time: 45 min
The continuing adventures of The Doctor, an alien time traveler - a Time Lord - from Gallifrey. Together with his companions they travel through time and space in the TARDIS, battling evil where they find it.
#2.04: The Girl in the Fireplace
Director: Euros Lyn
Script: Steven Moffat
Episode Cast: David Tennant, Billie Piper, Noel Clarke, Ben Turner, Jessica Atkins, Angel Coulby, Gareth Wyn Griffiths, Paul Kasey, Ellen Thomas
The TARDIS materialises on a seemingly derelict spaceship drifting in space in the 51st century. The Tenth Doctor, Rose, and Mickey explore the ship and are puzzled to find an 18th-century French fireplace. When he looks through the fireplace, the Doctor sees a young girl and asks who she is. She replies that her name is Reinette and that she lives in Paris in 1727. The Doctor deduces that the fireplace is a time window, a device that allows direct access to another time and place. The Doctor steps through the time window and arrives in Reinette’s bedroom only to find that months have passed there. He discovers a ticking humanoid wearing 18th-century clothing and a jester’s mask hiding under Reinette’s bed. After it threatens him with a saw-like device that slides out of its arm, the Doctor tricks the creature into returning through the time window to the spacecraft, where he and his companions learn that it is actually an intricate clockwork android. The android teleports away, and the Doctor warns Mickey and Rose not to go looking for it. The Doctor returns to Reinette’s bedroom while Mickey and Rose arm themselves and go looking for the android. While trying to find Rose and Mickey, the Doctor discovers a horse that stepped through a time window, who he later names Arthur. Returning to Reinette’s bedroom, the Doctor discovers that she is now a young woman. She flirts with the Doctor and they kiss, before she leaves to join her mother. The Doctor then realises that she is Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV.
Back on the ship, the Doctor and his companions find several additional time windows and learn that each leads to a different moment in Madame de Pompadour’s life. In one of them, the Doctor sees another clockwork creature menacing her and steps through the window to defend her. The Doctor tells Reinette to give the android orders, and it obeys her. It tells her that it is a repair android and that their spaceship was damaged in an ion storm. The androids did not have the parts necessary to repair the ship and killed the crew to use their organs for parts. The androids need one last part; Reinette’s brain. Confused, the Doctor creates a telepathic link with Reinette, but is startled to find that she can also see into his mind. The androids capture Rose and Mickey and are about to harvest them for parts when the Doctor rescues them. The Doctor discovers that the androids plan to open a time window to Reinette’s life at the age of 37, believing that her brain at that age will be compatible with the ship’s systems. The clockwork androids appear at a costume ball and take Reinette and her guests hostage. At one end of the room is an enormous mirror, which is actually a time window. The Doctor and his companions can see through it, but they cannot enter without smashing the window and breaking the connection as the androids locked it after the Doctor’s previous interruptions.
The androids threaten to decapitate Reinette, but the Doctor on Arthur crashes through the mirror to save her. The androids give up and shut down when the Doctor tells them that they now cannot return to their ship to finish the repairs. Reinette tells the Doctor that she had her fireplace moved to Versailles in the hope that he would return. The Doctor finds that the fireplace is still an operating time window and uses it to return to the spaceship. He tells Reinette to pack a bag and prepare to leave. The Doctor returns to the fireplace seconds later but discovers that seven years have passed in Reinette’s time. King Louis XV finds the Doctor, tells him that Reinette has died and gives him a letter in which Reinette expresses her hopes for the Doctor’s quick return and confesses her love for him. The Doctor returns to the TARDIS and watches the time windows close before leaving the ship. The TARDIS crew muse about the reasons the androids wanted Madame de Pompadour’s brain to complete their repairs, and the Doctor conjectures that the ship’s memory banks were damaged by the ion storm. When the TARDIS dematerialises, a portrait can be seen stating the birth and death date of Madame de Pompadour. As the episode ends, the lifeless ship drifts through space; its name is SS Madame de Pompadour.
Sophia plays Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson (often known as Reinette or Madame de Pompadour) who was a member of the French court and the official chief mistress of King Louis XV of France.
During the episode she is visited throughout her life by the Tenth Doctor. Reinette is intelligent and open-minded in her thinking, accepting both the futuristic world and the fact of the Doctor’s non-human nature. She also shows amazing courage and has great compassion for the Doctor, pitying him for his loneliness.
The weather was appalling for a lot of the day filming, and due to the very intricate nature of costumes cast were not allowed out of trailers or the set before a crew member ensured they had umbrellas bought to them.
Sophia’s gold and jewel encrusted gown in the final ballroom scene was previously worn by Helen Mirren in The Madness of King George and Jodhi May in Aristocrats (during the scene at the court of George III).
The Spaceship is designed in the shape of a key.
The working titles for this episode were ‘Madame de Pompadour’, ‘Every Tick of My Heart’ and ‘Reinette and the Lonely Angel’.
The real Madame De Pompadour was apparently nicknamed “Reinette” by her mother after a fortune teller claimed that she would someday ‘reign’ over the heart of a king.
Two horses played Arthur in the episode: one named Bolero was used for close-ups on the spaceship, and another, actually named Arthur, for the scene where the Doctor jumps through the time window.
This episode was watched by 7.900 million viewers on its original transmission.
This episode won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.
Quotes from Reviews
Tor.com / Teresa Jusino
As Reinette, Sophia Myles infuses her performance with steel and softness, creating a thoroughly engaging character, but it is clear that Moffat’s writing gave her a lot to work with, creating one of Doctor Who‘s most compelling women.
A.V.Club / Alasdair Wilkins
I can’t finish off this review without noting how terrific Sophia Myles is as Madame de Pompadour. She never betrays Reinette’s 18th century origins, yet she plays the character with such passion that she transcends the character’s potentially stuffy historical origins. It’s instantly plausible that the Doctor would be so intrigued by the woman that Myles creates.
Myles and Tennant have fantastic chemistry and their connection feels extremely powerful.
The Consulting Detectives
Sophia Myles is compelling as Madame Pompadour. You have to watch her every movement as she mesmerises us with her beauty and grace. Myles’ depiction of Pompadour makes us sit up and pay attention. This is one strong, intelligent, sexy woman who knows what she wants. Myles’ Pompadour develops through the episode and only an actress of a certain calibre could have pulled this off as successfully as Myles.
Quotes from Sophia
Birthday message for the 10th anniversary of ‘New Who’
Dear Time Lord, You’re timeless. Happy Anniversary! Yours forever in the fireplace, Sophia Myles