Saturday, April 27, 2013

Doctor Who Series 7 Episode 11: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS — Review and Reflection

(Note: "Spoiler-free" refers to not giving away any major reveals of the episode, and usually not more than what is found in the teaser for next week. May contain spoilers of past weeks. Please avoid reading the comments for spoilers and more discussion on the episode).

We pick up Doctor Who again this week after last week's amazing "Hide" (review here). Whereas it would be hard to beat last week's episode (which I proclaimed one of the best, and probably easily the best one-off, episodes in the last three series), I remained hopeful about a journey to the center (sorry, I'm American, not British. We say "center", not "centre") of the TARDIS.

You can watch Series 7 by clicking on the picture below ($1.99 per episode). Depending on when you access it, they should have Episode 11 posted (they've been pretty good about getting them up the next day):

"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" features a lot more of the Doctor trying to get Clara and the TARDIS to like each other, which sets up the inevitable crash with Clara missing inside the TARDIS and the Doctor forced to rely on some passing scavengers of less than reputable morals to search for her within the TARDIS.

There's monsters about too, which tend to cause some drama. In fact, in terms of scariness, I'd say these monsters are more horrific than last week's. The director again uses camera blur to prevent us from getting a good look at the monsters for a bit (although they were shown in the trailer for the episode, because of the camera blur, they look like a few different Doctor Who monsters so I won't spoil it by naming them).

The TARDIS is regularly impressive, although I was sick of TARDIS corridors way back in "The Doctor's Wife", and they haven't improved since. I only hope that the TARDIS corridors when David Tennant was Doctor were a little more organic.

Just like last week, the TARDIS again reveals itself as a bona fide entity with feelings and not just a ship (one wonders why it argued so much back in "Let's Kill Hitler"). There are some nods to the past for long-time fans with ghost voices of series gone by amongst a handful of other things.

All-in-all, a solid episode worthy of the name Doctor Who.

Zero's Review: B 8.5/10

Warning: Spoilers Ahead



This episode was interesting for a few reasons. First, with the TARDIS blowing up, the Doctor is right there wondering about Clara's identity instead of trying to fix his precious ship. Also, if Clara is some sort of sleeper agent, it's possible she still knows his name (bear with me) by uploading her lost timeline consciousness to the "cloud".

The Doctor has some pretty bad luck with lowering the shields on the TARDIS. The last time I remember him doing that, the Titanic crashed into it! (You can see it at the 7:25 mark in the video below, if you've never watched "Time Crash", it shows the Tenth Doctor meeting the Fifth Doctor back at the end of Series 3, pretty good for Whovians).

And actually, this episode ended remarkably like "Time Crash" did! A Doctor from the future fixing everything. That's a little rubbish! Recycling much?!

The lava humans were a nice monster (a little worse here than in Silent Hill), but the scene with them in the fuel room was a little extra paradox-y. If the creatures hadn't been there, they wouldn't have been in danger of burning up there, and if they weren't in danger of burning up, then the creatures would have never been made. That's a paradox I have a hard time getting behind, personally. I also didn't quite follow the "time line asserting itself" by making the past brothers into the future brothers (which shouldn't have existed at all), but that's a little easier to let go.

The Eye of Harmony shows up for the second episode in a row, you don't think they're leading us into something, do you? This might have been what they were leading us to. It was nice to see the Eye of Harmony finally though. I'd always heard that the TARDIS version was a mathematical copy of the original, but no, there was full-on star inside the TARDIS in this episode. Is this the true form of the cloister bell room? Would it have been safe and relaxing in there if the TARDIS hadn't been exploding?

At one point in the TARDIS's history, it was not "bigger on the inside". In fact, it had made it's outsides just as big as it's insides. At that point, it was at least as large as a planet. Today, we learn that the TARDIS is INFINITE (not an acronym, just capital due to my incredulity). If not infinite, at least as large as a star! I did not need to be more impressed with the size of the TARDIS at this or any other time in the history of my enthusiasm for the show. I mean, I guess I'm OK with it (that's an acronym that means "all correct"), but it kinda' is completely insane. I thought showing the library and Clara's comment were quite fitting and a good way to end the "it's bigger on the inside" theme, showing a star in a room is quite another thing. Especially, when that is a star permanently frozen before collapsing into a black hole.

Here's a little astronomy for you. What kind of star collapses into a black hole? Give up? A red supergiant. Now, there's a reason why these kind of stars are called "supergiant". Imagine the distance from Earth to Mars. Wait, you can't? Here's a helpful link: Now, that's the distance from Earth to Mars.

A red supergiant would extend over ten times farther than you just traveled with that website. That's just the radius. That's about 82000 EARTHS in one direction. That room with the Eye of Harmony could easily hold half a million PLANETS the size of Earth (and probably easily a million planets since I'm really just multiplying for the 6 directions (front, right, left, back, up, down).

I'm a mathematician as much as I am a writer, and I usually do not have trouble giving the benefit of the doubt. I do not doubt that Time Lords were able to harness the power of a collapsing star's potential energy or even that they are able to put an entire star inside a room. But inside every TARDIS ever grown? How could the Daleks ever compete?

It's upsetting.

Moving on.

Other questions: If the star is powering the TARDIS, then why does it still need rift energy? Did the Doctor upgrade the TARDIS to full-on star power since the last rift fill-up? I'm OK with the idea that being in a pocket universe would drain all of the energy of the Eye of Harmony, but that one time that the TARDIS actually was completely drained, how did they get it running again? Did he have to go find a new star? Is hanging out on top of the rift for 2 days or so really as much power as the entirety of the potential energy of a collapsing star? And if so, why didn't they just put a rift inside the TARDIS?

Clara finds out the Doctor's true name and the universe didn't explode. What an anticlimax. Which is pretty much what it will be when (do I daresay "if") we find out. I don't want to know the Doctor's name. I cannot imagine it ever being something I would ever want to know. Telling us the Doctor's name is akin to putting question marks on the Doctor's clothing — i.e. the series forgetting that we don't watch Doctor Who for the eponymous mystery, but rather for the amazing characters going on amazing adventures.

I am really starting to like Clara's character (not up to Donna levels yet, but approaching Jack Harkness heights), and it's more annoying than ever that the Doctor is a dick to her. Every time her past incarnations did appear, she was really super nice and helpful, so maybe not be such a dick, yeah?

That's enough for one night. What were your thoughts?