Monday, 29 April 2013

Doctor Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

“Don’t get in a spaceship with a madman!”

Interesting one, this. It seems to have divided opinion. No one thinks it’s awful and, to be clear, it certainly isn’t. But people are either enthusiastic or relatively lukewarm. I’m afraid I’m one of the latter.

It isn’t that the story itself is anything less than excellent. Much as I dislike reset buttons, this time it is earned and I liked the twist that the strange lava-like creatures were possible future version of everyone on board, consumed by the Eye of Harmony in the heart of the TARDIS. The reset button was used well, allowing Clara not only to learn about the time war but also the Doctor’s name (story arc alert!), while the Doctor gets to ask Clara the question he’s been longing to ask only to be told that she’s just Clara! She has no idea that she has ever lived before. Steve Thompson gets to have his cake and eat it, as all this is said without consequences for anyone but the viewer.

Also impressive is that the chief antagonist in this episode is not some dastardly, moustache- twirling baddie but simply three soulless brothers just out for a profit. They have so little poetry in their souls that they take sibling bullying to a new level, making the younger brother think he’s an android

What makes me question the episode a little, and it’s a tendency much seen of late, is that there’s an awful lot of fanwank here. I know it’s the fiftieth anniversary year, but is the general viewer really going to be interested in lines spoken by original companions Susan and Ian in the very first episode, or in sequences which are clearly a remake of the last episode of The Invasion of Time? Still, it’s good to see the library and the swimming pool. I was also impressed with the clever trick of allowing the same section of corridor to look different by the judicious use of lighting to tint the scenes in red or blue. Arguably, the fact that the corridors recall the Daleks' city from way back when is intentional.

Aside from the obvious arc stuff, it’s tempting to see the stuff with the star in The Rings of Akhaten as foreshadowing the climax of this episode. One thing I’m not sure of is whether the dislike the TARDIS holds towards Clara is explained; surely it was not only Clara who was fated to turn in to a lava beast? Another little niggle concerns the book detailing the history of the time war: if both the Daleks and the Time Lords were made extinct, or near as, who exactly was left to write it?!

I enjoyed it, I really did. And I’m enjoying this half of the season. I’m just beginning to worry a little that things are angled slightly to far towards the fans and not enough towards the general viewer.

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