Saturday, November 16, 2013

Doctor Who-Journey To The Center Of The Tardis

                         The TARDIS finds itself buckling and leaking gas when it is unknowingly taken in by the Van Baalen brothers Bram,Gregor and Tricky as cosmic salvage. When the doctor comes to he notices Clara has gone missing. The doctor approaches the bickering brothers,all of whom present Tricky as being an android,to come on board to see for themselves that what they are salvaging is no mere escape pod as they had thought but an advanced space/time device. His real objective is to locate Clara. In actuality Clara is trapped inside the TARDIS,which stretches into an infinite maze of corridors and an impossibly huge library where she learns of the doctors origins. And even his real name. In their search Gregor,hoping to find new salvage material comes across the artificial replication technology that maintains and constructs all the technology aboard the TARDIS and removes one of its nodes. The TARDIS for its part goes on the defensive from this act-locking the doctor and the Van Baalens into the same mobius that's trapped Clara. The doctor and Clara both arrive in the same place-an exit-less echo of the TARDIS's secure control room but on different intersections of the damaged time continuum within it. Using his sonic screwdriver to bring Clara into his dimension he finds himself and the Van Baalens menaced by the same monsters which had beforehand been menacing Clara. 

                       The doctor knows who they are but will not reveal this to Clara. When a series of metal control rods penetrate Tricky along their journey to fix the damage at the heart of the TARDIS, his injury forces the doctor to reveal to him he is not an android,but Gregor's injured brother who sustained memory loss and physical damage requiring robotic implants. And that him being an android was a cruel practical joke on Gregor's part. When the doctor reaches the eye of harmony-actually an enormous star held forever in a near super nova state,he reveals the "time zombies" they've been seeing represent a future Clara and Van Baalen brothers if,that is the present time fracture continues. After the Van Baalens sync up with this time frame and only remain as zombies,the doctor locates a message etched into Clara's hand about a big friendly button. This reveals to him what he must do-send a device back through a time crack in the side of the TARDIS to himself and Clara before they met up with the Van Baalens ship that caused the whole disaster and reset time itself. While Clara believes her memory of the doctor will be erased after this the evidence shows,even when time resets so the TARDIS is undamaged that Clara,the doctor and even Gregor Van Baalen retained something for their experience.

                         A few Whovians I've seen recently online claim that this is among their least favorite Doctor Who stories ever. In my opinion its one of the strongest of the 11th doctor era stories I've yet seen. Over the now half century legacy of Doctor Who we've seen bits and pieces of the TARDIS. And we know it has a biological component with a personality. But few stories have ever delved into the  nature of what the TARDIS is and its relationship with the doctor on its own terms. We start out with Clara getting the feeling the TARDIS doesn't trust her-mirroring an extreme version of the doctor's own puzzlement of her impossible existence from his perspective. When the opportunistic Van Baalen brothers interfere with the damage they caused to the TARDIS,the initially inconsequential nature of their characters changes at the revelation of Tricky's true identity. This projects in a quick and subtle way the fundamental anti bullying message behind Doctor Who itself. Clara and the doctor both learn about how the really are here through this story-on opposite levels as Clara learns he is much more than she thought,the doctor learning she is far less than he suspected. Though time is reset at the end of the story,the lingering thread of that memory remains etched at a point beyond time and space.

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