Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Doctor Who Review: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Ha! Spell check tried to change "centre", that's what I get for trying to speak English instead of American. So now that I've gotten going with this I began reading more reviews of the episodes. Are my reviews too long? I'm thinking of experimenting with a shorter review, one that sums up and gives opinions and bullet points rather than including a description of the episode. I've made an attempt here, but not sure it made much of a difference. There also needs to be something for everyone and some of you seem to like these reviews, but I have no idea how many repeat hits I'm getting, so I'm putting a poll in the sidebar to find out if my type of review is what you like to read or if it might be worth trying more of an overview. Longer/Shorter. Easy choice.

Sorry about the lateness of the review. We are moving in 2 weeks, just under actually. I really enjoyed "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS". The only thing I really wish is that it could have been a more enjoyable romp, but what kind of 45 minutes would that have been? I've read so much negativity and I say "poppycock". Who cares if the corridors were spaceshipy, what did you expect them to do crawl through some esophageal tubes? Look at the classic series. Someone wanted to see more things like the wardrobe room from "The Christmas Invasion". That's not the TARDIS theme now. We got some fantastic rooms. Some were brief glimpses, but overall they showed what a bizarre, fantastical place the TARDIS interior is. The music was so-so this week. Or perhaps it was good and I've been spoiled over the previous weeks. The monsters were good, kind of crusty lava creatures, and I was for one gut wrenched when I found out what they were. Made them that much more horrifying. They were shot well with that blur effect and shaky glimpses to scarily tease.

A salvage ship run by the Van Baaren brothers picks up the TARDIS on their sensors. The Doctor is trying to get Clara to talk to the TARDIS to get along. This was a great 360 degree shot of the console room they are for the first time able to do with this set. He tries to let Clara fly her, shutting things down to basic mode, allowing the salvage ship to do a magno grab (good effect) and bring her in. A scared Clara asks The Doctor if he doesn't just have a button he can press to stop this. A big friendly button that could be the bane of this episode. A magno grab remote falls on the TARDIS floor. Clara picks it up and it singes her hand.

The Doctor meets the brothers, who can't get into the TARDIS. When he realizes Clara is still inside, The Doctor brings the three in with him, confused why the android brother needs a breathing mask. There's a tension between the brothers from the get go. Inside, the TARDIS cloister bells are ringing. The Doctor says the TARDIS is infinite and explains it has a different gravity, which is why it is level when the outside is at a slant. We start to see it as Clara wakes in a damaged corridor, red lights flashing. She walks around and finds burned scratch marks in a hand pattern on the wall. The Doctor enlists the brothers to help him by setting the self destruct, giving them 60 minutes. When they balk The Doctor reduces the time to 30 minutes. They relent at the threat of 15 minutes.

Clara finds a storage room with stone walls as if inside a castle. Things like this seem to have been an issue, things that didn't "fit in". The TARDIS doesn't make sense. Why would all the rooms have a uniform look? Now that sounds like a spaceship to me. Anyway, Clara finds lots of stuff like The Doctor's cot and Amy's homemade TARDIS, but one of the monsters is there and Clara runs. Words on her hand are starting to appear. She runs past 2 rooms I wanted to see more. An observatory and the swimming pool, and clearly both were under starlit skies. That magical TARDIS.

One of the brothers starts to take the console apart and we hear voices from the past, Susan and Ian from the first episode, the 4th Doctor, the 9th Doctor, some more that I need to try and decipher. All quotes about the TARDIS and her function. The brother in charge (sorry i don't know their names yet) finds an awesome room. There's a tree like structure, living metal that will build whatever machine you desire. The Doctor says it's the architectural reconfiguration system. The brother takes a circuit, these awesome lit globes that hang from the branches of the tree. The TARDIS doesn't like this and traps them in a maze of corridors. Under the console, the one brother is climbing down. Descending from under the console are these lit tendrils. The brother falls and is killed by one of the monsters, burned.

Clara finds two great things in the massive library. A book on pedestal called The History of the Time War.The mind can only wonder what that story is like.Then on some shelves there are bottles labeled, Encyclopedia Gallifrey in volumes. (I couldn't see the end of the word so I'm not sure if they spelled encyclopedia that way, but I think not) You can hear whispered voices coming from the luminous liquid/vapor in the bottles. One is knocked over and the voices are clearer, but I still haven't identified them. But the encyclopedia of Gallifrey in bottles? Interesting concept. Clara gets past the monster and runs. She is led to an echo console room and the TARDIS wont let her leave.

The Doctor knows what the monsters are, and he says he is sorry to a conjoined pair. The Doctor and android brother are led to a different echo console room, but they soon locate Clara in the other one and rescue her before the monster she let in gets her. Good screaming, Jenna-Louise. So it turns out the self destruct was a fake out, "HA" to all those who balked at the idea of the TARDIS having a self destruct. But they're in proper trouble because the engine is overloading. The leave for the centre of the TARDIS. Clara gets separated and sees conversations she and The Doctor were having earlier. The Doctor finds her and says the TARDIS got a tear in the fabric of the continuum when the salvage ship brought them in and time is leaking through. More of the words appear on Clara's hand. But they're under the primary fuel cells and the rods begin to break. One traps the android brother, forcing him to learn he isn't an android, but a real human brother they had been playing a joke on after an accident left him with no memory. That's a pretty intense joke.

Ok, the big moment, the TARDIS power source room. The Doctor says too long in the room and their cells will liquefy and they'll start to burn. The Doctor goes to see if it's all clear and they all go in. I wasn't expecting this. He has an exploding sun, in the act of becoming a black star, ripped from orbit and suspended in a permanent state of decay, inside a room in the TARDIS. This is the Eye of Harmony. It is magnificent to behold, a room that contained the vastness of space, and a dying star suspended out there before you. But it turns out the way isn't clear anymore. Clara learns the monsters are them. The future is also leaking through and they die here. They kill the monsters but the brothers are touching so time reasserts itself and the conjoined monster is born again.

Through a doorway The Doctor and Clara seem to have ended up on the cliff of a quarry. Thinking the end is here, The Doctor tries to get Clara to tell him what she is, and he realizes she doesn't know what he's talking about. The Doctor realizes the quarry is fake, it is like the snarl of a wounded animal, keeping you from the wound. They jump and cross a portal to the engine room, the heart of the TARDIS, and it has already exploded. The Doctor and Clara stand among suspended pieces of wreckage against an all white surrounding. The TARDIS has wrapped her hands around the force, but even that's only temporary. She is beyond saving and The Doctor is at a loss. Until he holds Clara's hand.

The burned letters have all raised and they say "Big Friendly Button". Yes, the big friendly button solution. Come on, get over it. We all get to use it once. Let it make you laugh instead of making you angry, you'll live longer. They go and find the time rift, which looks oddly like "the crack" on its side. Time will set back if this works and Clara will forget everything, including what she read in that book. She tells The Doctor, "You call yourself the Doctor, but you have a name, I've seen it in" then she pauses and says "in one corner of that tiny..." but The Doctor stops her. What was she going to say? One corner of what tiny what? What Clara??  The Doctor slips through the rift and throws the remote. He had burned the letters in with the sonic screwdriver. He threw it into the past, right after Clara had asked if The Doctor even had a button he could press. The Doctor presses it.

The brothers are back on their salvage ship, except the one in charge seems to feel like treating the "android" better. Clara has forgotten. The Doctor asks if she feels safe. It's important for him to know she's not afraid. Afraid of the future and running away with a spaceman in a box. Anything could happen. Clara tells him "That's what I'm counting on. Push the button" and gestures towards the console.

Was it one of the best episodes ever? I don't know until I see how it stands the test of time. But I was very happy with the result. Much more so than the extra interior shots in "The Doctor's Wife". I'm probably one of the few that actually likes the interior shots in "The Invasion of Time", but being American the interior of this hospital they used was still quite foreign to me. Aside from that I still really liked the story. The Van Baaran brothers were a bit one dimensional  but certainly not the waste of time some will have you think they were. If it had been just The Doctor and Clara they probably would have called it too boring. It is definitely enough to keep series 7 up there as one of my favorite series since the show returned.

Up Next: The Crimson Horror

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