Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x11: "Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS"

Written by Stephen Thompson
Directed by Mat King

The Doctor: “Running away with a spaceman in a box. Anything could happen to you.”
Clara: “That’s what I’m counting on.”

Yes, anything could happen to you, Clara and this week you got the delight of being nearly killed inside the TARDIS and learning some more about your new friend, only for this episode to make the head banging decision to have you forget it all again as we got the unwelcomed reset conclusion for resolving the dangers of this week’s episode.

I know people hate this show’s all too recurring ‘love saves the day’ meme it tends to do but I found the fact that Doctor managed to reset everything with a big friendly button more annoying in this one. Mainly because some actual progress had been made with him and Clara and it felt like this episode undid that, even though it’s obvious that Clara will remember her confrontation with the Doctor in three weeks time.

Speaking of confrontations, it was about time and almost appropriate that in the midst of the TARDIS actually being in jeopardy of blowing up that the Doctor took the time to confront Clara on her past selves. The fact that Clara genuinely seemed to be clueless as to what he was talking about seemed to shock him but perhaps this scene alone will stop the more outlandish conspiracy theories from going on about who Clara really is.

The last few episodes have gone to town in telling us that she’s just a normal girl and this episode hammered home that point as well. We still don’t know how or why we’ve seen two other versions of Clara out there but whatever mistrust the Doctor has had for his companion seems to have resolved itself, which was definitely needed at this point.

As for Clara herself, being trapped inside the TARDIS and seperated from the Doctor for a solid portion of this episode meant that she got to learn more about him than she normally would’ve done. The fact that she’s learned his name and didn’t really react that badly towards it though does make me wonder what exactly is going to be gained when River learns it and mentions it in the finale as well.

Then again, I suppose the argument could be made that Clara not understanding the big deal about his name was the reason why she didn’t react to it until this episode again made sure that she forgot the Doctor’s name. Whatever the pay off for this plot is going to be, it better be worth it because already there are plenty of fans who are baying for Moffat’s blood for even suggesting the idea of revealing one of the show’s best left alone mysteries.

As for the main plot of the episode – the TARDIS. Well, this episode did make the mistake of having the machine nearly killing everyone on board and making things impossible for the Doctor, Clara and the Van Baalen brothers and while we didn’t get as big an exploration around the vessel as I had hoped, it certainly didn’t disappoint too much.

It was nice to see Clara having a look around the observatory and passing the swimming pool and the Doctor’s concern for both his machine and Clara whilst dealing with the scavenging Van Baalen brothers and the Time Monsters terrorising them in the episode was handled reasonably well.

Personally I thought the actual reveal of the Time Monsters being a future version of everyone on board was suitably creepy and as monsters, I think they were one of the best we’ve had in the second half of this series, though they did seem a little similar looking to the Pyrovilles from the fourth series as well.

As for the Van Baalens – they’re not the most interesting guests we’ve had but we’ve had worse ones. Tricky mainly stood out, due to his empathy for the TARDIS and the fact that his brothers tricked him into thinking he was an android while Gregor stood out for his general lack of decency, meaning that only Bram felt like the weak link of the bunch to be honest. Still though it was their own greed and stupidity that pretty much endangered themselves and the TARDIS crew, so I’m in no hurry to see them again.

Also in “Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS”

Jenna-Louise Coleman and former showrunner Russell T. Davies celebrated their birthdays on the day this episode aired.

Tricky (to the Doctor, re Clara): “If she’s still in there, she’s dead.”

What sort of idiots use power tools on a ship that’s still sparking with life as well? Oh of course – the Van Baalens.

Gregor (to Bram): “Don’t try and form sentences. Stick to what you do best.”

The Doctor (to the Van Baalens): “Don’t get into a spaceship with a madman. Didn’t anyone ever teach you that?”

The Doctor tricking the Van Baalens into helping him find Clara was a good stroke until the TARDIS actually did become a danger.

Clara (to the Doctor): “Good guys do not have zombie creatures. Rule one, basic storytelling.”

Clara: “What aren’t you telling me?”
The Doctor: “Trust me, some things you don’t want to know.”

Clara saw the liquid form of Gallifreya Encyclopaedia, a book called The History Of The Time War (where she learned the Doctor’s name) as well as the Doctor’s cot and the TARDIS model Amy made in the observatory.

Gregor: “I’m sorry you’re human, Tricky.”
The Doctor: “Cut the metal. Go!”

The Doctor: “I brought you here to keep you safe but it happened again. You died again.”
Clara: “What do you mean again?”

Voice cameos in this episode were the First, Third, Fourth and Ninth Doctors along with Susan, Ian, Jo, Martha and Amy from what I could make out. We also saw the Eye Of Harmony fully in this one, had another Time Crack, got the Cloister Bell again and even the Seventh Doctor’s brolly.

The Doctor (to Clara): “I look at you every single day and I don’t understand a thing about you. Why do I keep running into you?”

Clara: “You’ll still have secrets.”
The Doctor: “It’s better that way.”

Chronology: No specific chronology in this one. How long has Clara been travelling with the Doctor now?

“Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS” certainly had it’s moments and it’s definitely a marked improvement on Stephen Thompson’s previous contribution to the show but the frustrating ending does prohibit it from being the classic it truly could’ve been. It’s a great TARDIS centred story but we’ve had better ones I’m afraid. Still I do imagine this will be an episode that’ll improve on further viewings.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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