Monday, 12 January 2015
TARDIS Travels No.6
Viewers at the time had to wait for Zoe to finish watching that repeat of Evil of the Daleks before they could proceed to Season 6. If you think that this has meant an uninterrupted run of episodes (the repeat being woven into the on-going narrative of the show) you'd be slightly mistaken. Evil was paused for two weeks midway through its second run. Everything stops for Wimbledon Fortnight. Except rain, of course.
Journey 057: The Silver Carrier spaceship, c.2000, to Dulkis, date unknown.
Whilst Zoe is looking forward to some adventure, the Doctor needs a rest after projecting those mental images. He is delighted to find that he is back on Dulkis (referring to an unseen, undoubtedly Hartnell, adventure) as it should be an ideal place for a holiday. Only the Doctor could pick a nuclear test site about to be invaded by belligerent aliens as a holiday destination...
The Dulcians haven't changed since his last visit. He knows them to have no weapons or armies, little or no crime, and to be pacifist by nature.
The holiday ends with the TARDIS being engulfed in molten lava (so not quite as bad as a fortnight in Magaluf, then).
Journey 058: Dulkis, date unknown, to the Land of Fiction, date???
Technically, we are nowhere, and in no time, according to the Doctor. In order to escape from the lava flow - which, going by the Doctor's concern, implies that the ship is not totally indestructible - they have had to use an emergency switch mechanism. The Doctor is as worried about this as he is of the lava - probably more so - as it removes the TARDIS from time and space.
They appear to have materialised in a white void. Bizarrely, the TARDIS has turned white to match its surroundings. The same thing will happen to Jamie and Zoe once they are coaxed out of the ship, after seeing images of their homes on the scanner.
We know we are already in the Land of Fiction thanks to the presence of White Robots, that the Master of this realm can invade their minds, and that the producer credit for the episode appears on the ship's scanner. Yes, the Doctor's travels have been turned into a remarkably well made, considering the budget, TV show.
We get to see another part of the TARDIS - the power room. The emergency unit is time-limited. There is a series of audio warnings counting down to when the ship will automatically move on - presumably back into normal time / space.
Journey 059: Land of Fiction , date ???, to same. Or is it?
Things get a bit complicated here. On screen, the ship appears to dematerialise on a new journey, but the crew are still being mentally assailed by the Master. The ship appears to break apart - throwing the Doctor off into a black void whilst Jamie and Zoe cling to the control console, which spirals down into a bank of mist.
However, everything from the ship's break up onwards might never have happened at all - and the ship actually moves on to its next destination - a field in England. The Master is with the Doctor and his companions at the close of the story, stuck in another blank black void space, with the TARDIS nowhere in sight. The realm is destroyed, and the ship is then seen to reconstitute itself. The following story (The Invasion) begins with that reconstitution - with the Master nowhere to be seen and not even commented upon by anyone.
Without fully understanding the nature of the Land of Fiction, it is difficult, therefore, to understand what goes on in it. It does appear to be a physical space - not purely a fantastical, magical dream state. There is a bloody great computer controlling things after all, with robots, and whoever is behind it has a good old fashioned takeover of Earth planned.
The whole of parts two to five of The Mind Robber might all be part of the mental assault by the Master, with the Doctor and his companions unconscious in the control room and "dreaming" the whole incident. It has been argued that the White Robots are metaphors for the Daleks, and the Clockwork Soldiers for the Cybermen.
I'll be damned if I know the answer. Time to get back to reality.
Journey 060: The Land of Fiction, date ???, to SE England, 1970.
The thing about UNIT dating is that it needs to be looked at three ways.
First is what is said on screen. Second is what is seen on screen. Third is what the production team intended - which is nearly always totally contradicted by number two. And sometimes by number one.
Let's deal with the last one first. (It's UNIT dating, why do things simply?)
Both Derrick Sherwin and Barry Letts have gone on record stating they intended UNIT stories to be set not in the present day but sometime in the "near future". Letts and his script editor Terrance Dicks refined this further to five minutes in the future. Not literally, but meaning very near future. (This is something Russell T Davies will follow, by shifting all of the contemporary / "Powell Estate" stories on by one year with Aliens of London). A certain future producer, however, threw a spanner into these workings - all down to the unavailability of a particular actor. (William Russell - it's all your fault).
So that is what was intended.
As to what was said, we need to go back to The Abominable Snowmen, as I mentioned in the last of these posts. 1935 is specified as the date of Professor Travers' visit to Det-Sen, and the events of that story. In The Web of Fear, he states that those events took place over 40 years ago - so it must be at least 1975. In The Invasion, the Brigadier then goes on to state that that adventure occurred about 4 years ago. Which puts The Invasion around 1979. The Pertwee and early Tom Baker stuff must, therefore, all take place in the first half of the 1980's. (I'll cover what Sarah says in Pyramids of Mars when I get to that particular journey). JNT's big spanner is, of course, that it says quite clearly in Mawdryn Undead that the Brigadier retired from UNIT in 1976, and he's a school teacher in 1977.
Which brings us onto what is seen on screen. Yes, there are things like a UK space programme, and, no, there haven't been any alien invasions occurring with monotonous regularity in the Home Counties throughout the early 1970's - so all of this must happen sometime in the future. Yes?
No. Unless those alien invasions affected car production and prompted people to stop paying road tax, registration plates and tax discs say that the Pertwee stories took place in the first half of the 1970's. If you thought that the 70's were the decade that fashion forgot, as someone who lived through them I can assure you that the 80's were worse. There isn't a single set of shoulder pads or a Flock of Seagulls hairdo anywhere to be seen in the Pertwee era. No-one, in any 1970's story, looks like Nik Kershaw. Jo never goes overboard with the rouge and mascara and the hairspray. Only the Doctor wears frilly shirts. He inspired the New Romantics - rather than merely followed them.
And then there's the small matter of pre-decimal currency in stories supposed to be set after we went all decimal in the UK.
Mrs Thatcher in power at the time of the Zygon Gambit? No - Shirley Williams, taking over from Jeremy Thorpe (see The Green Death).
Then we get to the previously mentioned Mawdryn Undead. You can't just stick your head in the sand and pretend that this story never took place. By 1977, the Brigadier has retired from UNIT and he is teaching at Brandon School...
If you sometimes dream of the TARDIS landing in your back garden and whisking you off on adventures, I'm sorry. You're living in the wrong Universe. Perhaps the Doctor never did escape from the Land of Fiction, and he's been there ever since...
I am assuming that if you are reading this Blog you are possessed of an open mind and an imagination. You will easily get over this, and the TARDIS can still materialise in your garden.
The TARDIS materialises in a field somewhere in the Home Counties (Vaughn's compound is relatively close to London). Some of the ship's circuits need to be repaired and so the Doctor removes them - intending to get Professor Travers to help fix them. Their removal renders the ship invisible.
You are probably wondering why I have gone for 1970 as the date? I'm breaking my own rule about it being roughly the broadcast date if no date is shown on screen. It's a feeble attempt to at least try to reconcile some of what I have just covered.
In The Web of Fear, Travers is an old man and under stress, and so his estimation of "40 years ago" is simply a mistake - a miss-remembrance. (And before you start accusing me off being ageist, I have no issues with old men. I fully intend to be one myself one of these days).
Likewise, the Brigadier's recollection of those events being a certain number of years ago can't be a precise figure - but at least some time must have passed (He's talking in terms of years instead of the months which existed between the broadcast of the two stories). If we assume it was years - just not the right number of years - and we take Spearhead From Space to be set in 1970, and then assume that that later story might have only happened a short time after The Invasion, then we can push this story into the early part of 1970.
Instead of being a couple of years apart, as broadcast, The Invasion occurs only weeks or a couple of months before the Doctor turns up wearing his new face.
I've had enough of this. I'm overdue another telesnap. Let's get back into Time and Space.
Journey 061: South East of England, 1970, to the planet of the Gonds, date unknown.
Nothing to see here. Please move on.
Journey 062: Planet of the Gonds, date unknown, to same.
The TARDIS makes its first proper journey without the captain at the wheel (though do please see previous posts concerning where the ship left from somewhere other than where it had landed).
The Hostile Action Displacement System activates when the ship is attacked by one of the Krotons. It dematerialises, and then rematerialises some distance away - further up the cliff from where it had originally landed.
This planet is unnamed. The Krotons give each Gond that name as if it was a name (Abu Gond, Vana Gond, etc) - so maybe it is actually a tribal or familial name rather than that of their race (like the Slitheen).
Journey 063: Planet of the Gonds (further up the mountain) to Earth, 21st Century.
The TARDIS materialises in a private museum devoted to space travel, belonging to Professor Daniel Eldred. The date is never clearly specified but has always been assumed to be 21st Century. Humankind's lack of interest in space exploration might tie in with the era of Kill The Moon, but the Moonbase owes its look more to the earlier Cyberman story than to the unit we see in the 2014 episode. I'm inclined to believe this takes place after The Moonbase - in which case humans have learned nothing. It was a mistake to stick your weather control systems up on the Moon, and it's equally stupid to stick the technology underpinning your over-reliance on T-Mat up there as well. What was the point of UNIT if no-one has learned anything about potential alien threats?
Journey 064: Earth, 21st Century, to Space Navigation Beacon Alpha 4, date unknown.
Here's another reason for thinking that the events of Journey 059 might not have happened, as such: Zoe knew what candles were in the Land of Fiction, but doesn't in this story.
The Doctor and his companions get separated from the ship when Caven's pirates blow the beacon apart. The section with the ship on board drifts off to an orbit around Lobos, and the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe can only get back to it after accepting a lift from Milo Clancey in his battered old LIZ 79.
Journey 065: Beacon Alpha 4, Lobos orbit, date unknown, to 1917 War Zone on unnamed planet, date unknown.
The TARDIS materialises in what at first appears to be No Man's Land in France, 1917. It is really some other world controlled by an unnamed alien species who are trying to create a super-army using the survivors of a number of war games, the participants all lifted from Earth's history.
Journey 066: 1917 War Zone on unnamed planet, date unknown, to an ocean on unknown world, date unknown.
A reused clip from the opening episode of Fury From The Deep. Because of the TARDIS' propensity for favouring Earth, this may be our planet. Instead of resting on the surface of the water, the ship appears to sink beneath the waves. If it is Earth, it is somewhere tropical. The Time Lords start breaking down the defences, and water starts to seep into the control room.
Journey 067: Ocean - date and location unknown - to a swamp, also date / location unknown.
Again, potentially Earth. The swamp is infested with crocodiles. Or are they alligators? "I'm a social worker, Jim. Not a naturalist!", as another famous doctor might have said.
Journey 068: A swamp - location and date unknown - to outer space, date unknown.
A reused clip from the opening episode of The Web of Fear (we even see the web starting to form).
Journey 069: Outer space, date unknown, to Gallifrey, date unknown.
The only thing we know about Time on Gallifrey is that Time Lords only ever seem to meet themselves in the correct order, as of when we get to see them. This is obviously one of their Laws - that they cannot interact out-with their own continuity. In the same way the Doctor isn't supposed to cross his own time-stream, so it is with Time Lords in general.
Of course, it is never stated on screen at this point but we know that this is Gallifrey. The name is still waiting for Robert Holmes to invent it.
The War Lord tries to steal the TARDIS but fails. Zoe and Jamie get returned to their own times, at a point just after their first encounter with the Doctor - so they will at least remember him, if not their further adventures together. They leave in what appear to be TARDISes in their natural, undisguised forms. (It's the model du jour. In The Claws of Axos, the Master's TARDIS appears to be a white cabinet not dissimilar from a port-a-loo, with no door opening sliding outwards as seen in this story. And in The Name of the Doctor, Type 40's at least are cylindrical).
And so endeth Season 6 - appropriately enough, for 1969, with Journey 069. For believers in Season 6b, the next journeys will include that seen in the opening moments of The Two Doctors. I've already posted on this, if you care to time-travel yourself back to 2013 in the archive.
If you think that Season 7 will have nothing much to say about the TARDIS, just you wait...