Thursday, 5 February 2015

TARDIS Travels No.11

The beginning of Season Eleven sees the Doctor still based on Earth and working alongside UNIT, despite the departure of Jo Grant and the lifting of his exile. The Brigadier is having trouble with scientists going missing, so has the bright idea of putting all those at risk under one roof. The Doctor joins them - along with his TARDIS. Professor Rubeish decides to use it as a blackboard at one point. On discovering that the scientists are being taken back in time by the Sontaran officer Linx, the Doctor gives chase - unaware that he has a stowaway aboard...

Journey 096: Unspecified location in England, 1974, to Wessex, 13th Century.
When I saw this on its initial broadcast, for some reason I thought that the building where the scientists were being held was built on the remains of Irongron's castle. It's a whopping coincidence if it is, but then again how does Linx go about locating all the missing people from his base in the 13th Century? The date comes from Sarah the Stowaway. Many people assume that Sir Edward's men are away fighting in the Crusades - but if that was the case he would have specifically said so, rather than that they are just away fighting some interminable wars. If you were on Crusade, then you were on Crusade. I suspect that it might be the time of King John's conflicts with his barons, so early 13th Century.
The TARDIS is accurate as it is specifically following the trace left by the Sontaran, but the way the Doctor gives it a pat suggests that he wasn't 100% sure it would work.
Rubeish's chalkings do not survive the trip through the Vortex.

Journey 097: Wessex, 13th Century, to London, 1974.
The TARDIS materialises in a park some considerable distance from UNIT's last seen HQ - which was clearly outside London. The ship seems to know not to go there but doesn't quite get to where the Brigadier has set up his temporary base. (The sequence was actually filmed in the Wimbledon area).
Some time has elapsed since the Doctor and Sarah left - a matter of weeks at least, though events in the 13th Century only lasted a couple of days. UNIT troops find and move the TARDIS to the school where the temporary HQ has been set up.
(It is an odd school that can have nursery-age drawings pinned up in the same classroom where there is a detailed drawing of the human eye on the blackboard).
After defeating the Operation Golden Age fanatics, the Doctor offers Sarah a trip to the planet Florana.

Journey 098: London, 1974, to Exxilon, date unknown.
On its way to Florana, the TARDIS gets caught up in the energy draining influence of the City on the planet Exxilon. The date is generally thought to be around the 28th Century.
The ship loses all electrical power (but, strangely, never goes completely pitch dark). We see that it has hexagonal shaped light units.

There was a time when the Doctor could open the main doors with his signet ring when the ship had lost power, but now he resorts to an old-fashioned hand crank - like the starting handle for a vintage car.
There have been many instances so far of the TARDIS appearing to travel in ordinary Space / Time - otherwise how can so many external factors influence it so much. Technically, the City doesn't necessarily drain all power - just suppresses it, as the TARDIS and the Dalek saucer spring back to life as soon as the beacon is destroyed. Neither has to refuel or recharge in any way.

Journey 099: Exxilon, date unknown, to Peladon, date unknown.
Dating all depends on whether you think the Federation came before or after the Empire. All we know is that it is some 50 years after the last visit. King Peladon is dead, and his daughter Thalira is now Queen. (Some people have speculated how Thalira rather resembles Jo. Unless male Peladonians are the ones who get pregnant, this is a non-starter...).
The TARDIS is half a century out. It is another period of crisis in Peladon's history. Considering that the Time Lords had a special interest in this planet previously, can we possibly detect their unseen hand here as well?

Bearing in mind what happens in the next story, there is a rather touching moment when the Doctor pauses in the TARDIS doorway to take one final look at Peladon - the last time he will see it, at least with these old eyes... (If you have the DVD, just fast forward to the last 3 seconds for the best thing about this story...).

Journey 100: UNIT HQ, 1974, to Metebelis III, 55th Century (?).
The human colonists may have been part of the "great breakout" of the 51st Century - so it's possibly about 400 years after that. They refer to Time Jump engines, which fit with an age when there are Time Agents larking about.
Sarah has gotten herself transported by mandala-power to the planet of the Eight-Legs, and so the Doctor has to give chase to rescue her. As we know, the co-ordinates of the planet are hard-wired into the journey programmer. The ship's telepathic circuits enable it to follow Sarah to the specific location and date.

Journey 101: Metebelis III, 55th Century (?), to Berkshire, 1974.
We know that the meditation centre is close to Mortimer, Reading - it's where Sarah got off the train in part one. The TARDIS materialises in the cellar, where the Doctor and Sarah appear to catch Mike Yates and Cho-Je in a very compromising position...

Journey 102: Berkshire, 1974, to Metebelis III, 55th Century (?).
The Doctor has been convinced by his old Time Lord guru K'anpo that he has to return his stolen blue crystal to the Great One, ruler of the giant spiders. The ship materialises in a different location from last time - much closer to the spiders' lair, though still a fair walk from the Blue Mountain in which the Great One resides.

Journey 103: Metebelis III, 55th Century (?), to UNIT HQ, 1974.
The TARDIS brings the dying Doctor back home, just in time for the first genuinely moving Doctor demise.
It has been three weeks or so since he left for Metebelis III, as far as the Brigadier and Sarah are concerned. We don't know how long it has been from the Doctor's perspective, though he does say he got lost in the Vortex. One of the books says it was 10 years, but that seems just a little bit b*ll*cks to me. (Yes, Doctor Ten - dying from the same thing - went on an extended farewell tour but he could have managed all of that in just a few hours - depending on how long the queue at that book signing was. It feels longer - much as that interminable ending to LOTR: Return of the King did. Should have ended with the ship sailing off into the Claude Lorrain landscape, set to the accompaniment of that gorgeous Annie Lennox song...).

So endeth the reign of the Third Doctor. The TARDIS is sat quietly back in its corner of the lab at UNIT HQ, but now there's a new Doctor about to burst onto the scene - all hair and teeth and attitude. Join me next time, for what promises to be, possibly, the shortest post in this blog's history...

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