Doctor Who episode 811: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (27/4/2013)

‘How big is this baby?’ So far, Series Seven hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, but it’s mostly been fine. There haven’t been many new ideas on the table – we’ve had RTD, Shearman and Roberts pastiches – and episodes that haven’t quite landed the ending. But this, from the writer of the unloved Curse of the Black Spot, seems to me like a complete misfire, even if it’s bad for different reasons.

Those include having Coleman cut off from the rest of the characters, forced to wander round talking to herself like she’s in an early Big Finish audio. There’s a powerful ick factor in the Doctor and Clara’s relationship here: at a crucial moment the Doctor confronts Clara, the twice-dead woman, only to decide she’s human after all which results in him hugging her and then kissing the palm of her hand when he sees the solution written there. And then, when the literal reset button is pushed, he decides to withhold the truth from her – even though a few minutes before he’s been disgusted by Gregor Van Baalen hiding the truth of Tricky’s own nature.

The Van Baalen plot doesn’t work – the motivation for pretending Tricky is a robot is ‘a stupid joke’ (what?), and the impetus for revealing the truth is that Gregor won’t cut his arm off to free him from a metal pole – a pole which Gregor then cuts through rendering the entire sequence pointless. Then, at the end they’re reset into a happy-ish family despite events never happening (again, how? Why?). And then there’s the questionable casting decision to make a family of space robbers Black, which raised some eyebrows. I just don’t understand what anyone involved was thinking.

And past that, nothing in this feels fresh. We’ve just had an episode where an indistinct shape pursued the Doctor and Clara through a haunted landscape. A year ago, there was an episode where Amy and Rory got trapped inside the TARDIS corridors with mixed-up future versions of themselves. The Silurian spaceship has already presented us with incongruous rooms and the TARDIS engines are weirdly close to the beach wave generator.

I guess the Doctor climbing through a crack from an exploding TARDIS to warn himself is a charming Series Five call-back, and the nature of the story sort of allows this get-out-of-jail resolution. And some of the TARDIS interiors are impressively weird (the light tree; the Eye of Harmony looking even odder than the TV Movie; the exploding engines). Not enough, though, to offset the plot, characterisation or one of the worst performances this side of Karfel.

Next Time: The Crimson Horror


One comment

  1. Pingback: Doctor Who episode 810: Hide (20/4/2013) | Next Time...

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