Saturday, April 27, 2013

Echoes of the Past - Review of "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS"


I'm going to go around the block and catch my breath, but for now - enjoy this rather fabulous fan video of ... well... the TARDIS's Greatest Hits (or something - look, it came up on Facebook this week and it's just really really cool) before delving into my Spoiler-Filled Review of "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (yes, this is one American who can handle the British spelling - just to get that out of the way).


Short, Knee-Jerk Reaction of This Episode:

Simon Slowly Smiles photo 6zvxie.gif

Longer, More Rehearsed and Thought-Out Version:

For a long time, fans have been wishing and hoping for an episode that took place inside the TARDIS, just to see all the cool stuff that only gets hinted at in running from place to place.  Writers for the show have just as often said "Well, you need to have some kind of conflict and a TARDIS Interior episode really doesn't give you that opportunity."  And I was inclined to agree - after all, the TARDIS is Home Base.  It's where the Doctor and companions can zip back to in times of the utmost danger and laugh about very nearly getting eaten by some super-scary alien creature or being the main feature on "The Real Human Sacrifices of the Aztec Empire" (rewatched "The Aztecs" this week - seems like something they'd do. Probably).  Anyway - the TARDIS is where you are safest when traveling with the Doctor.

I'm not even going to deal with the salvage crew because they were a plot device - pure and simple.  They got this party started and they were dispatched - not quite as fast as I would have liked, but they were gotten rid of quick enough (there were moments when I was all "Really? We have to deal with your issues? THERE IS A TARDIS TO EXPLORE, DAMMIT!!")  This story is about the Doctor, Clara and the TARDIS.  Anything else is uninteresting periphery and I ignore it.

So - ever since I was little, I have this little "Happy Bouncy Seal Clap of Glee" that I do whenever something really, really, really excites me.  I will never post a picture or video of me doing this because it looks absolutely freaky in picture format (to me it does, anyway). It's kind of a mix of this -

Girl in Hat and Mittens Yell photo tumblr_lebq6dizca1qb6nwt.gif

 and this -

Risotto! Risotto! photo oooooohyayayay.gif

Now that you have that image in your head (sort of), this episode got the "Happy Bouncy Seal Clap of Glee" A LOT!  These are just a few things that got my motor running:

- The Library
- The History of the Time War - IN BOOK FORMAT! AND CLARA READ IT!! *dies* (I almost don't care that we didn't get to see it - Clara did! Except... well, I'll come back to that).
- The Swimming Pool
- And that one bit where the console room played lines from the past of Doctors and companions talking about the TARDIS - yeah, I had to play that one back twice (and I nearly fell out of my chair because - OMG YAY!!)
     - Question - Who all was speaking during that little montage?  I picked out the Third, Fifth and Ninth Doctors, plus lines from Susan and Ian from "An Unearthly Child" - but I know there were more that went way too quick for me to get a fix on. Someone will have a list, but for now I'll just be gleeing over what I heard.
- And what were those jars of Gallifreyan Thought Juice saying?  I didn't even hear anything coherent, but something about that made me go fangirl-nuts on that.

I have to mention a missed opportunity, though - and maybe it was just a matter of schedules and logistics and boring crap like that.  But I expected to see past console rooms like they did in "The Doctor's Wife."  And since they built the set of the console room from the 1960s for An Adventure in Time and Space, why couldn't they have Clara pop by and go - oh, hey, past desktop! and subsequently send everyone heads spinning like crazy?  Well - I guess they would have had to make it fit into the "Danger! Danger!" atmosphere of this episode and it would have been sad to bring in the Old School TARDIS just to wreck the place (it hurt just seeing the current console room and corridor beat to pieces like they were.  Poor, poor Sexy).

Burned-up zombies.  While I was taking notes, I had occasion to wonder what those things were and why they were in the TARDIS.  Being such a diligent note-taker, I wrote down the theories I had while I watched to see if they would be correct.  And here's what I came up with:

Mind you, this is only page 1
The "Earthshock" theory was total crack, as was the Master (hey, he got sucked into the Eye of Harmony - it could have been plausible!) - but I threw down the Clara theory because, why the hell not?  And when the scanner said the burned-up-zombie-thing was Clara, my head just about exploded. Because I had been given so many great and wonderful little happy nuggets in this episode (even though everyone was thisclose to dying) that I almost couldn't take anymore.  And when I wrote down "Echoes of the past" - thinking of the flashback-audio-clips - I had no idea how appropriate that would become by the end of the episode.

(I am also amazed how cool my handwriting looks when I'm writing fast).

So - the Elephant in the Room (as it were) - the Doctor told Clara that he'd seen her die before and her reaction to that news.  And then... she forgets.  By virtue of the Big Friendly Button.  You know, people whine and bitch about the Deus Ex Machina-type plot resolutions, but I liked this one.  Mostly because it was lampshaded to hell and back.  If it had been a bunch of timey-wimey mumbo-jumbo, that would have been a little much.  But the TARDIS had to regain it's status as a place of safety and security, otherwise we'd never be able trust the old girl again.  And to make it an actual Reset Button (that gets delivered by future!Doctor coming through a crack in the wall) - Clever Writer (see also: I See What You Did There)

(Either that, or Steve Thompson is the World's 2nd Biggest Troll. Steven Moffat is the 1st).

Of course, I wasn't entirely thrilled that Clara had to forget everything she'd learned and seen during her adventure (see also: Jamie McCrimmon, Zoe Heriot, Donna Noble - though those are more extreme cases. Still not thrilled about it) - but you can't love everything (and I guess I have to have a few things to bitch about or I wouldn't be a true Whovian).  But since there was some mention of the Doctor's name and his secrets and all that mysterious Time-Lordy-type-stuff, I figure that it's just some set-up for the finale and the 50th Anniversary Special (since we were promised the finale would lead into the 50th).  With that in mind, I'm okay with it.

All in all, it was an enjoyable episode with a few minor annoyances that I am more than capable of ignoring.  I got the fan-service TARDIS interior story that I wanted and it was a joyous thing.  I can't ask for anything more.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go rewatch the episode and pause to drool over that library.
Drooling Rainbow photo i5nnsg.jpg


Programming Note: Minus a few formatting and editing things, I do have my next post for Librarian in the TARDIS ready to go but life has been a beast this week so I've had to delay getting it actually posted. It should be up within the new couple of days - possibly tomorrow. Look forward to it!

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