Doctor Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS – spoilers


First Aired BBC1  18:30 27 April 2013

Director:  Mat King
Writer:  Steve Thompson

The Doctor: Matt Smith
Clara Oswald: Jenna-Louise Coleman

TARDIS TWTARDIS1Tricky: Jahvel Hall
Bram Van Baalen: Mark Oliver
Gregor Van Baalen:  Ashley Walters

This review includes spoilers, including the images above.

Viewers have been asking for this ever since Doctor Who returned to British TV screens in 2005. In the classic era we often saw other parts of the TARDIS, sucgh as:

  • A room just off the console room held the food vendor in the early days of the First Doctor.
  • A living area (The Edge of Destruction first aired BBC1 8 February – 15 February 1964).
  • The Fourth Doctor’s Secondary Console Room (The Masque of Mandagora first aired BBC1 4 September to 25 September 1976) which was used throughout the 14th season.
  • The Zero room (Castrovalva dirst aired 4 January to 12 January 1982)
  • Crew bedrooms throughout the Fifth Doctor;s time.

There are many other examples, including the many rooms seen in The Invasion of Time (first aired BBC1 4 February to 11 March 1978) such as a garden and swimming pool.

In the new series there have been a few tantalizing teasers, such as rooms being mentioned, including the swimming pool ending up in the library in Eleventh Hour (first aired BBC1 3 April 2010). There was a view of the Wardrobe in The Christmas Invasion that was quite satisfactory.

We’ve seen corridors in the new series but not enough rooms.

This time round we see corridors and rooms a plenty. The Library is particularly pleasing and the swimming pool is rather extravagant. The rooms are varied and in no sensible order, which is fitting. We also see the TARDIS rearranging itself to hinder the Van Balen’s when they start to try to steal parts.

The basic story surrounds the TARDIS being captured by three salvage operators, who are clearly operating below the legal requirements. The salvage ship takes the TARDIS on board without any attempts to identify it. When they find out there was a crew they plan to jettison it.

The crew is comprised of two brothers and an android. Throughout the story the two brothers are shown to be devious and uncaring while the android has compassion and appears to have morals.

This episode really delivers on the visual side of the story. We get to see some marvelous TARDIS interior shots. The whole thing looks great and it was fun to get a tour.

Unfortunately the plot is awful and the direction is decidedly odd, why does Clara giggle as she sees the odd rooms when supposedly fleeing in fear of a monster? I may be being unfair to the plot a little, the general idea is fine. Even the chase scenes work, apart from the giggling. The TARDIS’s reaction to the theft of part of her is perfect, as is the way the TARDIS tries to put Clara in a safe place by redirecting her to the Console Room all the time.

One part I particularly disliked was the scene in the power room on the gantry, it was just too much running around in a room when we had already had a perfectly good chase scene and labyrinth scene. This could have been handled in a much more measured pace with things happening inside the room slowly to reveal exactly what that the Time Zombies were without all the scampering from one door to another.

I also disliked the ending with future Doctor passing the solution to past Doctor so that the story simply never happened. I refer to these as ‘Shower Scene Endings’ and unless crafted well they are a big let down, this was a big let down.

There wee satisfying parts though, the voices of previous occupants coming from the console as it is being wrecked by Bram. Among the voices are Susan, explaining the name of the TARDIS as ‘Time And Relative Dimensions In Space’ (An Unearthly Child first aired BBC1 23 November to 14 December 1963) and the Ninth Doctor saying “The assembled hordes of Genghis Khan couldn’t get through that door. And believe me, they’ve tried” (Rose first aired BBC1 26 March 2005)

So this is a story in two halves. A really satisfying tour of the TARDIS with great ideas used and a flawed plot with a throw away ending. I’ll watch it again, but not for the plot.

Next Episode: The Crimson Horror

Previous Episode: Hide

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