Episode 105 – Doctor Who – Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Ben and Eugene discuss what they consider to significant structural flaws to both the story and the continuity of the latest episode of Doctor Who.

Simon provides a different point of view.

Coming soon, Fusion Patrol will be changing podcast hosts – keep listening for more details.

9 thoughts on “Episode 105 – Doctor Who – Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS”

  1. I haven’t listened to all of this yet, but I was surprised to hear you were looking forward to this one and thought it a poor premise! I agree about the premise – that’s why I wasn’t looking forward to it at all (and in the end I considered it to be a good episode after all…)

    I was also surprised to hear Invasion of Time described as ‘fresh’ and ‘entertaining’. Not words I would have expected anyone to associate with it! But that’s the pleasure of Doctor Who fans – diversity in opinion & hearing previously unimagined perspectives 😉

    1. I chose those words with some precision. Invasion of Time was really the first “interior TARDIS” story. Previous glimpses were just that, glimpses. As such, delving into the previously unexpected depths of the TARDIS was “fresh.”

      It was “entertaining” because of its absurdity, BUT that worked because it was Tom Baker. The mindless wandering was never really demonstrated to be anything other than the Doctor being lost. We only got brief glimpses of the ability for multiple doors to lead to the same place. The “sets” such as the pool and the hospital corridors were absurd, but they worked because Baker’s Doctor was eccentric. I could actually imagine the TARDIS taking on some of his eccentric characteristics as part of their symbiotic link.

      It was a short Alice down the rabbit hole piece. Plus, the Sontaran pursuit was superior than the time zombie pursuit because, presumably, the time zombies, as manifestations of the time rip, could appear anywhere at any time. The Sontarans and the Doctor were at least genuinely playing cat and mouse.

    2. I suppose I should also add that the Fourth Doctor was using the TARDIS as a defense/weapon against the Sontarans. This represented the Doctor using his knowledge and Time Lord technology as part of the solution.

      In JTTCOTT, the TARDIS is the problem, which sets the journey into a wholly different category of story. (And, of course, the story didn’t have an actual solution. Big Friendly Buttons don’t count.)

  2. And “Simon provides a different point of view” is unintentionally manifesting as a habit – the gulf between how much we seem to be enjoying the show at the moment is becoming comically gargantuan…!

    1. It is!

      And I want to get the opportunity to have you on the show to discuss that apparent gulf. Not because I want to opportunity to persuade you to change you opinion, but because I want to discuss why some things matter to some people more than to others.

      Perhaps we can manage to schedule a series-end wrap-up episode with the three of us.

      1. I want to discuss why some things matter to some people more than to others.

        I think you’ve put your finger on it there. I’ve just finished listening to the podcast episode. I really liked what Ben said; I too try to be careful how I frame my opinions no to dismiss others’ (I’m not, I fear, always successful). Saying an episode is ‘good’ is a convenient proxy for ‘I liked it’ and ‘bad’ for ‘I didn’t’, but, of course, episodes are neither good nor bad. There are aspects of them that are good or bad, but it’s the importance you place on those aspects that determine whether you like it or not.

        Many of your criticisms pick up on factual points (as opposed to what I think of as “straw-niggles” in the sense of ‘this is my interpretation of X but that interpretation makes no sense so X makes no sense’) and I can’t disagree with those facts, just their relative importance in my own personal enjoyment of the story. Thus – the reset ending doesn’t hold water – but it didn’t spoil the story for me. There were some sizzling exchanges between the Doctor and Clara. For me, that question of whether the Eye of Harmony is actually aboard the TARDIS, time-looped in Kasterborous or mass-produced and sold at filling stations doesn’t compare.

  3. Encyclopaedia Gallifrey in bottles: “the point of [an encyclopaedia] is you look stuff up”. Actually, the point would be knowledge acquisition, looking stuff up would be how that is currently done, and it’s hard to imagine that there might be more efficient ways of acquiring knowledge – but it is conceivable. We are ignorant of how that might be done – but if it involved storage bottles, it is again conceivable that two bottles might be able to store more information that one, and three more than two (and so forth…)

    I’m sort of doing a little advocacy here on behalf of the devil, because I did think it was a bit silly myself, but I’m genuinely taking issue with the assertion that this could never be how a future technology manifests, and could only be magic…

  4. “Advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic” is an axiom used far too often to justify horrific failures of creative writing, because they fail to follow a path of plausibility to the extended magical technology.

    Yes, show a 12th century peasant an airplane flying in the sky and they would not have a frame of reference other than “magic” (gods, devils and/or other supernatural beasties included in the category of magic.) I would argue though that you might be able to explain it to him using real world examples that he is familiar with to a degree where could accept that it isn’t magic. We could take him on the path of plausibility.

    However, show me a flying carpet and I’m going to have a hard time imagining a path of plausibility. Yes, we might be able to make fabric technology someday that would be reliable in those conditions. Yes, we might learn to defy gravity. Yes, we might even make that “rug” of a material than can generate the power necessary.

    Imagining that the pieces might be technology does not make a path of plausibility to a flying carpet. The future is not full of people commuting from work to home on flying carpets, that remains the province of Aladdin and his lamp.

    I think the Encyclopedia Gallifrey falls in that same category.

    Let us, for the sake of argument, carry physics, material science and information theory to their wildest reaches and say that you might, someday, be able to encode information in a liquid. Fine.

    I do not, however, think that it is plausible that ingesting it into your stomach is a viable means of assimilating that data. We do know that the stomach is not a path to direct information gathering. (And yes, I know we don’t see anyone drinking the liquid, but they are in apothecary bottles like you’d see in a wizard’s lair, it is rather implied. What are the other options for assimilating this information? Rubbing it in your hair? Enema? There’s still no plausible means of assimilating it. Perhaps there’s a machine somewhere you pour the liquid into and it feeds you the information. Maybe. Seems an illogical way to go about it, though.)

    I will also argue that “encyclopedia” is a word that has a specific meaning, and it is a reference work used for looking up and obtaining knowledge. Few people read the encyclopedia cover to cover. (Well, I did, but that’s another story.) Yes, it might change in time to mean something else, but you can’t just change the definition without letting the audience in on it. Besides, there’s a high likelihood that it was written in Gallifreyan and simply being translated into English by the TARDIS for Clara – in which case it would be using Clara’s 21st century definition of “encyclopedia.” Ergo, it’s a reference work.

    Then there’s the question of the segmentation of the data.

    They were segmented into different “volumes.” Surely that means each one has different contents – different knowledge. Let’s just pretend there were 26 volumes, one for each letter in the English alphabet and I want to learn about “Tyrannosaurus Rex.” Do I drink bottle T? Do I also get knowledge on Trains and Trampolines at the same time? Do I then have to go drink “D” for Dinosaurs, “E” for Evolution, “G” for Geology and “B” for Biology to gain the necessary grounding information?

    How do I dose the knowledge? Do I get more knowledge from a tablespoon than a teaspoon? How do I control what knowledge I get. Is it alphabetical from the top of the bottle to the bottom? What happens if I shake it up or stir it? Do I have to use a straw placed to a strategic depth to get the knowledge I’m after.

    Once I’ve drunk it, is the knowledge gone and unavailable to other users of the encyclopedia, or do I have to piss it back in the bottle when I’m done with it? Do I loose the knowledge when I do pee it out?

    Don’t even get me started on the fact that when she spilled the bottle it whispered AND letters formed in the air. More magic. Nothing else.

    To bring this full circle, during the 5-10 seconds this scene on-screen, the questions you see above are exactly what I was thinking. In 10 seconds I had been lead to thinking Clara would have to hitch up her skirt and piss the encyclopedia back into the bottle for the next person.

    This is why things like this matter to me when watching a show, because I cannot turn my brain off and ignore it.

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