Saturday, 24 January 2015

TARDIS Travels No.9

Season Nine opens with the TARDIS console once more out of its box, though this is now the new console that made its début in Claws of Axos. As the Doctor tinkers with it, he and Jo suddenly see themselves standing in the lab doorway. Readers of the Target novelisation will know that this is actually the Doctor and Jo from the end of the story returning to the lab - and therefore seeing their earlier selves at the console. On screen, we are denied the pay off to this sequence.

Journey 079: UNIT HQ, 1972, to Peladon, date unknown.
Sometime in the far future when Earth is part of the Galactic Federation. The Doctor thinks he has got the TARDIS working again and is taking Jo to a dinner engagement with Captain Mike Yates by way of a test flight. The scanner fails to operate. The ship has materialised on a fairly narrow ledge half way up a mountain. The Doctor and Jo have only just left the ship when it tumbles down the cliff. The Doctor later realises that this has been a mission initiated by the Time Lords - to assist Peladon's entry into the Federation at this crucial time. No doubt they deliberately landed the ship in such an inconvenient place so that the Doctor would have to persevere with the mission rather than just head straight back home again.

Journey 080: Peladon, date unknown, to UNIT HQ, 1972.
King Peladon's men find the TARDIS and have it carried up to the citadel. The Doctor and Jo hope to stick around for the coronation ceremony, but the arrival of the real Earth delegate forces them to leave in a hurry. As it has been a Time Lord mission, it is unlikely that the Doctor will have been able to make good on his promise to take Jo to Queen Victoria's coronation instead.

Journey 081: Unit HQ, 1972, to Skybase One, orbiting Solos, 30th Century.
Another mission from the Time Lords. A mysterious black spheroid materialises in the Doctor's lab, and the ship suddenly becomes operational. The TARDIS materialises in a storeroom on the Skybase from where the colonial Overlords govern Solos. Earth's empire is on its way out. A rather byzantine way for the Time Lords to deliver a message,

Journey 082: Skybase One, 30th Century, to UNIT HQ, 1972.
Mission accomplished, the Doctor and Jo break into the storeroom to retrieve the TARDIS and head back home.

Journey 083: A hole in the ground in Cambridgeshire, 1972, to the Master's TARDIS, 1972.
The Doctor has the Brigadier transport the TARDIS to the Newton Institute, near Cambridge, after discovering that the Master is at work there. It is quite an eventful journey - the convoy being waylaid by knights in armour, Roundheads and then a V1 "doodlebug" rocket (hence it ending up in a hole in the ground). Realising that the Master is going to travel back in time to Atlantis in order to seize the crystal that controls Kronos, the Doctor decides to trap him here by materialising his ship around his enemy's. This is the first time that we see ever the TARDIS go exactly where it is supposed to. Things don't go totally to plan, however. Whilst the Master's ship is now inside the Doctor's as intended, his ship is also inside the Master's.

Journey 084: Master's TARDIS into the Vortex.
A journey of sorts. After the Master has cast the Doctor into the Vortex, he then separates the two TARDISes - leaving Jo stuck alone in the Doctor's ship. The telepathic circuits manage to locate the Doctor and bring him back on board. Back in Part One of The Web of Fear, the Doctor had suggested that Salamander might actually have survived being cast adrift in the Vortex, but by Utopia it is clearly fatal to humans. Note also that the posters attached to the TARDIS in Vincent and the Doctor are incinerated by the journey - yet an arrow fired by one of Queen Elizabeth I's bodyguards seems unaffected.

Journey 085: The Vortex to Atlantis, c.1500 BC.
The Doctor follows the Master to Atlantis. Worth noting, if you didn't see my recent piece on Logopolis, that the chameleon circuit of the Master's TARDIS does not seem to be operating. His ship remains in the shape of a large computer bank throughout this story. Again, the Doctor's TARDIS goes where it is supposed to go. If the Time Lords are monitoring all this and intervening, it certainly isn't mentioned at all. And if they were, why did they not send the TARDIS directly to the Doctor at the Institute?

Journey 086: Atlantis, c.1500 BC, to a void outside space and time.
Following an attempted Time Ram, the ship materialises in Kronos' natural habitat, along with the Master's ship. The Time Ram seems to be more than just materialising two TARDISes in the same place at the same time - otherwise what did the Doctor just do back at the Institute? See the aforementioned Logopolis for more TARDIS within TARDIS shenanigans.

Journey 087: Void outside space and time, to Newton Institute, Cambridgeshire, 1972.
The TARDIS materialises in the TOMTIT lab, exactly where the Master's TARDIS had stood - in other words where the Doctor had first materialised it when trying to stop him leaving.

Only one story in Season Nine did not to feature the TARDIS at all (The Sea Devils). Season Ten will see the Doctor's exile lifted, and he will spend quite a bit of time trying to get to a planet called Metebelis III...

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Story 115 - Logopolis

In which the Doctor becomes worried about the state of the TARDIS. Adric finds him brooding in the cloister room, contemplating on how the more you fix things, the more they fall apart. In short, he is worried about entropy. He decides that it is about time that the Chameleon Circuit was repaired. Rather than face awkward questions about Romana, he decides to forego the planned visit to Gallifrey. Instead, he will materialise the TARDIS around a real Police Public Call Box so that its measurements can be taken. These will be used by the Logopolitans to help repair the circuit. Logopolitans use the mathematics of block transfer computation to model space / time events.
Unbeknownst to the Doctor, the Master has already materialised his TARDIS around the police box - disguised as the same. This sets up a temporal trap, where the Doctor and Adric discover that within the police box is another control room with a police box in it. And within that is another control room with a police box in it, and so on.
The box sits in a lay-by, and a car has broken down here. Australian air stewardess Tegan Jovanka was getting a lift to Heathrow Airport to start her new job, driven there by her Aunt Vanessa. Vanessa sees a white figure watching from the fields opposite, though it has vanished when Tegan looks. Vanessa goes to the police box to summon assistance - and is killed by the Master. When she fails to return, Tegan follows and enters the box, becoming lost in the maze of TARDIS corridors. The Doctor and Adric emerge from the temporal trap to find themselves in the lay-by. The Doctor observes the white watching figure, which troubles him deeply. The police have arrived, and want to question the Doctor about two shrunken corpses sitting in Vanessa's car - her own and that of a policeman who had entered the box just after the Master had arrived.

The Doctor realises his old enemy has escaped from Traken. Adric stages a diversion, and the Doctor rushes back to the TARDIS and dematerialises. The Master's ship is hidden aboard. To flush him out, quite literally, the Doctor decides to materialise the ship underwater - aiming for the Thames in West London. They miss and land on a pontoon. The Doctor sees the Watcher once more and goes to speak with him. On returning to the ship, the Doctor sets the co-ordinates for Logopolis. Tegan finally finds her way to the control room. With her aunt dead at the Master's hands, she must go with them. The TARDIS arrives on Logopolis, landing in a settlement of small dwellings grouped around a radio-telescope - which the Doctor is surprised to see. Logopolitans normally use only pure mathematics in their work with no need for technology. The Master materialises his ship outside the TARDIS, intent on a scheme of his own. The Doctor, Adric and Tegan are greeted by the Logopolitan leader - the Monitor. He begins to assist with the Doctor's request to help fix the Chameleon Circuit. All over Logopolis, the citizens calculate the block transfer computations. The Doctor will remain in the TARDIS whilst they do their work. Something goes wrong, however, and the ship begins to shrink. The Master has sabotaged the computations, killing a number of the Logopolitans with his Tissue Compression Eliminator. Adric and the Monitor are able to find the erroneous data and the ship reverts to its normal size.

Adric is surprised to see Nyssa of Traken. She has been brought here by the Watcher. Believing him to be her father, she falls under the Master's influence. He then sets about bringing Logopolis to a halt - using sonic projectors to halt the work of the Logopolitans. He is aware that there is some great secret hidden here, and demands to know what it is. The Monitor is horrified. Logopolis has been maintaining the entire universe, which should have been destroyed by entropy long ago. They created the Charged Vacuum Emboidments - like the one that led to E-Space - in order to drain off the excess energy into these pocket universes. This is why they have the telescope - a replica of the Pharos Project on Earth which seeks to find extraterrestrial life. Their computations, fed through the telescope, keep the CVEs open. The Master's actions are irreversible. Entropy starts to eat away at the cosmos. The only hope is to go to Earth and run the program at the Pharos Project - with the Doctor forced to co-operate with his old enemy once more. As Logopolis crumbles, Tegan insists on going with them, whilst the Watcher takes Adric and Nyssa in the TARDIS. They travel to a point outside space and time. Nyssa watches in horror as her own world succumbs to the entropy field.
At the Pharos Project, the Doctor and the Master succeed in running the program and the CVEs are stabilised. The Master attempts to blackmail the universe, and the Doctor manages to stop him only at the cost of his own life. He falls from the telescope gantry. The Watcher has brought Nyssa and Adric here.
The Doctor, dying, informs his companions that this is the end for him - but the moment has been prepared for. The Watcher appears and merges with the Doctor's body - having been a projection of the Doctor all the time. The Doctor regenerates, and a younger, blond haired man appears in his place...

This four part adventure was written by out-going script editor Christopher H Bidmead, and was broadcast between 28th February and 12th March, 1981.
Closing Season 18, it marks the end of Tom Baker's seven year reign as the Doctor - still the most popular incarnation of the character. The story also sees the debut of companion Tegan Jovanka, played by Janet Fielding. Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) becomes a companion proper. So begins the era of the "crowded TARDIS".
We also get our first proper look at Anthony Ainley's Master. He is kept off screen for the first two episodes. His TARDIS is seen lurking within the Doctor's, and we only hear his malevolent chuckle in the first half. In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to model the Master's new look so much on Roger Delgado's original. It only serves to invite comparison - and Ainley will always be on a loser as far as that is concerned.
There are echoes of the Pertwee era throughout - not surprising considering that Barry Letts is still executive producing. The radio telescope takes us back to the original Master's introduction; the TARDIS within TARDIS is reminiscent of The Time Monster; and the Watcher - an intermediate form of the Doctor from between the two incarnations - reminds us of the character of Cho-Je in Planet of the Spiders, which saw out the last Doctor.
When Bidmead took on the role of script editor at the beginning of the season, he had been determined to bring more hard science concepts into the programme. The science in this certainly baffled this particular viewer on its initial broadcast (I had my 17th birthday during its run). It is another of those stories that really requires more than one viewing just to work out what all the "heat death" and CVE stuff is all about.
For someone so scientifically minded, however, you do have to wonder what Bidmead was taking when he came up with the idea of flushing the Master out of hiding by landing the TARDIS under the Thames and opening the doors.

Only a small number of guest artists appear. Thee police inspector who attempts to arrest the Doctor is played by Tom Georgeson, who had earlier appeared in Genesis of the Daleks. Aunt Vanessa is Dolore Whiteman, and The Monitor is John Fraser.
Episode endings are:
  1. The Doctor is taken to a car sitting in the lay-by by the police. Inside, he sees the shrunken corpses of Vanessa and a police officer, and realises the Master is still at large...
  2. The Doctor is trapped inside the shrinking TARDIS...
  3. To his revulsion, and the horror his companions, the Doctor is forced to co-operate with the Master once more...
  4. Just go back and read the end of the synopsis and look at the pictures (again)...

Overall, a suitably funereal mood hangs heavy throughout. Probably the best of Tom Baker's later performances. Little to fault really (save maybe that final model shot). Voted in 2013 the most popular Season 18 story. Part One again shows how good Adric might have worked had the production team really bothered. For better or for worse, Doctor Who would never be quite the same once Tom left. 17 year old me was in mourning.
Things you might like to know:
  • First time we hear the Cloister Bell sound effect, signalling impending catastrophe - still used on the programme today.
  • The only appearance outside of the 1996 Movie of the Cloister room.
  • Romana's bedroom gets jettisoned to provide the thrust to escape the Master's temporal trap.
  • Peter Davison's name appears in the end credits before Tom's. I know JNT was in a mad rush to establish his own Doctor - but I've never forgiven him for this.
  • It's the last time that the character will be called "Doctor Who" in the closing credits until Christopher Eccleston comes along in 2005. He'll be "The Doctor" from now on - something which David Tennant will insist on reinstating.
  • DWM's "Time Team" failed to add a few billion people to their "deaths on screen so far" counter when they covered this story. (Well probably because the deaths are technically not on screen - though we do see about a quarter of the universe eaten up by the entropy field). Fortunately, all of the main recurring aliens in Doctor Who are all based in our corner of the universe, so were unaffected.
  • In the Doctor's dying moments, we get to see two sets of brief clips from previous stories - all from the Tom Baker era. First up, whilst he's dangling by a thread, are some villains - Davros and a Dalek from Genesis of the Daleks, Styre (The Sontaran Experiment), The Captain (The Pirate Planet), Broton (Terror of the Zygons), the Cyberleader (Revenge of the Cybermen), the Black Guardian (The Armageddon Factor) and, surprisingly now that he has seen him with a new body, the emaciated Master from The Deadly Assassin. After he has fallen there are clips of the companions - the Brigadier, Sarah, Harry, Leela, K9 and the two Romanas - segueing into the three new ones who surround him as he lies on the (plastic) grass.
  • In a little bit of poor continuity, the Doctor mentions Totter's Yard as where the TARDIS got stuck as a police box.
  • The lay-by is on the A413 in Buckinghamshire (Amersham Road, near Denham). Up until just before filming there had actually been a real police box there - removed only weeks before.
  • Aunt Vanessa's house (in Ursula Street, Battersea) was actually the home of Meglos co-author Andrew McCulloch). It was purely coincidental that it was picked.
  • Actually, he may have lived next door. It's on the Meglos DVD documentary. I don't have the heart to watch it again. Chris Bidmead wearing a baseball cap. Indoors. In front of visitors. I ask you...
  • The Master seems to be having Chameleon Circuit problems of his own in this story. It continues to retain the Police Public Call Box form for a while - after it has stopped pretending to be one. Then it appears as a potted shrub on Logopolis - an arid, vegetation-free planet. (Also of a shape and size that you could never get in or out of). It then becomes a Doric column, and gets stuck like this for the rest of this story and the beginning of the next. The column again does not match any local architectural forms. Then again, the Master's ship did previously get stuck as a big 1970's computer even when landing in the middle of Atlantis. Maybe it was just a design fault of the Type 40 & 41's.
  • Before Peter Davison got to start being the Doctor, Logopolis was selected as one of a set of repeats scheduled under the umbrella title of The Five Faces of Doctor Who - the reason being, obviously, that having Davison in the closing moments could get them to that "Five" figure. (If the last episode of The Tenth Planet hadn't got lost on its way back from Blue Peter, we could have been spared that repeat of The Krotons...).
  • Actually, being able to see The Krotons - on television - back in 1981 was sheer bliss. You had to have been there at the time...
  • Apart form the couple of clips from Shada which were included in The Five Doctors, Tom Baker would not appear again on screen as the Doctor until the 1993 monstrosity that was Dimensions In Time. 20 years later, he was seen as the Under-gallery's Curator in The Day of The Doctor. Or might it have really been...?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

TARDIS Travels No.8

Season Eight opens with the TARDIS sitting in the corner of what appears to be the Doctor's third UNIT lab. The central control console has been put back in the ship, and from this point on the emphasis will be on the crucial dematerialisation circuit. A new, fully operational TARDIS turns up at a circus site on the outskirts of Tarminster - that belonging to the Master. The Doctor steals his dematerialisation circuit and tries to use it in his own craft - but it is not compatible. His is a Mark 1, whilst the Master's is a Mark 2.
It appears that if you disguise your TARDIS as another form of transport, it can behave like that form. The Master must have driven his ship away in its horsebox form, otherwise UNIT would surely have found and impounded it.
Terror of the Autons might include the appearance of yet another TARDIS. Was the Time Lord emissary, seemingly floating in mid-air, possibly standing in the doorway of an invisible ship? His appearance is heralded by the materialisation sound, though he just pops out of existence when he leaves (but see Journey 077 below).
The Master manages to get his circuit back after the events at the abandoned RAF base in The Mind of Evil.

Journey 075: Nuton Power Complex, to Axos (1971).
With his own ship trapped on Axos, the Master takes the opportunity to have the Doctor's TARDIS transported down to Nuton from whichever UNIT HQ it is in this week. It is unlikely the Doctor would have left his key behind at the lab, so we must presume that the Master's key can open the Doctor's ship.
As well has having a later model of dematerialisation circuit, the Master's ship must be much more advanced as he refers to the TARDIS as "obsolescent".
The TARDIS can store the power station's entire output quite easily.
Pretending to side with the Master, the Doctor leaves Nuton - using the station's light speed converter to bypass a crucial system.

We get a good look at what the Master's TARDIS looks like in undisguised form - a white cabinet.

Journey 076: Axos back to Nuton Power Complex.
The Doctor hard-wires organic material from Axos into the TARDIS console in order to provide it with time travel capability - or so it seems. He puts Axos into a time-loop and manages to break free - materialising back at the now-destroyed power station. It is suggested that the Doctor actually tried to flee his exile, but the Time Lords have ensured that any flights will automatically bring the ship back to late 20th Century Earth.

Journey 077: UNIT HQ, 1971, to Uxarieus, 2472.
Bizarrely, Colony In Space sees Jo Grant set foot in the TARDIS for the very first time. It seems very odd that she should never have been invited to look inside before this point, considering that she and the Doctor have been working together for many months. You can understand the Brigadier not having any interest in the Doctor's scientific mumbo-jumbo, but not inquisitive Jo.
The TARDIS suddenly becomes active and it dematerialises - travelling to the planet Uxarieus in the 25th Century. (Dialogue says 2472, but the colonists are using a calendar for the year 2471. Maybe it's January 1st and they just haven't got round to changing it yet. Too much home-brew the night before...).
This is the work of the Time Lords. The Master has stolen a file on a doomsday weapon hidden on that world, and they are employing the Doctor to stop him.
The ship does not fade into corporeality as it normally does. It just appears instantaneously - quite literally popping into existence on the planet's barren surface.
The Master's (disguised as an Adjudicator spaceship) does the same. Both ships will pop off in just the same way in part six.
(Despite having worked as an AFM on the show since The Crusade in 1965, director Michael E. Briant simply did not realise that the TARDIS' appearances and disappearances were usually achieved through the 'roll back and mix' filming method).
The TARDIS is moved to one of their dwellings by the planet's "primitive" inhabitants, and is later found by the colonists and brought to their main dome.

Journey 078: Uxarieus, 2472, to UNIT HQ, 1971.
The TARDIS returns to the Doctor's lab, just a few seconds after the Brigadier had watched it dematerialise. It's a good job that the Brigadier moved, as it materialises in the adjacent corner from where it left, where he had been standing. (A correction made by the Time Lords, or the ship itself?).

That's your lot for Season Eight. Season Nine will see the console outside the ship for the last time, and more off-world errands for the Time Lords. Plus, the very first sighting of what appears to be a totally controllable TARDIS...

Sunday, 18 January 2015

I could have written better...

Like me, I am sure you have often wondered, as the end credits come up, how on Earth did the writer get paid for that rubbish.
We all like to think that we could have come up with something much better. Some of you reading this might even be writers yourselves (though probably not as good as what I am, of course).
I was digging through some old notes the other day, and came across a number of story ideas what I wrote some time ago. Reading them again, I was struck by how much better they would have been than Fear Her. Or The Twin Dilemma. Or Timelash. Or many many others, if you would but perchance to peruse the lower levels of any Doctor Who poll. (See, proper writing).
This first one would have been the Cyber-epic to end all Cyber-epics - as I'm sure you will agree.
It can only be a matter of time before Cardiff comes knocking...

Thursday, 15 January 2015

TARDIS Travels No.7

When we last saw the TARDIS it was on the Time Lord homeworld. The Doctor had been put on trial, and was found guilty of interference in the affairs of other planets. Part of his sentence was to have a new face - and he got to pick which one he would like. Judging by the number of times the same actor will be called upon to play Time Lords more than once, this might suggest a limited pool to pick from. Or they are the same Time Lord... Goth at the Doctor's trial maybe?
Who knows? Moving on.

Journey 070: Gallifrey, date unknown, to Oxley Woods in Essex, England, 1970.
The TARDIS materialises in said forest, and the Doctor staggers to the door, falls out, and lies comatose. How did he get here?
At the trial, he was standing in the court room one minute, then appeared to be transported off somewhere else - seen on the view screen (no longer in the room itself) vanishing into a black void with his features disappearing.
If you are an advocate of "Season 6b" - as I am - then he didn't become the Third Doctor immediately, but was hijacked off somewhere else and forced to work for a clandestine group of interventionist Time Lords for an unknown period of time.
Given back the TARDIS, which he was now capable of controlling, he was able to have Jamie rejoin him, as well as Victoria. He dropped her off (to study Graphology) to go on a mission to meet the Third Zone scientist Dastari and try to prevent the Kartz-Reimer time travel experiments; and also to attend the Brigadier's UNIT reunion in The Five Doctors and get abducted by the Time Scoop.
(For more on this, see my earlier post - most unimaginatively titled "6b or not 6b...").
However, for non-advocates of "6b", and to return to this series' originally stated intention of looking at journeys as seen on screen, the Doctor is transported directly from his trial to the TARDIS, which is sent by the Time Lords to late 20th Century Earth - exile there being the second part of his sentence.
Discovered by UNIT troops, the Brigadier has the TARDIS transported to UNIT HQ in London.
The Doctor keeps the ship's key in one of his boots (at this point there only ever seems to be the one key in use). Reviving from his self-induced coma, the Doctor pursues the TARDIS - using a locator device built into a wrist-watch (see The Chase before this, and then Full Circle onwards for bulkier versions).

The Brigadier seems to have a premonition as, instead of locking the ship away in some vault, he has it placed in the laboratory...
The Doctor tricks Liz Shaw into stealing the key from the Brigadier, and he attempts to flee. However , he can't do it.
The exile seems to comprise two aspects. The ship, physically, can't dematerialise - there's all sorts of whizz-bang noises and smoke pours out - plus the Doctor has had his memory tampered with, regarding the codes and equations needed to travel.
Until the exile is lifted, he's going nowhere. Or is he?
The Silurians is the first story, which features the Doctor, where the TARDIS does not appear at all. Not so much as a mention.

Now we get to the removable TARDIS control console...
For two stories in Season Seven (and one in Season Nine), the console is outside the police box shell of the TARDIS. It isn't in the control room.
This automatically raises two questions: How (bearing in mind the size of the doors), and why?
There is the suggestion that the console is the TARDIS, and all the rest is just the container it is housed in. It is safer and more convenient to have the shell. It provides a habitat, but the console houses all the key systems.
Of course, this contradicts what we have already seen - such as having the separate power room in The Mind Robber.
There are a couple of ways in which the console could come to be divorced from the rest of the ship.
We know that it is not totally defunct. There is power and it can still cause people to move through time, and to travel distances. The Doctor may have simply materialised it outside the ship. As we will shortly see, he can still do short hops.
Alternatively, the Doctor has dismantled it and rebuilt it in the lab.
A third possibility is that it isn't the console from the ship at all. That is still in situ, and the Doctor is building a new one to get round the Time Lord exile. Yes, a bit improbable.
The main query is why? Why take it out of the TARDIS in the first place? If he is conducting repairs, surely there is more space in the control room - and the ship must be much better equipped.
Sadly, the real answer lies not within the narrative of the series at all - which is why it will never really make any sense. With the TARDIS not going anywhere any time soon, there is no need to use up valuable studio space with the control room set. Simple as that.
In Ambassadors of Death, the console features (in episode one) only to remind us that the Doctor is exiled, and is trying to get round this, and to provide a bit of a joke scene with the Doctor and Liz appearing and disappearing.
Before moving on, we should mention that this is obviously not the same lab that we saw in Spearhead From Space. One of the biggest mysteries of the UNIT era is not so much the dating of the stories as just how many UNIT HQs were there?

Journey 071: Inferno Project, 1970 (our universe), to Inferno Project (parallel universe).
How did he end up with his legs up in the air? Just goes to show what I was saying about having a shell round the console making for a more comfortable journey.
The console is still outside the police box shell, and it has been transported to the Inferno drilling project. The Doctor's experiments, using power from the project's nuclear reactor, cause the console to travel to a parallel universe. Interestingly, it takes Bessie with it, but no other items from the Doctor's hut. Only things not already present (in an alternate form) make the journey. There are no alternative Doctor, Bessie or console in this other universe. I assume that if Liz had been with the Doctor when he dematerialised, she would not have been transported - using the reverse logic of why the Doctor can't take the alternate characters back to our universe with him later. The Doctor couldn't have, even if he tried. The TARDIS can sort out these potential paradoxes on its own.

Journey 072: Parallel Inferno Project to parallel Inferno Project.
A short trip a few seconds into the future, to demonstrate the console for the benefit of the Brigade-Leader and Section-Leader Shaw et al. The console stores some power - just enough for this short trip. This sort of contradicts the whole "console doesn't need the rest of the TARDIS" bit. It obviously has to be connected to an external power source to operate properly.

Journey 073: Inferno Project (parallel universe) to Inferno Project (our universe).
Using the project's nuclear reactor, the Doctor (and Bessie) are returned to their proper universe. Again, the journey is not comfortable in any way. Indeed, it renders the Doctor unconscious for a time. However, this might all be to do with the movement through to the parallel universe - as we will see next. It is interesting, however, to note that in The Doctor's Wife the makeshift TARDIS has at least a couple of walls. Did the Doctor insist on them just for aesthetic reasons? You'd think that if you were in a desperate rush to save your companions, and the console worked fine on its own, you would not waste time with any purely architectural items.

Journey 074: Inferno Project (hut) to Inferno Project (rubbish tip).
Yes, a petulant Doctor goes off in the huff, thinking for some reason that he can now travel anywhere again. The ship only gets as far as the nearby refuse tip, and so he has to come grovelling back to ask the Brigadier if he can lend a hand getting it out of there. Well Liz certainly found it funny.

And so Season Seven closes. Quite a bit of TARDIS related activity, considering the Doctor is now exiled to Earth. He'll stay that way for Season Eight - but the Time Lords will shortly start coming a calling...

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Story 114 - Keeper of Traken

In which the Doctor has returned to N-Space - with Adric in the TARDIS but no Romana. He is concerned how he will explain her absence back on Gallifrey. Something diverts the ship off course - towards the Traken Union planetary system in Metulla Orionsis. The person responsible is the Keeper of Traken, who materialises in the control room. He appears as a wizened old man seated on an ornate throne. After overseeing the Union for a thousand years, he is nearing death, and is concerned that the time of his dissolution will be a troubled one. There is always upheaval at the transition between Keepers, but on this occasion he fears some malign influence threatens. Keepers become linked to a powerful bio-electric energy field known as the Source. They control it and use it to maintain stability, order and peace - even ensuring a temperate weather system. Any evil-doers who land on Traken are immediately caught in a paralysing field and calcify - crumbling to dust over time. Such beings are known as Melkur. One of these has outlasted many that have come before. It is tended by one of the five Consuls who manage day to day affairs in the Union - Kassia. She has just married a fellow Consul named Tremas, who brings to the union his daughter, Nyssa. Tremas is the Keeper-elect. Nyssa is to take over the tending of the Melkur - and this upsets Kassia, who has formed a strange bond with it. Also, she is unhappy that she will lose her new husband so quickly - when he becomes the next Keeper. (Keepers do not dwell amongst the people. They merge with the Source and appear only on official and ceremonial occasions).
The Keeper asks the Doctor to come to Traken and help smooth the transition period. The TARDIS materialises in the grove where the Melkur stands. It is the night of the wedding feast, and the Keeper appears to give the happy couple his blessing. The Melkur comes to life and kills one of the Fosters - men who tend the grove and serve the Consuls. The Doctor and Adric are accused of the crime. The Keeper is summoned to reappear and to confirm the Doctor's story of why they have come here. The Keeper catches a glimpse of the Melkur and has a seizure before he can say anything.

Tremas is a scientist, and he has detected strange energy signals in the area where the Foster was killed. He informs his colleague Seron but keeps it from his wife and the other two Consuls - Luvic and Katura. Recognising that the Doctor is a fellow scientist, he decides to invoke consular privilege and accept responsibility for the Doctor's conduct - to the displeasure of Kassia. As the Doctor and Tremas investigate, Kassia falls deeper under the influence of the Melkur, which now starts speaking to her. It promises to help her - including preventing Tremas from becoming the next Keeper. She is given a collar which enables it to maintain its control over her. The Melkur then causes the TARDIS to vanish. Kassia becomes more openly hostile towards the Doctor - accusing him of conspiring against the Union and of corrupting her gullible husband. She and the Melkur engineer Seron's death. The Doctor discovers that the TARDIS is still in the grove, but it has been displaced in time. Adric identifies the energy readings of whatever is responsible as being similar to a TARDIS... The Doctor, Tremas and Adric are all captured by Proctor Neman, head of the Fosters. They escape with the help of Nyssa just as the old Keeper dies. It is Kassia who takes his place - at the instigation of the Melkur. Within moments of taking over, however, she is consumed by the Source - and the Melkur appears in her place.

The Doctor and Tremas must find a way of destroying the Melkur before it can fully merge with the Source. One idea is to sabotage the Source itself. Adric and Nyssa begin work on a means to achieve this. The Doctor and Tremas have another idea - to override the Keeper using the consular rings. Each Consul has a crystal ring which, combined with a key-code sequence, can override the Keeper as a fail-safe mechanism. They partially succeed but the Melkur appears and causes the Doctor to vanish from the council chamber. He finds himself inside a familiar black-walled control room - that of the Master's TARDIS. The Melkur statue is his disguised ship. His body is still emaciated and he is dying, and hopes to utilise the Source to stave off death. He plans on stealing the Doctor's body to use as his own. Adric and Nyssa sabotage the Source which wreaks havoc in the Master's TARDIS, allowing the Doctor to escape. He manages to complete the key-code sequence and the Melkur is destroyed. With Tremas absent, Lumic must jump into the throne chamber to become the new Keeper.
After the Doctor and Adric have departed, Tremas decides to investigate a grandfather clock which he hasn't noticed before. He is gripped by a paralysing force. The Master had a second TARDIS. He emerges and bonds with Tremas - thus gaining a new body... at last...

This four part story was written by Johnny Byrne, and was broadcast between 31st January and 21st February, 1981.
It is significant for bringing back the Master - and "regenerating" him - and for the first appearance of Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. For the viewers, she has merely been a guest character in this story, and does not leave with the Doctor and Adric at the conclusion - and this has lead to some debate amongst fans as to when exactly she becomes a "Companion".
Producer John Nathan-Turner had been concerned more about introducing his new Doctor than about writing out the old one. Tom Baker had been in the role for a record seven years and to the world and his wife he was the Doctor. Something was needed to help with the transition and to ease the viewers into embracing the new Doctor. With Lalla Ward's departure, there was room for a new female companion aboard the TARDIS - or, rather, an old one. JNT approached both Elisabeth Sladen and Louise Jameson to reprise their roles, as Sarah and Leela respectively, but both declined. (Sladen had earlier also been asked back for the Key to Time season by Graham Williams). Sladen would get another offer shortly which she would accept, whilst Jameson has since said that turning down a return might have been a mistake.
JNT also had ideas about a new companion from Australia - primarily to boost ratings there. More of that to come...
The Master was to be brought back and to be recast so that he could become a recurring villain once more. Geoffrey Beevers, husband to ex-assistant Liz Shaw actress Caroline John, was cast as the cowled, decrepit version of the character mainly because of his voice (we only get to see him in the last episode, and his silky, sibilant tones are vital for the earlier episodes as he manipulates Kassia). Beevers had appeared very briefly as a UNIT soldier in Ambassadors of Death.
Anthony Ainley, who JNT had worked with on the classic costume drama The Pallisers, was cast as Tremas and, as the anagrammatic name implies, ultimately the new form for the Master.
Byrne did not have the Master in his original storyline. It featured a divided society similar to what we saw back in Meglos with the Tigellans.

Keeper of Traken has now come to be looked upon as the first part of a Regeneration / New Beginnings trilogy, with Logopolis and Castrovalva. Whilst the first two stories were designed to fit together, the latter story hadn't actually been written at the time the others were produced.
Of the rest of the cast, two of the Consuls had appeared in the programme before. Katura was Margot van der Burgh - the Doctor's fiancée Cameca in The Aztecs. Seron was John Woodnutt, who was making his fourth appearance (after playing Hibbert in Spearhead From Space, the Draconian Emperor in Frontier In Space, and Broton / Forgill in Terror of the Zygons). The Keeper was Denis Carey, whose wonderful performance as Prof. Chronotis had gone unseen thanks to the cancellation of Shada. The three other principal cast members were Sheila Ruskin as Kassia, Robin Soans as Lumic, and Roland Oliver as Neman.
Special mention must be made of the design for this studio-based story. The costumes must have been unbearable for the cast under the studio lights, being so densely layered. They have a vaguely Elizabethan feel to them. The asymmetrical Melkur statue looks great. The sets have a beautiful Art Nouveau look. Some people have criticised the grove sequences as looking too unrealistic, but they actually fit with this world where an omnipotent and omniscient Keeper regulates even the seasons.
Episode endings are:
  1. About to speak in defence of the Doctor and Adric, the Keeper sees the Melkur lurking in the background and falls back into his chair, crying out about "evil" as he fades away. The Trakenites assume this refers to the Doctor and his companion...
  2. The Doctor, Adric and Tremas are captured in the grove. Whilst Kassia thinks their work is done, the Melkur assures her that it is only just beginning...
  3. Kassia has ascended to the Keepership. Moments later, she writhes in agony and vanishes - to be replaced by the Melkur...
  4. Just read the last paragraph of the synopsis above and look at the pictures...

Overall, an enjoyable enough story. It starts off a bit low key but there are little clues as to where it is heading - the Melkur knowing who the Doctor is, hearing just the voice of the Melkur then seeing just the hand of the occupant, and Adric recognising the wave-form behind the TARDIS' disappearance. Nice that they didn't simply introduce the new Master fully formed, but linked it back to how we had last seen him - albeit another actor with less gruesome (and not as effective) make-up. Seeing it on first broadcast, and not reading fanzines at the time, I certainly didn't spot the Tremas anagram, so the ending was a total surprise to me.
Things you might like to know:
  • Inside the Melkur costume was Graham Cole, who would soon become a series regular on long-running UK police show The Bill. He had also been inside one of the Marshmen costumes in Full Circle. He would reprise the role when the Melkur returns - as a mental image - in Time-Flight.
  • Sarah Sutton's dad (Sid) was already associated with the programme - having been the person who designed the title sequence seen since The Leisure Hive.
  • To keep up the surprise, Geoffrey Beevers was credited as 'Melkur' only throughout - even for the fourth episode when his true identity is revealed (as that would have been printed in advance in the Radio Times).
  • Not learning their lesson from Image of the Fendahl, Kassia's weird red glowing eyes are just painted on Sheila Ruskin's eye-lids.
  • Hands up anyone who has managed not to be distracted by the cobweb that clings to Tom Baker's nose in the prison cell sequence? ... Liar!
  • The Master is still in his final incarnation. He doesn't regenerate in this - just stealing a body as he will do again come the 1996 Movie. The fact that he is not as skeletal as when we saw him last (The Deadly Assassin) might be down to him having absorbed at least some of the energies of the Eye of Harmony before he fell down that crevasse. (He did look a bit less peaky when his TARDIS dematerialised at the end of that earlier story).
  • The Master has two TARDISes. One wonders where he got the spare from?
  • And just how long has the Master been on Traken? It is suggested that this Melkur has been there for a very long time - not decaying as quickly as others have done. It is certainly a matter of years. Has the Master simply sat twiddling his decaying thumbs? I assume he had to wait for the old Keeper to die before he could hatch his plan. Was he genuinely trapped here (that his TARDIS had been truly Melkured), and so built the other TARDIS to escape? Or did he already have it, and nipped off on other adventures then popped back every so often to see if the old Keeper was anywhere near snuffing it?
  • And why is he so unfazed when a battered blue police call box materialises right in front of him? I didn't hear him go "Oh, B*****s!!!" or anything. He actually sounds like he expected it. Did he nudge Kassia towards suggesting that the Keeper ought to call in the Doctor?
  • And how exactly would you get in and out of a Melkur-shaped TARDIS? (And don't say with another TARDIS...).
  • Finally, a word about Adric - and indeed Matthew Waterhouse. He is very good in this - especially the stuff in the TARDIS at the beginning. (He's great in the first episode of Logopolis as well). Just shows how good he could have been if not drowned out by whining air-stewardesses and dreadful character development.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

TARDIS Travels No.6

Viewers at the time had to wait for Zoe to finish watching that repeat of Evil of the Daleks before they could proceed to Season 6. If you think that this has meant an uninterrupted run of episodes (the repeat being woven into the on-going narrative of the show) you'd be slightly mistaken. Evil was paused for two weeks midway through its second run. Everything stops for Wimbledon Fortnight. Except rain, of course.
Moving on.
Journey 057: The Silver Carrier spaceship, c.2000, to Dulkis, date unknown.
Whilst Zoe is looking forward  to some adventure, the Doctor needs a rest after projecting those mental images. He is delighted to find that he is back on Dulkis (referring to an unseen, undoubtedly Hartnell, adventure) as it should be an ideal place for a holiday. Only the Doctor could pick a nuclear test site about to be invaded by belligerent aliens as a holiday destination...
The Dulcians haven't changed since his last visit. He knows them to have no weapons or armies, little or no crime, and to be pacifist by nature.
The holiday ends with the TARDIS being engulfed in molten lava (so not quite as bad as a fortnight in Magaluf, then).

Journey 058: Dulkis, date unknown, to the Land of Fiction, date???
Technically, we are nowhere, and in no time, according to the Doctor. In order to escape from the lava flow - which, going by the Doctor's concern, implies that the ship is not totally indestructible - they have had to use an emergency switch mechanism. The Doctor is as worried about this as he is of the lava - probably more so - as it removes the TARDIS from time and space.
They appear to have materialised in a white void. Bizarrely, the TARDIS has turned white to match its surroundings. The same thing will happen to Jamie and Zoe once they are coaxed out of the ship, after seeing images of their homes on the scanner.
We know we are already in the Land of Fiction thanks to the presence of White Robots, that the Master of this realm can invade their minds, and that the producer credit for the episode appears on the ship's scanner. Yes, the Doctor's travels have been turned into a remarkably well made, considering the budget, TV show.
We get to see another part of the TARDIS - the power room. The emergency unit is time-limited. There is a series of audio warnings counting down to when the ship will automatically move on - presumably back into normal time / space.

Journey 059: Land of Fiction , date ???, to same. Or is it?
Things get a bit complicated here. On screen, the ship appears to dematerialise on a new journey, but the crew are still being mentally assailed by the Master. The ship appears to break apart - throwing the Doctor off into a black void whilst Jamie and Zoe cling to the control console, which spirals down into a bank of mist.
However, everything from the ship's break up onwards might never have happened at all - and the ship actually moves on to its next destination - a field in England. The Master is with the Doctor and his companions at the close of the story, stuck in another blank black void space, with the TARDIS nowhere in sight. The realm is destroyed, and the ship is then seen to reconstitute itself. The following story (The Invasion) begins with that reconstitution - with the Master nowhere to be seen and not even commented upon by anyone.
Without fully understanding the nature of the Land of Fiction, it is difficult, therefore, to understand what goes on in it. It does appear to be a physical space - not purely a fantastical, magical dream state. There is a bloody great computer controlling things after all, with robots, and whoever is behind it has a good old fashioned takeover of Earth planned.
The whole of parts two to five of The Mind Robber might all be part of the mental assault by the Master, with the Doctor and his companions unconscious in the control room and "dreaming" the whole incident. It has been argued that the White Robots are metaphors for the Daleks, and the Clockwork Soldiers for the Cybermen.
I'll be damned if I know the answer. Time to get back to reality.

Journey 060: The Land of Fiction, date ???, to SE England, 1970.
The thing about UNIT dating is that it needs to be looked at three ways.
First is what is said on screen. Second is what is seen on screen. Third is what the production team intended - which is nearly always totally contradicted by number two. And sometimes by number one.
Let's deal with the last one first. (It's UNIT dating, why do things simply?)
Both Derrick Sherwin and Barry Letts have gone on record stating they intended UNIT stories to be set not in the present day but sometime in the "near future". Letts and his script editor Terrance Dicks refined this further to five minutes in the future. Not literally, but meaning very near future. (This is something Russell T Davies will follow, by shifting all of the contemporary / "Powell Estate" stories on by one year with Aliens of London). A certain future producer, however, threw a spanner into these workings - all down to the unavailability of a particular actor. (William Russell - it's all your fault).
So that is what was intended.
As to what was said, we need to go back to The Abominable Snowmen, as I mentioned in the last of these posts. 1935 is specified as the date of Professor Travers' visit to Det-Sen, and the events of that story. In The Web of Fear, he states that those events took place over 40 years ago - so it must be at least 1975. In The Invasion, the Brigadier then goes on to state that that adventure occurred about 4 years ago. Which puts The Invasion around 1979. The Pertwee and early Tom Baker stuff must, therefore, all take place in the first half of the 1980's. (I'll cover what Sarah says in Pyramids of Mars when I get to that particular journey). JNT's big spanner is, of course, that it says quite clearly in Mawdryn Undead that the Brigadier retired from UNIT in 1976, and he's a school teacher in 1977.
Which brings us onto what is seen on screen. Yes, there are things like a UK space programme, and, no, there haven't been any alien invasions occurring with monotonous regularity in the Home Counties throughout the early 1970's - so all of this must happen sometime in the future. Yes?
No. Unless those alien invasions affected car production and prompted people to stop paying road tax, registration plates and tax discs say that the Pertwee stories took place in the first half of the 1970's. If you thought that the 70's were the decade that fashion forgot, as someone who lived through them I can assure you that the 80's were worse. There isn't a single set of shoulder pads or a Flock of Seagulls hairdo anywhere to be seen in the Pertwee era. No-one, in any 1970's story, looks like Nik Kershaw. Jo never goes overboard with the rouge and mascara and the hairspray. Only the Doctor wears frilly shirts. He inspired the New Romantics - rather than merely followed them.
And then there's the small matter of pre-decimal currency in stories supposed to be set after we went all decimal in the UK.
Mrs Thatcher in power at the time of the Zygon Gambit? No - Shirley Williams, taking over from Jeremy Thorpe (see The Green Death).
Then we get to the previously mentioned Mawdryn Undead. You can't just stick your head in the sand and pretend that this story never took place. By 1977, the Brigadier has retired from UNIT and he is teaching at Brandon School...
If you sometimes dream of the TARDIS landing in your back garden and whisking you off on adventures, I'm sorry. You're living in the wrong Universe. Perhaps the Doctor never did escape from the Land of Fiction, and he's been there ever since...
I am assuming that if you are reading this Blog you are possessed of an open mind and an imagination. You will easily get over this, and the TARDIS can still materialise in your garden.
The TARDIS materialises in a field somewhere in the Home Counties (Vaughn's compound is relatively close to London). Some of the ship's circuits need to be repaired and so the Doctor removes them - intending to get Professor Travers to help fix them. Their removal renders the ship invisible.
You are probably wondering why I have gone for 1970 as the date? I'm breaking my own rule about it being roughly the broadcast date if no date is shown on screen. It's a feeble attempt to at least try to reconcile some of what I have just covered.
In The Web of Fear, Travers is an old man and under stress, and so his estimation of "40 years ago" is simply a mistake - a miss-remembrance. (And before you start accusing me off being ageist, I have no issues with old men. I fully intend to be one myself one of these days).
Likewise, the Brigadier's recollection of those events being a certain number of years ago can't be a precise figure - but at least some time must have passed (He's talking in terms of years instead of the months which existed between the broadcast of the two stories). If we assume it was years - just not the right number of years - and we take Spearhead From Space to be set in 1970, and then assume that that later story might have only happened a short time after The Invasion, then we can push this story into the early part of 1970.
Instead of being a couple of years apart, as broadcast, The Invasion occurs only weeks or a couple of months before the Doctor turns up wearing his new face.
I've had enough of this. I'm overdue another telesnap. Let's get back into Time and Space.

Journey 061: South East of England, 1970, to the planet of the Gonds, date unknown.
Nothing to see here. Please move on.

Journey 062: Planet of the Gonds, date unknown, to same.
The TARDIS makes its first proper journey without the captain at the wheel (though do please see previous posts concerning where the ship left from somewhere other than where it had landed).
The Hostile Action Displacement System activates when the ship is attacked by one of the Krotons. It dematerialises, and then rematerialises some distance away - further up the cliff from where it had originally landed.
This planet is unnamed. The Krotons give each Gond that name as if it was a name (Abu Gond, Vana Gond, etc) - so maybe it is actually a tribal or familial name rather than that of their race (like the Slitheen).

Journey 063: Planet of the Gonds (further up the mountain) to Earth, 21st Century.
The TARDIS materialises in a private museum devoted to space travel, belonging to Professor Daniel Eldred. The date is never clearly specified but has always been assumed to be 21st Century. Humankind's lack of interest in space exploration might tie in with the era of Kill The Moon, but the Moonbase owes its look more to the earlier Cyberman story than to the unit we see in the 2014 episode. I'm inclined to believe this takes place after The Moonbase - in which case humans have learned nothing. It was a mistake to stick your weather control systems up on the Moon, and it's equally stupid to stick the technology underpinning your over-reliance on T-Mat up there as well. What was the point of UNIT if no-one has learned anything about potential alien threats?

Journey 064: Earth, 21st Century, to Space Navigation Beacon Alpha 4, date unknown.
Here's another reason for thinking that the events of Journey 059 might not have happened, as such: Zoe knew what candles were in the Land of Fiction, but doesn't in this story.
The Doctor and his companions get separated from the ship when Caven's pirates blow the beacon apart. The section with the ship on board drifts off to an orbit around Lobos, and the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe can only get back to it after accepting a lift from Milo Clancey in his battered old LIZ 79.

Journey 065: Beacon Alpha 4, Lobos orbit, date unknown, to 1917 War Zone on unnamed planet, date unknown.
The TARDIS materialises in what at first appears to be No Man's Land in France, 1917. It is really some other world controlled by an unnamed alien species who are trying to create a super-army using the survivors of a number of war games, the participants all lifted from Earth's history.

Journey 066: 1917 War Zone on unnamed planet, date unknown, to an ocean on unknown world, date unknown.
A reused clip from the opening episode of Fury From The Deep. Because of the TARDIS' propensity for favouring Earth, this may be our planet. Instead of resting on the surface of the water, the ship appears to sink beneath the waves. If it is Earth, it is somewhere tropical. The Time Lords start breaking down the defences, and water starts to seep into the control room.

Journey 067: Ocean - date and location unknown - to a swamp, also date / location unknown.
Again, potentially Earth. The swamp is infested with crocodiles. Or are they alligators? "I'm a social worker, Jim. Not a naturalist!", as another famous doctor might have said.

Journey 068: A swamp - location and date unknown - to outer space, date unknown.
A reused clip from the opening episode of The Web of Fear (we even see the web starting to form).

Journey 069: Outer space, date unknown, to Gallifrey, date unknown.
The only thing we know about Time on Gallifrey is that Time Lords only ever seem to meet themselves in the correct order, as of when we get to see them. This is obviously one of their Laws - that they cannot interact out-with their own continuity. In the same way the Doctor isn't supposed to cross his own time-stream, so it is with Time Lords in general.
Of course, it is never stated on screen at this point but we know that this is Gallifrey. The name is still waiting for Robert Holmes to invent it.
The War Lord tries to steal the TARDIS but fails. Zoe and Jamie get returned to their own times, at a point just after their first encounter with the Doctor - so they will at least remember him, if not their further adventures together. They leave in what appear to be TARDISes in their natural, undisguised forms. (It's the model du jour. In The Claws of Axos, the Master's TARDIS appears to be a white cabinet not dissimilar from a port-a-loo, with no door opening sliding outwards as seen in this story. And in The Name of the Doctor, Type 40's at least are cylindrical).

And so endeth Season 6 - appropriately enough, for 1969, with Journey 069. For believers in Season 6b, the next journeys will include that seen in the opening moments of The Two Doctors. I've already posted on this, if you care to time-travel yourself back to 2013 in the archive.
If you think that Season 7 will have nothing much to say about the TARDIS, just you wait...