TV REVIEW: Doctor Who – Series 7 Episode 10: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Doctor Who Logo 2013 Writer of 2010’s Curse of the Black Spot, Steve Thompson returns to Doctor Who with an episode whose title should have long-time and new fans chomping at the bit . The official summary goes like this: “The TARDIS has crashed, Clara is lost inside, and the Doctor has 30 minutes before his ship explodes!”

Is this an epic exploration of the most famous time machine in history? Does it equal the previous TARDIS centric story The Doctor’s Wife? Find out below…there are spoilers so you’ve been warned!

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS holds much promise. An epic romp through the ships’ corridor’s and rooms as the Doctor and a team of space-salvaging brothers seek to locate and rescue Clara before the self-destruct sequence completes, but that’s getting ahead.

First of all, we need setup. We’re introduced to the salvagers and their ship as it trundles through deep space, looking for a haul to bring in. As it happens, they happen across the TARDIS. Onboard the time-craft, the Doctor seems concerned that Clara and his ship don’t see eye-to-eye. It’s important to him they get along and so in order to try and bridge the gaps, he decides to allow Clara a go on the controls. In order to make life easy for her, he lowers the TARDIS shields. Which seems rather like giving a first-time-learner driver the keys to a brand new Aston Martin, then removing the air bags because a first time driver doesn’t need safety getting in the way.

This bizarre circumstance allows the salvagers to pull the TARDIS on board. Our favourite blue box gets badly damaged in the process and our regulars are seperated by the Crazy-Random-Happenstance of the Doctor being flung out the doors and Clara being thrown deeper into the ship. From here, the Time Lord ensures the co-operation of the money-hungry salvagers by setting the TARDIS self-destruct. Then it’s off to find Clara on the afore-mentioned epic trawl through rooms right?

Erm .. no, actually. While we do see some rooms (mainly from the outside as Clara passes on her own attempt to return to the Console room) such as the Swimming Pool and Observatory, the only rooms we get to spend any noticable time in are a storage-type room, the Library (a very large one!), the Architectural Configuration hub and eventually, the Eye of Harmony and engine room. The rest of the episode takes place in corridors.

Since a race against time isn’t enough, Clara and later the Doctor and salvagers, are sort-of stalked by strange zombie-like creatures with grey flesh and red eyes. While these are creepy villains and always kept slightly out of focus by Director Mat King, it’s unclear until late in the story what such entities are doing on board in the first place. I’m afraid I’m going to have to head into spoiler-ville for a while before wrapping up to get some things off my chest.

During the course of events, the Doctor and Clara meet up. Shortly afterwards they discover echoes of their past. Later, we learn that the zombie creatures are echoes from the future. Here’s the problem. The echoes of the past are oblivious to events outside their own time-line, so why are the future echoes able to hunt down the cast of characters? This isn’t the first or last plot oddity.

Earlier in the episode, Clara enters the Library and casually saunters up to a podium upon which is a book titled “The History of the Time War”. She turns to a page at random and exclaims “so that’s who he is!”. When later, she meets up with the Doctor, no mention is made of whatever this random page has told her. Later she informs the Doctor she knows his name. But no significance is really placed on this. The whole element seemed shoe-horned in and badly played/directed to me.

Finally – the resolution. Steve Thompson seems to have attempted a Moffat style Time-involved plot. Near the beginning, a round device flies into the console room and Clara burns her hand on it. Later, it transpires that this is a handy Reset device in the form of a “Big Friendly Button” that will make everything OK, if only the Doctor can get it back to himself at the story’s beginning. Neither Clara nor the Salvagers will remember the events of the episode. It’s all a bit neat and trying too hard to be clever.

The guest cast are forgettable on the whole . Whether this is the writing, direction or performance, I’m not sure, but the three brothers seem to be cardboard cutouts rather than fully realised people. I will say this though. If you want one of the cruelest practical jokes ever – watch this episode. Those brothers are truly despicable individuals.

Unfortunately, I can’t bring myself to rate this episode highly at all. Like Black Spot, there’s too much “by the numbers” action and several holes in the plot. In conjunction with unlikeable and poorly characterised secondary cast, this is probably the most missable episode in a while.

Rating:  2 / 5
Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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