‘Doctor Who’ Review: S07E10 – ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’
There’s lots to be excited about in Season 7 of Doctor Who. The 50th Anniversary of the show, a new companion with a mystery, the Doctor’s name revealed and a Cyberman episode written by Neil Gaiman. Still, amid all of this, few episodes have sparked the imagine like the title to this new entry into the canon. The TARDIS has always been a source of mystery and whenever the writers delve into the inner workings of the grand machine they keep things shrouded. The title along promises something more solid, perhaps some real answers.
We open with a group of salvage workers who are operating a family business collecting scrap in deep space. A rather unscrupulous lot, they don’t seem fussed about checking for survivors before pulling stranded ships apart. Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, the Doctor is trying to get Clara and the ship to get along. Hoping to generate some familiarity he lowers the shields just before they get snagged by the salvage crew’s magnetic beam, which causes a tear in the space time continuum. Whilst the Doctor winds up on the outside of the TARDIS Clara is trapped inside, lost and with the time running out.
The Doctor convinces the salvage crew (through threats and bribes) to help him find Clara in time, but they find that the rift is causing more trouble than expected, including some monstrous creatures roaming the halls. When one of the three brothers tries to take part of the TARDIS circuitry the ship also turns against them and traps them in a labyrinth. Before they can return things to normal they must pass through the inner workings of the TARDIS, including the engine room and the power source and the recorded history of the universe.
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS certainly delivers on expectations. Gaining a greater insight into the TARDIS functionality is a treat, and the power source in the core of the engine is more than worthwhile being both imaginative and spectacular. Some of the concepts are dealt with literally, such as the library, and other in an abstract fashion but they all serve to enrich the imagination of the viewer when it comes to the TARDIS. Seeing the TARDIS work against the people on board by trapping them in loops and removing doors is also fun, but it’s a concept that could be taken further as it had little consequence later in the episode.
With such a strong concept it’s surprising how much effort as been put into the story. It’s an incredibly tightly written and paced script and it’s without a doubt one of the most intense viewing experiences the series has offered up recently. There are some genuine edge of the seat moments and the reveal involving the burned creatures stalking the characters is quite shocking and disturbing. We also get a tease unto the Doctor’s real name, one of the driving narratives of the season, but that build-up is undone by the end of the episode.
Although it’s not a perfect episode the problems with it are minor quibbles. The monsters are constantly hidden behind blurs and shaky cameras and it gets tiresome before long, doubly so because a similar technique was used in the previous episode. There’s quite a few teases to the Doctor’s name and other features of the TARDIS but ultimately they are only teases.
Between this episode and Hide we’ve got an increasingly good season happening. Hopefully there’ more like this in store.