“Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” – Review: Redux

Doctor “I met you at the Dalek Asylum. There was a girl in a ship wreck and she died saving my life. And she was you!”

Clara “She really wasn’t.” 

Doctor “Victorian London. There was a governess who was really a barmaid and we fought the Great Intelligence together. She died and it was my fault. And she was you!”

Clara “You’re scaring me.”

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

There was a sinking feeling that I had, when I heard that there would be an episode called “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” because it sounded for all the world like one of the those episodes from Star Trek: The Next Generation, just as it was about to jump the shark. You can imagine Journey to the Centre of the Enterprise taking place (as I type these words, and without looking at Google, I’m actually quite sure that this a premise that was in fact used), but it all just seemed so… unnecessary. Even in the pre-title sequence we had contrivance layered upon contrivance as the impregnable, impossible time machine had all its defences taken down for the first time in 1200 years of travel, just as a salvage team needed the defences taken down.

The good thing about this was that there was a payoff for the couple of instances in the previous two episodes when Clara got the impression that the TARDIS somehow didn’t like her, and the Doctor was trying to fix their relationship, but I got completely distracted by the fact that the new TARDIS control room is a 360 degree set and the spinning shot as Matt and Jenna followed the camera sweeping around the console was a little too distracting. I was convinced I wasn’t going to enjoy this at all.

I was hoping for some sort of reference to Idris of “The Doctor’s Wife” fame but alas there was none forthcoming in this second TARDIS-centric episode of the Smith era. We did however, for the first time in years, get a bit of a view of some of the other rooms inside. There were lots of shots of featureless corridors (all these corridors look the same) and some glimpses inside the swimming pool, a room that mysteriously housed the telescope last seen in Series Two’s “Tooth and Claw”, and most interestingly now a sort of storage room that looked suspiciously like the room seen at the start of the specially shot 50th anniversary trailer. However, it was the library was the best room of all, as Clara said “Now, that’s just showing off” but it was the Potter-esque touches of having the Gallifreyan Encyclopedia stored in jars and the pride of place that was given to “The History of the Time War”. Clara’s comment “So that’s who…”, seemed to be there just to tease.

All these bits and pieces didn’t seem to do that much to actually get the plot moving, and the fiery looking zombies were a mystery that was pretty easy to solve as soon as someone mentioned that the TARDIS was leaking the past. The three van Baalan brothers from the salvage team were, in the nicest possible way, a bunch of very unsympathetic characters towards whom I felt little to no sympathy although they did at least give another problem for the Doctor to sort out. The question of the android/non-android brother didn’t do much to improve things either.

However the main problem that I had with this episode was the fact that it was yet another magic reset button where all the events never really happened in the end. At least, the knowing wink of actually naming it as a ‘Big Friendly Button’ meant that no-one was trying to hide anything but it still felt like a little bit of let-down considering what might have been.

Highlight: Seeing more of the inside of the TARDIS is a fanboy’s dream

Lowlight: In the end, what was the point of the episode?

Talking Point: How does the Doctor remember the events that happened here, later in the series?

Demon’s Run Rating: 10 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 27th April 2013

Marathon Status: 99 down, 3 to go

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