Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS reviewed

Part 2 of Series 7 cracked on with Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and I have already looked forward to it and worried about the Time War. No clues of any substance have emerged from the BBC episode page so I have merely to continue to remain positive that Steve Thompson will have created something special.

Until then time to wait and mind the spoilers…

The Story

The Doctor is trying to get Clara and the TARDIS used to each other and hits on the idea of turning off most of the TARDIS capability to let Clara fly her, sadly this means turning off various shields just as a salvage ship passes by and wrecks the TARDIS with its magnetic salvage gear.

The Doctor is thrown free but Clara is left inside a rapidly disintegrating TARDIS meaning leaving only one change of rescue – allowing the avaricious salvagers (the van Baalen brothers) into the TARDIS to help on the promise of salvage. The Doctor spices things up by setting the self-destruct to 30 minutes!

We are then treated to a cascade of scenes as various combinations of characters fight mysterious time-zombies and visit the library, swimming pool, Eye of Harmony, fuel store and eventually the engine room only to find it is too late as the TARDIS has already exploded. All this with a decent dose of cloister bell!

Along with all this we have betrayal amongst the brothers and revelations as to the origins of a robot. Thank god the Doctor can improvise a reset button [yawn] and put things back as they were.

The Storytelling

I came away thinking this was lots of nice pieces for the fans but so what? Force shields, engines, fuel… it was all a bit Star Trek and the TARDIS was even called space ship more than once. That with Kirk’s favourite self-destruct gimmick (ok it was a bluff) didn’t sit well with me. Visually the Eye of Harmony did impress and the engine (in its exploded form) was a bit Matrix though appropriately so.

The Time Zombies were a bit inept; I can understand why they were written in as the present a neat term challenge whilst looking for Clara and saving the ship. That said it was pretty obvious what they were so no surprise there.

The van Baalen’s had some back story but how strange it was and might have better suited a longer story – in fact Carlisle Who Fan (or Mark as we know him now) makes a similar point in his review.

The Series Arc

Here I felt the episode worked well – unlike The Cold War which interrupts the flow of the series, this continues the Clara / Doctor uncertainty well with a lot of tension and unresolved trust issues. The fact that Clara picks up the History of the Time War and gets the Doctor’s name suggests that it will be something straightforward and everyone will understand what it means so no obscure character from the show’s Gallifreyan past then.

Nice to hear the echoes of characters past as well!

Final Thoughts

I came away (and still feel a day later) thinking ‘so what?’ and am reminded of Masterchef (the TV cooking competition) when a good chef cooks good ingredients well, puts them on a plate and the judges decide the dish just doesn’t work as a meal. I don’t dislike this but the guided tour of the TARDIS could have sat in another episode altogether – eg River appears and takes Clara on a tour, the TARDIS deliberately traps the Clara to force her to learn the Doctor’s name, Clara and the Doctor lose their memories and explore the ship as newcomers…

Maybe I’ll cheer up for next week’s story? See you there!


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