Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" is the tenth episode of the seventh series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on 27 April 2013 on BBC One and was written by Stephen Thompson and directed by Mat King.
|236 – "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS"|
|Doctor Who episode|
Official poster from the BBC website
|Directed by||Mat King|
|Written by||Stephen Thompson|
|Produced by||Marcus Wilson|
|Executive producer(s)||Steven Moffat|
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|First broadcast||27 April 2013|
In the episode, the alien time traveller the Doctor (Matt Smith) forces a salvage crew (played by Ashley Walters, Mark Oliver, and Jahvel Hall) to rescue the Doctor's companion Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman), who is lost in the depths of the sentient spaceship and time machine the TARDIS after its engines become damaged by the salvage crew's beam. The episode was watched by 6.5 million viewers in the United Kingdom and received mixed to positive reviews.
The TARDIS is caught by the magnetic tractor beam of a space salvage ship, damaging it. Clara pleads with the Eleventh Doctor to fix it, but he claims there is no "big friendly button" that can fix everything. Clara spots a strange egg-like device roll across the floor and tries to grab it but burns her hand. The ship jolts and the two are thrown into darkness.
The Doctor awakes to find himself on the salvage ship, manned by the Van Baalen brothers: Gregor, Bram, and Tricky. The Doctor forces the brothers to cooperate with him to rescue Clara. Gregor orders Bram to start salvaging the console, during which he is killed by an ossified humanoid creature. The TARDIS traps Gregor, Tricky, and the Doctor in a loop of corridors to prevent the theft of its systems. The Doctor recovers Clara and finds the TARDIS engines are damaged due to the leakage of time caused by the incident, and they must go to the engine room to prevent it from exploding.
The Doctor confesses the ossified creatures that killed Bram and chased Clara are themselves from the future and tries to prevent that future from happening. However, Gregor and Tricky contact themselves and become the conjoined ossified creature, seen earlier. The Doctor and Clara flee towards the engine. The Doctor, thinking they are going to die, asks Clara to explain who she is and how she could have died twice before. Clara does not understand, and the Doctor realises she has no knowledge of their previous encounters and is simply a young woman.
Reaching the engine room, they find the engine has exploded but the TARDIS has placed the room in time stasis as a safety measure. Clara looks at her hand, the burn marks formed into words – "big friendly button". The Doctor realises they need to go back to the point of the disaster and activate the remote control for the tractor beam – the device Clara picked up – to stop the tractor beam and prevent the disaster. The Doctor crosses through a time rift and gives the remote to his younger self, with a button marked "big friendly button" for him to press. Time resets to before the events of the episode. The TARDIS vanishes from the Van Baalens' scanner, and the Doctor and Clara continue their journey, with Clara not remembering her conversation with the Doctor.
The Eye of Harmony is seen in its entirety for the first time in this episode. The scene where Bram tries to dismantle the TARDIS features audio clips from An Unearthly Child, Colony in Space, The Robots of Death, "Rose", "Smith and Jones", "The Beast Below", and "The Doctor's Wife". When the Encyclopedia Gallifreya 'leaks', audio from The End of Time is also heard.
When Clara is exploring through the rooms of the TARDIS, she comes across the Doctor's cot, first seen in "A Good Man Goes to War", and a toy TARDIS similar – if not identical – to the one that Amy Pond made, last seen in "Let's Kill Hitler". She also finds a magnifying glass, possibly the one that the Doctor used in the console room in "The Power of Three", the one Donna Noble used in "The Unicorn and the Wasp", and the one Amy looks into while alone in the TARDIS in "The Lodger", as well as an umbrella that looks very similar to the one used by the Seventh Doctor in Paradise Towers.
Lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat gave the concept of an episode discovering the centre of the TARDIS to writer Stephen Thompson. Thompson explained that this was because Moffat was "haunted" by the 1978 story The Invasion of Time, which was set on the TARDIS but had no new sets built in the studios, with the story instead having to use the filming location of a disused hospital. Thompson was also interested in mathematics and remarked, "anything involving multi-dimensional geometry gets me excited". Moffat left the rest of the story to be developed by Thompson.
The read-through for "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" took place at Roath Lock studios on 29 August 2012, during the production of "The Snowmen". Filming took place from 4 to 24 September, mostly on studio sets. However, the scene where the Doctor and Clara enter the defensive front of the TARDIS' engine room was filmed later on 28 November at the Argoed Isha Quarry in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Guest star Ashley Walters managed to get in trouble with the producers on the first day of filming when he tweeted a picture of himself in his costume in his trailer with the word "space". The picture was immediately removed.
Broadcast and receptionEdit
The episode first aired in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 27 April 2013. Overnight ratings showed that 4.9 million viewers watched the episode live. When final ratings were calculated, the figure rose to 6.5 million, the seventh most-watched programme of the week on BBC One. In addition, "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" received 1.19 million requests on the online BBC iPlayer for the four days it was available in the month of April, making it the tenth most-watched programme on the service for the month. It received an Appreciation Index of 85.
"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" received mixed to positive reviews. Dan Martin of The Guardian noted that the ending would upset fans because it made fun of them "so audaciously" and that the episode "frustratingly ... advances the arc before striding right back to square one". He praised the "creepy" side of the episode and wrote that the guest acting "sells" the underdeveloped plot of the three brothers. Digital Spy's Morgan Jeffery gave the episode five out of five stars, describing it as "an absolute treat for Doctor Who fans" as well as casual viewers, and said that the resolution was "not just a running gag but a timey-wimey, reset twist that actually works on a logical and a dramatic level, and doesn't feel like a cheat". However, he felt that the nature of the plot did not allow Clara to do much besides run and scream.
IGN's Mark Snow gave "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" a score of 8.5 out of 10. He was disappointed by the amount of time spent in corridors, but was positive towards the monster. He praised the "showdown" between the Doctor and Clara, though criticised how it was erased by a "no doubt polarising Deus Ex Machina ending". Radio Times reviewer Patrick Mulkern described the episode as "a reasonably entertaining, playfully timey-wimey adventure, with lots of nice touches". While he praised the set design and the performance of Jenna-Louise Coleman, he wished for a more consistent style of the TARDIS as seen in the classic series and called the three brothers "a singularly inept bunch of clods". Neela Debnath of The Independent wrote that the episode was "fun" but mostly "an excuse to explore the [TARDIS]", with an insubstantial plot and three supporting characters who were hard to care about. She wrote that "the aesthetics do add value to this adventure, in particular the Doctor's library".
Writing for SFX, Dave Golder gave "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" three out of five stars. He particularly criticised the plot for being "average" and "a reasonable, bog-standard, sci-fi corridor run-around complete with handy-dandy reset button ending". He felt that the episode had a lot of missed opportunities, and called the three brothers "bland and forgettable". Gavin Fuller of The Daily Telegraph gave the episode one and a half stars, also finding "wasted opportunities" and that it seemed "like a rehash of old Who". Fuller wrote that "the only redeeming feature was the spiky development of the Doctor/Clara relationship" but that "was nowhere near enough to save this deadly dull episode".
Graham Kibble-White gave it a mostly negative review in Doctor Who Magazine. He described the episode as being "all about thrills." However, he complained that there was "nothing here about nuance or subtlety. Very little about cleverness," and described the Van Baalens as "the show's most poorly acted siblings since the Sylvest twins" and the revelation of Tricky not being an android as one of the "all-time stupid Doctor Who plot points." Additionally, he complained that the Doctor's fake threat to destroy the TARDIS "doesn't feel at all Doctor-y," and that he felt "a slight disconnect between the inner and outer environs," saying it was "not enough to bind it all together." However, he admitted "Murray Gold's superlative soundtrack holds it together," and later described the story as "big, loud, dumb fun."
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- Jeffery, Morgan (27 April 2013). "'Doctor Who': New episode 'Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS' review". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
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- Golder, Dave (27 April 2013). "Doctor Who 7.10 "Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS" Review". SFX. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
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