Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Idiot Box: Doctor Who 7x10 - "Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS" Review

Okay, first off, its Center, not Centre. There's British idiosyncrasies, and then there's just basic phonetics. Come on people. Anyway, I just watched the latest episode of Doctor Who, a just barely out of the bottle show delving deep into the multi-dimensional labyrinth of the TARDIS as the Doctor and a crew of mostly uninteresting salvage operators out to sell the blue box for scrap search for a lost Clara to avert self destruction. After ruminating last week on the incredible drop in quality so far this year as compared to past New Doctor seasons, I was hoping this episode would renew my faith in this once reliably entertaining series, but while it was definitely a cut above some of the recent poor efforts, it didn't quite wow me enough to reverse my opinion on this show's decline.

Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS seems to want to be a solemn tribute to the show's past while at the same time being a spring board to what has already been foreshadowed for the future. We get a brief look at the oft mentioned swimming pool, a reference to the Eye of Harmony, and even a quick snippet of audio from the first Who serial ever aired, as well as a much appreciated reminder of The Silence's Trenzalore prophecy that was so important last season, but that hasn't really come up much so far this year. Even so, I keep running into the same problem with each ensuing episode, namely that the moments that in past seasons would have been geek-tastically epic and satisfying do not feel earned, because they are not being set up with the sort of care and clever detail this show used to be so well known for.

Its done a little better here than in either of the Neil Cross episodes, much closer to Cold War than The Rings Of Akhaten, but still, I'm just not feeling it anymore, and I never thought I would ever get to this point with this show. Did we really need the extended subplot involving the salvage crew's family squabbles? Did anyone care whether or not the youngest one was really an android, or for that matter, was the plot twist surrounding these characters not immediately apparent the first time the subject of androids was mentioned? Its hard for me to conceive of how they could have done the episode without anyone for The Doctor to work off of as he and Clara were separated, but I still have to think the hour would have been better served without these pointless side characters.

Easily the best part of the episode was Clara's solo investigation into the heart of the TARDIS. Her investigation into the Doctor's history and what this might have meant for the character going forward was legitimately intriguing until the last minute reversal. Yeah, just so you know, this is one of those time travel stories where nothing that happens actually matters, because the time line gets erased and none of it ever happens. I know that's a spoiler, but since it spoils the fact that none of this will progress the story forward, I think its justified. Also, it erases one of the first truly interesting monsters we've seen all season, even though the secret behind what they were was fairly apparent early on.

Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS is definitely a step up from some of the worst episodes of this season, which have been some of the worst of the entire series (Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, I'm looking at you!). And yet, its not a step up far enough to convince me that we're back on the right track. I'm tentatively excited by the prospect of the next episode's return of the Silurian Sherlock Holmes crew from the Christmas special, as well as the rumored return of the original Cybermen after that, and the finale, which we've now learned is titled The Name Of The Doctor. Hopefully this does represent a turning point and I'm just too beaten down by the crappiness of the last few episodes to see it clearly. We'll see soon enough I suppose.

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