For most sci-fi shows, an episode entirely set on-board the lead character’s spaceship would be an excuse to save some money and work entirely off existing sets and actors. Probably not so much Doctor Who, since we normally see one room of the allegedly infinite TARDIS, so a bunch of new sets and CGI environments are required.
Not to mention, an interesting chance for we viewers to see what the rest of the ship looks like. Answers lurk below, watch on iPlayer if it’s a spoiler for you.
Didn’t They Jettison The Swimming Pool?
In the end, the TARDIS interior is much like you’d expect. Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS runs up against the problem of finally showing the viewers something previously left to their imaginations – it’s ultimately hard to live up to that.
Speaking of expectations: the episode is written by Stephen Thompson, who previously wrote the pirate episode low point of series six. He hasn’t matched that feat in series seven – The Rings Of Akhaten is still more problematic – but nor has he topped last week’s excellent Hide.
In short, Clara runs around the TARDIS, the Doc meets some salvage people, they eventually all find each other – it’s another claustrophobic corridorfest, only two weeks after we last had one in Cold War, enlivened by background touches as Clara passes through Easter Egg after Easter Egg.
Who Is Clara? Who Is Who? Who?!
If you thought they weren’t tackling the subplots of the year head-on enough, this week definitely attacks them full-force, at least until everything is deleted. The ending seems to be the most controversial part – personally, I liked the time-loop they used to enact it, but full-on reset buttons do always grate.
The running around beforehand was fun though, nice job on the special effects and monster make-up, and Smith and Coleman good as ever, especially when the heroes genuinely thought this was the end. But ultimately we got small hints in the ongoing storylines which told us nothing we didn’t already know, then got erased anyway, didn’t they spend a weirdly long time next to that sun, and the guest star salvage people… didn’t really gain anything? I thought we’d at least get a bigger hint about why the TARDIS hated Clara, but after the opening scene, did it even come up again?
I try not to judge stories via a spreadsheet of accomplishments, but I was rather expecting them to at least have the Doctor remember, and then pop over to tell that poor guy he was a cyborg. Alas, no. Still, another fun spell in the Doctor’s company, but perhaps fizzled out a bit. Onwards!