Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Only a few chapters left in this book. And since I’m running out of stuff to talk about in the opener I’ve been giving random thoughts about Doctor Who and my experience with it. I want to talk about the TARDIS console room, the main always-used set. There have been many designs over the years but in modern Who, ever since the TV movie, I think they try too hard. Look at the original:
I think I fast forwarded to when they first enter but even the thumbnail works. Later TARDIS designs had a more high-tech look to the console itself but seemed a bit cramped. The original on the other hand was a bit more roomy, though not the grand cathedral of most modern TARDIS rooms. For example:
Not as many decorations because the third Doctor was trying to get it working again, the roundels are a bit too large (that would be tweaked eventually) but none of them are painted backdrops racing to meet airtime. I’m not going to go through the whole history here (I found this video that goes up to Matt Smith if you want to see them all–forgive the “desktop” term, a dumb line from the Fifth/Tenth’s short) but the point is these early sets were roomy without overdoing it. The new ones seem to be large just to be large and I’ve not really been a fan of either of them. Sometimes simple is the best. Though I do miss the monitor being tucked away. What did the Third do, buy a television set?
Of course after the previous chapter if our current team doesn’t hurry up they won’t have a TARDIS to control. So let’s check in with them.
Our crew makes their journey but deal with two stops. One is a pub where they’re attacked for their money (but the sample they pull out is from a different time period) and the other is Bamford going to meet her mother. Except that her mother died before she ever met her father, so if that’s the case Bamford won’t be born. Is she another alternate? I’m not sure we need another mystery with only two chapters left. Also of note is that this Bamford is much nicer and actually wanted to help a transient that was one of the victims of WOTAN, aka “the Machine”. (Someone tell Hakim Alston he has a contender for his nickname.) Was this the event that hardened her into the Bamford they met? Again, only two chapters remaining is not a good time for more mysteries.
Meanwhile the Doctor, Susan, and Griffiths finds the lab containing the alien artifacts that would be part of the time travel experiments. The place is run by a younger version of Professor Kelly, who is only a brilliant mind by default since the Machine wiped out the brains of the more experienced scientists (or so goes the Doctor’s theory). Kelly is not used to being challenged, which Griffiths notes does not lead to healthy science. That could almost be a commentary for some “scientists” today but that’s off-topic for this site. All of the artifacts, including a “trans-materialization booth” (aka the “transmat”, Doctor Who‘s answer to Star Trek‘s transporter) and a piece of a Dalek tells the Doctor and Susan that the Dalek’s visit Earth at some point…and now I’m confused.
This can’t be from Dalek Invasion Of Earth since that storyline takes place well after this. It could be a reference to…well the TARDIS Wiki suggests “Rememberance Of The Daleks”, a Seventh Doctor story in which he and Ace go to Coal Hill in the 1960s sometime after our heroes left, but why does that event happen and not the First Doctor’s later defeat of WOTAN, which would have caused this bombed-out future to have never happened? In fact any story that takes place after this now really should have a Doctor-less ending if they happened at all depending on the Doctor’s influence, his Companions, or lack of either. What about the changes cause by the Master, the Rani, or the Monk, or the people swiped by the War Chief? If one alternate future existed they all should, so does that mean the Daleks get their hands on the Hand Of Omega? But then why would the Daleks care if the only confrontation they had with the Doctor to this point was the first one, where they wouldn’t even build a time machine to pursue the Doctor until…
Up until now the references made a form of sense continuity wise depending on the direction Guerrier was taking the story and his apparent view of time travel but now he’s not following his own rules in the name of referencing. If the Dalek visit in 1963, which only happens because of the further battles the Doctor had with them, then why isn’t the Doctor’s defeat of the Machine also something that happened? I think Guerrier just wanted to have a ruined city, and frankly that feels more in-line with modern Who than classic Who, something the book until now really hasn’t done. It felt like classic Who on a larger budget more often than not but in this chapter it just doesn’t “feel” right to me.
Maybe the book will get back on track with the final two chapters? Check in next time and find out.