Doctor Who: Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS spoiler-free review

Review Simon Brew 23 Apr 2013 - 07:08

The next episode of Doctor Who, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS is a geek oasis. Prepare to squeal...

Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS. Just the name of it suggests geek gold, and inevitably, it's wise to approach such potential treasure with just a hint of restraint. The true professional, therefore, would keep their own excitement in check, and try and put across a rounded flavour of what to expect in a grown-up, mature way. That's the least you should reasonably expect. 

Sadly, you got me, and thus you've got no chance.

Therefore, it's best to declare from the outset that I've got a natural leaning towards TARDIS episodes. Especially TARDIS episodes that, you sense, are set to be referenced by Who a good decade or two into the future. Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS is the big rummage around the Doctor's craft that you've always been tempted to do yourself, but never had the chance. As such, you see old things and you see new things. Unprofessional reviewers may well have made the occasional, odd squealing noise. The kind of noise you may have made when Derek Jacobi pulled out that fob watch (that's not a subtle hint to The Master turning up or anything though). 

Things kick off here with a nod to a major science fiction movie franchise, that straight away leaves you suspecting that writer Steve Thompson - responsible for arguably the weakest of series six's episodes (The Curse Of The Black Spot) - has a lot of fun in store. Turns out, he does. And at its best, Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS is a geek oasis that does, without giving anything away, deliver on its title. In fact, the vast majority of the episode takes place on the TARDIS, although it's not just the Doctor and Clara who are on it. 

That doesn't mean it's a standalone episode in this run though, as in the midst of all of this, Thompson weaves in a thread about an ongoing mystery that's running through series seven of the show. It'd be wrong to talk about it here, but we'll have more on that once the episode has broadcast. A lot more. 

What we can talk about now is just how many memories of classic Who this brings flooding back. It's an episode that accepts it's a game of shooting corridors and sets from different angles, and in different lights, and director Mat King proves utterly adept at doing so. Thompson, meanwhile, happily goes all nerdy-werdy (sorry, although it does sound better than geeky-weeky) on us, as if he's just been gifted the keys to the TARDIS' hidden toy room. 

Fortunately, he's far more professional than me, and thus he guides a narrative through the episode/sightseeing tour that more than suffices. And while there are odd bits to pick at if you really want (there's a lot of wondering around similar-looking corridors, but as I said, I've got a soft spot for that, and the wrap-up isn't the highlight of the story), chances are that many of you, just like me, will be glued to this one, and will enjoy the hell out of it. Because Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS is a treat, one that I found myself looking forward to rewatching long before the credits rolled. A real highlight, and lots of fun.

Read Simon's spoiler-filled review of the previous episode, Hide, here.

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Sounds promising enough. I'm intrigued by the concept, but the curse of THAT pirate episode is lurking.

I'm hoping this will be the turning point in the series. It's been good so far, but it hasn't felt like Doctor Who has in the past few years. I'm assuming the thing that was said about the first 5 episodes of series 7 (Each one is like a big Hollywood movie) is still in effect here, with each having separate posters and a separate feel. Still, it looks promising!

If you were a classic series fan NuWho didn't feel like real Who again UNTIL Series 5.

Y'know I rewatched Curse of the Black Spot recently and think it's got a bit of an unfair rap. It does suffer from being a tad overstuffed but there's a lot of good stuff here and some really nice moments. No, the story isn't as good as it could be but it's still, IMO of course, an average to good episode. Most of all I think it suffers from its position in the run sandwiched between the superb opening two-parter and The Doctor's Wife. If it was in the spot it was originally supposed to be in later in the run I suspect it may have had a better reception.

Aaaaanyway, looking forward to this and regardless of the credited writer I'll bet Moffat has had a big hand in this one. I mean, you would wouldn't you if you were the show runner, how could you resist? Plus it's been a while since we had a really good running up and down corridors episode, seems very appropriate it should be this one! ;-)

Uh, okay, so we see a LOT of the Tardis. That's implicit from the title of the episode.

In reviewing the episode, are there, er, characters in it? Besides the blue box? Does our story advance? Do we, perhaps, learn more about Clara? Does the Doctor seem any closer to the end of his current incarnation? Is there a crisis beginning to loom on the horizon which will resolve itself in, say, the 50th anniversary special? Is there anything at all to say except it's really cool seeing inside the Tardis?

Not in a spoiler-free review, I wouldn't have thought. Expect there'll be plenty to say once Saturday evening comes.

A spoiler-free review need not be a content-free review.

Agreed. But, and this was after consultation with readers of this site, it should give pretty much nothing away story-wise, and focus instead on an opinion. Every question you posted, whilst obviously very valid, would be a bit spoiler-y to answer.

I do make no apology for continually veering on the side of caution. I think it's fairer that way. Bottom line: this is a really good episode, with lots of old Who touches, that digs into Clara a little more. But that's what I said in the review above too! - Simon

agreed. 100%

What was the problem with the pirate episode last season ?? It was a very funny episode, with an original concept, I like it ! For me, the weakest episode was "Midnight", it was boring !

I agree about The Curse of the Black Spot. It's a long way from being Doctor Who at it's best but is nowhere near as awful as many make out....disappearing pirate aside! ;)

Agreed 100% x 2.

Can't win can you. Say to much...SLAUGHTERED! Not enough...SLAUGHTERED! That's Doctor Who fandom for you. :)

I have to agree this was spoiler-free but barely a review, just a report on how the author was so excited to see lots of stuff, particularly the first two paragraphs.

Looking forward to it!

Steve Thompson did write the pirate episode which wasn't as bad as all that but he also wrote "The Reichenbach Fall" too so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as that was one class piece of tv.

And for this I, and I suspect many many others, thank you. One of the best things about DoG is it's incredibly rare to come here and be spoiled accidentally. Besides I've never seen the point of giving a full-blown review before a TV episode, if you want details folks wait four days and watch it!

Frankly very little of NuWho has felt as close to classic Who as The Sarah Jane Adventures did. I've still enjoyed NuWho, but SJA just felt very, very close to classic Who. Maybe it was the companion, or the time slot, or the cliffhangers, or the lower key approach (not so many apocalypses), but it just resonated in the same way.

Thinking about it... and I'm probably going to get downvoted horribly for this... I don't think there's been much genuinely bad Who since it came back in 2005. Fear Her, maybe Love and Monsters & Unicorn and the Wasp? There's been a fair few mediocre episodes but all with something about them that made them worth watching at least once. But actually bad, no, very little.

This review just made me really exited!!!

Midnight was brilliant! Arguably, RTD's best-ever Who script. So...does this mean you thought Love and Monsters, or Fear Her was better than Midnight? I know this is all down to opinion; I'm just curious.

For me, The Waters of Mars was terrible (worst Nuwho episode) and The End of Time (Part two) I found the final ten minutes fairly unwatchable. All those specials were patchy at best as we drown in RTD's syrup.

Otherwise it's been mostly good (barring season 3), it's only real fault recently is cramming too much in.

I don't think it's TERRIBLE. But there's one major mistake that I can't believe got through to TV. One of the pirates disappears inexplicably (as in, you don't see him get taken by the ghost-supermodel-thing and no-one acknowledges that he's gone) and then he's there at the end when all the pirates are on the spaceship. It's a god-awful continuity error that I've tried to reconcile by re-watching the episode to see if I missed something. But, no. There's a big slip-up there and it really itches at me!

I don't care about anything else, I just want to see the TARDIS library. If I see that, I'll be happy. Simple things and all that....

I would probably say The End of Time was downright Shite at times (magic potions, flying Masters & falling from a spaceship through a roof onto a marble floor without a scratch), New Earth & Daleks in Manhattan were pretty poor but I don't think there is anything as poor in the new series as Twin Dilemma, The Time Monster or The Mutants in the original series.

It's in the pictures released. Rejoice!

Curse of the Black Spot seemed to be overstuffed and under edited more than anything. You're right about it's position in the run as well, between the Astronought two-parter and the phenomenal 'Doctor's Wife' it was easy to spot the plot holes. Plus, the disappearing pirate was just sloppy editing. Other than that it was a pretty average episode with some good moment and a decent idea behind it. Still, the pirate genre's a bugger to pull of, so I'm willing to cut it a little slack.

Ummmmm... Agree with the hate for Daleks in manhattan and Fear Her, they were awful, but is it just me who really enjoyed Love and Monsters? Am I the only one? Anyone??

Can't wait for this episode! Hopefully it will be a lot better then the past few (though I really liked Hide)

Midnight is the most intense episode of Who (old and new) so far !!

Each to there own though! I do agree that the pirate episode was good.


Waters of Mars was brilliant! My second favourite episode of Who ever!!
Each to their own....

Really looking forward to this episode, I'm hoping there's something huge in it that the reviewers can't say a word about like Clara being in AOTD (That's the feeling I'm getting from this episode, I don't know why).

200% ?

You see, I've always enjoyed "The Time Monster". Doctor Who is so divisive, some stories people loath others love and vice versa. That is why I can never be too critical with episodes which, for me, fall below par. 'Cos I know some people will love it. I mean, I still can't understand how some people consider "The Web Planet" a classic or "Silver Nemesis" a complete mess!

Doctor Who is a strange beast...

OK, I'll admit it. I really loved 'Love and Monsters'. The interaction with Jackie was particularly funny and touching. Though while I enjoyed it, I'm not entirely sure I class it as an episode of Doctor Who, rather just a really nice one off drama/comedy. In fact I'd say similar about 'Midnight'. Top notch drama, just not really sure it was Doctor Who, despite the Doctor being so central. In the end it could have been any hyperactive smart-alex in his position. Glad they made it though, and I can surreptitiously watch it on the pretext that it's for my kids.

"the wrap-up isn't the highlight of the story." Oh dear. That seems to be the story of Series 7...

Nonetheless, looking forward to this episode. It's the one I've been anticipating the most since the start of the run, and I'm sure the guy who wrote The Reichenbach Fall will deliver!

"... and the wrap-up isn't the highlight of the story". A Doctor Who episode with a rubbish ending? Who would have thought it ...

I love Love and Monsters too. I thought it did exactly what it set out to do. There are maybe a couple of minutes of misplaced comedy but I really cared about Elton. Great performance by Marc Warren.

Love and Monsters is actually quite good until the Absorbaloff shows up in full. Never let your ep's prime monster be decided by a Blue Peter competition.

Really ?? For me the best episode of the new series is "Blink". I didn't really like Midnight... :/

Well I must have strange tastes, because once again, I'm all alone ! XD It's the same with the new Dredd movie, I like the first one much better, but I'm the only one !

Love and Monsters, yes: a guilty pleasure. I mean, Moaning Myrtle, for heaven's sake... a great, sweet character in Elton... an homage to fan groups... that bicycle song that made all my coworkers groan when it looped on at work while I just giggled... etc. etc. Enjoyed L&M more than Blink, to be honest.

I agree... and so do many other folks: it did win the Hugo award. I find Waters of Mars to be a fantastic sequel to Fires of Pompeii. Watch them one after the other and you'll see what I mean. Really interesting too how similar those episode titles are... no accident, perhaps.

Midnight, the weakest episode?!?!? Hmmm... guessing you don't enjoy really brilliant live theater/plays/dramas either.

LOL, because I thought Blink was rather boring! And that there were MANY better episodes. Amazing how people can see things completely opposite... especially in the Whoniverse.

Really ? I love Blink, it's the most frightening (for Doctor Who) episode to me. The weeping angels instantly became my favourite monsters, their concept is brilliant ! In Midnight, not many happens, I mean I would have liked it more if it lasted 20 minutes instead of 40.

I would say the wrap-ups in the Moff era have been a bit better on the whole than in the RTD era, but that neither says a lot nor does it mean that the wrap-ups have been particularly good. Odd really and somewhat hard to say why that should be. I have to say I am really enjoying Part 2 of this season. I never did get to like Amy very much and I never bought into the Amy/Rory/River Song family stuff. Much better with a single companion, especially one as good as Clara. Matt Smith has been awesome and The Doctor is now the main character at last and not the spare wheel of the piece.

I agree with you, Elton is a well-rounded, sympathetic character and the relationship with Jackie is great and despite the fact that I am not at all a fan of ELO their music fits perfectly. L&M is far from being the best NuWho story but it is a long way from being the worst IMHO.

seriously though how many people are even going to notice that? I certainly never did the couple of times I watched it, it was only when it was mention in a podcast I even learned about it!

AOTD? Whats that then?

But that's not the attitude the BBC should be taking. Just because a mistake like that can slide past doesn't mean it should. Sure a continuity error like a plant pot moving is passable, even expected. That the standards are so lax on an entire character's presence is rather worry to me, in terms of what's going on behind the scenes.

I absolutely adore Midnight, have watched many many times and its one of my favorite D/Who episodes ever, and my favorite Doctor is still Tom Baker for heaven's sake. I really enjoyed blink, as a matter of fact, i tend to enjoy the one or two cheapy episodes they have to make each season. A couple seasons back, when The Doctor became that dude's roommate, come-on.. who didn't love that episode.Matt Smith, playing soccer (or football if you prefer), getting a job, and WHAT WAS WITH THAT WEIRD PAINTING, WHY DIDN'T ANYONE DO ANYTHING WITH THAT, THAT THING FREAKED ME OUT, THEN NOTHING.... AAAAAHHHHH. SOMETIMES DOCTOR WHO DRIVES ME CRAZY!!! And while some people don't care for episodes like Love and Monsters (i like it fine, very similar to blink, the boarder, midnight, they had to do it on the cheap, so cheap they couldn't even afford to have The Doctor in a few of these episodes...) I rather enjoy when you have to write a great story cuz there's no room in the budget for CGI. Plus what's got two thumbs and would gleefully watch the worst Doctor Who over pretty much anything else??? This guy.

Asylum of The Daleks

Honestly I didn't mind Curse of the Black Spot, it wasn't great but it wasn't Beast Below stupid either, it was just a throwaway romp with swordfighting, but I did love that it was Captain Avery who was mentioned way back in the First Doctor Era. But I did NOT enjoy the Reichenbach Fall, I thought they wasted all that setup of Moriarty, his motivations weren't clear and I have no idea why he killed himself. "He's crazy" is just not enough motivation in today's more sophisticated TV environment. It was a letdown. Looking forward to this one, but cautiously. Besides the execrable Beast Below, the only new Who I really don't enjoy has been Love and Monsters (nice people's horrible deaths are not funny, the tone betrayed the show's usual heartfelt humanism) and the Wedding of River Song, which makes no sense.

I freaking love Midnight. It was an episode of the old Twilight Zone, in color, starring the Doctor. And that is awesome.

The simple fact on the vanishing pirate is it was cut for time. Not an error but a conscious decision to take it out. I'm sure if they could have done they'd have pulled him completely but too many wide and group shots to do that successfully. He had a small sub-plot going on from what I remember reading so it wasn't just a single scene that got cut out and the decision to pull all that wouldn't even be noticed by 99.9% of viewers.

Yeah maybe I should give it a chance again, I'll see it when I'll watch all 7 series after series 7 is over.

Hmm... that's what I was thinking. And that the Crimson Horror will have Victorian Clara.

I'm I wondering what the point of dropping Clara off at the end of Bells of St John? was it a different Clara he picked up?

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