Any geek worth their caffeine intake will know what must be number one without scrolling, but there are more things that share the particular peculiar properties of a certain Time Lord’s convenient conveyance.
Here are ten of the best things found in films and TV shows that defy their exterior dimensions in extraordinary ways.
Descriptions may contain mild spoilers.
10. Mary’s carpetbagMary Poppins (1964)
Part of the proof positive that Ms. Poppins was no ordinary nanny (besides being airborne with an umbrella and sliding up a banister) was the scene in which she removes lots of large objects from her carpetbag, including a tall hat stand and potted plant. Similar scenes had shown up since in many a cartoon during childhood, and seem commonplace now. But Mary’s bag was, in all likelihood, this writer’s very first exposure to the confounding concept of bigger on the inside than out.
9. The Phantom Zone prisonSuperman: The Movie (1978) and Superman II (1980)
Three dangerous, traitorous criminals are imprisoned in an extra-dimensional prison, set to drift in space by Superman’s Kryptonian father, Jor-El. Their confinement within what looks like a clear, flat shard might be believed to be their transport to some distant prison planet, as the Phantom Zone is represented in some Superman stories. But the destruction of the shard by a nuclear explosion that allows the escape of General Zod, Non and Ursa in Superman II shows the crystal sliver was their cell.
8. Mysterious podStar Trek: Enterprise – Future Tense (2003)Season 2, Episode 16
The Enterprise happens upon a small, derelict, windowless, engineless pod. When the crew gain access to its interior, they find a cramped space with a long-dead human in the craft’s single seat. But as they explore further, trying to learn the origins of the pod and its pilot, they discover it uses organic circuitry and find a hatch that opens onto a long, laddered shaft, which leads to a much larger area of the vessel, making this one of the most intriguing mysteries of the last of the Star Trek TV series.
7. The wardrobeThe Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe (1988 BBC TV series)
It was mundane furniture that leads to a grand adventure in The Chronicles Of Narnia, which many will know through the books or any of the live action and animated TV series or the recent feature films. The wardrobe through which Pevensie siblings, Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan pass to reach the fantastic land of Narnia and meet Aslan is one of the most famous home furnishings in literature. If you argue that it is merely a door or gateway, then the space beyond the wardrobe, or the wall, is what holds more than wood or mortar.
6. LuggageThe Colour Of Magic (2008) (Discworld)
‘Luggage’ is a sentient chest that also serves its master, Twoflower, as a ferocious bodyguard. It has plenty of room for huge amounts of gold, a very large camera and everything else tourist Twoflower needs for an extended trip to the city of Ankh-Morpork on the Disc. It’s also self-transporting, spontaneously sprouting hundreds of feet for running, tripping adversaries and leaping into the air at flying foes. It can carry a passenger in a pinch too. An utterly unique travel accessory and companion, Luggage swallows people and creatures whole in defence of its owner and – as there’s no mention ever made of passing any contents – it must have an incredibly roomy interior, a magical property imparted by the plant, sapient pearwood, of which it’s made.
5. The Doomsday boxThe Outer Limits: Don’t Open Until Doomsday (1964)Season 1, Episode 17
This episode of the iconic sci-fi anthology series gave me violent shivers as a child. A sealed box contained a horrible, blobby, one-eyed monster that could suck in unwary inquisitive humans through a single peephole in the box’s side. Once they took that fatal look they were trapped with the creature in an alien, dimensionless space, a large barren area inside the cube that was also unaffected by the passage of time. The chills came from eerie music and sound effects, and terrifically flamboyant acting by the bride whose groom was taken before their wedding night and in her plot, twenty-five years later (crazed and channelling Miss Havisham), to get him back by substituting another unsuspecting man to take her husband’s place.
4. The Hitcher’s boxThe Mighty Boosh: Hitcher (2004)Series 1, Episode 8
Curiosity claims another victim when Howard falls into the puzzling Polo-emblazoned box of a professional hitchhiker (and part time man-witch and slap bass president) whom he picks up in the Forest of Death. Howard finds Vince has been boxed before him and The Hitcher introduces them both to the most prestigious inmates of his Zoo For Animal Offenders, entirely contained within the casket. Two fleshy maracas up for one great episode, another fine example of bigger on the inside, with an hysterical musical number as well as one of the best impressions of a lunching turtle you’re ever likely to see.
Joint 3rd entries are found in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005):
3a. Weasley’s tent
The Weasleys, Harry and Hermione attend the Quidditch World Cup and are expected to stay in what looks like a small, two-person (at a stretch) tent, from first glance at its less than ample exterior. However, on entering they discover the tent will not only hold their whole party, but is fully and comfortably furnished and includes a kitchen, dining area, bathroom, wood burning stove and bunk beds in multiple platformed levels.
3b. Moody’s trunk
Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody is captured by Barty Crouch Jr who uses Polyjuice Potion to transform into a Moody double. To maintain the deception without the real McCoy Moody showing up, he stashes the former Auror (a Dark wizard ‘Death Eater’ catcher) away at the bottom of Moody’s own nearly bottomless magical 7-lock trunk, minus a leg and an eye, where he’s eventually discovered and rescued.
2. Number Twelve Grimmauld PlaceHarry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (2007)
After years of disuse, the dreary, bleak Black family home at 12 Grimmauld Place, inherited by Sirius Black, becomes the Order Of The Phoenix headquarters. Although the house is located on a well-maintained London street, it’s invisible to Muggles, even though it’s sat right in the midst of a row of occupied attached houses. Sort of. How the house mushrooms into existence – and its telescoping transformation – is quite impressive as the 4-story house grates, grinds and slides out from nothingness between the neighbouring homes and expands to fill its place on the street, and windowsills, a balcony, door and front steps unfold into wizards- and witches-only view.
1. TARDIS Doctor Who (1963 – present)
The TARDIS takes top spot by virtue of this special vehicle’s longevity and its ability to not only travel to any world but to any time as well. It also came first in the time span of this list. And it can take along passengers, mostly in the form of companions who learn just how otherworldly their host actually is in the instant they step across the threshold. The famously familiar police box exterior hasn’t changed significantly, but the interior is redecorated almost as often as the Doctor regenerates, although we rarely see beyond the console room where most of the action happens and where we’ll watch the eleventh Doctor take the helm soon.
Those are the favourites of this admirer of impossible spaces. What’s missing? Add your picks to the comment section below.