Doctor Who Notes 6

Season six of Doctor Who finally introduces us to the Doctor’s own people, the Time Lords, when he is forced to contact them for help, thus bringing to an end -- temporarily, at least -- his renegade existence. In the process, we gain insight into the Doctor’s motivations for his life of wandering through time and space. Also of note is the first UNIT story, which lays out the parameters for that concept, and also brings back the Cybermen for another go round. The end of the season marks a complete cast turn-over, as his companions are returned home and the Doctor is forced to regenerate. It is, in many ways, a major turning point for Doctor Who.

From “The Dominators”

The TARDIS materializes on the planet Dulkis, inhabited by a pacifist race, but the Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, and Zoe Heriot have their holiday plans spoiled by two soldiers from a race of conquerors called the Dominators. Unable to convince the Dulcians to fight for themselves, the Doctor turns the Dominators’ plans to destroy the planet against them, and their spaceship is blown up moments after take-off. However, the resultant volcanic eruption threatens to bury the TARDIS in lava.

From “The Mind Robber”

In order to escape the lava flow, the Doctor hastily installs an emergency unit to the main console, and the TARDIS is lifted out of space-time into a featureless void, where the three travelers come under psychic attack by a mysterious opponent. The Doctor apparently has an hallucination in which the TARDIS disintegrates and they fall into a land where characters from Earth literature are real. This land is controlled by a man called “the Master,” who is in turn the puppet of a giant computer. When the Doctor defeats his adversary, he finds himself back in the TARDIS as it materializes just beyond earth’s moon.

From “The Invasion”

To avoid a sudden lunar missile attack, the Doctor moves the TARDIS to Earth, where it materializes near the home of his friend Professor Travers. A damaged visual stabilizer unit has rendered the TARDIS invisible, and the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe seek out the professor’s help, only to find he has rented his home to another scientist and his niece. The scientist has gone missing, and the travelers offer their assistance. After snooping around International Electromatics, the Doctor and Jamie are picked up by some mysterious men and taken aboard a cargo plane, where they meet another old friend.

The Brigadier: How nice to see you again, Doctor.
The Doctor: It’s Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart!
The Brigadier: Ah, brigadier now, I’ve gone up in the world.
Jamie: Of course, the Yetis! We met you in the --
The Brigadier: That’s right, McCrimmon, in the Underground. Must be four years ago, now.
Jamie: That long? It only seems like a couple of weeks ago, doesn’t it?
The Doctor: I’ve told you over and over again, Jamie, time is relative.
The Brigadier: You still making a nonsense of it, Doctor, in your -- what was it called, TARDIS?
The Doctor: Yes, we’re still travelling, yes.
The Brigadier: Yes, Travers told me all about it. It’s -- well, it’s, to say the least, an unbelievable machine.
The Doctor: Any more unbelievable than the Yetis?
The Brigadier: No, true. I’m not quite so much of a sceptic as I was since that little escapade.
The Doctor: But what’s all this? And why all the cloak-and-dagger stuff to bring us here?
The Brigadier: Yes, I’m sorry about that, but my chaps happen to be a bit melodramatic in their methods -- but I’ll explain. Look, do sit down.
Jamie: Thank you.
The Doctor: How nice.
The Brigadier: Sergeant Walters!
Walters: Yes, sir?
The Brigadier: Lay on some tea, will you? You’d like some tea, wouldn’t you, Doctor?
The Doctor: Oh, thank you, and a pattycake biscuit!
The Brigadier: Yes, well, since the Yeti do, I’ve been in charge of an independent intelligence group that we call UNIT -- that’s United Nations Intelligence Taskforce.
Jamie: You mean you’re like a world secret police?
The Brigadier: No, not quite. We don’t actually arrest people, we just investigate.

The Doctor discovers that International Electromatics is part of a five-year invasion plan by the Cybermen, who have placed key government figures under mind-control, including the Brigadier’s immediate superior, Major General Rutlidge, who orders UNIT to cease their investigation.

The Brigadier: Well, you can override my authority, but not that of UNIT Central Command. I’m sending a full report to them in Geneva!

Prior to the invasion, the Cybermen broadcast a signal via microchips in I.E. components that place the human race under mind-control. However, the Doctor is able to provide a defensive measure for himself and the UNIT troops. When the invasion meets this unexpected resistance, the Cybermen turn against their human co-conspirator and are about to kill all life on Earth, but UNIT is able to destroy the Cyber Fleet with nuclear missiles. The Doctor then has some time to repair his faulty circuits and he, Jamie, and Zoe are once more on their way.

From “The Krotons”

The TARDIS materializes on the planet of the Gonds, who have spent millennia enslaved by Kroton warriors whose spacecraft crash-landed there after a battle. When the Krotons attempt to destroy the TARDIS, it rematerializes each time in a slightly different location, due to the Hostile Action Displacement System, which the Doctor had activated. The Gond people are freed when the two Krotons and their ship are destroyed with sulfuric acid.

From “The Seeds of Death”

When the TARDIS materializes on 21st century Earth, the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe learn that the trans-mat system, upon which the world has grown dependent, has broken down. They volunteer to fly an old rocket to the lunar relay station, only to find the sabotage is part of the invasion plan of the Ice Warriors. The Doctor tricks the Martian fleet into flying too close to the sun and they are destroyed.

From “The Space Pirates”

The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe are separated from the TARDIS when the space beacon it has materialized on is broken apart by space pirates. In order to be reuinited with their ship, the travelers must help the authorities find the pirates’ base and defeat them.

From “The War Games”

When the TARDIS materializes in a bombed-out wasteland, the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe believe themselves to be on the front lines of World War I, but suspect something is amiss when they begin finding anachronisms. They soon discover the area is a patchwork of time-zones, each representing a different war in Earth’s history, assembled by a group of aliens for study. Infiltrating the command center, the Doctor encounters the War Chief, and they recognize each other as renegade Time Lords, thereby raising the suspicions of the aliens.

Scientist: But how could these people get here?
Security Chief: The War Chief. His people have the secret of time travel.
Scientist: Are you suggesting he’s bringing in his own people? The Time Lords?
Security Chief: He came to us because he wanted power. Perhaps there are others of his people who feel the same.
Scientist: Can you prove this? If so, you must tell the War Lord immediately.

The Doctor learns that the War Chief intends to use his time-capsules to help the aliens conquer the galaxy before he seizes total power for himself, and he asks the Doctor to aid him in his scheme. The Doctor pretends to cooperate to prevent the battlezones from being destroyed by a neutron bomb. Then the Doctor and the human resistance fighters are able to gain the upper hand and stop the killing, but the War Chief’s time-capsules have a limited life-span and too few remain operational to return all the soldiers to their proper places in space and time. The Doctor realizes he has no choice.

Zoe: What did he mean, Doctor? Who mustn’t you call?
The Doctor: The only people who can put an end to this whole ghastly business and send everyone back to their own times -- the Time Lords.
Jamie: Who are they?
The Doctor: They’re my own people, Jamie.
Jamie: Well, that’s all right, then!
Zoe: It isn’t all right, is it, Doctor?
The Doctor: No, it’s not, Zoe. But I’m afraid there’s no alternative.
War Chief: Don’t do it, Doctor! You can’t! You know what will happen!

The Doctor takes six squares from his pocket and lays them out on the floor in front of him and concentrates. The squares form themselves into a little box, which the Doctor says contains a message to the Time Lords. The War Chief tries to escape, but is gunned down by the alien War Lord and his guards. The little box dematerializes and the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe rush back to the TARDIS to try and escape before the Time Lords arrive.

Jamie: What’s happening? Why was it so difficult to move?
The Doctor: It was the Time Lords!
Zoe: But they’re your own people, aren’t they, Doctor?
The Doctor: Yes, that’s right.
Jamie: Well, why did you run away from them in the first place?
The Doctor: I was bored!
Zoe: What do you mean, you were bored?
The Doctor: The Time Lords are an immensely civilised race. We can control our own environment, we can live forever -- barring accidents -- and we have the secret of spacetime travel.
Jamie: Well, what’s wrong in all that?
The Doctor: Well, we hardly ever use our great powers! We consent simply to observe and gather knowledge!
Zoe: And that wasn’t enough for you?
The Doctor: No, of course not! With a whole galaxy to explore, millions of planets, aeons of time, countless civilisations to meet?
Jamie: Well, why do they object to you doing all that?
The Doctor: Well, it is a fact, Jamie, that I do tend to get involved with things.
Jamie: Aye, you can say that again! Whenever there’s any trouble, he’s in it right up to his neck!
Zoe: But you’ve helped people, Doctor!
The Doctor: Yes, but that’s no excuse in their eyes.
Zoe: Well, then, what are you going to do?
The Doctor: We’re going to run away! I’ve set the controls to take us to a planet on the outermost fringes of the galaxy!

However, the Time Lords take control of the TARDIS and return them to Gallifrey to face the Time Lord Tribunal. The trial of the War Lord is already underway, and despite an armed raid on the court, sentence is passed.

Second Time Lord: A force field has been placed around you, and around your planet, so that your warlike people will remain prisoners forever. You have been found guilty of all charges, and you and your murderous associates will be dematerialised. It will be as though you had never existed.

Sentence is carried out and the Time Lords turn their attention to the Doctor and his companions. The Doctor readily admits that he has flouted the Time Lord injunction against interfering in the affairs of other planets, claiming that the evil of the universe must be fought, and that it is the Time Lords who are guilty of negligence of their moral duty. Following the tribunal’s deliberations, Jamie and Zoe are each returned to their homes just after their first adventure with the Doctor, their memories of subsequent events suppressed. The Doctor is then brought in to receive his sentence.

The Doctor: Now, then, what about me?
First Time Lord: We have accepted your plea that there is evil in the universe that must be fought, and that you still have a part to play in that battle.
The Doctor: What, do you mean that you’re going to let me go free?
First Time Lord: Not entirely. We have noted your particular interest in the planet Earth. The frequency of your visits must have given you special knowledge of that world and its problems.
The Doctor: Yes, I suppose that’s true. Earth seems more vulnerable than others, yes.
First Time Lord: For that reason, you will be sent back to that planet…
The Doctor: Oh, good.
First Time Lord: …in exile.
The Doctor: In exile?!
First Time Lord: You will be sent to Earth in the twentieth century and will remain there for as long as we deem proper. And for that period, the secret of the TARDIS will be taken from you.
The Doctor: But you can’t condemn me to exile on one primitive planet in one century in time! Besides, I’m known on the Earth, it might be very awkward for me!
First Time Lord: Your appearance has changed before. It will change again, and that is part of the sentence.
The Doctor: You can’t just change what I look like without consulting me!
First Time Lord: You will have an opportunity to choose your appearance.

However, the Doctor rejects all the choices he is presented with, and believing he is merely stalling, the Time Lords induce a regeneration and send him on his way, to begin his exile on twentieth century Earth.

Next Season

1 comment:

Tony said...

By all accounts, “The Mind Robber” is a truly bizarre story, and serves as sort of the last gasp of the notion of the series as a “children’s show.” But taking it as a hallucination, it offers a fascinating look into the Doctor’s psyche, particularly with the benefit of foresight. I would speculate that the character called “the Master” could be an avatar for the Doctor’s age-old nemesis, also called the Master (who was introduced two seasons later), representing the Doctor’s anxieties about their inevitable future conflicts. Likewise, the giant computer that manipulates them both is an avatar of the Matrix on Gallifrey, the Time Lords’ organic supercomputer, representing the Doctor’s distrust of the Time Lords and their vast powers -- certainly justified given the Time Lord High Council’s propensity for corruption and abuse of that power. Seen in this light, “The Mind Robber” can be taken as foreshadowing storylines that would shape the series for years to come. Of course, the writer, Peter Ling, had no idea he was doing so -- but that’s the beauty of serial fiction.