Thursday

Doctor Who Notes 14

Season fourteen of Doctor Who saw the departure of Sarah Jane Smith and the introduction of new companion Leela, a scantily-clad warrior woman from a savage tribe, as the producers continued to experiment with a “gothic horror” style. In between was the first story to really explore the Doctor’s own society on his home planet of Gallifrey, and which also reintroduced the Master as a desiccated corpse-like monster. A great deal of information on Time Lord history, as well as the Doctor’s own past, was revealed in the process. The season also introduced a radical redesign of the TARDIS control room to mirror the new gothic atmosphere.


From “The Masque of Mandragora”

The Doctor and Sarah Jane are wandering the inner corridors of the TARDIS when Sarah Jane opens the door to the dark-paneled secondary control room.

Sarah Jane: Oh, this looks good!
The Doctor: What? Oh, yes. Yes, it is good. Do you know, this is the second control room. You know, I can run the TARDIS just as easily from here as I could from the old one. Come to think of it, this was the old one.
Sarah Jane: That looks like a shaving mirror.
The Doctor: Yes, it is.

The Doctor powers up the control room in time to discover they are about to be sucked into the Mandragora Helix, an energy vortex in space within which lives a race of non-corporeal sentient beings. The TARDIS materializes briefly at the center of the helix, where the ship is penetrated by some helix energy. They next thing they know, they have rematerialized in late 15th century Italy, where the helix energy leaves the ship and makes contact with a cult that worships the pagan god Demnos. Escaping from the wicked count’s men, the Doctor mentions that he learned swordfighting from a captain in Cleopatra’s bodyguard. They are soon all recaptured and locked in the dungeon.

Sarah Jane: I really tried to kill you?
The Doctor: You were only doing what you were ordered, what I expected.
Sarah Jane: But how did you know I’d been drugged?
The Doctor: Well, I’ve taken you to some strange places before and you’ve never asked how you understood the local language. It’s a Time Lord’s gift I allow you to share. But tonight when you asked how you understood Italian, I realised your mind had been taken over.

The cult members have been absorbing the Mandragora energy, which they use to besiege the palace, in which is a gathering of all the most learned men of the day along with their royal patrons, including the Doctor’s friend Leonardo da Vinci. The Mandragora intelligence plans to cut short the Renaissance to prevent the human race from ever achieving space travel and infringing on their territory. The Doctor drains off the energy and foils the evil plot, but says the Mandragora will be ready to try again by the end of the 20th century.


From “The Hand of Fear”

The TARDIS accidentally materializes in a British quarry just as they are blasting. The Doctor and Sarah Jane are buried in the rubble, where she discovers a 150 million year old silicon-based hand. At the local hospital, Sarah Jane’s mind is taken over by the consciousness of Eldrad, the hand’s owner, who wants to regenerate his body by absorbing massive amounts of radiation. They travel to a nearby nuclear power plant, where the Doctor frees her from the alien mind-control. To penetrate her amnesia, the Doctor easily hypnotizes Sarah Jane. Eldrad grows a new body based on Sarah Jane’s and demonstrates further telepathic powers by reading the Doctor’s mind.

Eldrad: As a Time Lord, you are pledged to uphold the laws of time and to prevent alien aggression!
The Doctor: Only when such aggression is deemed to threaten the indigenous population, I think that’s how it goes.

Sarah Jane is a bit miffed when the Doctor agrees to take Eldrad back to his home planet of Kastria aboard the TARDIS. Eldrad sets the coordinates, but the ride is too rough for the Doctor’s comfort.

The Doctor: All we want is your co-operation. If you’ve mis-set those co-ordinates, symbolic resonance will occur in the trachoid time crystal, and if that happens, there’s no chance of us landing anywhere, ever!

Upon reaching Kastria, the Doctor and Sarah Jane learn Eldrad’s true nature once he assumes his true form. Learning that his world is long dead, Eldrad decides to conquer the Earth, but the Doctor and Sarah Jane cause him to fall into a bottomless pit.

Returning to the TARDIS, the Doctor receives a telepathic summons back to Gallifrey -- alone. He resets the coordinates for South Croyden, Sarah Jane’s home town. Upon materialization, they say their goodbyes and Sarah Jane disembarks, presumably to resume her career as a journalist. Some years later, Sarah Jane receives a gift from the Doctor, a robot dog called K-9 that helps her defeat a ring of rural devil worshippers. Sarah Jane does make it to Gallifrey eventually, kidnapped by Lord Borusa, where she helps the third Doctor reach the tomb of Rassilon and meets three of the Doctor’s other incarnations. She undoubtedly went on to have a successful career as a journalist and writer, perhaps of “science fiction.”


From “The Deadly Assassin”

En route to Gallifrey, the Doctor is overcome by a premonition of a presidential assassination. When the TARDIS materializes within the communications tower for the capitol on Gallifrey, Castellan Spandrell checks the exitonic computer bank and discovers that the old Type 40 is stolen property and orders the occupant arrested. During the Doctor’s escape, a guard is killed by a staser blast fired by a shadowy figure, for which the Doctor is blamed. Coordinator Engin informs the Castellan that the Doctor’s exile to Earth was remitted by the C.I.A. -- the Celestial Intervention Agency -- arousing the Castellan’s suspicions that the Doctor is a secret agent. The Doctor learns that the Time Lords are convening for the President of the High Council to step down and to announce his successor. It is, therefore, a time of political instability. The guards find a note from the Doctor addressed to the Castellan.

Castellan: And he signed it with the Pyrdonian seal!
Engin: Apparently he is or was at one time a member of that noble chapter.
Castellan: How can you tell?
Engin: Well, the bio-data extracts of Time Lords are colour-coded according to chapter.
Castellan: I didn’t know that.
Engin: No? Well, your duties usually involve you with more plebeian classes, don’t they, Castellan?
Castellan: A Pyrdonian renegade, eh? I have to refer this to Chancellor Goth.

The Doctor sneaks back into the TARDIS, where he patches into a local news broadcast.

Roncible: Around me in the high galleries of the Panopticon, already the Time Lords are gathering, donning seldom-worn robes with their colourful collar insignia: scarlet and orange for the Pyrdonians, the green of the Arcalians, the heliotrope of the Patraxes, and so on…. In a moment, I hope to talk to Cardinal Borusa, the leader of the Pyrdonian chapter, the chapter that has produced more Time Lord presidents than all other chapters together…

Borusa recognizes Roncible “the fatuous,” as the Doctor calls him, as a former student of his at Pyrdon Academy. Roncible congratulates Borusa on his elevation to cardinal. Chancellor Goth orders the TARDIS transducted to a museum within the Capitol, where the Doctor finds some robes to disguise himself.

Entering the Panopticon as the ceremony begins, the Doctor races to the balcony to prevent the assassination, only to apparently take up the gun and murder the President himself. The Doctor is arrested and Chancellor Goth declares a constitutional crisis, as the president died without naming his successor. Goth wants a speedy trial, but the Castellan is unconvinced that the Doctor hasn’t been framed. To buy some time to clear his name, the Doctor invokes Article XVII of the Constitution and offers himself as a candidate for the presidency. The Doctor then demonstrates to the Castellan that he was on the balcony trying to stun the true assassin, a member of the High Council who had drawn a staser in the crowd, but misaligned sights caused the shot to go awry and strike the wall.

During the investigation, they discover a technician’s body, a victim of the tissue-compression eliminator. The Doctor realizes that he is being framed by none other than his old arch-enemy the Master, who is making his final challenge. In his secret lair, the Master reveals to his co-conspirator that it is his burning hatred for the Doctor and the Time Lords that allows him to endure the pain of his ravaged state, propelled by his need to see the Doctor die in shame and dishonor and the Time Lords destroyed before he dies.

In the computer center, Coordinator Engin discovers there is no record in the Time Lord databanks of the Master, as the Doctor suspected. Although the Castellan and Engin are dubious, the Doctor is convinced the Master destroyed all record of his own existence the first chance he got.

The Doctor: You think this stuff is sophisticated? There are worlds out there where this kind of equipment would be considered prehistoric junk!
Castellan: What is the Master like in mathematics?
The Doctor: He’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant! He’s almost up to my standard. What’s that?
Engin: The APC control.
The Doctor: APC?
Engin: Amplified Panatropic Computations.
The Doctor: Brain cells.
Engin: Yes, trillions of electrochemical cells in a continuous matrix. The cells are the repository of departed Time Lords. At the moment of death, an electrical scan is made of the brain pattern and the millions of impulses are immediately transferred to --
The Doctor: I understand the theory. What’s the function?
Engin: To monitor life in the Capitol. We use all this combined knowledge and experience to predict future developments.
The Doctor: Ah. Like the assassination of a president.
Engin: For some reason, that was not foreseen.
The Doctor: Oh, yes, it was foreseen, Engin, it was foreseen by me! How very clever! This time he’s surpassed himself!
Castellan: What are you talking about?
The Doctor: Well, don’t you see what he’s done? We Time Lords are telepathic! That’s simply a brain storage system! He intercepted its forecast that the president was to be assassinated and beamed it into my mind!

Believing he can find the Master within the Matrix, the Doctor is hooked up to the APC control and enters its psychic world of illusions. When the Doctor’s mental self is nearly killed, his body momentarily ceases functioning, causing Engin to remark that his brain must have an unusually high level of archon energy. The Master has taken control of the Matrix, controlling the illusions through the mind of his pawn, Chancellor Goth, who is connected to the net from the Master’s secret lair. Discovering the hideout, the Doctor learns from the dying Goth that he had cut a deal with the Master, who had reached the end of his final regeneration: Goth would be made President of the High Council if he brought the Master back to Gallifrey, but he underestimated the Master’s mind-control powers. They discover the Master’s horrific body, apparently dead, and the Castellan makes a full report to Cardinal Borusa.

Borusa: The story is not acceptable. This is a very difficult, very delicate position. We must adjust the truth.
Engin: In what way, Cardinal?
Borusa: In a way that will maintain public confidence in the Time Lords and their leadership. How many people have seen this “Master” since his death?
Castellan: Apart from ourselves, Hilred and the two guards who took the body to the Panopticon Vault.
Borusa: Then we shall rely on their silence. We shall change the appearance of the corpse, Castellan. We all know the posthumous effect of a staser bolt. Within the hour, the body will be charred beyond recognition. Our story is going to be that the Master arrived in Gallifrey to assassinate the president secretly. Before he could escape, Chancellor Goth tracked him down and killed him, unfortunately perishing himself in the exchange of fire. Now that’s much better. I can believe that.
Engin: You’re making Goth a hero?
Borusa: If heroes don’t exist, it is necessary to invent them. Good for public morale.
Engin: And the Doctor’s part in all this?
Borusa: Best forgotten. Of course, Doctor, the charge against you will be dropped.
The Doctor: How kind.
Borusa: Conditional on your leaving Gallifrey tonight.
The Doctor: Somehow, Cardinal, I don’t want to stay.
Borusa: Good. I believe you know something of the Master’s past?
The Doctor: We’ve bumped into each other from time to time.
Borusa: Then before you leave, you can assist Co-ordinator Engin to compile a new biog of him. It doesn’t have to be entirely accurate.
The Doctor: Like Time Lord history.
Borusa: A few facts, Co-ordinator, will lend it verisimilitude. We cannot make the Master into a public enemy if there is no data on him.
Engin: I can have an authentic-seeming extract ready by morning, Cardinal.
Borusa: I’ll leave that to you, then. Later, Castellan, we must take another look at data security. We cannot have Time Lord D.E.’s simply vanishing from the record.
Castellan: I agree, sir.
Borusa: Well, I think that’s all. You’ll attend immediately to the cosmetic treatment?
Castellan: Sorry?
Borusa: The body, Castellan.
The Doctor: “Only in mathematics will we find truth.”
Engin: What?
The Doctor: Borusa used to say that during my time at the Academy. And now he’s setting out to prove it.

While compiling the new data extract on the Master, the Doctor convinces Engin to play a transgram of ancient Gallifreyan history, hoping to learn why the Master was so interested in the presidency. He believes it has something to do with the ceremonial objects the president holds, relics from the old time.

Transgram recording: And Rassilon journeyed into the Black Void with a great fleet. Within the Void, no light would shine, and nothing of that outer nature continue in being except that which existed within the Sash of Rassilon. Now Rassilon found the Eye of Harmony, which balances all things, that they may neither flux nor wither nor change their state in any measure. And he caused the Eye to be brought to the world of Gallifrey wherein he sealed this beneficence with the Great Key. Then the people rejoiced --

The Master revives within the Panopticon Vault, where the Lord President’s body lies in state. He takes the Sash of Rassilon and traps the Doctor inside the vault as he goes to collect the Great Key, which the President carries as a sort of scepter.

Engin: It’s only of symbolic value anyway.
The Doctor: Engin, that sash is a technological masterpiece! It protects its wearer from being sucked into a parallel universe. All he needs now is the Great Key and he can regenerate himself and release a force that will obliterate this entire stellar system!
Engin: You really mean it?
The Doctor: Well, of course I mean it! Don’t you realise what Rassilon did? What the Eye of Harmony is? Remember, “that which balances all things.” It can only be the nucleus of a black hole!
Castellan: But the Eye of Harmony is a myth! It no longer exists!
The Doctor: A myth? Spandrell, all the power of the Time Lords devolves from it! “Neither flux nor wither nor change their state!” Rassilon stabilised all the elements of a black hole and set them in an eternally dynamic equation against the mass of the planet! If the Master interferes, it’ll be the end not only of this world, but a hundred other worlds too!

The Doctor manages to stop the Master just in time, as his tampering with the Eye of Harmony causes earthquakes and destruction, leaving half the city in ruins, untold damage, and countless lives lost, according to Borusa. However, the Doctor speculates that there was a good deal of power coming from the Eye of Harmony while they fought, and wearing the Sash of Rassilon would help the Master convert that energy enough to allow him continued existence. Sure enough, the Master is spotted entering his TARDIS and dematerializing while the transduction barrier is lowered for the Doctor’s departure.

Apparently, it was the Master who contacted the Doctor when the TARDIS was on Kastria and summoned him back to their home planet, as the Doctor’s arrival was a surprise to the Time Lords. It was probably Goth’s presence within the Matrix that generated the premonition of a random event like a presidential assassination in the first place, since he and the Master were already planning the crime. The Time Lords seemed to know little of the Doctor at this point, and even his former classmate Roncible didn’t recognize him, suggesting the Doctor had not yet become famous among his people, which probably followed this adventure, despite Borusa’s attempts at cover-up. There seemed a good deal of tension between Cardinal Borusa and Castellan Spandrell, which may be one reason there was a new Castellan upon the Doctor’s next visit. By that time, Borusa had assumed the office of chancellor, perhaps because, having declared himself a presidential candidate in an election that became uncontested upon Goth’s death, the Doctor was then considered president-elect under Gallifreyan law, despite his absence, thus preventing Borusa from assuming the presidency himself. The catastrophe that followed the Master’s tampering with the Eye of Harmony undoubtedly had a profound and lasting effect on Gallifreyan society, but it is unclear what the “official” story was and how many of the Time Lords even knew the real story. However, it seems the High Council kept a closer watch on the Doctor and the Master’s activities following their disastrous homecoming.


From “The Face of Evil”

The Doctor arrives alone on a world where a primitive tribe recognizes him as “The Evil One.” Rescued from death by a young outcast named Leela, he discovers his own likeness carved into the side of a mountain. The Doctor realizes that he has found a world suffering the consequences of his own actions. On a previous visit, he attempted to help an Earth expeditionary force repair their computer, but did not erase his mind-print from the databanks, which caused the computer to develop a “split personality” and go mad. The computer then arranged for the descendants of the explorers to develop in two distinct societies: the survey team as a primitive tribe in the jungle, the technicians as a psionically gifted cult within the ship itself. The Doctor succeeds in wiping his mind-print from the computer, restoring it to normal operation. However, the two cultures must now learn to live together.

Leela was cast out of the tribe of the Sevateem as a heretic. Her father was killed trying to win her a pardon through a primitive test of skill. However, upon meeting the Doctor in the jungle, she was convinced she had met the devil himself, although she came to see beyond her cultural limitations. When she was poisoned by a deadly janis thorn, the Doctor found an antidote and saved her life, which may be the basis of her loyalty to him, and part of why she decided to go with him when he left her world. Leela tries very hard to learn all she can from the Doctor during their travels, although she struggles to rein in her more deadly instincts. She eventually finds a new home of Gallifrey, of all places, when she discovers the wilderness-loving Shobogans, who had opted out of Time Lord society, and falls in love with Andred, captain of the Chancellery Guard.


From “The Robots of Death”

The Doctor and Leela converse aboard the TARDIS.

The Doctor: To the rational mind, nothing is inexplicable… only unexplained.
Leela: So explain to me how this TARDIS is larger on the inside than the out.
The Doctor: All right, I’ll show you. It’s because the insides and outsides are not in the same dimension. Which box is larger?
Leela: That one.
The Doctor: Now which is larger?
Leela: That one!
The Doctor: But it looks smaller!
Leela: Well, that’s because it’s further away.
The Doctor: Exactly. If you could keep that exactly that distance away and have it here, the large one would fit inside the small one.
Leela: That’s silly.
The Doctor: That’s transdimensional engineering, a key Time Lord discovery.


From “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”

Visiting Victorian London, the Doctor and Leela encounter a mad scientist from the 51st century posing as the ancient Chinese god Weng-Chiang, who is using a Chinese crime syndicate to aid him in locating his time capsule, a failed experiment in harnessing zigma energy, which he used to escape from World War VI. He finally succumbs to total cellular collapse brought on by the zigma beam, and the Doctor renders his time capsule permanently inoperative.


Next Season

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