Friday

Doctor Who Notes 15

In season fifteen of Doctor Who, the Doctor acquired a little robot dog, called K-9, that proved to be very popular with viewers. Concurrently, the show moved away from the “gothic horror” format to more light-hearted science-fiction, seeing also a return of the original design of the TARDIS console room. Over the course of the season, much is revealed about Time Lord history, culminating in a return to Gallifrey for the finale and another look at their society and politics. This story also provides the first extensive tour through various areas of the TARDIS beyond the console room.


From “Horror of Fang Rock”

Attempting to take Leela to Brighton Beach near the turn of the 20th century, the Doctor finds they have materialized instead on remote Fang Rock, where he sees a lighthouse without a light despite being shrouded in heavy fog. Investigating, they discover the lighthouse is under siege by a Rutan scout who crashed there while surveying Earth for its strategic use in their never-ending war against the Sontarans. Although they kill the alien and drive off the Rutan fleet, only the Doctor and Leela leave Fang Rock alive.


From “The Invisible Enemy”

The Doctor decides they should move back into the main console room.

Leela: We’ve never been in here before!
The Doctor: You’ve never been in here before.
Leela: What is it?
The Doctor: Number two control room. Been closed for redecoration. I don’t like the colour.
Leela: White isn’t a colour!
The Doctor: That’s the trouble with computers -- always thinking in black and white. No aquamarines, no blues, no imagination.
Leela: Have we stopped?
The Doctor: No, we haven’t stopped.
Leela: Have we materialized?
The Doctor: Yes.
Leela: Where?
The Doctor: Solar system, between Jupiter and Saturn. About 5000 AD. 5000 AD -- we’re still in the time of your ancestors.
Leela: Ancestors?
The Doctor: Yes, that was the year of the Great Breakout.
Leela: The great what?
The Doctor: When your forefathers went leapfrogging across the solar system on their way to the stars. The asteroid belt’s probably teeming with them now, new frontiersmen, pioneers, waiting to spread across the galaxy like a tidal wave… or a disease.
Leela: Why a disease? I thought you liked humanity.
The Doctor: Oh, I do, I do. Some of my best friends are humans. When they get together in great numbers, other life forms sometimes suffer.

The TARDIS picks up a distress call from a base on Titan. En route to the moon, the TARDIS passes through a space-borne organism that implants its nucleus within the Doctor, which then takes control of his body. Fighting for control, the Doctor moves the TARDIS to a hospital built inside an asteroid, where he meets a Professor Marius and his robot dog, K-9. With the Doctor’s help, Professor Marius creates temporary replications of the Doctor and Leela, who are then reduced to microscopic size and injected inside the Doctor’s brain to seek out the nucleus of the space virus.

The Doctor: Mine’s much more complex. Left and right sides, working in unison via these specialised neural ganglia, thus combining data storage and retrieval with logical inputs and the intuitive leap. And here -- are you listening to me?
Leela: Yes, Doctor.
The Doctor: That is a reflex link, whereby I can tune myself into the Time Lord intelligentsia, a thousand super-brains in one.
Leela: Why don’t you do it now?
The Doctor: What? Oh, well, I lost that particular faculty when they kicked me out -- oh, look!

Using the same process, the nucleus is enlarged to macroscopic size by the mind-controlled scientists. The TARDIS returns to Titan so the Doctor, Leela, and K-9 can stop it from breeding itself an army of conquest. Once the swarm is destroyed, Professor Marius gives K-9 to the Doctor as a parting gift.

K-9 was originally created at the Bi-Al Foundation located in the solar system’s asteroid belt at the end of the fiftieth century. After being given to the Doctor, K-9 served him well until he decided to remain on Gallifrey with Leela. However, the Doctor had built a second K-9 for himself, probably a vast improvement over the original, though the Doctor never stopped tinkering with his systems. When this K-9 was damaged at the dimensional gateway, he was forced to remain in E-Space with Romana, where they built a TARDIS of their own and traveled the other universe together. At some point, the Doctor built a third K-9, which he delivered to his old friend Sarah Jane Smith on Earth. After helping her defeat an evil cult in 1981, this K-9 was seen warning Sarah Jane of danger before she was kidnapped by Borusa via the time-scoop.


From “Image of the Fendahl”

When the TARDIS detects the operation of a sonic time scanner on Earth in 1977, the Doctor and Leela investigate. Coming to a remote manor house within a haunted woods, the Doctor discovers a woman momentarily beset by two large slug-like creatures.

Colby: What was it?
The Doctor: They looked like embryo fendahleen to me.
Colby: Embryo what?
The Doctor: Embryo fendahleen, a creature from my own mythology. It’s supposed to have perished when the fifth planet broke up. At least, so they say.
Colby: A creature from mythology? Do you know what you’re talking about?
The Doctor: Well, you saw it. If it survived twelve million years, its energy reserves must be enormous!
Colby: Twelve million? Why did you say twelve million?
The Doctor: What? Well, about twelve million. That’s when the fifth planet broke up.

* * *

The Doctor: Well, telepathy and precognition are normal in anyone whose childhood was spent near a time fissure like the one in the wood.
Jack: He’s as bad as she is. What’s a time fissure?
The Doctor: A weakness in the fabric of space and time. Every haunted place has one, doesn’t it? That’s why they’re haunted, it’s a time distortion.

The Doctor discovers that the fifth planet, the Fendahl’s place of origin, has been placed within a time loop, a feat possible only for the Time Lords. The Fendahl is a creature that consumes the life force, and appears in the mythologies of both Earth and Gallifrey as a gestalt creature with twelve aspects around a focal point.

The Doctor: In other words, the Fendahl. Then the Time Lords decided to destroy the entire planet and hid the fact from posterity. They’re not supposed to do that sort of thing, you know.

The focal point of the Fendahl’s power is an ancient human skull, which the Doctor steals away as the creature tries to reform. He decides to drop the skull into a supernova, thereby destroying it.


From “The Sun Makers”

When the main console’s central column jams, the TARDIS materializes atop and Earth colony on Pluto in the far distant future, where the Doctor, Leela, and K-9 get mixed up in toppling the oppressive government. The Doctor once again proves himself an accomplished hypnotist and safecracker. The colony is run as a ruthless business by a Usurian conglomerate. After fomenting a successful revolution, the Doctor encourages the workers to resettle the Earth.


From “Underworld”

To escape from a coalescing nebula on the edge of the universe, the TARDIS materializes aboard an ancient Minyon patrol ship. The sound the TARDIS makes is identified by the ship’s bridge crew as a relative dimension stabilizer in materialization phase. The Doctor is intrigued to discover the ship is of Minyon origin, since that world was destroyed a hundred thousand years ago on the other side of the universe.

The Doctor: It’s what happened on Minyos that led to our policy of non-intervention.
Leela: Oh?
The Doctor: Yes. Well, the Minyons thought of us as gods, you see, which was all very flattering and we were new at space-time exploration, so we thought we could help. Gave them medical and scientific aid, better communications, better weapons…
Leela: What happened?
The Doctor: Kicked us out at gunpoint. Then they went to war with each other, learned how to split the atom, discovered the toothbrush, and finally split the planet.
Leela: So this ship must have got away before the planet was destroyed.
The Doctor: Yes.
Leela: But that was a hundred thousand years ago! Nobody lives for a hundred thousand years… do they?

The crew has been artificially regenerating for a hundred millennia while they search for another ship, the P-7E, which contained the genetic material necessary to populate a new world after the destruction of Minyos. They finally find the ship at the core of a new planet formed within the nebula. Over the millennia, the P-7E’s onboard computer has developed megalomania and has enslaved the descendants of the original crew. The Doctor once again practices his own explosive brand of social engineering. Rescuing the slaves, the ship continues on to settle Minyos II.


From “The Invasion of Time”

After landing on a Vardan spacecraft, the Doctor conspires with the aliens to invade Gallifrey. When the approach of the TARDIS to its home planet is detected, Castellan Kelner decides to put the planetary defenses on amber alert. As soon as the TARDIS materializes in the Panopticon, the Doctor and Leela are immediately arrested by Commander Andred, head of the Chancellery Guard. The Doctor’s behavior is unusually erratic. He bursts into the office of Chancellor Borusa and makes an announcement.

The Doctor: I am here to claim my legal right! I claim the inheritance of Rassilon! I claim the titles, honour, duty, and obedience of all colleges! I claim the Presidency of the Council of Time Lords!

The Doctor and Borusa then confer privately within the chancellor’s office.

The Doctor: Borusa, before you go, another lesson.
Borusa: On what particular subject?
The Doctor: The Constitution.
Borusa: You had that at your fingertips the last time we met.
The Doctor: Yes, and if I hadn’t, you would have killed me.
Borusa: Not I. The then chancellor.
The Doctor: Oh, yes. Did you just assume his office?
Borusa: The Council ratified my appointment.
The Doctor: Without a president, the Council can ratify nothing!
Borusa: There was no president! And the president-elect was… elsewhere.
The Doctor: Yes, but my point is -- BORUSA! You haven’t been given leave to depart yet!
Borusa: And until you have been confirmed and inducted as president, I do not need your leave to do anything.
The Doctor: The ceremony must take place at once.
Borusa: As soon as poss --
The Doctor: AT ONCE!

The Doctor moves into the President’s quarters, but demands that lead panels be installed on the walls, floor, ceiling, and doors. Then he and Borusa go over the details of the induction ceremony.

Borusa: The Matrix is the sum total. Everything. All the information that has ever been stored, all the information that can be stored. The imprints of personalities of hundreds of Time Lords and their presidents -- their elected presidents -- that will become available to you. It will become a part of you as you become a part of it.
The Doctor: Yes, that’s what I thought.
Borusa: But you know this already. Once before you have entered into the Amplified Panatropic Computer.
The Doctor: Yes. I didn’t much care for it, either.
Borusa: The APC net is only a small part of the Matrix.

The induction ceremony proceeds with much pomp and circumstance as the Doctor is presented with the Sash of Rassilon and the Rod of Rassilon, and is charged with seeking the Great Key of Rassilon. However, as soon as he is linked to the Matrix via a coronet, the Doctor collapses into a catatonic state. The Surgeon General sees that the Doctor is removed to the chancellery. Immediately upon regaining consciousness, the Doctor orders that Leela be expelled from the Citadel, but she escapes from the guards.

Borusa: What exactly are you playing at… Excellency?
The Doctor: Playing at, Lord Chancellor?
Borusa: You know very well what I mean.
The Doctor: I’d like a little more respect from you, if you don’t mind.
Borusa: I thought that was a quality you didn’t admire.
The Doctor: Ah, but that was before -- ! I would have thought you of all people knew me better than that.
Borusa: Well, you could never deceive me when you were my student at the Academy. You haven’t changed and neither have I. But this is rather more than a student prank, isn’t it?
The Doctor: Believe me, Lord Borusa, I’ve never been more serious in any of my lives. While Leela remains free in the Citadel, we are in danger.
Borusa: Isn’t that a little melodramatic, even for your vivid imagination?
The Doctor: No!

Borusa has the Doctor locked in the office, but he escapes through a back door after deducing that the voice-print code phrase is “There’s nothing more useless than a lock with a voice-print.” The Doctor retreats into the TARDIS to confer with K-9, telling the robot he’s discovered the security control room is directly under the Panopticon area 3-0. Outside, Commander Andred mentions that the old Type 40 time capsules have a complex trimonic locking device. Leela, meanwhile, stumbles into Space Traffic Control, where she meets a rather bored young woman named Rodan.

Rodan: There’s a force-field between you and me. Between me and everyone. Don’t you know this is one of the highest security-rated rooms in the Citadel?
Leela: I did not know.
Rodan: You must be that alien everyone’s looking for.
Leela: I am Leela.
Rodan: I am called Rodan. And please put that thing away, you could hurt yourself.
Leela: The Doctor’s always saying…. Why do you not tell them I am here?
Rodan: Why bother? That’s their affair.
Leela: That’s whose affair?
Rodan: The guards and the Time Lords. All the boring people. Do you know I’ve passed the seventh grade and I’m nothing more than a glorified traffic guard?
Leela: Then you are a guard!
Rodan: Do stop cavorting about like that. It’s really so undignified.

Rodan detects a space armada approaching, but assures Leela that nothing can penetrate the transduction barrier, which the Doctor sends K-9 to disable. The Doctor calls a meeting of the High Council and introduces the Vardan invaders, who are energy-based beings broadcasting themselves to Gallifrey. The Doctor orders the Time Lords to submit. Then the Doctor and Borusa retire to the newly redecorated office of the president, where the lead paneling shields them from the Vardan’s telepathy, allowing the Doctor to finally reveal his true intentions. His erratic behavior was a ploy to shield his mind from the Vardans by filling it with non-sequiturs. Rodan leaves her post to join Leela as they escape into the wilderness outside the Citadel, just as the Doctor intended. They are intercepted by a band of back-to-nature outcasts, where Rodan realizes she’s gotten in over her head. Then, the Doctor and K-9 retreat again to the TARDIS to try to trace the Vardans’ planet of origin. They are joined there by Commander Andred.

The Doctor: K-9, I’m going to have to play along with them again.
Andred: What are you going to do?
The Doctor: I’m going to dismantle the force-field around Gallifrey.
Andred: What?
The Doctor: It’s the only was to convince them that we’re really co-operating.
Andred: But that could blow us all to pieces!
The Doctor: Yes.
Andred: You can’t do that!
The Doctor: I can’t, but Rassilon can.
Andred: Yes -- Rassilon’s dead!
The Doctor: Yes.
Andred: Aeons ago.
The Doctor: That’s right. But his mind lives on in the APC net. I’m part of that net now. Rassilon built the force-field, maybe he can dismantle it.

The Doctor successfully opens a rift in the quantum force field, allowing the Vardans to materialize in their natural humanoid shape. Meanwhile, Leela organizes the tribalists into a raiding party. With the Vardans fully materialized, K-9 is able to lock onto the precise coordinates of their home planet and jam the signal, thereby repulsing the invasion. The celebration is short-lived, however, when they discover the Vardans were merely pawns of the Sontarans, who have landed an army of conquest on Gallifrey. The Doctor convinces Borusa to reveal the location of the Great Key of Rassilon.

The Doctor: Rassilon was a wily old bird. No president without the Great Key can have absolute power, correct? So to protect the Time Lords from dictatorship, he gave the Key into the hands of the chancellor.
Borusa: None of this is in the Matrix.
The Doctor: I know, I’ve been there, you haven’t. There’s no record in the Matrix of any president knowing the whereabouts of the Great Key. So who does? Not the Castellan, he’s just a jumped-up guard. But who guards the guards?
Borusa: The chancellor.
The Doctor: Yes. And I’ll kill you before I let that key fall into the hands of the Sontarans.
Borusa: That will not be necessary. You are the first president since Rassilon to hold the Great Key.

The Doctor, Leela, K-9, Borusa, Andred, and Rodan find sanctuary within the TARDIS where Rodan is able to close the rift in the quantum force-field. However, with the Castellan’s help, the Sontaran shock troops are able to board the TARDIS. The Doctor and the others attempt to lose them in the labyrinthine corridors, storage compartments, indoor gardens, workshops, stairwells, a swimming pool complex, sickbay, holographic art gallery, et cetera. Under hypnosis and following K-9’s instructions, Rodan constructs a de-mat gun powered by the Great Key.

The Doctor: Is that why the Key remained hidden for so long? I could rule the universe with this, Chancellor.
Borusa: Is that what you want? Destroy that gun. Destroy all knowledge of it! It’ll throw us back to the darkest age!

The Doctor takes the de-mat gun and returns to the Panopticon, where he finds the Sontaran commander about to detonate a grenade to destroy the Matrix, Gallifrey, the Time Lords, even the galaxy itself in order to achieve victory. The grenade goes off as the Doctor fires the de-mat gun, which dematerializes the explosion as it unfolds, the Sontaran, and finally the gun itself. The shock causes the Doctor to lose his memory of recent events. Gallifrey safe at last, the Doctor readies to leave, only to find Leela intent on staying, having fallen in love with Andred. K-9 also elects to remain on Gallifrey with Leela. After dematerializing, the Doctor brings into the control room a large cardboard box labeled “K9 M II.”

It is uncertain what sort of life Leela would make for herself on Gallifrey, though she would probably spend a great deal of time outside the Citadel with the tribalists, probably joined by Andred, since he is apparently later replaced by Commander Maxil. Despite his collusion with both the Vardans and the Sontarans, Castellan Kelner is allowed to retain his position, perhaps because, as the Doctor said, every oligarchy gets the castellan it deserves. He is eventually slain in Borusa’s final grab at ultimate power. For her actions above and beyond the call of duty, Rodan was almost certainly promoted out of her duties at Space Traffic Control. Borusa is apparently inducted as Lord President immediately after these events, and will regenerate before meeting the Doctor again. The office of chancellor is then filled by Thalia. What eventually becomes of the original K-9 is unknown.


Next Season


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