Doctor Who Notes 17

The seventeenth season of Doctor Who was cut short by a labor strike, and the final serial was never completed. However, the scenes that were done reveal some interesting details about Time Lord history, and I have included it here for that reason. The season also introduced a new actress in the role of Romana and featured another battle with the Daleks.

From “Destiny of the Daleks”

The Doctor is working on K-9 when Romana comes in looking like Princess Astra of Atrios and announces that she is regenerating. The Doctor objects, saying she can’t go around wearing someone else’s form. Romana changes her appearance a few times to make a point, but finally settles on her first choice. She then apes the Doctor’s attire by donning a pink frock coat and exceedingly long white scarf. Apparently, there is a brief state of flux when a Gallifreyan regenerates, allowing them to choose their appearance. However, since the Doctor is usually injured or unconscious when he regenerates, his appearance must be determined either randomly or by his subconscious mind. There is no reason given as to why she felt it necessary to regenerate. Romana seems unusually wimpy and terrorized when captured by the Daleks, which may be due to post-regenerative mental imbalance.

The randomizer attached to the TARDIS navigation control takes the Doctor and Romana to Skaro, where they become embroiled in the war between the Daleks and an android race called the Movellans. The Daleks have returned to their home planet and tunneled into the ruins of the ancient Kaled city in search of their dormant creator, Davros, whom they hope will give them an advantage over their enemy. After many centuries of suspended animation, Davros revives when discovered by the Doctor and Romana. However, both taskforces are destroyed and Davros is cryogenically frozen to be taken to stand trial for his crimes.

From “City of Death”

The Doctor and Romana converse at a Parisian café.

The Doctor: I think there’s something the matter with time. Didn’t you feel it?
Romana: Just a twinge. I didn’t like it.
The Doctor: Yes. Must be because I’ve crossed the time field so often. No one there seemed to notice anything. You and I exist in a special relationship to time, you know. Perpetual outsiders…
Romana: Don’t be so portentous.
The Doctor: What do you make of that, then?
Romana: Well, at least on Gallifrey we can capture a good likeness. Computers can draw.
The Doctor: What? Computer pictures? You sit in Paris and talk of computer pictures? Listen, I’ll take you somewhere and show you some real paintings painted by real people!
Romana: What about the time slip?
The Doctor: Never mind about the time slip. We’re on holiday.

While in the Louvre, Romana tells Dugan that she’s 125 years old. They are trying to stop the Mona Lisa from being stolen by the last member of the Jaggaroth race, marooned on Earth four hundred million years ago, shards of his being scattered throughout time when his spaceship exploded. He claims to have guided every major advancement since the dawn of history in order to build a time machine to go back and prevent his race from becoming extinct. However, the explosion of his warp drive was the catalyst that brought about life on Earth, and the Doctor and Romana must prevent him from changing history.

From “The Creature From the Pit”

While cleaning out one of the storerooms, Romana finds an emergency transceiver, which the Doctor had disconnected to avoid being summoned by the Time Lords, presumably when he first left Gallifrey. When Romana plugs it back in, the TARDIS materializes on the planet Chloris, drawn there by a distress signal transmitted by an imprisoned Tythonian ambassador. To prevent a neutron star from colliding with Chloris’ sun, the Doctor uses a gravity tractor beam generated by the TARDIS. The Doctor then helps negotiate a trading agreement between the Chlorisians and the Tythonians.

From “Nightmare of Eden”

The TARDIS materializes aboard a passenger space liner in the year 2116. Emerging from hyperspace, the ship has collided with a small survey craft, and the Doctor passes himself off as an insurance adjuster. The Doctor discovers the ship is carrying quantities of vraxoin, a very dangerous drug. Also aboard is a scientist with his machine that converts animals into electromagnetic signals stored inside it. The interphasic collision allows some of the animals to escape. The scientist and the survey craft pilot are the drug smugglers, and the Doctor sees that they are arrested.

From “Horns of Nimon”

While the Doctor is tinkering with the ship’s systems, the TARDIS is caught in a gravity well in space and nearly collides with a spaceship also trapped there. During their escape, the Doctor and Romana become separated, she being taken aboard the spaceship to the planet Skonnos. The Doctor follows in the TARDIS and, upon arriving in the Skonnon capital, learns that Romana has been sent into a labyrinth as a sacrifice to a creature called the Nimon. In truth, the Nimon is preparing the way for an invasion force of his own kind to overrun the planet, but the Doctor destroys their transporter device.

From “Shada”

Visiting Cambridge University, the Doctor bumps into a porter named Wilkin, who mentions the Doctor received an honorary degree there in the year 1960, and that he had also visited the school in 1964 and 1955. The Doctor says he was also there in 1958 in a different body, to Wilkin’s befuddlement. The Doctor and Romana have come in response to a signal from Professor Chronotis, a retired Time Lord who has been teaching at Cambridge University for the last 300 years. He had brought a book with him from Gallifrey for study which he hopes the Doctor will now return for him. However, the book has gone missing.

The Doctor: “On some nights, New York is as hot as Bangkok.” I’ve read that.
Romana: Saul Bellow.
The Doctor: “Once upon a time…” Read that. Ah! “And in the great days of Rassilon, five great principles were laid down. Can you remember what they were, my children?”
Romana: It’s just a Gallifreyan nursery book.
The Doctor: I know, I know.
Romana: I had it when I was a time tot.
The Doctor: Yes, it’s very good.
Professor Chronotis: Oh, that’s just a memento, not the right book at all. Where is it? Is this the one? No. Oh, dear. I know it’s here somewhere.
The Doctor: Professor, how many books did you bring back, for heaven’s sake?
Professor Chronotis: Just the odd two or seven. But there was only one that was in any way…
The Doctor: Dangerous?
Romana: What does it look like? What’s it called?
Professor Chronotis: The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey.
The Doctor: The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey?
Professor Chronotis: Yes. Red book, about five by seven.
The Doctor: Professor, how did you get that book out of the Panopticon Archives?
Professor Chronotis: Well, what I did, you see, was I just took it.
The Doctor: Took it?
Professor Chronotis: Yes. There’s no one interested in ancient history on Gallifrey any longer, and I thought that certain things would be safer with me.
The Doctor: And were they?
Professor Chronotis: Yes, in principle.
The Doctor: Excuse me, delicate matter, Professor, slightly. That book dates back to the days of Rassilon!
Professor Chronotis: Does it? Yes, indeed --
The Doctor: It’s one of the Artefacts!
Professor Chronotis: Is it indeed?
The Doctor: Professor, you know that perfectly well. Rassilon had powers and secrets that even we don’t fully understand! You’ve no idea what might have been hidden in that book!
Professor Chronotis: Well, there’s no chance of anyone else understanding it then, is there?
The Doctor: I only hope you’re right. But we’d better find it. Romana?
Romana: Yes?
The Doctor: Little red book!
Romana: Five by seven!
Professor Chronotis: Could be green…

The Doctor and Romana search for the book in vain.

The Doctor: There’s no sign of The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey.
Romana: Do you really think it’s important?
The Doctor: Of course, it’s one of the Artefacts!
Romana: Other than its historical value?
The Doctor: Yes! Each of the Artefacts was imbued with stupendous power. I mean, most of them have been lost by now, but the powers remain. And the rituals.
Romana: I just mouthed the words like everyone else.
The Doctor: What words?
Romana: At the Time Academy induction ceremony. You know, “I swear to protect the Ancient Law of Gallifrey with all my might and main and will to the end of my days with justice and with honour temper my actions and my thoughts.”
The Doctor: Yes, pompous lot. All words and no actions.
Romana: Well, that’s not true. What about Salyavin?
The Doctor: Salyavin? Oh, yes. He was a boyhood hero of mine.
Romana: Really, Doctor? A great criminal, your hero?
The Doctor: Well, a criminal, yes. But he had such style! Such flair! Such --
Romana: Panache?
The Doctor: Yes. A bit like me in that respect.
Romana: Did you ever meet him?
The Doctor: I certainly did not!
Romana: All right.
The Doctor: He was in prison before I was born!
Romana: Where?
The Doctor: Do you know, I can’t remember!

The Doctor finally finds the book in a graduate student’s laboratory, but loses it to an alien named Skagra. In the book is the key to finding the ancient Time Lord prison planet Shada, where Skagra hopes to find Salyavin, who had a unique ability to project his mind into other minds. However, Salyavin had escaped long ago and hid himself under the guise of Professor Chronotis. Wanting his escape to be undetected, Salyavin had used his powers to erase all memory of Shada from the Time Lords’ minds and stole the book as well. Once Skagra is defeated, the Doctor decides to let Salyavin live out the rest of his life in Cambridge, as he has long since reached his final regeneration.

Next Season

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