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Doctor's Dilemma

By Jon Preddle

Warwick Gray has written in about my UNIT Years article last issue, saying that Ace must have arrived on Iceworld no earlier than 1987 because she has a '1987' badge on her jacket!

I noticed the badge too, but it is not proof of the year that Ace comes from. In my collection I have a 2010 badge as well as one saying 1984 - both obtained in 1983 and being merchandise items for the films they come from. Therefore Ace had obtained the badge sometime before she arrived at Iceworld. Sorry Warwick, but I'm sticking with 1986...

David Ronayne has sent in a solution to Jeff Stone's Inferno poser from TSV 27. David says that it is possible for Sir Keith to have been knighted prior to the Royal family's execution in 1943, if he was in his late twenties at the time. What probably happened was that the revolution was lead by the English fascists. If members of the upperclass joined the rebels (their assistance being needed for the administration afterwards) then their titles would be retained as a token gesture.

Bevan Thomas has written in with a question about the TARDIS' weight. He says "in The Time Meddler the TARDIS is submerged under the sea when the tide comes in. The Doctor calms Vicki's fears by telling her that it would still be there when the tide went out as it was 'much too heavy to be swept away'. Yet in Fury From The Deep the Doctor tells Jamie in Episode One that the TARDIS is perfectly capable of floating when it lands on the surface of the sea." Bevan claims that only one of these can be correct, proving that the TARDIS should have either - a) risen to the surface in The Time Meddler or b) sunk in Fury, as the ship did do in The War Games Episode Ten when the Doctor tried to elude the Time Lords.

To solve this riddle, we need to understand the workings of the TARDIS' automatic defence systems (let's call this the ADS - but not to be confused with the Hostile Action Displacement System (HADS) mentioned in The Krotons). In The Time Meddler, when the ship landed on the beach, it was in no immediate danger. When the tide covered the ship, the ADS calculated that since no one was on board, it would be safer for the ship to remain on the sea bed than it would be for the ship to attempt to rise to the surface. The defence systems compensated and increased the outer mass, anchoring the time vessel to the sea floor, thus making it 'too heavy to be swept away' as the Doctor assured Vicki. If the ship had attempted to rise to the surface - it is, after all, full of air and very buoyant - there was always the risk that it could get caught in a current and float away.

In Fury From The Deep, instead of immediately materialising on the water the ship first materialised in the air and then slowly descended onto the waves. The Doctor didn't want the ADS to over-ride his controls and land the ship elsewhere, so he over-rode the ADS and initiated a manual landing instead. (Why he didn't aim for the beach is unclear. Perhaps he wanted to prove to Jamie that he had full control of the TARDIS, and did aim for the beach - but missed!) Once the ship had settled, the ADS would have been reactivated ensuring that the vessel remained afloat. In The War Games he purposely sank the ship, and in Logopolis he tried to do the same - but failed! (See Doctor's Dilemma in TSV 21.) In both instances he would have had to over-ride the ADS.

Therefore, Bevan, in both cases the Doctor knew the ship would be in no danger because the ADS would ensure the ship would come to no harm.

This item appeared in TSV 28 (April 1992).

Index nodes: Doctor's Dilemma