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Doctor's Dilemma

By Jon Preddle

Our illustrious editor, Paul Scoones, wants to know why it is that the Doctor does not understand the Aboriginal language in Four to Doomsday.

In The Masque of Mandragora, the Doctor tells Sarah that he shares with her the Time Lord gift of the ability to understand all languages. It is never explained how this is possible, but I believe the TARDIS translation circuits in conjunction with the telepathic circuits are responsible. There has only been one case I can recall in which the Doctor has been unable to comprehend an alien language, and that was in The Leisure Hive, where the Foamasi chirps and whistles were quite meaningless to the Time Lord. It would seem in this case that the TARDIS just simply could not translate the complex speech patterns. The same must have been true in Four to Doomsday. Kurkutji was a 35,000 year old Aborigine, and thus the language was beyond the capabilities of even the TARDIS translation circuits - although luckily Tegan was on hand to translate; obviously fluency in obscure 35,000 year-old Aboriginal languages is required in order to become an air hostess in Australia!

The Abominable Snowmen, says Alden Bates, takes place in Tibet of 1935. Considering the remoteness of the Monastery location and the time period, where did the tools, the components and the necessary metals for the Yeti robots come from?

In Episode Six, Songsten tells the Doctor that Padmasambvha 'laboured for nearly two hundred years. With the help of the Intelligence he built [the Yeti].' This would place the time of the Intelligence's first contact with Padmasambvha around 1735 - an even more unfeasible period in which to obtain the components! We must assume that the Intelligence provided all the necessary equipment from some place other than Earth - but how would a bodiless, formless entity transport this through space?!

The next four questions were submitted by Stuart Brown for Who-oops!, but I thought they were interesting dilemmas.

In Battlefield, the Brigadier tells the Doctor that UNIT has supplies of 'gold-tipped bullets for you-know-what.' He is obviously referring to the Cybermen, but when was the Brigadier told about the Cybermen's weakness to gold?

The Brigadier and UNIT encountered the Cybermen in The Invasion which made no reference to their vulnerability to gold, so we can assume that the Doctor himself was not yet aware of this fact. However by his next encounter in Revenge of the Cybermen he is already familiar with the effect that gold has on them - so perhaps in an unseen adventure after The Invasion the Doctor discovered this information and passed it on to the Brigadier. Of course, Harry Sullivan was with the Doctor in Revenge of the Cybermen so in all likelihood it was Harry who told the Brigadier about the Cybermen on his subsequent return to Earth in Terror of the Zygons.

In The Five Doctors, the Third Doctor says to both Sarah and Brigadier something along the lines of 'How nice to see you again', which is strange considering that in his own personal time stream, the Third Doctor sees Sarah and the Brigadier almost every day! And, if Sarah was the Third Doctor's companion at the time of his being scooped, and if she was to be included as part of Borusa's trap - he did after all have a statuette of her - then why did he bother getting her from a different time period when she could have been scooped with the Doctor?

What should be remembered is that while the Third Doctor was pulled from his own time stream (which I believe to be between The Monster of Peladon and Planet of the Spiders) around 1973, both Sarah and the Brigadier were scooped from the mid-1980s. The Doctor is therefore saying 'How nice to see you again' from his friends' perspective (or should that be 'How nice of you to see me again'?) because for them it has been ten years or so since they saw him in that incarnation.

To answer to Stuart's second point, Borusa perhaps planned to scoop Sarah with the Doctor, but when the Doctor arrived on Gallifrey alone Borusa had to scoop her from another place. Of course, this doesn't explain how it is that the statue of Sarah has the same outfit she is wearing. Maybe the device that 'creates' the statues fashions the piece upon the image of the person as they are being scooped?

What happened to Bessie at the end of The Five Doctors, since it was apparently left on Gallifrey?

Indeed, the Third Doctor was driving Bessie when he was time-scooped, and yet he left Gallifrey in the TARDIS with Sarah. Since Bessie appears in Planet of the Spiders, Robot and Battlefield, we must assume that Rassilon returned the car to its correct point in time and space off screen.

If there was a transmat booth in the Dark Tower (used by Flavia and the guards at the end of the story), why didn't Borusa simply transmat himself there to get the Ring of Rassilon; what was the point of using the Doctors, and also what was the point of bringing in the Dalek and the Cybermen - which would likely kill the Doctor - if he wanted the Doctor to succeed?

Since there was a forcefield around the Tower this prevented the transmat from operating. It wasn't until the forcefield was deactivated by the third Doctor that the TARDIS was able to enter the tower, and the transmat to operate.

As for using the Doctor, Borusa tells the Fifth Doctor he discovered much about the tower but not the final secret. This suggests that Borusa was unable to decipher the Old High Gallifreyan inscriptions which contained the secret of immortality. Fortunately the Doctor could read the ancient language, which maybe why Borusa chose to use him to play the Game in his stead.

The idea of using the Dalek and the Cybermen was to give the Doctor 'old enemies to fight ... a game within a game'. True, it does seem pointless considering that he wanted the Doctor to succeed, so perhaps he was confident that at least one of the Doctors would not fail. Indeed, the threat of death at the hands of old enemies would have provided the Doctors with an incentive to reach the Tower far more quickly!

This item appeared in TSV 39 (May 1994).

Index nodes: Doctor's Dilemma, Four to Doomsday, The Abominable Snowmen, Battlefield, The Five Doctors