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Doctor's Dilemma

By Jon Preddle

"What is the longest (in screen days/months/hours) adventure? And what is the shortest?" [Peter Adamson]

The longest appears to be Marco Polo which spans several months (although a lot of this passes off-screen), with the runner up being The Romans, which spans over 30 days. Marco provides a narration from his diary, giving the number of days the caravan journeys on its way through China, but in some episodes the number of days travelled is not defined.

In The Romans the crew have already been at the villa for 'nearly a month' from the time the TARDIS falls off the cliff to when the adventure proper begins. Ian is on the galley as a slave for 'five whole days', and the crew spend the next four or five days in Rome.

I suppose you could say Mission to the Unknown (or whatever it is called now!) is the shortest in terms of length, but for the TARDIS crew, this would seem to be the two-parter The Sontaran Experiment. This story seems to last the duration of the serial, some 48 minutes.

"In The Five Doctors the Second Doctor says 'In the days before Rassilon, my ancestors had tremendous powers which they misused disgracefully. They kidnapped other beings and brought them down here.' Later, the Third Doctor says 'Old Rassilon put a stop to it in the end. He sealed off the entire Zone and forbad the use of the timescoop.' But from what we've learned about the history of Gallifrey, time travel was created by Rassilon and his contemporaries. So how did the ancient Gallifreyans manage to possess a time scoop when they didn't even have time travel?" [Philip Braithwaite]

Actually, Philip, it has never been stated as fact that Rassilon originally 'created' time travel for the Gallifreyans. From the above quotes from The Five Doctors we have to accept that the early Gallifreyans, those who lived pre-Rassilon, already had primitive time technology in the form of the time scoop before they had advanced time machines such as TARDISes. After all, any great technological discovery grows from smaller developments.

We can assume that it was because they already had the time scoop that scientists like Omega and Rassilon began to study the feasibility of being able to travel in time. By detonating a sun Omega provided Gallifrey with the energy source needed for time travel, but he perished in the explosion. As revealed in The Deadly Assassin it was Rassilon who then brought the power of this dead sun back to Gallifrey and, as the Doctor explains to Ace in Remembrance of the Daleks, then laid down the foundations of Time Lord Society. At some point later in his reign as President he closed down the ancient time scoop.

"Also in The Five Doctors, the Fifth Doctor says 'Immortality is impossible even for a Time Lord,' but he knew of the Eternals and the Guardians." [Philip Braithwaite]

I think the Doctor was saying that immortality was 'impossible' for ephemeral beings like Gallifreyans and humans. The Guardians and the Eternals were not ephemeral.

"And again, in The Five Doctors, the Fifth Doctor mentions that 'the Cybermen were never allowed to play the game because like the Daleks they were too good at it.' This implies that he knew about the Daleks from history before he left Gallifrey but in The Daleks he doesn't know them at all. I suppose he could have consulted the TARDIS data file or learned it on a later visit to Gallifrey." [Philip Braithwaite].

I would agree that the Doctor learned this fact later in his travels. As seen in The Deadly Assassin the Time Lords were incredibly ignorant of their own history. Only a few, such as Engin, had even bothered to study their past. The Eye of Harmony was considered only a myth but when the Master revealed the Eye beneath the Panopticon, the Time Lords suddenly discovered a new truth about their ancestors. (But as seen in The Five Doctors they didn't appear grateful to the Master for making this discovery, preferring to still treat him as a criminal.) We can assume that after The Deadly Assassin the Time Lords found further ancient records dating back to the Old Time in the Master's lair beneath the Capitol. It was from these that the Master discovered the secret of the Presidential symbols of power and the location of the Eye of Harmony. We can assume that Borusa secretly found the Black Scrolls of Rassilon in this lair and kept them hidden, intending to discover the secret of the Games Room for himself. Meanwhile, the other Time Lords stored all the new information about the ancient Time Lords gleaned from the other old records, including details about the involvement of the Daleks in the Death Zone, into the Matrix. The Doctor then probably read this when he was President in The Invasion of Time.

"I have been informed that the BBC Video of The Mark of the Rani has a scene missing that was present in the TV version. The scene in question features Peri holding the Rani and the Master at gunpoint, and the missing sequence shows the evil-doers overpowering the Doctor's companion - an edit which makes the BBC Video hard to follow at that point." [Adam McGechan]

Sorry, but the tape of The Mark of the Rani is not cut. The running time of the episodes on the tape matches that of the duration timings given in The Sixth Doctor Handbook and a comparison of the scene in question with a 1985 off-air copy of the story, confirms this.

Incidentally, for those video collectors who might be interested, the video release of The Stones of Blood has an extra scene in Part 2, running at 36 seconds.

"If the TARDIS weighs in at 5 x 10 to the 6 kilos (some 50,000 tonnes), as stated by Romana in Full Circle episode 2, thus rendering it immovable except to the most heavy of machinery, how then can it be moved around with comparative ease by UNIT soldiers in The Time Monster (along with the majority of the other UNIT stories), an adventure which also sees the time machine being shipped around on the back of a truck, as it was in The Faceless Ones episodes 1 and 6. The Zarbi managed to drag it into the Carsenome in The Web Planet, and the time ship was happily transported in the cargo hold of a Concorde in Time-Flight. More to the point, in the very story where its immovability is stated, how exactly did about a dozen Marshmen manage to carry it up the side of a mountain and into the cave? And please don't say that Romana was reading off the wrong dial!" [Adam McGechan]

I think you've misheard, Adam. Romana tells the Outlers that the TARDIS weighs this much "in your gravity", the gravity of the planet Alzarius, which means that Earth weights can't be applied. However, even taking into account that Alzarius's gravity is different, and the Doctor and Romana do not appear to be affected by any gravitational anomalies, this still makes the TARDIS very heavy! As suggested in The Discontinuity Guide, Romana could be referring to the weight of the interior of the ship, not the Police Box exterior. I would say that the exterior weighs the same as the real object of which it has taken the appearance. Therefore, the Doctor's TARDIS weighs as much as a real Police Box would, in the same way that in Time-Flight the Master's TARDIS would weigh the same as a Concorde.

"In The Time Monster, the Doctor manages to materialise his TARDIS inside the Master's, while at the same time transporting the Master's machine inside his, an event which is clearly evidenced by the appearance of the two TARDIS exteriors (the police box and the computer cabinet) inside each others' respective console rooms. How then is the computer cabinet exterior of the Master's TARDIS also present in the laboratory at the Newton Institute, which is entered as normal by Krasis and the Master, who then laughs as he catches sight of the police box standing in the corner?" [Adam McGechan]

The mechanics of dimensional transcendentalism is a secret known only to the Time Lords. The fact that an object can be inside another TARDIS and at the same time also be outside is just an aspect of this technological achievement we have to accept as being possible. I would guess that because the Doctor materialises his TARDIS inside the Master's, it is the Master's TARDIS that still appears in the laboratory. If the Doctor materialised around the Master's TARDIS, then I would assume that the Police Box would instead appear inside the lab. As seen in Logopolis there is a recursive regression of a TARDIS within a TARDIS, which is why the computer is seen inside the Police Box and vice versa, and presumably this continues ad infinitum.

And my thanks to David Ronayne who provided the following responses to last issue's Doctor's Dilemma:

"Jon's solution to the Ace's grandmother problem was interesting as always, however it is not the only solution. While Ace may never have met her grandmother (her gran may have died when Ace was very young), the house may have stayed in the family as 'Gran's house' for some time. Kathleen Dudman may have arrived at the address supplied by Ace only to find a totally different family there. They take her in even though they have no clue as to who 'Ace' is. Being kind they cannot refuse her in this time of distress. Kathleen falls in love with, and marries the eldest son when he returns from the war (her husband being confirmed dead). After the parents die they move into the house and raise Audrey. At some point, Kathleen's husband dies and she inherits the house. She lives there for many years. Sometime just before or after Ace is born, Kathleen dies, and Audrey and her new daughter live in the house for a few years before moving to Perivale. I realise that this is convoluted, but it still allows for a solution to the more interesting problem of why Ace doesn't recognise her grandmother's name."

And in reply to the Tzun language (Final Frontier) poser from last issue, David says he doesn't know how to translate Tzun but if it's any consolation, Ace is swearing in Klingon on page 197. The quote roughly translates as '100 chores/tasks', not to be confused with 'the fence 100' which would be produced by a slight change of inflection with the first letter...

Finally, an addition to last issue's list of references to New Zealand in Doctor Who, on pg23 of the Silver Nemesis novelisation, the Doctor studies 'a Maori tribal head-dress'; and more recently, David Bishop's new book, Who Killed Kennedy, is full of references to New Zealand. Which is not surprising considering David is a Kiwi!