Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Now that I have a few minutes free, I thought I'd go back to one of my great passions...bashing The Whorist (or as it's generally known, The Nerdist), in particular their Doctor Who reviews by one Kyle Anderson.

Mr. Anderson (now doesn't that sound sinister) in my view, has rarely if ever met a Doctor Who post-Rose story that he hasn't loved. I don't mean liked. I mean L-O-V-E-D, to where that particular episode is the Best Doctor Who Episode of All Time...until the next episode when THAT becomes the Best Doctor Who Episode of All Time. It's gotten to be almost a point of parody to see how Anderson rarely finds fault with a Doctor Who episode. I don't mean just to nitpick on a few things. I mean give a bona-fide negative review. Even I, someone who has been vociferous in my condemnation for many NuWho episodes, do admit when I see a good one (like Flatline or Mummy on the Orient Express). Anderson, however, will almost always find something to wax rhapsodic about, even on something as atrocious as In the Forest of the Night.

I was intrigued by this, so a little research was required. I went as far back as I could regarding Anderson's Doctor Who reviews, and the earliest one I could find was the Series/Season Six opener, The Impossible Astronaut. What I've done is taken Kyle Anderson's review verbatim, and offered my own 'translation' to the text to see what Anderson is, in my view, really saying. I also throw in my own thoughts as to what is being said.

I hope this will be a fun and informative journey into the strange mind of the Functioning Nerd.

I present Part 25 of The Nerdist as Whore: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS. My 'translations' are in red.

In 1978, there was a six-part Doctor Who story featuring the Fourth Doctor called “The Invasion of Time,” in which the final two episodes took place within the bowels of the TARDIS itself, which was really shot in a disused hospital.

Is it me, or is there something just a bit odd in saying that there is a Doctor Who 'featuring' the Fourth Doctor?  I mean, he's the main character.  You'd think he'd be more than 'featured'. Also, while it's nice to be told the actual location shoot for The Invasion of Time, are such details really necessary?  Or is Anderson just showing off how much he got out of Wikipedia?  Just a thought.

Since then, while portions of the ship’s massive interior have been seen or mentioned, the full impact of what’s actually inside the Doctor’s space and time machine had yet to be visualized, until this week, of course.

Of course.

Steve Thompson’s “Journey to the Center (or Centre) of the TARDIS” did exactly what it said on the tin, and even gave voice to some of Clara’s (and the audience’s) concerns or confusion about what might be going on.

It was full of wonder, mystery, suspense, and awe.

It was full of crap, nonsense, idiocy, and shocking ineptitude.

More than a few times I said “holy shit!” out loud to the nobody in my apartment with me. Is this the same guy who wrote “Curse of the Black Spot?”

More than a few times I said, "Oh, Sweet Mother of Mercy!".  I can't believe the same guy who wrote "Curse of the Black Spot" was given ANOTHER Doctor Who script.   In answer to your query, yes, I CAN believe it was the same guy, because both stories were CRAP!   

This episode is absolutely wonderful.

This review is absolutely disgusting.  I seriously question whether Anderson was drunk when a.) he watched Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, b.) he reviewed it, and c.) now.  I might go so far as to question his sanity, but why beat a dead horse?

There’s so much going on for something that’s essentially limited to one location (albeit an infinite one).

It's rushed, like a lot of Doctor Who episodes nowadays, even if it takes place essentially in one location.

We learn a lot about what kinds of things are in the TARDIS, we learn a little about the Doctor before it gets bled from Clara’s memory, there are monsters that are explained incredibly well,

there is a family drama (which is probably the weakest link in the episode),

Semi-broken clock: while the family drama was a really weak part of the episode, by no means was it the worst part.  Want a hint about what really WAS the worst part?  Well, try this on for size...

Without finishing Anderson's review, do you think he'll mention the "Big Friendly Button" and how stupid that all was?  Let's find out...

and we finally, again, get to see the swimming pool, which has been spoken about forever and was only seen once in the aforementioned “Invasion of Time.” This is an episode written by someone who clearly loves and respects the history of the show, but also knows how to weave drama specific to the current regime.

This is turning out to be not just Anderson's most lap-doggish review, but also his most laugh-inducing.  Even I, long a critic of Kyle Anderson AS critic (analytical critic's mind my tuckus), am aghast at how thick he pours it on for this one.   

I’d expected a lot of references, but I didn’t expect so much revelation.

I'd expected a good episode, but I didn't expect that Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS could be demanding a place among the Worst Doctor Who Episodes of All Time.

While trying to get the TARDIS and Clara to get along, the Doctor puts the ship in basic mode, which leaves it wide open to a trio of scrap dealers to try to salvage. This does not do the TARDIS any favors and causes a pretty catastrophic engine leak. Clara gets lost somewhere in the ship and the Doctor tricks the three junkers into helping him find her. There are also very creepy ash-covered people with red eyes, you know, in case things weren’t tense enough.

As Clara makes her way from room to room, she passes an observatory and the pool before hiding in the massive library.

Maybe, if Clara ever bothered to stay on the TARDIS full-time rather than just get dropped off at the end of every adventure, she'd have time to wander around the TARDIS.  Given she hasn't bothered to do so, I wonder whether she even cares to see anything of the TARDIS outside the console.  No wonder the TARDIS doesn't like her. 

In this library are volumes of the “Encyclopaedia Gallifreya” as well as a book about the Time War. Yeah. Just a book containing everything we’ve ever wanted to know about the most catastrophic event in the entire Doctor Who universe. Clara seems to have found something of interest (she says, “So that’s who,” which probably refers to the Doctor’s name which she later claims to have learned), but she gets distracted by impending death.

OK, let's stop here for just a moment.  So in this massive library, Clara conveniently finds the Encyclopedia Gallifreya and The History of The Time War. Given that the Doctor is the only known survivor of the Time War (at great personal cost, I might add), who actually wrote this tome?  Who could verify the facts about this war if there are no witnesses save The Doctor (and as far as I know, he's not granting interviews)?  If the Doctor's name is such a big mystery that he entrusts it to only River Song (Rassilon knows theory, the sexual techniques she learned in a Chinese brothel), who else would be privy to this information to include it in a book that I figure has been published in many worlds?  It isn't like there is only one copy of The History of The Time War, is there?  If there isn't, then somebody, somewhere, not only knows The Doctor's name, but actually wrote it into a book that would be seen by perhaps millions of beings.  Further, given the Doctor has a copy of this book, why would he so willingly let a book that contains his greatest secret exist out there?  

I'm not for book-burning, but why would he not take any steps from stopping this information to leak out? Now, if The History of the Time War wasn't written by someone else (say, Professor Song), then the Doctor himself wrote it, or at the very least, agreed to be part of it.  I can see it now, "Oh, let me include in a book anyone can get their hands on, my greatest secret: my name, for all to read".

Leaving aside the convenience of Clara finding that information so quickly, why do we have to have another "Doctor Who"? joke in this.  If no one thinks "So that's who?" isn't a pun, then that person just isn't paying attention.    

The Doctor and the scrappers also come across a room with the various circuitries that the TARDIS has at her disposal to make anything mechanical. This proves too enticing to pass up for the leader and most reprehensible of the scrapping brothers (who makes their little brother think he’s a machine for fun!?!? What a wanker!) and he takes a piece of it. The TARDIS responds by creating a labyrinth that not even the Doctor can get through.

There are so many great concepts in this story.

Among them, a human too stupid to not know he wasn't a robot and the Big Friendly Button that serves as the most obscene deus ex machina in Doctor Who history. 

One being that the Doctor and Clara are in the same space but slightly off in terms of time, like a light switch. Another is the way time overlaps itself the closer they get to the leak.

Timey-wimey, timey-wimey, timey-wimey...

They see echoes of what they’ve done and, we later find out, echoes of what hasn’t happened yet.

The Ghosts of Doctors Past and Future.

We also get to see the Eye of Harmony itself, which gives the TARDIS its time travel power. It is pretty amazing. A quantum-locked sun nearly going supernova; it’s really a wonder they don’t burn up immediately.

Finally, the biggest and best surprise to me in this episode is that the Doctor finally confronts Clara with what he knows about her.

Well, they had to justify the running time somehow.

It was bound to occur sooner or later, but honestly, I had expected later. She’s very confused but doesn’t get bent out of shape or too freaked out about it. In fact, when the Doctor says once everything is back to normal that she’ll probably forget everything, she expresses how much she’d rather that not happen. She’s such an interesting, well-rounded, and complex character.

I feel like Clara is a real person, albeit a mysterious one, and not just a personality with plot attached like I sometimes felt Amy was.

This is of course assuming that Amy or Clara had personalities to begin with.  And as for the idea that Clara, "The Impossible Girl" is not a plot device, oh, perish the THOUGHT!  Wherever did you get an idea like THAT, Kyle?

And, to be a broken record yet again, Jenna-Louise Coleman and Matt Smith are the best.

And, to be a pathetic ass-licker yet again, I masturbate to Jenna-Louise Coleman.  Anderson might masturbate to Matt Smith for all I know, but I'm not one to judge.  After all, in the history of Doctor Who, there has never been a Doctor/Companion team that has worked as well as Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman. 


The. Frigging. Best. I’m constantly impressed by how well they play off each other.

Yes, Smith and Coleman are The. Frigging.  Best.  We've never been impressed by another Doctor/Companion team, ever.

I hope Clara sticks around for a good long while.

I hope Clara continues to be the center of my sex fantasies.

I really don’t know what to make of Steve Thompson as a writer.

I do: pretty crappy.

So far, between this show and Sherlock, he’s written four episodes that have aired. He wrote “The Blind Banker” in series one of Sherlock, which is fine, but is easily the weak link of those three episodes.

You forgot to mention, 'racist', Kyle.  Racist.  Unless you think Asians really are like that in real life: all heavily-accented 'dragon lady' spies or delightful victims. 

Next, he wrote “The Curse of the Black Spot,” which was boring, poorly paced, and obvious.

"Back to the matter at hand, “The Curse of the Black Spot” felt very much like a diversion, probably purposely so.  It certainly was not a bad episode, in fact I even enjoyed watching it on second viewing, but it was kind of just a bit of fluff to hold us over until next week when we get to see Neil Gaiman’s episode, something I’ve been looking forward to for two years now."

Direct quote from Anderson's own review for The Curse of the Black Spot.

Google Never Forgets, Kyle.  Amazing, ain't it?  An episode he 'enjoyed watching on a second viewing' now is 'boring, poorly paced, and obvious'.   

If Series 6 of Doctor Who represents Moffat’s weakest year so far (which I think it does), then that episode is the weakest of that.

Sorry to disagree here, kid, but didn't Series 6 also have Closing Time in the mix?  You really think Curse of the Black Spot was worse than "I blew 'em up with love"?

Then, Thompson turned it way around for “The Reichenbach Fall,” which ended the second series of Sherlock, and which was absolutely excellent.

The Reichenbach Fall was rubbish from start to finish.  I know it got a lot of praise, but that damn thing has so many plot holes and idiotic turns it makes my head spin to think how people can go on about it being so brilliant.

Now he writes this, about which I can’t say enough good things.

Now he writes this, about which I can't get paid fast enough to say good things about. 

You’re baffling, Mr. Thompson. I don’t really know what to make of you.

I may not get Mr. Thompson, but I know exactly what to make of you, Mr. Anderson.

You're a tool.
You're a fraud.
You're a sycophant.
You're a disgrace to real reviewers/critics.
You're a hopeless, shameless lackey.

All of which I don't mind, really, so long as you're up-front about it.

So very much to chew on in this episode, but overall, I loved it.
SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!

The direction by Who newcomer Mat King was excellent and made the various hallway sets feel like they were part of a massive network of corridors in an infinite ship. The look of the exploding engine room was also very spooky and cool. Really, the only thing I didn’t think worked was the relationship story of the three brothers.

Oh, THAT didn't work, but the Big Friendly Button did?

It wasn’t awful, it just didn’t need to be there, especially when there was so much else going on in the episode. I’d have been perfectly happy if they didn’t have the brother-is-a-not-android storyline.

I'd have been perfectly happy if they didn't broadcast this episode altogether, but we can't always get what we want.

Minor nitpick, though. Otherwise, great job, everyone!

About the only nitpicks you know.  Otherwise, lousy job, Anderson!

I could also talk about all of the many references to things, but the BBC has gone ahead and listed them all very nicely for you.

Next week, we go back to Victoriana with Mark Gatiss’ “The Crimson Horror,” featuring Strax, Jenny, and Vastra as well as guest stars Diana Rigg and her real-life daughter Rachael Stirling.

Oh, damn...ANOTHER story where the Paternoster Gang is shoehorned in because Doctor Who can't find anything else to do.  Now they have to drag TWO generations into this, including Dame Diana Rigg. 

Mr. Gatiss loves gothic horror,

I would have thought he'd prefer emo, but that's for another time...

so what I hope we get from him is a story with limited plot contrivances.

He has director Saul Metzstein, who’s done a lot of great episodes this series, at the helm, so it could definitely be a cracker.

I bet Kyle Anderson will give The Crimson Horror another positive review, bringing a total of 21 or 22 out of 26 positive reviews.  Let's leave aside that most reviews for Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS were negative.  We can almost always trust our buddy Kyle to be ebullient...or drunk...or insane...or handsomely paid-off...or maybe a combination of all of them. 

And the answer to our question: NO, he never did mention the Big Friendly Button.
Wonder why...   


  1. Stupid episode, and while Kyle does point out the "brother is an android" idiocy, he never points out how the first time the guy needs to eat, take a dump, get a cold or whatever, he'd figure it out. This really is Gimmicks That Could Never Exist In Reality.

    Also, these three morons get the TARDIS, and the Doctor and Clara are now helpless? Is this the same guy who happily committed genocide? The same TARDIS that can take on human form?

    And after all those nods to The Invasion of Time, isn't it odd that the various interiors of the TARDIS in Journey look NOTHING like that, and are really just the same two or three crappy sets over and over?

    On a related note, it's funny that now after The Magician's Apprentice, how many 'reviewers' are falling over themselves to praise the Doctor playing electric guitar with a tank, boy Davros, Rubbish Snakeman etc. and saying it's BETTER than Deep breath, although they said last year how that was the BEST FIRST EPISODE EVER.

    Andersonitis appears to be contagious.

  2. Andersonitis.

    I like that. Mind if I use it?

    I saw Magician's Apprentice, and apart from the Snakeman (which I thought was mostly good), you're right. I don't understand why others, particularly Classic Who fans, appear enraptured by the episode. I will say I haven't found anyone who liked the electric guitar bit though.


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