Doctor Who: Space/Time
Doctor Who: Night and the Doctor
(7 episodes, Comic Relief and Home Video Specials, 2011)
Wrapping up some loose ends with the time travelers’ dating game run amok!
Set between The Big Bang and The Impossible Astronaut, we begin with our travelers fixing the TARDIS in something called “conceptual space”. Amy unsuccessfully tries to get the Doctor’s attention, but is distracted by Rory installing thermocouples. Banter flies about Amy’s failed driving test and the fact that she was wearing a skirt. In fact, it’s the same skirt that she’s currently wearing, which distracts Rory and forces the TARDIS to execute an emergency landing.
When the Doctor restores power, the team is shocked to find the TARDIS materialized inside the console room. The Doctor presumes that it was the safest place to land, but when he investigates he finds that it is the same TARDIS as the one they are currently occupying.
More than a time loop, it is a space loop. No one can leave the TARDIS again.
That is, until another Amy walks through the doors. This, apparently, is where it gets complicated.
The new Amy is from the future since the exterior shell is running slightly ahead of the console room. After the Doctor makes sure that the timeline stays exactly as it should – and after present Pond flirts with future Pond, much to Rory’s amusement – Amy enters the TARDIS.
Directly after, both Amy and Rory enter the console room. The Doctor sets up a controlled temporal implosion to reset the TARDIS, but since he doesn’t know which lever to pull, the entire TARDIS could explode. He doesn’t know which lever to pull, but a future version of the Doctor rushes in to tell him to use the “wibbly lever”. The Doctor thanks himself, pulls the lever, and enters the TARDIS before it dematerializes.
Everything’s back to normal and there’s no longer any danger of the localized time field imploding. But, just in case, he asks Amy to put on some trousers before they get back to work.
The console room is dark and the phone is ringing. Amy answers the phone, obviously having just been asleep. The voice on the other end, a Prince of Wales, asks for the Doctor as Amy swats a fly. The Doctor rushes in, clad in top hat and tails, and hands Amy a goldfish and bowl while he deals with the nighttime caller.
He assures the prince that his “mother is fine” while chastising Amy for answering the phone. It turns out that the Queen has been transformed into a goldfish at a party, and the warrior chief who did so is trapped in the TARDIS until he reverses it. Unfortunately, that warrior chief was the fly that Amy killed.
Oh, and River Song was at the party as well.
As the Doctor rushes off to solve the problem, Amy asks for his help. She can’t sleep because something is on her mind. Convinced that she’s “having an emotion,” the Doctor calls for Rory to handle it. It seems that they take turns dealing with her emotional needs.
Finally, the Doctor realizes that he has the wrong fish. He also only has three hours to get the right one before the pet shops open and the Commonwealth is potentially destroyed.
The Doctor returns from another night with River Song, this time carrying a euphonium. This time, Amy’s waiting up for him, wondering if he does this kind of thing every night. While the Doctor explains his adventures in saving people – he helped a possessed orchestra on the moonbase, prevented two supernovas, wrote the history of the universe in jokes, and worked as physician in Brixton – Amy wonders if the companions’ lives are just brief flickers in his overall life.
She also explains why she can’t sleep. Her life doesn’t make sense because, as a result of The Big Bang, she can remember two versions of her life, one without her parents and one with them. The Doctor comforts her, in the process reminding her of the saddest moment of her life. It was at a fair when she dropped an ice cream, and she suddenly remembers a woman with red hair, dressed in a nightgown, who came to give her a new ice cream. When she finishes the story, the Doctor is by the doors, ready to go with her to the fair.
Time and space will never make sense, including this causality loop, but at least the Doctor gets ice cream and a trip to the fair.
River Song is in her cell at Stormcage when the Doctor arrives in a white dinner suit. The Ponds are asleep, so he is taking her to Calderon Beta. It’s a boring planet aside from a four hundred foot tall tree growing out of a cliff-top in the middle of the sea, which is where the Doctor wants to show River the starriest night sky in the entire history of the universe.
Which happens to be on September 21, 2360.
This is apparently right after he gave her the TARDIS diary so they can keep their timelines straight. He’s also chosen a dress for her, but there are more in the wardrobe down the corridor if she wants something different. While she runs off to rifle through the racks, the TARDIS lands. Curious about the sound of gunfire outside, he opens the door and finds a different River Song.
This one collapses into his arms, calling him a nostalgic idiot for coming back to this spot.
This new River wasn’t injured, but rather holding her breath for dramatic effect. She flirts with the Doctor while explaining that she’s running from some Sontarans. She spots the dress and gets jealous, storming through the TARDIS to find the presumed mistress.
Of course, future River remembers the encounter – it’s the same night! – but not the details, so chaos ensues between the Doctor and the two Rivers. It gets worse when a third River enters the TARDIS, this one actually wearing the gold dress that the Doctor had picked out. This River was expecting to meet the Doctor here, but she questions why the same dress is hanging by the console. The Doctor asks her to step outside to check if the light on top of the TARDIS is working, which she does.
The second River rushes back into the console room and the Doctor sends her back to Stormcage by tweaking her vortex manipulator with his sonic screwdriver. The third River returns to the TARDIS, followed by an older version of the Doctor who tells her that she’s in the wrong blue box. His, after all, is parked around back.
River muses about two Doctors at once, then rushes out, excited about a trip to the Singing Towers of Darillium. The two Doctors are saddened because River visited that site before she died, but the older Doctor refuses to reveal any spoilers before leaving.
The first River returns, catching a glimpse of the future Doctor and developing a liking for the word “spoilers” before joining her Doctor on their night out together. She jokes that him and his secrets will be the death of her.
Up All Night
In a prequel to Closing Time, we find Craig Owens in his home, eating baby food as he protests to his wife Sophie that he can’t be left alone with their baby. He’s terrified that he’ll break Alfie, but Sophie disagrees, puts Alfie in his arms, and tells him he’s amazing. Craig bounces a little as Sophie notices another disappearance in the newspaper.
Craig questions whether or not she should leave the both of them alone all weekend, but Sophie is sure. She says that it is bath time, which Craig protests because it happened just yesterday, but Sophie suggests that it’s not the end of the world.
The kitchen lights flicker as they walk out.
Overall, this collection of shorts was entertaining enough. Space/Time were part of the 2011 Comic Relief special, the first multi-part charity story since the 30th anniversary special Dimensions in Time (“Which is totally canon, right?” he asked with a grin). It’s also the fifth televised story in the forty-eight year (to this point) history of the franchise to be set entirely on the TARDIS.
Meanwhile, the Night and the Doctor collection was a special feature for the Series Six home video release.
With that context, the source of Space/Time‘s humor is understandable since it caters to a lower denominator to drive pledges. It’s also irritating since it reduces a competent companion and woman to an upskirt gag to propel the story. Space/Time is definitely my least favorite part of this set.
Night and the Doctor plays with downtime on the TARDIS, addressing both Amy’s dual timeline crisis that stems from The Big Bang and going slapstick with the divergent linearity of the River/Doctor relationship. The Amy thread does quite well with the Eleventh Doctor’s aloof and detached nature when it comes to relationships, and it is by far my favorite subset of the collection. The dating game falls in the middle of the set by having fun with a lot of confusion.
Up All Night just… exists. That’s about it.
Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”
UP NEXT – Series 6 Summary
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.