Sunday, 22 October 2017


With Silurian History properly sorted out, I am tempted to do another Unsung Classics piece. But I continue to fear that this site will just become another one of those Doctor Who blogs that are purely about opinion. So, as much as it behooves me to not balance things out with a review of a Classic Series episode that I think hasn't been celebrated as well as it should, I'm going to - instead - discuss a few minor continuity issues and try to get them to work. 

Occasionally, I just pick a few random seasons to re-watch and enjoy them for a bit. Recently, I did that with Seasons Five to Eight. An era that many fans consider to be quite "Golden". I definitely felt that about Season Seven (one of my favorite seasons in the whole history of the show) and quite a bit of the Troughton stuff, in general. But I stopped around Season Eight because I really start disliking the formula that starts kicking in around that time. However, I did find a few continuity issues that I felt I should address and try to fix. 


The Enemy of the World tries to present a version of the near future from the vantage-point of the mid-60s. Various clues and references seem to indicate that the story is taking place sometime around 2017 (or, quite possibly, 2018 - at the latest). The predictions that they try to make regarding fashion, technology and even geo-politics are quite amusing and gives an extra entertainment value to the story now that we are actually living in that time.

The big problem, of course, is how do we justify Enemy of the World now that it is that date and things look nothing like the way they do in the story. Women are not running around in plastic dresses and security guards don't have big radio antenna sticking out of their helmets. So, what happened?

We could use the usual argument that Doctor Who takes place in a universe that is slightly different from our own and that's why things look different. However, that particular trick won't work, this time. We can assume that contemporary Earth-bound stories in Series Ten are meant to be taking place in 2017. We didn't see any plastic dresses or antenna helmets in those stories. In fact, we saw a reality that looks - pretty much - the way our reality looks (we don't have any destroyed Monk monuments - otherwise, both versions of 2017 look the same). How does Enemy of the World fit in, then?

I think we justify the existence of this story by accepting the idea that the Doctor's many visits to Earth during the late 20th Century/early 21st Century have ripple effects. That, without even meaning to, his frequent visits make tiny alterations to the timeline and change the evolution of human society during this era. Other times, of course, he even makes big alterations. He topples Harriet Jones, for instance, when she was meant to serve multiple terms as Prime Minister. These minor and major alterations take larger, more noticeable effects when he re-visits these periods later in his life.

So, when the Doctor visits 2017 in his second incarnation - this is the way reality is meant to look. But, because he keeps coming back to Earth and making minor or major alterations both intentionally and unintentionally, he changes the course of human evolution. So that when he starts hanging around 2017 in his twelfth incarnation it looks the way it does, now. His many visits between those two incarnations have altered the timeline so that things look radically different by the time he visits 2017 in Series 10.

This explanation makes the best sense to me. I would imagine that, though he's altered the timelines, certain patterns still remain. For instance, it would be awesome if we saw a story that takes place on contemporary Earth in Series 11 that mentions "The Salamander Scandal". This way, we know that Enemy of the World still happens in some sort of way. The show doesn't have to dwell on it, of course. It can be quickly mentioned in a conversation or heard in a news broadcast on a television in the background. A throwaway reference would make a tonne of us hardcores very happy. Like seeing the Macra in Gridlock!


At long last, in the first few minutes of End of the World, a popular fan theory is confirmed. The Doctor reveals to Rose that the TARDIS is able to translate all languages and make everyone understandable to everyone else (the Doctor, sort of, made a similar revelation in Masque of Mandragora but he goes into better detail, here). This is a great continuity point to finally have cleared up but it does, at the same time, present a bit of a sore point. There are moments in the Classic Series where languages don't seem to be translating properly. Quite a few of them occur in the era I was watching.

Towards the end of The War Games, we see the Resistance having a hard time speaking to a French soldier they've recently converted. This shouldn't be a problem if the TARDIS has a translation circuit. We see things like this happen a few more times after the Doctor regenerates. He has to build an actual translation device to understand the captured alien ambassadors in Ambassadors of Death. In Mind of Evil, he has to use several Asian dialects to communicate effectively with various characters. At one point, he even admits he's a bit rusty at his Hokkien. If the translation circuit were working properly, he should not feel like he's fumbling. His words should be coming out smoothly. He is obviously making an effort, here, to speak a language he hasn't used in a while. Rather than just having what he's said instantly changed into the appropriate language by the TARDIS.

The Time Lords sent the Doctor into his exile with his TARDIS - but disabled it. They also wiped some of his memory. The things they did to his vehicle and mental faculties interfered with the translation software. Particularly since the Doctor indicates that it's a sort of telepathic link that enables the whole process. Perhaps altering his memories broke the link. This gets the language issues he's having in his exile to make sense, now.

But what of the French soldier in The War Games that no one can talk to properly? This happens before the Time Lords actually get their hands on the Doctor. So how do we explain that one?

As I just said, things were done to the TARDIS to restrict its movement after the Doctor's exile was imposed. Those alterations meddled with the translation device. When you do things to a time machine - the effects can, sometimes, ripple backwards in time. So the translation circuit still goes a bit faulty even before the exile because side effects can work that way when meddling with time travel equipment. All those SIDRATs that we see in The War Games may have had an influence, too. The presence of so many other interdimensional crafts may have exacerbated the problem. So, most of the time, the translation issue only happens after the exile begins. But it can ripple back a bit, too.

There are, of course, instances outside of this particular era where the translation circuit also seems to be failing (Tegan talking to the Aboriginal in Four to Doomsday, for example). I would label them as moments where the translation device was just having some troubles that day. Perhaps - because it was disabled for so long during the exile - it plays up, now and again.


This one is a bit baffling. It's almost like throwing someone in a prison cell but then giving them the key (or throwing an Osirian in a pyramid but providing him with all the means he needs to escape it). Why would the Time Lords let the Doctor keep his TARDIS when he's meant to be exiled to Earth?!

One might say they needed something to transport him from Gallifrey to Earth and that the TARDIS was as good as anything. But we see a Time Lord arrive on Earth in Terror of the Autons without the use of any sort of capsule. He just materializes out of thin air. So a TARDIS was hardly necessary to make such a trip. It doesn't help that we see time scoops and time rings in future stories that would have done the same trick and would not have, necessarily, provided the Doctor with a means of escape. To make matters worse, he is getting pretty close to escaping his exile in The Time Monster. That TARDIS is just-about working properly as he tails the Master to Atlantis.

So are the Time Lords just not all that bright?! The Doctor has stood out from his society because he is so much more imaginative than the average Time Lord. Which would indicate that his people might be lacking in certain intellectual attributes. But, surely, they can't be this dim!

My guess would be that the Time Lords already had plans for the Doctor. That his exile would only be so firmly written in stone and that they would need him from time-to-time to undertake secret missions for them. He does exactly this in, at least, three televised stories (Colony In Space, Curse of Peladon and The Mutants) so that seems to back up the idea pretty good, right there.

If you subscribe to the idea of Season 6b, then you believe he was undertaking missions for the Time Lords before the exile was finally invoked (The Two Doctors). So the Time Lords were using the Doctor to accomplish their dirty work for them even before his exile. If something was going on in the affairs of lesser civilizations that they felt needed their intervention - the Doctor was their "go-to guy". He would keep it quiet for them, too. Particularly during Season 6b. The Doctor being given his freedom after his trial is meant to be kept a secret from most of the eyes of Gallifrey. If the Doctor doesn't accomplish these missions, the organization of Time Lords that were using him (most likely the Celestial Intervention Agency) would probably make this fact public and he'll, at last, have to serve his exile.

How, exactly, the main population of Time Lords found out about what the Doctor was up to during Season 6b - we'll never know. But, no doubt, the Time Lords that were sending him on these secret missions  knew they could still use him after he was caught and properly sentenced. Any little bit of freedom they could offer him he would take. Even if it meant he was still dealing with their messes. So giving the Doctor his TARDIS during his exile now makes perfect sense. More than likely, the CIA were able to make some sort of political deal with the Tribunal in charge of carrying out the Doctor's sentence. They insisted that the Doctor was sent to Earth in his TARDIS. The time capsule would be disabled and the Doctor's memories of his ability to pilot it would also be wiped (perhaps, along with certain other memories that might implicate the CIA in things that they didn't want to be called out on). With his TARDIS, the Doctor could still be used at any time to accomplish missions for them. This way, he could still be useful to them.

So the Doctor being sent to his exile on Earth in his TARDIS foreshadows the fact that the exile was not meant to be too strictly enforced. He was still going to be a pawn for the CIA...

A few more plot holes fixed. Hope you enjoyed my silly fan theories. 

Like the Quick Fixes? There's four others for you to enjoy, if you so desire. Here are the Links:

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  1. Super minor nitpick: "Enemy of the World" takes place next year, in 2018. Episode 5 has Swann show Salamander a newspaper dated "Friday, August 16, 2017" while declaring it to be "last year's date".

    Nicely argued though!

    1. Not nitpicky, at all. I do actually say "2018, at the latest" at one point in the post. There should still be, by this point in time, plastic dresses and helmet antenna proliferating all over the place. This is late 2017.


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