Once again for this series of Doctor Who, Blogtor Who is looking at all the nods and references to adventures which have gone before. This time its the turn of Arachnids in the UK. So even if you are not already a Mastermind expert on all things in the Whoniverse you can appreciate the little detail as well. Perhaps you are a very knowledgeable Whovian already but did you spot them all?
Tim Shaw and the Sniper Bots
Blogtor Who knows what you’re thinking – good name for a band. But, sadly the Sniper Bots aren’t likely to have many hits, based on their performance here and in The Ghost Monument. The presence of everyone’s favourite Stenza may just be a reference back to the start of Doctor Who’s current season. But it’s still worth noting his return and desire for revenge for his last appearance. Meanwhile the Sniper Bots, revealed in The Ghost Monument as having been developed by the scientists of Desolation for the Stenza also make a comeback. The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos reveals the Stenza share a hive memory of science and technology. Iit seems likely we can expect the Sniper Bots and the Remnants to appear again in any future Stenza story.
But What’s it FOR, Tim?!
The Series 11 finale features a mortally wounded villain, kept alive by technology, skulking in a mountainous citadel which is actually a giant super weapon. The villain uses this fortress to steal entire planets and compress them to the size of small balls. He mounts them in a ghoulish trophy room. Meanwhile the Doctor is not just morally revolted by the scheme. They’re aghast at the inherent instability of keeping such super-dense materials contained next to each other.
This description, strangely enough, exactly fits 1978’s The Pirate Planet, from the typewriter of Douglas Adams, one of the all time great science fiction writer. Pirate Planet told the story of the hollow planet Zanak. Zanak hyperjumped through space, materializing around smaller planets and crushing them. The Captain, half-man, half-machine, oversaw everything from his mountain base in which the massive hyperspace engines were contained. The Fourth Doctor, if anything, is even more offended by the morbid trophy room of dead planets than the Thirteenth – considering it a perversion of science.
To help defeat Tim Shaw and return the planets home, the Doctor summons her “Ghost Monument” to her. The Doctor’s rarely exhibited the ability to do this. Anyway half of Doctor Who’s plot don’t work if we assume that she can summon the TARDIS any time. But it’s not without precedent. In The Two Doctors, back in 1985, the Second Doctor reveals he has a ‘Stattenheim remote control’ for the TARDIS. It’s so effective it can summon his TARDIS all the way from the distant ‘Third Zone’ of the galaxy to Earth. Presumably he loses it at some point as its never mentioned again. In both Father’s Day (2005) and The Time of the Doctor (2013), the TARDIS key itself summons the ship. Father’s Day is probably a special circumstance, in fairness.
The climax of The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos sees the Doctor using the TARDIS to teleport the five planets which Tim Shaw has stolen back to their original systems and orbits. The TARDIS has been used in a similar fashion before, of course. Series Four ended with the two-part finale The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, in which the Dalek Empire is also stealing planets – 27 of them. The drama is resolved in similar style, too. Donna Noble uses the Daleks’ own machine to transport the planets home… well, 26 of them. As the Doctor herself recalls in the Series 11 finale, Earth winds up being towed home by the TARDIS itself. On that occasion, it’s only possible because the ship is fully crewed for once (with three Time Lords, a Time Agent and various helpers at the controls). This time the Doctor needs to plug the Ux, Delph, into the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits to guide the process.
She’s… an egg
To remind viewers of the power of the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits, the Doctor cites 2005’s Boom Town. Then the TARDIS was able to read Blon Fel Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen’s secret desire to start afresh and regressed her to an egg. To Blogtor Who’s mind that’s a slightly random example to choose . Though it is probably the original example of how the TARDIS can break down, or wield godlike power, as needed.
Doctor Who Will Return…
Doctor Who returns with Resolution by Chris Chibnall on BBC One on New Year’s Day at 7pm, and at 8pm EST on BBC America. For further broadcast times in your region, check local listings.
Doctor Who stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien) and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair). Resolution guest stars Charlotte Ritchie (Lin), Nikesh Patel (Mitch) and Daniel Adegboyega (Aaron). The special is directed by Wayne Yip.
As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring from across the centuries of Earth’s history. As the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?