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 The Tsuranga Conundrum. 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?
Pting the Meep
Blogtor Who has to make another of our rare references to the wider spin-off media beyond the TV show here. Because there’s no way we can’t mention that Pting in The Tsuranga Conundrum isn’t the first such Doctor Who monster. Others before have combined an utterly cute appearance with being terribly dangerous. The most obvious example of this is Beep the Meep, a villain who appeared in the early days of the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip. Incredibly adorable, and affecting total vulnerability, Beep was actually a blood thirsty would be dictator. In The Star Beast, the Meep attempted to manipulate the Fourth Doctor and Sharon into helping him with his evil scheme. Coincidentally, early next year we’ll see The Star Beast dramatized by Big Finish. The audio adaptation will star Tom Baker as the Doctor with Rhianne Starbuck as his companion Sharon Davies.
The action opens this week on the planet of Seffilun 27. It’s a gigantic scrap heap of spare parts and rubbish. It’s also part of entire ‘junk galaxy,’ an entire string of such planets including Seffilun 59. The Doctor complains that all these planets look the same and she has a point. After all she’s been to similar planets before. In The Doctor’s Wife, the Doctor follows a Time Lord distress signal to one such planet only to discover it filled with the remains of murdered TARDISes.
Meanwhile, the TARDIS team’s search in the haystack for a unnamed needle of unspecified use is slightly familiar too. It’s something the Doctor needs to track down from time to time as she’s used up the seven she found last time. Blogtor Who can only assume it’s something needed for TARDIS maintenance. Which calls to mind the Doctor and Peri’s trip to the inhospitable hell hole of Varos to find some Zeiton-7.
Maybe it should be surprising that a show about an alien Doctor doesn’t tend to call in at the futuristic equivalents of Holby City more often than it does. But we have two main equivalents of the medical spaceship Tsuranga in the show’s history. In the classic serial The Invisible Enemy, Leela takes the Swarm-infected Doctor to the Bi-Al Foundation. The Foundation is a cutting edge 51st century medical facility built into an asteroid in the Solar system’s asteroid belt. Overseen by the kindly and only slightly bonkers Dr. Marius, it’s also where the Doctor originally picked up K9 . The robot dog’s original function was to compute diagnoses and prognoses based on all medical information collected in human history.
Much later, the Doctor and Rose visited the New New York Hospital, run by the Sisters of Plenitude, in the year 5,000,000,023, only to discover that its successes are built on unethical experimentation on cloned humans.
The 67th century ship Tsuranga, and its homebase Resus One, are more like the cuddly and conscientious Bi-Al Foundation. Though they’re remarkably quick to attempt euthanasia of their patients and staff if they pose even the slightest risk of bringing danger home with them.
Index under ‘D’ for ‘Doctor, The’
The Doctor doesn’t have a chapter in the fabled Book of the Celebrants, oh no. She has more of a volume to herself. It lists deeds so heroic and awe inspiring that even Eve Cicero, Neuro Pilot General of the Army of the Aeons and hero of the Battle of the Underkind, low key fangirled over the Time Lord. Possibly the Book of the Celebrants in one of the tomes that the Doctor once encouraged the Vashta Nerada to ‘look [him] up’ in the Library. But it will be just one of many. From the copious files on the Doctor held by UNIT (and the routine references to newer UNIT personnel being big fans of the Doctor’s adventures as a result) to the oral history of the Ood, there’s a lot of reading material out there about the Doctor.
The Taste of Sonic
The Pting is advertised as being able to eat and digest absolutely everything and anything. Yet, while it tries the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver for taste, it ultimately spits it out as inedible or toxic. Which does make you wonder about those Sheffield Steel spoons you’ve been eating your corn flakes with. Anyway the Pting isn’t the first alien beastie to swallow a sonic screwdriver. The first time the sonic screwdriver got a makeover since the show’s return it was because Prisoner Zero had gotten its corrosive saliva all over the familiar cracked-porcelain-and-steel version when it used its mouth to steal it and bring it to its hidden room in Amy Pond’s house. It only takes until the next Christmas for a flying space shark to bite the replacement in half too.
These are the things that we noticed. Let us know what you saw if they don’t appear above.
The adventure continues…
Doctor Who continues this Sunday at 7pm GMT on BBC One and at 8pm EST on BBC America with Demons of the Punjab by Vinay Patel. Series 11 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien), and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair).
Demons of the Punjab guest stars Shane Zaza (Prem), Amita Suman and Hamza Jeetooa (Manesh). Written by Vinay Patel. Directed by Jamie Childs.
“What’s the point of having a mate with a time machine, if you can’t nip back and see your gran when she was younger?”
India, 1947. The Doctor and her friends arrive in the Punjab as the country is being torn apart. While Yaz attempts to discover her grandmother’s hidden history, the Doctor discovers demons haunting the land. Who are they and what do they want?