Tenacious And Rudimentary Discussion In Space
Guest contributor Gustaff takes an in-depth look at the TARDIS.
“It’s called the TARDIS. It can travel anywhere in space and time…and it’s mine.” – Eleventh Doctor
Probably the most iconic object in Britain today, the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension(s) in Space) is not just a Bigger-on-the-Inside box capable of travelling through all of time and space – it is a part of British culture, history and a symbol to Whovians everywhere that our favorite Time Lord is not far behind. In preparation for the upcoming Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS episode, let’s take a look at this extraordinary machine.
Off-screen, the blue box was used because of budget constraints, but the Chameleon Circuit was added to explain away any discrepancies surrounding the odd shape of the Doctor’s craft. The genius who came up with the police box idea was then staff writer Anthony Coburn who decided on the form after viewing a police box while walking near his office. Onscreen, the TARDIS is an out of date Type-40 which the Doctor “borrowed” near the end of his first life to venture and explore the universe. It has been further stated that TARDISes are bioships that are grown rather than built.
All TARDIS’ came equipped with a device called a Chameleon Circuit, a stealth feature that transformed the outer shell of the capsule into the physical appearance of another object that would go unnoticed by whatever species were nearby when the ship landed. The Doctor’s TARDIS’ Chameleon Circuit malfunctioned sometime after he landed in 1963 London, but after trying to fix the circuit for few hundred years without success, the Doctor abandoned any attempt to restore the circuit and later admitted that he had grown fond of the blue box shape. By his eleventh incarnation, he was lying to his companions that the circuit was working and that a fault kept transforming it back into a police box wherever it landed. A theory by fans involves the soul of the TARDIS actually liking the exterior and purposely changing it back to the police box shape. Ironically, not to mention a little funny if you think about it, the major drawback of the TARDIS was that enemies could easily identify it by its consistent form. In the classic series, the TARDIS would be effortlessly spotted or held “hostage” until the climax of that story. In the new series though, it has been mentioned that the Doctor added a defense mechanism in the form of a Perception Filter to his TARDIS to make it more unnoticeable wherever or whenever he goes.
Romana once recounted that the interior of the TARDIS weighed close to fifty thousand tons in Alzarian mass. The reason the TARDIS interior is so much bigger than the exterior is due to its Dimensional Transcendentalism which separates the inner and outer shells from each other. Furthermore, the various rooms in the TARDIS can be sorted and changed around, even ejected and replaced or used as fuel. This is used thanks to the Architectural Configuration system on the TARDIS. The theme design of the interior could also be changed as straightforwardly as altering the desktop background on a computer. The TARDIS commented that she’d archived at least 30 themes the Doctor has and will use in the future.
The main room or most important room in the TARDIS is the Console Room where the Doctor does his plot setting and controls the various functions of his TARDIS. This room also leads to the outside. Other console rooms can be connected to the main doors for easy entering and exiting. I will not be spending a lot of time on the Console Room, since it is the most common and recognized room in the Who Universe. Other rooms in the TARDIS that you may not have known about include:
- The Doctor’s own private room.
- The Doctor’s Laboratory.
- There existed at least one other secondary console room.
- Each companion had presumably their own separate room or shared a room with others.
- Eye of Harmony Room
- Zero Room
- Cricket Club
- Squash Court(s)
- Food Machine Area
- Cloister Room
- The Doctor has a storage area where he stores the rooms of past companions.
- Ace’s Laboratory where she made her Nitro-9
- Scullery Room
- Croquet Court
- Art Gallery
- Swimming Pool
- The TARDIS has more than one garden
- The TARDIS also contains a lake somewhere
- There exists a garage where the Doctor keeps vehicles like his scooter and Anti-Grav motorcycle. Presumably, wherever this room is in the TARDIS, its doors can be linked to the central doors of the craft.
System, Features and General O.S
The TARDIS is equipped with technology that enables it to translate almost any language in any given time period over a wide distance for varying periods of time.
State of Temporal Grace
It is a function of the TARDIS that renders all weaponry inside the machine inoperable. The STG seems to malfunction depending on the story it’s used in. The system didn’t work by the time of Earthshock. Also, the Eighth Doctor told Lucie that the system hadn’t worked in years. Jack Harkness didn’t seem to have a problem discharging an energy weapon in the TARDIS, nor did a Dalek with its weaponry, indicating the system still didn’t work by then. Mels was able to fire her gun at the console, however the Doctor later explained the Temporal Grace system as a “clever lie” to keep intruders from fighting inside his TARDIS.
Locate the Doctor Switch
A green switch used in The Beast of Orlok. Please don’t make me explain what it does.
Most notably used in Castrovalva and The Doctor’s Wife, the AC is a set of controls or programs that allows the interior of the TARDIS to be shuffled around at the user’s convenience.
First mentioned in Logopolis, the Cloister Bell acts as an alarm for imminent danger.
Fast Return Switch
A switch found somewhere on the very first console of the TARDIS in The Edge of Destruction. This switch enabled the TARDIS to rapidly return to its most recent destination. The Eighth Doctor’s console also possessed this switch.
The Hostile Action Displacement System was introduced in The Krotons and allows the TARDIS to travel away from danger and return when the danger has passed. Apart from The Krotons and Cold War, writers seemed to forget all about this system as it is never used onscreen apart from aforementioned stories, despite how handy it is.
Other functions of the TARDIS that don’t possess really cool names (Names are cool!) includes the TARDIS’ ability rapidly rebuild or make repairs to itself as seen in The Eleventh Hour, an invisibility feature which severely drains the energy supply. This feature has only been used three times onscreen in The Invasion and The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. We’ve also seen interior wind fans that dispel gasses (or they might very well be the air-conditioning), the TARDIS time-looping its occupants to keep them safe when it explodes and we know that the TARDIS engines automatically shut down whenever there is nobody inside. These are just some of the stuff the TARDIS is capable of and trying to tie in every Deus Ex Machina mechanism would be like trying to teach a herd of rhinos synchronized swimming. Imagine that. Rhinos! Swimming! Synchronized!
The TARDIS can literally go “anywhere”. Its furthest destination into the future is to the year 100 trillion, a time zone so far, Time Lords feared exploring there or didn’t bother because they knew nothing existed there. Backwards in time, the TARDIS has visited the moments leading up to creation of the universe, or Event One, on three separate occasions. This time zone continuously proves to be dangerous period for the TARDIS and its occupants. The space/time machine also has the ability to travel sideways in time to parallel universes and different dimensions. The Doctor has commented that travelling to parallel worlds used to be monitored and regulated by the Time Lords, while travelling to other dimensions were very hard and against Time Lord Policy.
Given the above evidence, it looks as though the Time Lords have fashioned the most perfect craft. Unsurprisingly, other beings have tried to imitate this technology. While some copied the design, others just managed to build their own without ever realizing that the Time Lords had already finished such a vehicle. Two variations of the TARDIS include the SIDRAT and the CORDIS.
Short for Space and Inter-Dimensional Robot All-Purpose Transporter, but most commonly referred to as the ‘TARDIS knockoff’. From the space/time ship bargain bin, its operating system was, according to the Second Doctor, difficult to comprehend. SIDRATs were Dimensional Transcendental, but unlike TARDIS’ however, the SIDRAT was only capable of short range travel and had powerful energy costs associated with it.
Stands for Conveyance of Repeating Dialogue in Space/Time. The most powerful ship in the Who Multiverse (sorry TARDIS), the CORDIS is the Word Lord Nobody No-One’s equivalent to the TARDIS. It is a non-physical space/time machine that runs on common words and phrases and translates ‘matter’ in the same way the TARDIS translates languages for the Doctor, thus granting Nobody No-One whatever item his heart desires. It’s Chameleon Meme, the equivalent to the Chameleon Circuit, disguises the CORDIS as a phrase or word spoken by people when it is nearby or when it materializes.
So what lies ahead and what can we expect to be lurking deep in the bowels of the Doctor’s police box when we take the first in-depth journey to the centre of the TARDIS?