Image Credit: BBC (Fair Use)
Image Description: The Time Lord Victorious promo image
By John Salway
Name: What the TARDIS thought of ‘Time Lord Victorious’
Type: Short Story
Current TLV investment: £256.44
This short story, available online, ties the end of The Waters of Mars to the events of Time Lord Victorious at large, and is told from the perspective of the TARDIS itself. You’d probably worked out that latter point yourself from the incredibly dull and unwieldy non-title they’ve given the piece, which did not set my expectations high.
Telling a story from the perspective of the TARDIS is a big task. The TARDIS is incredibly powerful, non-linear, and fundamentally thinks differently from the standard human brain – just look at The Doctor’s Wife. Here, by putting the TARDIS’ thoughts into standard prose, we lose that sense of unknowableness. Instead, it turns out the TARDIS thinks in a fairly flavourless, matter-of-fact style. This is a big problem, because there isn’t really a story here, more a series of continuity references and explanations that patch up some holes in the Time Lord Victorious lore, so any thrill would have to come from the execution. And it’s just not there.
The story’s main idea is that the TARDIS doesn’t take the Doctor where he wants to go, but where he needs to go, and so is choosing to send him to the Dark Times for his own greater good. The idea of the TARDIS choosing the destination is, frankly, fairly old hat by now, rather than a revelation, but in this case it has disturbing implications. Does the TARDIS really think that the Doctor needs to go and fight wars in the distant past, for his own growth? Not to mention committing a genocide?
This is an occasion where I think I’m putting a little bit too much thought into a harmless little fluff piece that was probably cooked up fairly swiftly, but with something so insubstantial I don’t really have much other choice! One thing I can say in the story’s favour is that its references to upcoming live event Time Fracture, which I’m all booked for, are quite exciting, so fingers crossed the event can go ahead safely. But apart from that brief moment of personal anticipation, there’s really nothing here but snippets of lore, and the story is eminently skippable.