clara“I know what I said.  I was the one who said it.” ~ Clara Oswald, Companion of the 11th Doctor

This week on Fish and TARDIS Sauce The Parker Institute of Time Travel Studies (The PITTS) brings you yet another blog post peppered with slightly (read: highly) unorthodox quotes from another brilliant episode of Doctor Who.

Keep in mind that in order to watch this show — or read my blog — you don’t have to know jack-shit about either one.  You don’t even have to know — like I didn’t — that the plural of deus ex machina is dei ex machina or that — like Bug Bunny knows — Carson City is the capital of Nevada.  None of that is a required reading.  But Doctor Who should be required viewing.  And the episode in question, “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” (s07e10), gives us enough one-liners, head-scratchers, and zingers to make us hungry for more.

  • Clara: “It’s an appliance.  It does a job.”
  • The Doctor: “It’s a pretty cool appliance.  We’re not talking cheese grater here.”
  • Clara: “You’re not getting me to talk to your ship.  That’s properly bonkers.”

When Clara gets lost inside the TARDIS following an accident, she quickly discovers one of the best story lines in all of science fiction: Finding your way out of one big-ass maze that has decided that it (the intelligent big-ass maze) isn’t terribly fond of you.

  • The Doctor: “Ever see a ship get ugly?”

So, like the sprawling metropolis of London or the freeway system of Atlanta at rush hour, Clara finds herself in the seemingly impossible situation of getting out of a seemingly endless situation inside a seemingly endless setting, all within the span of one hour of telly (seemingly to include commercials).

  • Note to aspiring writers: Don’t use adverbs too much.
  • Or, as The Doctor put it: “Don’t get into a ship with a madman.  Didn’t anyone teach you that?”

The episode drips with teases, like Clara looking in the OED-sized History of the Time War, flipping to a random  page, and murmuring, “So that’s who,” when she learns The Doctor’s real name.  Or the tease about the relationship (past, present, and future) between The Doctor and Clara, and why she is who she is.

“It’s spinning a labyrinth?” the Doctor says to the under-developed junk-dealing characters.  That’s what this episode does.  It spins a labyrinth, and dares us to follow the string back out again, especially given the creepy, distorted hallways and ghoul-like monstrosities wandering the “lower decks” of our favorite time machine.

  • Clara: “Why have you got zombie-creatures?  Good guys do not have zombie-creatures.  Rule one, basic storytelling!”
  • The Doctor: “Not in front of the guests.”

And yet, the Doctor knows he has to keep secrets.  Without secrets, he can’t keep his loved-ones safe.

  • Clara: “What aren’t you telling me?”
  • The Doctor: “Trust me.  There are some things you don’t want to know.”

The TARDIS can be both magnificent and malevolent, sublime and ridiculous, jovial and jealous.  With its Star Trek-like corridors and horror movie memes and under-developed side story, there’s plenty of room to criticize the episode, but a couple of lines of dialog really make us sit up and think about why we’re watching and why the BBC is writing and producing this masterpiece.

  • The Doctor to Tricky, the man who was tricked into believing he was artificial: “They changed your identify to provide some inflight entertainment.”

The essence of this episode, the essence of Doctor Who — and if you’ll forgive the conceit — the essence of all speculative fiction is summed up in The Doctor’s fierce reprimand of the brother who tricked Tricky, as it were:

  • Doctor [to Tricky]: “Listen to me.  Ask yourself why he couldn’t cut you up.  He had just one tiny scrap of decency left in him, and you helped him find that.”
  • Doctor to Gregor: “Now, you.  Don’t ever forget this.”

Yep.  For me, that is why we have genre; it reminds us that we have tiny bits of decency within us.  That’s why we have science fiction, fantasy, humor, horror, romance, mystery, and their red-headed stepchild known as time travel.  Or maybe I’m just full of it.  Could be.  Like Clara said when looking at the vast cathedral the TARDIS whipped up out of midair: “Now that’s just showing off.”

Maybe I’m showing off.  Or maybe I’m just lost in a maze, too.  In a way I hope that’s true.

Years truly,


P.S. To all my new blog followers, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to read and comment.  I hope you’re enjoying this little sliver of cyberspace as much as I’m enjoying weaving it.  Your support is appreciated more than you know!

Copyright © 2013 by Alan Keith Parker

Doctor Who and the quotes reproduced here are copyright © 2013 by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); no infringement upon their intellectual property is intended.

3 thoughts on “Lost

  1. David Appenzellar

    I like that you make me think outside the box. I just tonight posted a comment on a friend’s Facebook page that is along the lines from what I get from this post. The weather in western Canada was warmer tonight than here. Dad told me earlier that I think it was Wisconsin that had a record snowfall for May of like 26 inches. How much weirder can the weather get. My comment was take out of the equation all the people and buildings on earth and have a version of the rover report back on the conditions of earth. Growing up we saw man on the moon but Mars was so far off it was somwthing in textbooks. But now we have data and video being sent back from Mars. Which can bring me to UFOS. Perhaps they do exist and are a place more advance than us and their way if collecting data is a flying version like our rover. That used to be so far outside the box that it was dusmissed. But now I can see planet Mars..who sats someone somewhere isn’t watching us. And perhaps God did have a sense of humor and need for entertainment and created us. Kind of like your character Tricky. When we are born and grow we have a choice to accept him. But I don’t know I have ever heard why God would create us in the beginning and what purpose. So maybe believers of time travel aren’t so far off in where life may take a person. Science fiction has in many ways becane fiction and who would have thought but people that have a keen awareness of the whole world. The British are pretty smart people. America was founded with people from there. So now too I don’t have to think did you mean Fish and Tartar Sauce but something I still haven’t seen the show but can see it is like watching a comedien laugh at jokes by Jerry Lewis or Richard Pryor. In any group of people you have respect for those that have gone before you and pave the way. So far your blog has been my Dr. Who.

  2. “It’s a pretty cool appliance.  We’re not talking cheese grater here.”

    That quote got one of my neurons to spark in association with Doctor Who with a major revelation:

    FINALLY! Now I know what Daleks remind me of – truly EVIL multi-sided cheese graters! I’ve lost enough skin to them bastards to know what one with electronics, motivation and Will would do (would Will do? What would Will do? I’m getting confused … MY BRAIN HURTS!!!!)!!!

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I wouldn’t know what to do without your blog shaking my universe so!!!

  3. Pingback: Has Doctor Who made time travel unimportant? | The Consulting Detective

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