|Posted by goldenplum on March 22, 2015 at 1:25 AM||comments (0)|
One fairly consistent fact about Time Lords, even before there were Time Lords officially, is that they are mildly telepathic. Not only that, but their machines are telepathic as well, up to a point. And if the expanded universe is to be believed, practically everything on Gallifrey, down to the very furniture (but not, for whatever reason, the plants) is also telepathic. So it makes sense that their distress calls and beacons would take advantage of this mechanic. A whole lot of Time Lords together can send a telepathic call across time and space in dire circumstances, as in “the Deadly Assassin,” but in general Time Lord telepathy seems to be close range and even touch based - no good for when you’re trapped on your own and in trouble. And so we have the distress cubes - long range transmission of localized telepathic communication.
The distress cube (called a Hypercube in the expanded universe) debuts in the final act of “the War Games,” shortly before the Time Lords themselves (the Doctor is in distress, and they all answer his SOS). I really like the simplicity of it. It’s not obviously tech, per se. The Doctor just pulls out six little white cards from one of his endless pockets and…assembles them into a featureless cube. And then fills it with information. But there’s no storage medium for that information, it’s just thoughts - in the cube. It is presumably the same sort of direct telepathic information sharing we see the Doctor use with himself in “the Three Doctors” or with Craig in “the Lodger,” just wrapped up in a neat little package. Unlike a conventional distress call, it’s not a generalized beacon out to everybody, it’s a targeted message to the Time Lords transmitted functionally instantaneously (because time travel) albeit with no obvious method of propulsion. You get the impression that it’s not even so much a device the Doctor is using, but rather something the Doctor is doing. One more part of the overall mystique of the Time Lords.
It also raises the stakes hugely. The Doctor is asking for help because there is a problem he simply cannot solve on his own. This has never happened before. We have never before seen the Doctor fail. And I mean… Daleks overran the entire Earth and enslaved humanity and he didn’t call for help. He’s faced his own certain death and the certain death of his loved ones without resorting to this method. Much like picking up the pistol in “the End of Time,” it is therefore a big frickin deal. I love how it is something so simple, so easy, and yet laden with such portent and sense of doom.
It’s also not something I ever expected to see again. I mean it was a perfect piece of single-episode continuity. There was a good reason why it had never been used before, and the Doctor’s evolving relationship with the Time Lords as a whole meant there was a good reason it would never be used again. But that’s the wonderful thing about Doctor Who - there are no absolutes. Anything and everything can be ignored, and anything and everything can be remembered and restored. But how do you reuse this one-time ability to call on your all-powerful superiors to get you out of a jam without robbing it of all of its impact? Insert it into a universe with no Time Lords. The next time we see a distress cube, the Doctor is not the source of the message but its target, because he is literally the only person in the universe left to answer such a call. It’s a powerful reminder of just how much the universe has changed, with the Doctor himself having moved from the very bottom to the very top of the pecking order. And the cube itself has changed from a sign of despair to a sign of Hope - a long lost message in a bottle that was never expected to come again. Everyone wants to be needed, and the Doctor’s overwhelming unconstrained joy is beautiful and heartbreaking. ”You gave me Hope and then you took it away.” Ouch. But that’s not the point. The point is - Hope is in the box. That was the whole point of the Pandorica too And in much that vein, not only is the Corsair's distress cube a game changer by introducing Hope for the existence of other Time Lords, it also draws a connection. We're used to seeing the Doctor as “not like other Time Lords” - honestly because those guys are jerks. But the distress cube is something we've now seen both the Doctor and random other Time Lords do independently of each other. Again, sort of returning the mystique of the Time Lords, but also sort of orienting the Doctor within a greater civilization and heirarchy, which almost never happens. It’s just…really cool, and really skillfully used at this precise juncture.
The Time Lord Distress Cubes are a bit of an outlier for me, since they are not Ridiculous Blunders of Time Lord Technology. They are just really and truly appealing to me, and seem to be super effective and efficient. It’s important that they have never been overused. Unlike almost everything else to do with Gallifrey, they are simple and elegant, practical and well thought out. And cubes. Featureless white cubes. Well done team.
|Posted by goldenplum on July 24, 2014 at 7:55 PM||comments (0)|
From Io9 -
a few quotes from Steven Moffat, including the fact that we seem to be getting at the repercussions of the "fairy tale" motif:
I think it feels more serious. One of the watchwords we have this year is there are consequences for choosing to live like this. It's not a fairytale. If you have people back home, if you run away it's going to have an effect on them. And it's not necessarily always going to be lovely. And does the Doctor make you better?
We want to make it feel that these adventures can hurt…
I am both worried and excited.
|Posted by goldenplum on July 14, 2014 at 8:00 PM||comments (0)|
“There is no such thing as a good call at 7 AM. It's been my experience that all calls between the hours of 11 PM and 9 AM are disaster calls.”