Friday, August 12, 2005


"Do I dare disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions
Which a minute will reverse."
T. S. Eliot
'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock'

'Doctor Who' is back on Earth!

Fifteen years after the last regular episode, six years after the one TV movie for the Eighth Doctor, we've had a full series of thirteen episodes featuring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Incarnation.

The final episode for this year has aired, signaling the end of Eccleston's tenure and marking the debut of David Tennant in the role.

And so to celebrate, most of my essays and all of the Crossovers will be dedicated to the Doctor for the rest of the summer.

Be forewarned: In my essays during this summer salute to 'Doctor Who', there will be spoilers for each of the episodes, especially in regard to summaries.....

This week we're not looking so much for a crossover between the 'Doctor Who' episode "Father's Day" and any other show. We feel the need to splain away the effect this episode has on the "rules" of time travel in relation to other series dealing with the subject.

First off, let's deal with the usual basics of the plot for "Father's Day"......

Here's a recap of the episode:

Location: London, Earth
Date: November 7, 1987
Enemy: The Reapers

Rose travels back to 1987, to witness the day her father died. But when she interferes in the course of events, the monstrous Reapers are unleashed upon the world, and a wedding day turns into a massacre. Even the Doctor is powerless, as the human race is devoured.

Rose’s father, Peter Alan Tyler, was born on 15 September 1954 and died on 7 November 1987, the day that Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clark were married. When Rose was a child, her mother used to tell her stories about her wonderful dad and how much he would have loved to see her grow up. And now that she’s travelling with the Doctor, she has the opportunity to see her father while he was still alive. The Doctor agrees to take her back in Time -- but warns her to be careful what she wishes for...
[Thanks to the Doctor Who Reference Guide]

"People often find it easier to be a result of the past
Than a cause of the future."

Although unnamed in the episode itself, the creatures who fed on the "wound" in Time were known as Reapers. They are not to be confused with a similar species found in the 'Doctor Who' mythos known as chronovores.

Which is a far better name.

Because Rose interfered in the timeline of 1987 by preventing the death of her father, History itself would now be thrown out of whack. (As the Doctor explained, a man was now walking the Earth who shouldn't be. And it didn't matter that Pete Tyler was an ordinary man of little import - History turns on such men.)

Upon first viewing, the episode is gang-busters, but as often happens - especially now in the age of personal recording devices - questions arise with repeated viewings. And that's true especially with this episode, as it should have an impact on all of Toobworld.

It should... but I think we have a way to splain our way out of it.

Rose interfered with History by causing her father to remain alive on the day he should have died. The same could be said for the episode "The Unquiet Dead" which took place in 1869. But as Rose herself pointed out, she knew enough about History to know that zombies weren't walking the streets of Cardiff during the Victorian Age. So Rose wasn't changing History by helping the Doctor and Charles Dickens in defeating the Gelth; they instead prevented the Gelth from altering History. (And actually it was the serving girl Gwyneth who saved Mankind. And as she was a part of that time, History was never in any danger.)

But the death of Rose's father was not only established in History, it was part of Rose's personal history. Changing that history so drastically is what caused the Reapers to attack.

This is where Milton Berle, as the personification of "Mr. Television", should manifest himself and protest in the name of all Toobworld.

If Rose's actions caused the appearance of the Reapers, then the Reapers by rights should have made their presence known in many of the shows that dealt with time travel. Because many of the characters in those shows changed History as well.

And there are plenty of those time travel shows:

'The Time Tunnel'
'Quantum Leap'
'7 Days'
'Captain Z-Ro'
'The Twilight Zone' (certain episodes)
'AJ's Time Travelers'
the 'Star Trek' franchise

And that's just a Top Ten list off the top of me noggin!

First off, we can cross 'The Time Tunnel' off the list. They may have had the capability to travel throughout Time (and that they blundered badly), but Tony and Doug never amounted to a hill of chrono-beans when it came to altering History, the losers.

But as for all of the other time travelers, most of them changed History whenever they made the leap back. So how come none of them ever had to fear the Reapers?

Let's remove two more from that list - 'Voyagers!' and 'Timecop'. In both shows, the protagonists traveled back in Time to correct serious deviations from established History. But even so, shouldn't the Reapers have been munching on those wounds in Time until they were repaired?

I think the answer lies in the fact that all of those time trippers were using Terran technology. Just look at those schmucks stuck in 'The Time Tunnel' - unlike many of the other devices which were built independently by geniuses, the Time Tunnel was funded, built, and maintained by the military-industrial complex of the government.

No wonder it didn't work. These were the same screw-ups who would give Zachary Smith the security clearance to sneak on board the Jupiter II a few decades later!

That technology was not always Terran-originated though - the Operation Backstep equipment in '7 Days' was adapted from the remains found at the alien crash site in Roswell, New Mexico.

But even so, that alien technology didn't stir up the Reapers, so either it was only based on the Roswell schematics but built in the USA, ram-tough and like a rock... or it's just that it didn't originally come from the planet Gallifrey. (But we'd have to check with Michael, Isabel, and Max to verify that.)

Even if he was using Gallifreyan technology in the 'Quantum Leap' project, Dr. Sam Beckett would never have been detected by the Reapers, as he was changing history from within the auras of those people he was replacing.

And there was one time-hopper who passed through 'The Twilight Zone' named Peter Corrigan. He didn't need any of that "fancy technology" either in order to go "Back There" to the time of Lincoln's assassination. His experience was sparked by some sort of mystical method of mumbo-jumbo reminiscent of the self-hypnosis used in Jack Finney's book "Time & Again".

Compare all of them to Rose Tyler, who changed History thanks to the TARDIS, a time machine from Gallifrey - and that's the "scent" which the Reapers targeted.

It's my belief that the Reapers, like the Time Lords, were native to the planet Gallifrey. Because of the planet's unique position in the cosmic juncture between Time and Space, the Reapers must have evolved with their temporal abilities as part of their DNA. More than likely, all forms of Life which evolved on Gallifrey have some kind of temporal talent. There's probably a type of Galifreyan meta-carrot that can foretell the future.

The Reapers would be akin to the big cats on Earth, perhaps even more similar to sharks - chronological predators. As such, they would be no more than animals and not a higher form of Life.

Thus they would not have been affected by the great Time War as described by the Gelth. But their home planet was destroyed, as we learned from the Doctor. The Reapers must have had a genetic ability to traverse sub-space between dimensions; like salmon spawning upstream. And that's where they live...when not chowing down on chronological wounds.

So in splainin away the discrepancy caused as an episode of 'Doctor Who', perhaps I got something of a crossover anyway - all the other Time Travel shows united by their lack of Gallifreyan gadgets.

No, huh?



"You can't change History!
Not one line!"
The First Doctor
'Doctor Who' - "The Aztecs"

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