Tuesday, January 1, 2008

WHO'S ON FIRST - PART TWO

"All is flux. Nothing stands still."
Peraclitus
(as quoted by Mr. Bovine)
'St. Elsewhere'

Nothing is ever set in stone when it comes to the laws governing the TV Universe. Like the man said, everything is constantly changing and those rules may have to adapt in order to reflect the latest whims of a show's writers.

Since I first began tinkering with the Toobworld concept, I don't think any show has given me more tele-agita than the revived version of 'Doctor Who'. The old series had its invasions by Autons, Axons, Cybermen, Daleks, Sontarans and the like over the years (millennia!), but these never shook the basic foundation of Toobworld which should reflect our world as much as possible.

So "The Invasion" of Cybermen in 1971, like the invasion of the Canamids as seen in 'The Twilight Zone' episode "To Serve Man", would not only be rebuffed quickly, but even practically forgotten about.

During the original run of the series from 1963 to 1989, 'Doctor Who' never really had the need to involve the highest levels of government directly in these scenarios. Usually the Doctor dealt with intermediaries like the British Army or UNIT. They would get their marching orders from higher up and we could just assume that their Prime Minister was the same as in the Trueniverse, just as it should be in Toobworld.

But not so once Russell T. Davies got involved and brought the series back from viewer hibernation. (Remember, the events of the TV series continued even though we couldn't see it happen. Doctor Number Eight (played by Paul McGann in the TV movie) may have spent hundreds of years traveling about in the TARDIS before sacrificing that incarnation of himself to bring an end to the Time War. He could have teamed up with earlier incarnations of himself, suffered through the death by old age of Dr. Grace Holloway, and experienced those adventures only mentioned in passing by other Doctors - like being in Bethlehem for the birth of Christ, and getting his great-coat from Janis Joplin.)

RTD just HAD to kill off Tony Blair in "Aliens Of London", install Harriet Jones as the PM by the time of "The Christmas Invasion", and give America a black President who will be killed in 2008. (I'd like to think we'll have a black President elected in 2008, but he won't be in any position to parley with Prime Minister "Harold Saxon" in 2008.)

As for the black President as seen in "Rise Of The Cybermen", he existed in a parallel world and so he doesn't affect the correlation between Earth Prime and Earth Prime-Time.

With the return of the series, Christopher Eccleston as Doctor #9, I went through all the literary versions of yoga and limbo as I employed a warped sense of pretzel logic to splain away discrepancies in the show that clashed with the established "reality" of Toobworld. Basically, I had the TARDIS bouncing back and forth between alternate dimensions from episode to episode in order to shoe-horn 'Doctor Who' into the continuity of the main Toobworld.

But finally I had to just throw my hands up in surrender over the whole mess. I conceded that the Doctor we were watching since the show came back was one who existed in an alternate Toobworld from the one that houses most other shows in the TV Universe. Apparently we lost track of the Earth Prime-Time Doctor after the FOX TV movie.

I never conceded that the Doctor wouldn't be the same guy in the main Toobworld, however; only that certain plot points that came up in the new series wouldn't exist in the version experienced by Earth Prime-Time. So the Doctor of the main Toobworld did look like Christopher Eccleston and now like David Tennant; Rose Tyler was lost to an alternate dimension; the destruction of Big Ben was covered up as a mass hysteria hoax even as it was repaired; and the Battle of Canary Wharf actually took place.
However, Tony Blair never died and Harriet Jones never became Prime Minister. Those events would be only found in Earth Prime-Time/RTD - for want of a better designation. (I gave the time spent by "Harold Saxon" as PM a pass since the Doctor was able to go back in Time and erase most of that scenario from ever happening. Instead, Harold Saxon took over from Tony Blair until he was replaced via force by Gordon Brown, thanks to the Doctor.)

But now it looks like I've found a way to keep everything that happened in 'Doctor Who' since RTD brought it back and still make it jibe with Toobworld. And I owe it all to American writer/producer Kevin Falls, who brought us 'Journeyman' this year.

Unfortunately, the stupid general audience failed to recognize a good show when it didn't see one, and now it's canceled. But that doesn't negate what the series was able to do within its allotted thirteen episodes, and so we can build off of that for the splainin that keeps 'Doctor Who' in the main TV Universe.

Just a quick recap of the premise for 'Journeyman' since not enough people actually watched it - Dan Vasser was a San Francisco newspaper reporter who suddenly found himself bounced back in Time to a point within his own lifetime where he now had the power to change the Past in order to correct the Future.

Yeah, much like 'Quantum Leap', but this show had its own unique life.

In the penultimate episode, "The Hanged Man", Dan accidentally left his digital camera behind in 1984. When he returned to the "Present", he found that everything had changed - technology was so advanced, computer screens could materialize as holographic projections; sheets of paper had video and audio capabilities. Worse yet, his home life was changed so that he no longer had a seven year old son named Zach, but instead a daughter named Caroline.

With the help of his former lover, whom he used to believe was dead (Livia Beale, a time traveler into the future from 1948), Dan was able to go back in Time and erase that timeline, even though it meant the "death" of his daughter. Certain smaller changes were initiated however, so that the world he came back to wasn't the same as before he left the first time. (This happened in every episode, just as it would in 'Quantum Leap'.)

We saw the effects from Dan's digital camera being discovered too soon in that new reality up to the point of Dan's return in the Present. But that timeline stretched to Infinity, or at least to one trillion years into the Future, farther than even the Time Lords had ever gone (according to the events seen in the 'Doctor Who' episode "Utopia"). And so it will be my contention that all of the events from the two-part season finale "The Sound Of Drums" & "Last Of The Time Lords" occurred in this altered timeline. Once Dan and Livia were able to re-establish the true sequence of events, that storyline no longer existed - but it DID happen.

In the new version of events established by Dan's correction of History, "Harold Saxon" (who as we know was really The Master) still would become Prime Minister and probably even launch his attack on the world using the "Toclafane". We'd probably have to concede as much since it's more than likely future episodes of 'Doctor Who' might refer back to it. (As such, he would be an interim PM between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who is seen here at right with a Toclafane.)

We know the Doctor will take care of the revision of this scenario, but the use of Dan Vasser's re-established timeline would erase the black President of the United States (who probably came into power due to the temporal alteration caused by the advancement in technology). This could also be used as the way to remove Harriet Jones from the established line of succession for the Prime Ministers. The events of "Aliens Of London"/"World War Three" and "The Christmas Invasion" would have happened at this point anyway, but now Tony Blair survived. He may still have been away from Number 10 Downing Street, and MP for Flydale North Harriet Jones would have still carried out her adventures with the Doctor versus the Slitheen Clan; but it would be Tony Blair who spearheaded the Guinevere One space project and who faced the Sycorax in their space ship.

And it would be Tony Blair whose political career would soon unravel just by the mention of four little words by the Doctor.......

Again, it doesn't negate the fact that those episodes happened as far as we the viewers are concerned, but it would negate them as having actually happened as far as the residents of Toobworld were concerned.

Hurts, don't it?

Now it's going to occur, I'm almost sure of it, that the Doctor will make reference to specifics of these various adventures that should have been erased by the new timeline. So long it's just the Doctor who brings these subjects up, I think we may be okay. It could be splained away with some technobabble about how his Gallifreyan mind (only partly with human DNA in that brain) is able to stand outside the time stream and see all the variations that might/did occur.

If it turns out to be some other character, like Martha or Donna or Sarah Jane, then I could be bleeped. I'll just have to deal with that when/if the time comes.

Now, this splainin also works to correct a major Zonk to the Toobworld timeline courtesy of 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea'. Although the series was broadcast back in the early sixties, it took place in 1973-74. And on several occasions we saw the President of the United States at that time. It wasn't Nixon or Ford - the writers of 'Voyage' could never have guessed Nixon would re-invent himself and get elected, let alone that he would one day be impeached! - but instead it was Henry Talbot McNeil (played for the most part by Ford Rainey).

A simple matter then to say a time traveler changed the timeline so that now Henry Talbot McNeil still existed, but he was no longer the POTUS - just another politician.

Of course based on comments made in the episode "Hail To The Chief", McNeil had been the Commander-In-Chief since 1969 as he used his position as President to soothe over international concerns back in 1972. So that goes farther back than Dan could travel, since he was born July 6, 1972. Not a problem luckily, as the temporal change to remove McNeil from office and install Nixon as it should have been could have been engineered either by Livia Beale traveling into her own future, or by another time traveler named Evan Patterson, whom Livia and Dan met in the series finale, "Perfidia".

As with the events that would be excised from those various 'Doctor Who' episodes, they still happened, they just no longer exist in the official timeline of Toobworld and only those involved would remember them.

(The revision of the timeline could also splain away why Captain Jack Harkness departed with the TARDIS from within the 'Torchwood' complex in the season-finale "End Of Days", but be seen hopping a lift out in the plaza in the 'Doctor Who' episode "Utopia".)

I've run this theory over a few times since 'Journeyman' ended, and I think it's the best possible splainin which would keep 'Doctor Who' in the main Toobworld. It's too good a show to banish to some alternate dimension!

Let me know what you think. And if you happen to stumble across this blog post thanks to a search engine and the use of relevant terms about 'Doctor Who', feel free to lift it and share it on your own 'Doctor Who'-oriented blog or website; get the word out, eh?

BCnU!
Toby OB

4 comments:

MediumRob said...

Ah. Clearly you've not gone through the great mental hoops necessary to deal with the "great UNIT dating" debate.

Toby said...

One nice thing about Toobworld is taking a cue from the writers - if they ignore something, I can do the same! Bwahahahahaha!

MediumRob said...

Taking cues from the 'writers' of Torchwood for anything is probably a bad idea... ;-)

the Cur family said...

Good work, Toby... and nicely intertwined into one of my new favorite shows, Journeyman... ::sigh:: I think I do this to shows... Firefly, Farscape, Deadwood, Carnivale... the list goes on...

So where does this all leave the Master?