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Timelink 2 by Jon Preddle

01/06/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Timelink 2: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To Doctor Who Continuity Volume Two in the USA - or Buy Timelink 2: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To Doctor Who Continuity Volume Two in the UK

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Timelink 2: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To Doctor Who Continuity Volume Two by Jon Preddle. pub: Telos. 701 page enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 15.99 (UK), $29.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-84583-005-2).

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If you thought ‘Timelink 1’ was huge, add another couple hundred pages for this one. Author Jon Preddle this time concentrates on showing the ‘Doctor Who’ stories in the right order according to the Time Lord’s own time-line, albeit giving references to places he might have been between televised adventures. In many respects, this should be straight forward because all you have to do is just display the televised order. However, as we all should know, the Doctor has been prone to reference events that haven’t been shown, prior to his arrival in the junkyard in 1963 and at latter times as well. Presumably, a lot of the places the Doctor travels to nothing much happens or rather nothing that could be made into a story of any significance.

Then, of course, one also has to take into consideration just when and where earlier Doctor regenerations were plucked from to aid a more current regeneration and then things can get a little more complicated. With the latter, Preddle has undoubtedly laid down the gauntlet for other Who fans to argue over but his meticulous detailing also points out that there are often very few gaps where this could happen. From my perspective, if these regenerations were pulled and then returned to their own part of the time-line a few seconds later, then there wouldn’t be any time loss and would also account for them not remembering how they helped later so it wouldn’t really matter when they were plucked. Saying that, Preddle makes a good case as to where this might have happened based on various bits of knowledge that are presented.

I should point out that this book isn’t synopsis orientated so not really for beginners. Preddle looks specifically at what information is presented that shows how much time has lapsed and if any dates are given within the show and surprisingly there are lots of these. He also looks at languages that are either learnt by the companions because of the Doctor and/or TARDIS and when aliens or future humans still use Earth-standard measurements verbally or written and historical context to past Earth history. I’m not always sure if the last bit is always useful as, in the first book, Preddle points out that this reality is a parallel universe to our own. With languages though, I tend to go along with my own comment on the first book that are these events being recorded as they happen or being re-enacted on a British TV channel and little touches like that are added to help the viewer who might not be able to understand alien languages. It’s either that or the TARDIS’ telepathic circuit works universally or just a general communication present from the Time Lords for any species who enters into the big wide universe of interstellar travel.

There are the occasional assumptions that Preddle makes that you might contest. One of the first for me is just where did the TARDIS first land in 1963 for its chameleon circuit to make it look like a police box, especially as there are references for it to have functioned normally earlier. Considering we don’t know how many times the Doctor and Susan visited London prior to 1963, that could be a grey area and it probably wasn’t the fault he was repairing at the time. After all, he hasn’t really been bothered what the TARDIS looks like ever since.

Dodo in the first Doctor regeneration story, ‘The Rescue’ makes a point of saying that time travel was possible in her 25th century. Considering that Preddle points out that her space vessel and the rescue ship coming have to have been going faster than the speed of light then I would have thought that it might have reduced time-lag and so relative time would have been kept up which would explain this statement. It would have to have been something of that order or the Time Lords would have had another time travelling species rival. ‘The Ark’ story seems to confirm that humans never mastered time travel. I could speculate that maybe some of the Doctor’s actions ensured that it never happened.

An absence of when Stephen and Dodo left the show seems an odd omission, especially as it would pin-point the dates where they left. For those who can’t remember, this was ‘The Savages’ and ‘The War Machines’ respectively. A minor detail perhaps but it does seem an odd thing to leave out and happened frequently after. Considering that not all of the companions go back to where they came from let alone in the right time, although this is mentioned, it does seem an odd thing to relegate.

The Cybermen planet Mondas or Telos being a companion planet to the Earth is greatly discussed by Preddle but still no wiser as to why it moved and as the Fendahl story points out, it wasn’t the sixth planet. I would be more inclined to speculate that whatever shifted it out of the Solar System (the destruction of Fendahl perhaps?) could very well have contributed to them needing to replace their organic body parts with cybernetic systems.

Something I am ahead of when it comes to watching all the Who stories is that Padmasambhava in ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ was a member of the Doctor’s own people from a chance remark made at the time in the story. The same is also consider for K-ampo in ‘Planet Of The Spiders’ and it was speculated at the time that he and Padmasambhava were the same person as is Azmael in ‘The Twin Dilemma’. If anything, it’s a shame this other Time Lord wasn’t explored further in the series because considering how he’s been at the right place at the right time on these occasions makes him practically the Doctor’s guardian angel.

Preddle also observes the same as me that the current production team are going to have to consider what to do about Salamander, the dictator on Earth in 2012 in the Troughton era story, ‘Enemy Of The World’. Purely speculation but as his earlier regeneration sorted that out, maybe the Doctor is going to concern himself with something else and hope there is some reference made to it next season. Speaking of regenerations, Preddle also has a ponder on why would the Time Lords let the Doctor keep his TARDIS at the beginning of his enforced tenure on Earth with the story ‘Robot’. I would have thought that the most obvious answer was because they knew they would be sending him on missions of their own. Going back to the previous story, ‘The War Games’, I would have thought the War Chief would have used his own TARDIS to transport the people from various Earth histories to the war planet, after all, it certainly had enough room.

There is mention made in the ‘Spearhead From Space’ entry about the tattoo on the Doctor’s arm. Preddle might not know that this is less a Time Lord fixation but something acquired by actor Jon Pertwee from his time in the Navy. You can read too much into such things unless Time Lords have a perchance to make their appearance look like British actors and can get it down to the fine details.

The language aspect continually comes up, especially when there is often a mixture of Earth ‘foreign’ and off-world words used a lot, Preddle forgets how much of a potpourri the English language is. Whether it would extend so that aliens would use it is more debatable unless the mind-set finds it more flexible. Just because some companions don’t recognise some words doesn’t mean too much. After all, we’ve all had times when we can’t pronounce a word let alone know its meaning unless it’s inferred from the sentence.

Likewise, much is also made of the violation of the Blinovitch Limitation Effect that companions should be returned to their own time plus the length of time they’ve been away. I’ve always thought that would produce more complications, like asking where they’ve been and giving unbelievable stories than having a temporal age difference. Speaking of time travel, I would have thought the time machine the Daleks had in ‘The Chase’ being lost was considered a failed experiment until it was attempted again. The reason this comes up under the third Doctor’s reign is because it is also used to track the Daleks’ time travel exploits which can also indicate that some of their actions are not in a linear fashion.

Some of Preddle’s announced guesses are probably no better than mine. I’m not altogether sure if the Time Lords were capable of keeping track of the first regeneration Doctor when he first fled or they might have pre-empted him in ‘The War Games’ let alone have kittens every time he got involved in something that could change the future. The logical argument could be they let him flee knowing he would take the right action. That being true, the wrong actions by the likes of the Monk, Master and Rani would also have a certain temporal symmetry and needed to complete various temporal events let alone the Doctor is the one Time Lord who seems to sort everything out.

Preddle brings up the Doctor’s history of the Daleks when he recited it to Davros and his desire to retrieve the tape because it was accurate. I doubt if Davros would have forgotten the information, assuming it was correct, but neither was the Dalek creator around when all the other Dalek history happened in the Doctor’s time-line up to that point. I would be more inclined to think it was being kept away from the Daleks themselves or it carried too much misinformation that would have it ignored if readily available.

The beacon that the Brigadier summoned the Doctor back to Earth in ‘Terror Of The Zygons’ could have brought back the dying third regeneration Doctor to Earth at the end of ‘Planet Of The Spiders’ without being turned on by a human.

As I reviewed ‘The Brain Of Morbius’ last winter, something was apparent was that the Doctor was really there to sort out the Sisterhood’s eternal flame problem because they didn’t trust the Time Lords. Morbius was just an added complication that the Time Lords didn’t know about.

With all the references to famous people and events the Doctor gives, I can’t help but wonder if a lot of it is hyperbole before he meets the people involved, knowing that, as a time traveller, he is likely to meet them sooner or later. Smoke and mirrors.

Preddle does bring up an interesting point as to why the Time Lords are very forgetful about who the Doctor and Master are. However, considering that very few of them are that interested in study anything outside of Gallifrey then if anyone leaves could be quickly forgotten about until they appear again. They might even arrive shortly after they’d left so no significant time had gone. Even the Doctor thought his own people were very self-centred. A lot is also made of the fact that the Doctor and the Master were at the same school but doesn’t necessarily mean they were contemporaries.

There is some discussion about the K-9 robots and how much knowledge they have. Considering that the MK-1 was connected to the Gallifrey Matrix, I would have thought it would have had plenty of time to download history files.

Then again, as time travellers, I’m not sure the Time Lords have been going for ten million years as they can go anywhere at least once. More oddly, why didn’t they time travel more? If anything of their history, the one element I would like to see covered is what did they do that changed them from intervening publicly but still do it covertly. Preddle points out that there are only one thousand Time Lords at any one time. Now considering that the renegades Doctor, Monk, Master, Rani and even the absent Susan and Romana haven’t been involved in Gallifreyan affairs for the majority of their regeneration lives, does that mean they were replaced in the thousand which might explain why they are rarely remembered?

I’m still not always certain amount the amount of time passed between each of the Doctor’s adventures, more so as Preddle points out the times (sic) when the Doctor says how old he is. Not that I don’t think we haven’t seen all he’s done just the significant number of years he points out. I’ve pointed out that in the TARDIS, its interdimensional properties don’t allow aging but is it like a rusty spring and it catches up when you exit through the doors. As the short-lived companions are not there that long, it’s not something you would notice. With the Time Lords’ long life, it’s only noticeable by their age increasing.

As to Time Lords recognising each other through the regenerations. I’m not convinced that they can detect an ‘aura’ when it might just be as astute as identifying something physiological and mannerisms. Early Time Lords like Omega and Morbius who never met the Doctor before certainly didn’t know who he was but knew he was one of their own.
I hadn’t known that ‘Rani’ is Hindi for queen but is it so unusual that these rebel Time Lords give themselves pretentious superior titles? You would have thought at their schools that this would have been an indication that from their egos that they should never have been given Time Lord status. It does seem a bit odd that after turning cats into monsters that the Rani is exiled from Gallifrey and inflicted on the rest of the universe. Logistically, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Time Lords’ Celestial Intervention Agency recognised that her presence in the time lanes was a matter of history and, like the Master, this had to be fulfilled.

There is a lot of discussion and speculation about the Hand Of Omega here, especially as when did the Doctor get it? I was always puzzled as to why he chose to destroy Skaro, especially as the Daleks had expanded away from their home planet and no idea what had happened to the Thals. This is all rather the opposite of the fourth Doctor regeneration who decided not to destroy the Daleks and comes over as oddly vindictive on a race who probably only has a nominal force on its home planet.

When it comes to the TV movie and whether the Doctor is half-human or not, Preddle gives some interesting arguments as to how it could be true, even for a limited time. Considering it was only mentioned once in the film, I think too much has been made of it and the Master was just ridiculing the Doctor if you apply Occam’s razor.

As to the speculation about the Time War between the Time Lords and Daleks, all there have ever been are hints as to what happened prior to the ninth regeneration. About the only thing I would really contest is the death of all Time Lords. I mean, neither Susan, Romana or other renegade Time Lords like the Monk or Padmasambhava had access to TARDISes to get return home and none of them would be regarded as the one thousand. Neither do I believe that the Doctor stayed on Gallifrey while his televised programmes were off-air and raised another family as he’s just to restless for that.

As to why so many alien species know about the demise of the Time Lords, that’s rather easy to work out as they had access to the whole time stream and the reverberations spread everywhere and some species were more receptive to the news than others. It might also explain why many species had never heard of the Time Lords or considered them legend right back to the Doctor’s first regeneration. They were hardly likely to broadcast their activities.

When things get up to date with the latest regenerations, you would think things would be relatively straight forward. After all, ‘Doctor Who’ is now being written by fans of series who should have an awareness of the time-line and if nothing else, at least understand relative time motion. As Preddle shows with the ninth regeneration, there is little difference and often more complications, especially regarding Rose Tyler’s relative position to her home time.

Something that did make me think with his comments about the story ‘End Of The World’ is how much further events regarding humans is beginning to bunch up. The Doctor’s dismissiveness of one hundred years in the future to Rose as nothing much happened could be a fib or to avoid the fact that he’d been there so much that he didn’t want to run into himself or explain to her why he couldn’t be involved twice at the same time. As a lot of the Doctor’s involvements have put things back the way they were, that and Time Agents like Jack Harkness running around does tend to suggest that when he patches things up or cloud issues in people’s minds about earlier alien invasions of Earth – which wasn’t always world-wide, it’s best not to go too far forward to that event to see what happens next. It does make me wonder that his discussions with the Face Of Boe have more to do with what changes happened that he needs to be aware of. After all, nothing has been revealed about that yet.

I do think the alien skull in Van Statten’s museum is just a fake though. After all, in the Science Museum in London, there is a statue of the Mekon and no one says it’s based off the real Venusian.

When it comes to the Doctor’s ‘other’ daughter, Jenny, cloned from cells from his body in ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’, and why she keeps her own appearance when she regenerates, I didn’t find that unusual. The Master, for most of his regenerations still kept his basic appearance. Considering how many enemies the Doctor has accumulated over his long life, it would be to his advantage not to look too similar each time. Jenny, as a novice, would regenerate in her own image because she didn’t know she could do anything else yet.

While we’re still discussing regenerations, there is no evidence that the Doctor has had his regenerations extended or re-set to zero. If it was that easy to do, then all Time Lords would have been doing it all the time.

This book only touches on the latest regeneration in passing at the end, mostly I suspect because events aren’t all tied down yet.

As you can tell from the details I’ve hit on in this review, there are lots of things that have caught me thinking and there is far more than that here as I’m just picking out some of the highlights. I do think Preddle has caught himself out in some places by not exploring all possibilities. As you can see from some of my comments that I’m offering alternatives that probably make just as much sense so it’s going to leave a lot of debate.

For the Doctor Who fan and, I suspect, the pros, even if you ignore the speculations, there is a wealth of information taken from the series in these two books that are going to get well-thumbed in the coming years that you will need in your collection. You might not read it all the way through like I did but you’re certainly going to feel left out if you don’t own a copy.

GF Willmetts

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