Doctor Who #941: Taphony and the Time Loop

"My sensors indicate that type of fun is over."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired May 24 2010.

IN THIS ONE... A time entity that looks like a young girl learns the value of friendship.

REVIEW: The series is quite good at getting us into stories quickly, and this one starts with a striking young girl played by Maia Mitchell standing inside a beige Matrix. It's one of those VR prisons, and Gryffen is soon there to break her out of it. We'll eventually learn he was partly responsible for the creation of this "time blank", and as he gets older, he feels guiltier for all the mad science and things, so needed to make things right. Of course, this is K9 the Series, so while you're probably ready to accept the existence of such a creature and all her temporal powers, it also feels the need to sell us a few whoppers. First, that Gryffen, knowing how dangerous she is, shouts down K9 and doesn't send her into the spacetime manipulator right away so she can "have fun". Second, after Gryffen gets turned into an old man (closer to how the character should have been cast, if we're being frank), the idea that his condition will be permanent if he ever has a birthday. WHAT. And finally, that K9 doesn't follow space-time's normal rules just like Taphony... ??? As a time traveler, fine, he can remember the timeline after she leaves and her stay is undone, but that she can't control time around him? Please.

And yet, there's something there, however out of focus. Taphony is inherently watchable (all the women outshine the boys by a mile in this show), and her primitive emotional context allows her to be schooled in the meaning of friendship, self-sacrifice, altruism and kindness. It's not quite as deep as similar explorations in the Sarah Jane Adventures, but it's sweet how Jorjie really is a good friend to her, and how Taphony trying to steal her life ultimately means she must copy those traits as well, and release her from her vampiric grip. (A temporal being needing to "replace" someone to stay in our reality finds its precedent in The Fall of the House of Gryffen, so it's not as random as it seems.)

Taphony's fate seems cruel though. She's not sent "home" per se, because she was somehow "created" by the Department. So they're sending her to an unknown continuum where she "fits", not knowing if she'll be alone for all time, or what. We even see it, and it's a psychedelic starscape. I really wish she'd been given a smile in that moment, just to let the audience and the protagonists off the hook for exiling her there. The character left enough of a mark to deserve better.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium
- Brain dead physics, but a sympathetic guest-star, playing both villain and friend, saves the episode.

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