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Where Are The Tamperproofs Periods Of Time?: an article by: GF Willmetts.

The Doctor, in several of his regenerations, has insisted that there are several points in Earth’s history where he must not tamper with. Presumably, whatever he does elsewhere leading up to these times must bounce back to fulfil them. This must surely extend to other planets as well, which probably explains why he has to be careful when dealing with the likes of the Daleks and Cybermen. With the former, this would explain why he hasn’t been that worried at stopping the Daleks in various times but had to draw a line on their genesis twice.

As he commented at the time, through the Daleks’ evil, alliances and worlds that might have gone to war against each other didn’t because they had a common enemy. With the first time, the Time Lords themselves as the Celestial Intervention Agency sent the Doctor to Skaro but that might have been a necessity when they discovered he had to be there to do certain manipulations so the Daleks would have some weakness that could be exploited later than wipe them out. The second time, many regenerations later, it was to ensure that the young Davros lived to fulfil his destiny. This did not make either time period tamperproof, just completing the timeline.

Considering that Gallifrey exists in some indeterminate place in time and space and they, themselves, have been invaded from time to time, usually by species who can also time travel, they also have some don’t tamper here sites as well. As such, the Time Lords must have known about their own demise in the Time War but probably knowing, short of temporal censoring, that things might not be final. Even so, you would think they would also have some time points that shouldn’t be tampered with, like their first time machines and, as we have now discovered, having the Doctor arrive and their copying of his regeneration process.

A lot of this is more acknowledging of events that don’t change. In 2040, the Earth is going to be invaded and totally devastated by the Daleks. It is the appearance of the ‘first’ regeneration of the Doctor and his companions that swings the resistance to ridding the planet of these invaders who want the Earth’s core. Whatever regeneration of the Doctor exists in our current time by then mustn’t interfere because, well, we know he doesn’t. However, is it set point in time and if it isn’t then that means his ‘first’ regeneration like his granddaughter, Susan, in an alternative reality if the time period passes uneventful. Granted she is in a relationship with rebel fighter David Campbell and likely to marry him but she is, as far as we know, also a Gallifreyan and would eventually outlive him.

Although there is a possibility Susan could create a TARDIS, surely there must be some expectation that she would one day be rescued or even quietly board the Doctor’s TARDIS further up the timeline and stay out of his or companions way and get off somewhere with better technology to build her own TARDIS. She might do this simply because her own future isn’t dependent on him. Equally, having lived a lifetime with Campbell, she might also have regenerated. [I have to dismiss any Big Finish or otherwise events accounting for her fate simply because the TV events don’t always acknowledge them as kosher to its timeline.]

Time Lords, like the Monk, the Rani and even the Master, have been stranded without their TARDISes. The latter has also been able to have rebuilt or acquired another one. Considering that they have the innate knowledge to build a time and space travelling machine and, unless destroyed, each machine when bonded is capable of eventually locating them. The Doctor has never shown much concern when he or she has been stranded without his/her TARDIS for similar reasons, although his was programmed to track him down eventually. It does raise concerns whether any of them can be stranded in these tamperproof time periods and would they resist temptation of interfering or find something will prevent that happening. Presumably, it has to be something of the latter or how else would the Time Lords know about it.

In broad terms, we know something of the Earth’s own future in ‘The Ark In Space’. Most crucial is when the Earth faced solar flares, its entire population went into hibernation but overslept by several thousand years. You would think of the Doctor’s regenerations would have appeared at least once during this period, realise what was wrong and remedied it, if only because mankind was supposed to be spreading out across the galaxy. Oddly, I don’t think that was contradicted. There might have been colonists out there already and only those who chose to stay hibernating on or around the Earth would have been affected. Avoiding the solar flares and concentrate on their own lives any decision to visit the Earth backwater. As such, it might well be an area of Earth’s history that shouldn’t be tampered with. When you consider the Dalek, Cybermen and other alien attacks on the human colonies, their population would be lower and needed replenishing their genetic stock. However, I doubt if it would be regarded as tamperproof, just a place of inaction.

The Doctor has always been keen on preserving mankind’s place in the universe. Knowing that they will be crucial in various wars and their spread across the galaxy needed to ensure that. You would have to ask why he gave little concern to other alien species who might also be involved. Obviously, that does mean mankind being there was crucial as a collective far more than any one individual. Even so, where are these tamperproof points where he can’t tamper with? That fact that he hasn’t mentioned them could also equal that fact that he hasn’t been to them. Considering how much the Doctor has tampered in his adventures, there must be some things that has to have overlapped into eras that would be tampered when they shouldn’t. Of course, his tampering might make those possible and time ensures that is the limit.

Taking a step back from this, the Time Lords might be the original time-travellers and backed away from it which necessitated the bored Doctor fled and than others went rogue, fulfilling their places in time. The Time Lords could easily have stopped the Master as much as they did with the War Chief but didn’t. When you consider the Doctor was captured after requesting their help and had kept his TARDIS moving at random, you do have to ask about the other rogues because it would have been easier to track them. Then again, the likes of the Master disguising himself might not only been to perpetuate his plans but to conceal himself from the Time Lords as well.

Even so, too many alien races have access to time travel and you would have thought the likes of the Time Agency would have sought to capture the Doctor. As was shown when the tenth regeneration Doctor used Jack Harkness’ time watch, he has a finer control manipulating it than the ex-Time Agent has.

The real problem is distinguishing what untampered areas are in the future? More so, as the Doctor him/herself has only acknowledged one in the past, not whether there are more. We would have to consider places he has avoided or even the TARDIS didn’t go when even when it was randomly travelling.

Equally, where the Doctor has appeared and sought a solution, is he aware that he is putting the timeline back on track or just sorting out a localised problem. He has implied both over the years so it might depend on circumstances. Certainly, as a Time Lord, he has had access to Gallifreyan history books and certainly his TARDIS must have some information in its database even if its never shown him consulting it but self-censored so he/she can’t read their own timeline.

Therefore, we are back to the Time Lords who act as though they don’t interfere with the time-stream but secretly do under the Celestial Intervention Agency, so you do have to ask who they are hiding from? This isn’t necessarily through their secret agency that has manipulated the Doctor, as with visiting the genesis of the Daleks and didn’t disapprove of his decision not to end them. That also implies they knew what would happen and had full or partial access to what he does. Of course, the self-censorship would apply whenever they are involved or on Gallifrey. It should be noted that this self-censorship is not of any time-traveller’s doing but more to do with time itself not allowing them to second-guess their own actions. When you consider this also applies to other rogue Time Lords, not to mention other time-travelling species who are still learning about this limitation, it can look complicated. The fact that the Daleks and the Cybermen are still using time-travel as a means to go to war means they haven’t fully appreciated that and with no or few survivors, no way to appraise their high command and I doubt if there are any history books that they are likely to consult. This is the difference between a minor and a major time incursion but not a tamperproof one. Well, that is unless you’re a slave to either race.

If we can’t work out from what is tamperproof, then maybe we can work back from it can’t be. Considering the number of wars that the Doctor has stopped from escalating or ending, then it can’t be them. The same could be said for particular significant people. The Doctor has been a name-dropper of significant people in Earth’s history and who might have been influenced by his presence. Many of these would be considered crucial.

Perhaps we should look at the fate of Amy and Rory Pond. They’re encounter with a Weeping Angel has Rory Pond sent into the past and Amy’s decision to do so to keep him company forms a paradox that the Doctor knows he can’t penetrate. He knows they died in the past so has some idea of their history. Other companions he’s taken on his travels and left behind also have limited lifetimes so they’re dying at some point is also part of the time-stream. Avoiding a paradox situation has been noted for this. We’ve described it as the grandfather paradox in that if you went back in time and killed your grandfather then how would you have been born? I’ve commented in other articles that time will rectify itself ie someone else will become your grandfather or who you thought was your grandfather wasn’t. Time likes things to be orderly.

Then we have River Song, their daughter who is living her life from the future into the past, cross-connecting with the Doctor along the way in the wrong direction so he meets her near the end of her life first before meeting her younger self. Definitely an anomaly and to maintain his own timeline, the Doctor cannot interfere with her fate or with any of the events that involve them both. As such, River Song has to be considered the main paradox. As the Ponds are her parents they are also part of the paradox. This does tend to suggest that it he now interferes with her timeline, some event will cause a massive collapse. Whether the Doctor was aware of this from the start is debatable but when you consider he watched young Amelia Pond grow up, he must have realised something was up with her timeline and might have been contemplating if he could do anything to change any of the details. Sometimes, even Time Lords have to go along with their own history or at least do what appears to happen but then evade it as with a fixed point in time with ‘The Wedding of River Song’.

Equally, the Doctor can’t send someone else on a rescue mission or even do so to help out other time travellers. As such, the best way to describe time-stream areas as tamperproof is to do with their own timeline except… There’s always those. The Doctor has worked with earlier regenerations to solve a problem several times. Surely that must mess up his own timeline? However, its always acknowledged that his previous regenerations have no memory of their involvement by being put back a second after they were transposed so that is easily resolved. Time, again, has a habit of being tidy. Anything bigger than that with far more repercussions has to be tamperproof.

When you consider that the Doctor has no recollection of his/herself beyond about 13 regenerations ago and only now getting some inkling, she hasn’t been that anxious to find out more, although willing to store the information. As such, it might also be a desire not to get into tamperproof areas or to observe areas earlier in his own timeline unless his/her presence changes things. Afterall, it wouldn’t be his own history he’s affecting but multiple instances across the timeline and he/she wouldn’t want that. Time travellers need to have a lot of responsibility. Whether that will be true in the Doctor’s future remains to be seen.


© GF Willmetts 2023

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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