Fridge: Doctor Who Classic Series


Fridge Brilliance

  • Why would a middle-aged schoolteacher like Ian Chesterton handle fights so well? Given his age, there's a good chance he served in World War II! (If he's the same age as his actor, he turned 18 in 1942). According to the wiki, he was a private in the British Army in 1950, and spent his service in Malaysia. So there's a good chance that he picked up some very useful skills there.
  • It seems hard to imagine that the Doctor and the Master were ever friends, right? But look at the First Doctor - originally the kind of person who'd kill an injured person for slowing him down. That sounds more like a friend of the Master, now doesn't it?
    • Big Finish runs with this idea in the story "Master," a kind of "Human Nature" for the Master. It's the Doctor, not the Master, who commits the first murder. And then Death herself gets involved.
  • State of Decay seems silly at first, with the vampires that look so much like something out of a Hammer Horror film. However, it makes perfect sense - they were originally astronauts from earth, and had deliberately modeled themselves (and the whole set-up of the village and the tower) on their own perception of vampires.
  • Physiognomy is the belief that you can determine someone's personality by looking at their facial features. The Fourth Doctor in Robot, when he looked in the mirror just after regenerating and said, "As for the physiognomy..." At first you think, "He used the wrong word! He should have said physiology!" But he didn't make a mistake. He said exactly what he meant to say. He was looking at his new facial features to try to figure out who he was.
  • Ghost Light. Really, the entire serial is a commentary upon evolution in general, as well as a massive tribute to the era that brought up the theory - the Victorian Era. And if this wasn't enough, the entire story is disguised as a freaking alien invasion told with the tropes of a Victorian-era horror story... and finally, we have a story that also has the companion Ace dealing with her past and moving on with her life, as the entire theme of the story is also about change in general! It's just such a shame that this serial almost doesn't make sense without multiple viewings or seeing the documentary and commentary attached to the DVD release...
  • "Remembrance of the Daleks":
    • There are a crapload of blatant Internal Homage elements in the serial—the presence of the Coal Hill School and Foreman junkyard, Ace finding Susan's book on the French Revolution, and so forth—but there's a marvelously subtle one when Ace, talking to a new friend, expresses confusion over the monetary system because she's in 1963 so it's pre-decimalisation. Susan, in "An Unearthly Child", gives a wrong answer in class because she's forgotten decimalisation hasn't happened yet.
    • At one point Mike Smith is right in the sights of a Dalek that has a direct shot aimed at him — and it misses. Obviously, we can chalk this up to simply a moment of extreme good luck on Mike's part or the Dalek being a very poor shot — except the story later reveals that Mike is a traitor informing on the military's actions to the neo-Nazi group affiliated with one of the Dalek factions. It's possible that the Dalek was under orders to 'make it look convincing' but that Mike, being a valuable source of intelligence, wasn't to be harmed — at least, not until he had outlived his usefulness.
  • A relatively minor one, regarding the Third Doctor. When he's trapped on Earth he comes across as far more of an aristocrat than the grumpy and conniving old man, or the relatively genial hobo who preceded him. It rather fits that when the freedom of "Time" is forcibly taken away from him, he really plays up the "Lord" to compensate.
  • A small but weird point... when one of his companions pointed out that Time Lords look human, he replied by saying that Time Lords came billions of years earlier, so really humans look Time Lord. But is there more to it than that? Before Rassilon, there were all kinds of uber-powerful non-anthropomorphic aliens running around. Then Rassilon shows up and there's all these wars against the Nimon, the Nestene Consciousness, the Great Vampires, etc. Over the course of the series, that's a lot of Sealed Evil in a Can that the Time Lords locked away. Now suddenly most aliens are human-looking, and the Time Lords are in charge but suddenly have a Prime Directive. But they're time travelers. So during their rise to power they fight all these time wars with their rivals. Then once they win, they re-arrange time to suit themselves, making themselves undisputed masters of reality, and making sure that most aliens are basically inferior Time Lord look-alikes. Even the Daleks started out human-looking. Then, once they have history the way they like it, they make it illegal for anyone to meddle in history so that they can keep themselves Number One for eternity. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. This is canon in the Big Finish Expanded Universe.
  • In "The Happiness Patrol", the Doctor defeats a Cold Sniper by talking to him. At first, this seems like he used some kind of psychic powers. However, it was not, it was reverse psychology. The gunman was used to killing from a distance; to picking off abstract forms through his scope without ever thinking of them as people. He'd never had to look someone in the eye while he was killing them, and the Doctor knew it and used that against him. When he was confronted with the fact that he was killing people, he could no longer bring himself to do it, and thus stood down.
  • In the Doctor Who movie the seventh Doctor is forced to land when the escaped Master sabotages his TARDIS. When he steps out of the TARDIS, he ends up in the middle of a gang war and is gunned down on the spot. Remember what was wrong with the TARDIS? The screen said "critical timing malfunction". In other words, bad timing. The reason the Doctor isn't killed every time he first sets his foot on a new planet is because his ship is programmed to have good timing.
    • Also from the McGann movie, when Grace and the Doctor walk into the TARDIS, within moments she understands the concept of the interior and the exterior being in separate dimensions. The Doctor seems surprised by this. But, just before Grace says this, she's rubbing her wrist where she was burned by the Master's...discharge. Conclusion: this was the first sign that the Master was controlling her. And, about a minute later, she's got black eyes and is bashing the Doctor with the neutron ram.
  • A classic series one for y'all; the end of "The Hand of Fear", where the Fourth Doctor leaves Sarah back on Earth rather than taking her to Gallifrey, makes a lot more sense when you remember that the last time the Doctor introduced humans to his fellow Time Lords (albeit unwillingly), their response was to wipe their minds of all the adventures they'd had together and dump them back home where they wouldn't remember him. Upon having to return to Gallifrey, the Doctor didn't want Sarah to suffer the same fate as Jamie and ZoŽ, and so decided to leave her behind. Which adds increased poignancy to their final conversation:
    Sarah: Don't forget me.
    The Doctor: Oh, Sarah. Don't you forget me.
  • The character of ZoŽ Heriot seems like human Zeerust — who would bother training a human to be a walking computer? But when you consider how often advanced computers go insane and attempt to destroy humanity, it makes sense that people would want a human backup, just in case. Judging by what she does to the computer in "The Invasion", it's possible she was engineered as a weapon against advanced computers.
  • The single most brilliant line ever uttered in DW as a throwaway joke has insane levels within it, and was unsurprisingly written by Douglas Adams. When the Doctor explains the TARDIS being "bigger on the inside than the outside" as "dimensionally transcendental."
    • From a canonical viewpoint, this is true, as the inner portions of the TARDIS exist in a different dimension (as he attempts to explain to Leela). Therefore she transcends (overlaps) dimensions.
    • On another note, however...the word "transcendental" also refers to something being beyond its properties. Her internal size transcends that of her outer plasmic shell: literally "Bigger on the inside than the outside"
  • In "Pyramids of Mars", when Sarah sees the vision of Sutekh in the TARDIS it is assumed that this is of the imprisoned Sutekh. But consider that Sutekh is supposed to have lost his powers to influence the outside world while imprisoned. Then consider that in the vision, Sutekh is not wearing his mask, and the TARDIS is going back through time when it occurs: perhaps the vision is of Sutekh *after* he escaped.
  • In "Genesis of the Daleks", the Doctor starts the Time War.
  • The very first episode of which the Daleks appeared, "The Daleks", had some nice irony: despite the Daleks being Nazi parallels, the peaceful race they'd been going to war against since their creation were blond-haired, blue eyed Aryans. Not to mention that the actual Dalek is physically the farthest thing from what the actual Nazis desired...
  • If you assume Time Lords have two hearts in their first incarnation, rather than growing a second one upon regeneration, a line in The Tenth Planet becomes fridge brilliance. When the Doctor is passed out, Ben checks on him and says his pulse is normal. If the Doctor's pulse is normal for a human, one of his hearts must have stopped. No wonder he is so weak for the rest of the serial and dies at the end.
    • In The Edge of Destruction the Doctor collapses(To be fair, so do his companions). Ian checks his heartbeat and states that it is normal. Perhaps one of his hearts stopped due to the TARDIS console electrocuting him?
  • So, why was the Doctor happy to take Jamie aboard the TARDIS when he'd quite recently near-destroyed his friendship with Steven by leaving Anne Chaplet to face the St Bartholemew's Massacre? He wouldn't take Anne because he'd so recently rescued Katarina from another massacre (the fall of Troy), only to see her perish soon after in a future world she couldn't understand. But he then took Dodo instead, only to see her cold nearly wipe out the human race in the far future. He must have reasoned from that that taking companions from any era had risks, so why not an 18th century Highlander he recused from the massacres that followed the Battle of Culloden?
  • Steven and the Doctor are both eager to take Dodo with them in "The Massacre", the Doctor remarking that she reminds him of Susan and Steven remarking that she has the same last name as the girl he befriended in Renaissance France - Anne Chaplet - and could possibly be a descendent of her. Surnames at that time were exclusively passed down patrilinearly, meaning that if Anne had descendants, they would take her husband's name... unless Anne had mothered children out of wedlock. This is something that would be very, very rare, unless Steven had some reason to believe it had happened...
  • The First Doctor's character was originally intended to be a grumpy old man, stubborn and set-in his-ways, but very wise. However, in hindsight, it makes more sense to view him a young man who acts impulsively without thinking, but is very clever. In this light, many of his actions (stealing an antiquated TARDIS that he didn't know how to operate, running away from Gallifrey with his granddaughter, abducting two humans, nearly killing an innocent man with a rock to save himself, nearly getting himself, his granddaughter, and his companions killed from radiation poisoning because he wanted to go exploring, drugging his companions and accusing them of sabotage, threatening to abandon his companions during the French Revolution, and leaving his granddaughter on post-Dalek invasion Earth, to name a few) make more sense: He wasn't a foolish old man; he was acting without thinking. Similarly, he's not wise, but very clever: On both of his multi-Doctor stories, he constantly insults his future incarnations without thinking that he would someday be receiving those insults. Yet in both cases he comes up with the plan to save the day, showing his cleverness.
    • This in fact referenced in story by some of The Doctors later incarnations. Ten once mentioned that his first incarnation was more of a bright young child trying to act mature in an attempt to appear smarter than everyone else.
      • And the child part makes sense because he hadn't regenerated yet.
  • The change in delegates in "The Daleks Master Plan" seems odd, with Zephon turning up late despite apparently having convinced Beaus to join. Considering Mavic Chen claims there have recently been attempts to displace him it makes sense he couldn't leave the Fifth Galaxy for the first meeting.
  • THE ENTIRE SERIES, every adventure, every single incident, the universe, time itself, and the freaking MULTIVERSE being saved. All because Ian and Barbara were suspicious of Susan. If they didn't follow her to the TARDIS, in turn accidentally triggering The Doctor's series of adventures, the Doctor and Susan would probably "still" be in that junkyard having done nothing for the last 50 years. Since the Time War would have likely never happened since the Daleks first discovered the Time Lords through The Doctor.
  • The presence of the Watcher in "Logopolis" makes a lot more sense if you consider how, in "Planet of the Spiders", Cho Gee turned out to be a mental projection from the Doctor's onetime guru, the Time Lord hermit who'd inspired him as a boy. When the Hermit regenerated in the Third Doctor's final episode, his projected self Cho Gee merged with him to assist the process; by the time the next Doctor died, Four had advanced in his own mental skills to the point where he could use the same technique to facilitate a difficult regeneration, albeit with a lot less artistry (hence, the Watcher not looking much like Peter Davidson).
  • A one-off joke in "The War Machines" becomes a bit of Fridge Brilliance thanks to modern Doctor Who. At the start of that serial, the TARDIS arrives in the sixties and the Doctor places an Out of Order sign on the TARDIS to, as he explains to Dodo, prevent anyone from trying to use it as an actual police box. Indeed, exactly that happens as a Funny Background Event as the Doctor is saying this. What turns this into Fridge Brilliance is modern Who's introduction of the Perception Filter, which makes people not notice an object's presence. They've consistently been shown to stop working once someone is aware of it, and to rely on the fact that no one is actively looking for the filtered object in the first place. Obviously, it doesn't come up here because this is decades before the idea ever came about, but at the same time, would a perception filter have even worked in this instance? Police boxes were a fact of life in 1960's London. Were they needed, people such as that policeman would be actively looking for it, possibly allowing them to spot the TARDIS, filter or not. The Out of Order sign suddenly becomes a sign of Genre Savvy from the Doctor rather than just a simple gag.
  • One of the goofier premises for a classic-series episode, that of "The Moonbase", makes a lot more sense in the wake of "Kill the Moon". Even allowing that a device like the Gravitron could influence Earth's weather by manipulating its tides as described, building it on the Moon of all places seems like blatant Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: it's so far away as to make servicing the thing or rotating staff extremely difficult, compared to what an orbital station or automatic satellite would require. So why put the thing on the Moon? Presumably, because after the gravitational disruptions, earthquakes and extreme tides brought about by the original Moon's hatching in 2047, humanity didn't dare let it happen again! So the Gravitron was built (maybe by Torchwood or UNIT) to stabilize any possible variations in the new Moon-egg's gravity; its later use to fiddle with Earth's weather was just a fringe benefit.

Fridge Horror

  • In "The Time Monster", Stu retains his 25 year-old consciousness when he gets superaged into an Octogenerian. Which means that Sgt. Benton also retains his adult consciousness when he gets deaged into a baby! No wonder he won't eat the marmalade sandwiches mashed up in cold tea.
  • The Doctor dropped his teenage granddaughter in a war zone with the first man she fell for and never came back for her. Think about that for a moment. The question of would've happened if things didn't work out with David is only the tip of the iceberg for how horrible this seems if you really stop and think about it for more than two seconds.
    • That's not even close to the worst part of that scenario. Susan is a Time Lady, who as we all know have thirteen lives. The eleventh doctor lived for about 1200 years before that incarnation died of old age, so using basic mathematics (13 x 1200) a Time Lord life-span could last up to 15 THOUSAND YEARS or more. What is Susan going to do when David dies? She'll probably still be in her first body. If the doctor wanted her to live a stable life, leaving her on Earth, where the local intelligent life can't live far past 100 years is quite possibly the worst thing he could have done.
    • That's assuming 1200 years is normal for an incarnation. That seems to be on the high side, especially considering none of his other incarnations (with the possible exception of the first) probably lived for more than a few hundred years.
  • The little girl who was hooked up to the Dalek battle computer in "Remembrance of the Daleks". There is no way that was good for her sanity.
    • Even more Fridge Horror from that same serial— both factions of Daleks have been in the area for quite some time — how many people were made slaves to the Daleks, like the little girl and the teacher from the school? How many people were simply killed outright because they were unlucky enough to cross paths with a Dalek? Also? The area wasn't evacuated until AFTER the first skirmish in the serial, and there are people standing around looking at the commotion when the dead soldiers are discovered. How many civilians got killed when the Daleks started throwing around energy beams? One of the onlookers is a woman with a baby!
      • Even worse still - if the Dalek factions had been in the area for some time, waging war on each other, then they were there when the First Doctor left with Susan, Ian, and Barbara in toe ay back in "An Unearthly Child". Perhaps the First Doctor was watching their civil war and about to intervene, but got sidetracked by the two teachers intruding into his TARDIS, and completely forgot to go back and take care of the situation...for 6 regenerations. Of course, when he first left the junkyard he hadn't learned to become a hero yet either, so maybe the First Doctor wasn't bothered by the Dalek civil war, just...curious.
  • Here's one from the Doctor Who movie ("The Enemy Within"): remember how the Seventh Doctor was begging Grace not to operate? Remember how he "woke up" during surgery? Well, because they have two hearts, Time Lords also have a respiratory bypass system; in other words, any anesthetic you give them isn't going to last very long— and neither are any painkillers...
  • "The Rescue": Just why did Bennett keep Vicki alive and go through his over-complicated masquerade as Koquillion? Fanon has some Squicky answers.
  • It has been stated many times that the Doctor's interference in Genesis of the Daleks started the Time War. But when you think about it, the Doctor is not only to blame for the Time War itself, but also for every other appearence of Daleks not set on Skaro. Remember, before meeting him, the Kaleds believed Skaro to be the only inhabited planet in the universe.
  • In Terror of the Autons, the Master plans to use living plastic to take over the Earth. Although plastic bottles weren't common yet in that era, plastic cups were common, esp. as sippy cups and baby bottles! Crosses with Fridge Brilliance when you realize that attacking Earth by killing children was his plan all along, as he did take over a ''toy factory"! (And Nightmare Fuel for any kids watching the episode!)
    • Crosses over into Adult Fear of the Nightmare Fuel sort when you remember the Master talking about "450,000 people" dying as a result of his plans.
  • The Meddling Monk's plan to alter English history would have created HUGE ripples. It is even doubtful that Vicki would have existed—and she's Cressida. Furthermore, genetic analysis has revealed that the Anglo-Saxons actually assimilated the Celts and Romans of Britain into their culture, so some of these villagers might be descended from Vicki. Ware Reapers.
  • Throughout Pyramids Of Mars, the Doctor makes it absolutely clear that Sutekh is dangerous and must be destroyed at all costs. We only get to see glimpses of what he has done from the ravaged 1980s Earth, the things he makes people do and what the Doctor says, along with the things he makes Scarman do, and the only thing that could defeat him was the might of 740 Osirians, including Horus. Which begs the question: How dangerous is Sutekh at his full power? According to the Doctor, he can't defeat him and the Time Lords cannot defeat him either-which is coming from the race who later waged centuries of warfare against the Daleks! Furthermore, Sutekh would happily kill everything on the planet without a second thought-from reptiles to fish to humans-and he wouldn't stop there. He would wipe out every single existing thing in the universe-stars, planets, etc. He could annihilate the Daleks, crush the Ice Warriors, destroy the Sontarans, wipe out the Cybermen, burn the Autons, kill the Master, make the Silurians extinct and even take on the Great Intelligence (and very likely win.) And if he ever got his hands on a TARDIS, he could make companions or the Doctor himself no longer exist! Worst of all, he would not stop until the universe was completely empty.
    • Worse: given how his own people managed to stop him, Sutekh's powers aren't out of the ordinary for the Osirians, or at the very least they have a sizable fraction of his power. The Osirians, individually, have the power to give incredibly powerful races like the Daleks and Time Lords a hard least. It's a damn mercy that Sutekh is the exception rather than the rule, since united the Osirians would curb-stomp EVERYONE.
  • In Caves of Androzani the Spectrox Toxemia knocks out Peri when she enters the 'slow paralysis of of the nerves' stage. It doesn't knock out the doctor at all. Ok, he's weak and on the floor when he 'dies' but he's awake. Now, we could logically extend this to a lot of other diseases/poisons. Spectrox toxemia weakens and kills you, but it's never actually stated that it causes you a great deal of pain (other than cramps.) What does the doctor experience with all the poisons which causes you more pain than just cramps. Is he awake for the whole time?
  • Here's one from the very first story, An Unearthly Child. The junkyard the Doctor and Susan are staying is owned by I.M. Foreman, which is presumably why Susan goes by the name Foreman. Here's where the horror starts - Susan doesn't seem to have realised that she is posing as I.M. Foreman's grand-daughter and has dragged this poor junkyard merchant into her life. But this is the reason why it's so awful: one night Susan, along with two of her teachers, disappear from their lives, having last been seen at the junkyard. Which means I.M. Foreman has the disappearance of these three people, one of whom claims to be his grand-daughter, placed at his doorstep. It can't have ended well for I.M. Foreman - every time the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara have fun on their travels, spare a thought for this man that they all threw under a bus when they left.
    • Perhaps everyone though the Doctor was I.M. Foreman? Or maybe the real one died a long time ago?
    • There was a Dalek invasion of London just a few days after Ian and Barbara first entered the TARDIS (Remembrance of the Daleks). There would be lots of missing people after that. Most people would assume they were killed by the Daleks.