Timeframe question - Tom Baker Era

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by Procutus, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. Procutus

    Procutus Admiral Admiral

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    OK, this is something I don't recall picking up on back in the PBS days when I first discovered the Baker stories. I had always assumed that when the Doctor was back on Earth in the 'present' it was reflective of the time the show was made; in other words, with Tom as the Doctor, the show's present was in the mid-70s.

    But while watching The Pyramids of Mars last night on DVD, Sarah Jane states not once, but several times that she's from 1980, five years ahead of when PoM was aired. So does that mean that the original first season Hartnell stories were set in 1968? When was the first time that the show's present was established?

    This really threw me a curve, as I recall that in nuWho, the Doctor made references to meeting Rose in 2005, which corresponded to real-time.

    Just curious. It's probably one of those things we're not supposed to think about too hard.

    :devil:
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    This has been a long-standing controversy in DW fandom. At the time they came out, the UNIT stories in both the Third and Fourth Doctor's eras were assumed to take place in that nebulous "near future" that a lot of SF productions are set in, close enough that they can use contemporary fashions and cars and props and such, but with new technologies and sci-fi trappings added. For instance, in the Third Doctor's era you had Britain sending expeditions to the Moon and Mars, you had various technologies beyond what Earth had in the '70s like advanced robots and computers and time-travel experiments, etc. So it was always assumed to be a few years ahead, which is why Sarah gave that 1980 date in "Pyramids of Mars."

    However, a few years later, when they brought back the Brigadier in "Mawdryn Undead" in the Fifth Doctor era, the producers of that time had forgotten about the UNIT dating policy of the past, and claimed that the Brigadier had retired from UNIT in 1977, putting the UNIT stories in roughly real time and creating a contradiction. And it's never been satisfactorily resolved. I think the modern shows and tie-ins are generally agnostic on the UNIT timeframe.

    As for the new series, usually in the Russell T. Davies era, the stories set on Earth were consistently set one year in the future of real time -- starting with "Aliens of London," which came out in 2005 and was set in 2006. I think that Moffat-era "present-day" stories have generally been set in the same year they came out, though.
     
  3. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    Britain already had a female PM in Terror Of The Zygons so it was set alittle in the future, but really earth time was pretty useless on the original series.
     
  4. Procutus

    Procutus Admiral Admiral

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    Did everyone know who she was?

    :lol:


    Thanks to both you and Christopher for your response. Didn't know that bit about the UNIT stories being slightly ahead of real time, so that does explain Sarah Jane's comment.
     
  5. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    "I used to work for UNIT in the 1970s. Or was it the 80s?"

    Seriously though, I think the new series assumes UNIT stories were set in the years they aired, to hell with original intent and continuity concerns. Certainly, Jo Grant's appearance in SJA seems to imply The Green Death did take place in 1973. And in The Snowmen, the London Underground map the Doctor had was taken from 1967, when Web of Fear originally aired.
     
  6. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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  7. Iamnotspock

    Iamnotspock Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Doctor Who Wiki has an article on the UNIT dating controversy.

    Personally, I like to just put any discrepancy like that down to the Time War or the cracks in time. :p As Steven Moffat once said; ""In the end, a television series which embraces both the ideas of parallel universe and the concept of changing time can't have a continuity error - it can't."
     
  8. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    Of course the presense of Kate Stewart messes up the Unit dating thing even more.
     
  9. Sindatur

    Sindatur Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I always just assumed it was airdate, and never worried about the discrepancy between show science and Real World science, since it is a SciFi/Fantasy show, afterall.

    Never noticed the Pyramid of Mars 1980 comment compared to airdate, though.
     
  10. Iamnotspock

    Iamnotspock Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    How so?
     
  11. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    She was a child in Downtime and I remember the thread at Outpost Gallifrey to where he age now was figured out and she's too old somehow. :shrug:
     
  12. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    The Sarah Jane Adventures comes down pretty clearly on the 68(Invasion)-75(Zygons) side thanks to the various references to Sarah's childhood, and how old she was in which years, in the various Trickster episodes. They put her birth at 1950, so Invasion of the Dinosaurs must be 1973-ish (she gives her age as 23 when she's arrested). Of course, that doesn't rule out the possibility that it's then seven years till Pyramids of Mars...
    The new series does have several references suggesting that UNIT was founded in 1968 (eg: President Winters's reference to the UN treaties on alien contact), but they're finessable (and would put Invasion a little later, as UNIT's been watching Vaughn's operations for some time). As is the 1975 Cyberhead in Van Stratten's museum - obviously it's meant as an Invasion reference, but as it's the wrong design of helmet, it could be from an unseen Cyberstory.
    Similarly, the tin in The Snowmen doesn't prove anything either way, just that the Doctor got the tin in 1967. The thing that is certain is that there's 'a good four years' between Web and Invasion, so if Web is 1967 then Invasion is 1971/72 (depending on whether Web is late or early in the year: the Christmas posters on the underground stations show it was November/December when the crisis began), so a few years ahead, though not as many as usually suggested. If Invasion is contemporary, in 1968, then Web has to be set in Winter 63/64!
    And if you take the "1935, more than 40 years ago!" lines in Web of Fear as gospel, then even the 1980 reference from Pyramids is far, far too early!

    No, she was a young mother with an eight year old child in Downtime. Probably late 20s, so she's maybe born around 1967 (so either a baby or a schoolgirl when her father's career takes an unexpected turn), and would be in her mid 40s by Power of Three.
     
  13. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Here's a side question I've always wondered about - how many other Who stories feature a scene like Pyramids of Mars where the Doctor travels forward to see how the world would be if he doesn't intervene?
     
  14. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    None, I think. There was one in the outline for "The Unquiet Dead," but by the time of scripting all we got was the Doctor's promise to Rose that her world could change "like that."
     
  15. Iamnotspock

    Iamnotspock Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Indeed. Check out her Wikia page. There's no discrepancy that I can see.
     
  16. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    As a trivia sidenote, the original Kate Lethbridge Stewart in Downtime and Daemos Rising, Beverly Cressman, is married to the actor who played Douglas Cavendish in them both, Miles Richardson, who is in turn the son of Ian 'Francis Urquhart' Richardson (hence his voiceover role in Daemos Rising). And Kate's son Gordy was played by the son of one-time DWM staff writer Richard Landen.
     
  17. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    Except that if as Sarah Jane said she's from 1980 while the show was set in 1975, Kate would be five years older than that, I think.
     
  18. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    Downtime is very definitely set in 1995 (numerous computer log-in screens are seen, showing 'Hello, So and so, it's April 25th 1995' or whatever), so the dating of Sarah's early stories doesn't have any effect on Kate's age and birth.
    The dating of the 1970s UNIT stories just makes a difference to how long it's been between Sarah getting home and Downtime (you can, btw, just about finesse it so that the K-9 and Company and Pyramids of Mars dates mesh, with K-9 and Company almost immediately after Sarah's return to Earth in Hand of Fear, if you assume that her claim to have been abroad, 'working for Reuters', is actually a cover story for being much, much further abroad. Though that wasn't the intent of the producers at the time).
     
  19. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    Downtime is very definitely set in 1995 (numerous computer log-in screens are seen, showing 'Hello, So and so, it's April 25th 1995' or whatever), so the dating of Sarah's early stories doesn't have any effect on Kate's age and birth.
    The dating of the 1970s UNIT stories just makes a difference to how long it's been between Sarah getting home and Downtime (you can, btw, just about finesse it so that the K-9 and Company and Pyrmaids of Mars dates mesh, with K-9 and Company is almost immediately after Hand of Fear for Sarah, if you assume that her claim to have been abroad, working for Reuters, is actually a cover story for being much, much further abroad. Though that wasn't the intent of the producers at the time, and it would mean that K-9 had been boxed up in her attic for two years before Pyramids!).
     

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