The series of Doctor Who which restarted in 2005 introduced us, once again, to The Doctor’s famous time machine known as The TARDIS. However the TARDIS seen in the new series appears to differ in several major ways from the one seen in the classic series. The following is a brief examination of what could easily be called The Last TARDIS. An overview of the classic series TARDIS is also available.
TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space (Rose, Smith and Jones).
The exterior of the TARDIS is controlled by the Chameleon Circuit but is currently stuck on the form of a Police Box (Doomsday). The phone attached to the inside of the door does not work (The Empty Child).
The weight of the exterior shell seems to be relatively light, able to be lifted and moved without too much trouble; having been moved by animated Shop Mannequins (number unknown) (Rose), a small team of dwarf sized hospitality assistants (number unknown, possibly with mechanical help) (The End of the World).
The surface of the exterior can be affected by relatively normal objects. Paint sticks to it as per any other surface (Aliens of London), while an arrow fired from a bow can stick into the door (The Shakespeare Code).
The interior dimensions are considerable bigger than the exterior shell would suggest, though even an approximate size of the interior has yet to be determined. So far only two rooms have been seen; The Control Room (Rose) and the TARDIS Wardrobe (The Christmas Invasion), though the interior is bigger than that with the directions from the Control Room to a wardrobe being gives as “first left, second right, third on the left, go straight ahead, under the stairs, past the bins, fifth door on your left.” (The Unquiet Dead). An attic has also been stated to exist (The Shakespeare Code).
Under special circumstances, the interior and exterior dimensions of the TARDIS can be separated. They can be reunited by adding even a small power source to a TARDIS key, wherein the exterior shell will reconstruct itself (Father’s Day).
Readouts are displayed on a screen attached to the central Control Console, which can also serve to display the environment outside of the TARDIS.
With minor tinkering, radar is ‘patched in’ and the TARDIS can look back in time at earlier readings (Aliens of London). He TARDIS is also able to intercept satellite communications, such as TV signals, and relay them to the display screen on the Control Console (Aliens of London).
Power is derived from soaking up energies from Space/Time rifts, landing on such rifts and ‘opening up the engines’ allows the TARDIS to refuel (Boom Town, Utopia). If extra power is required, energy can be absorbed by the TARDIS from such cosmic events as a supernova (Doomsday).
If contact with the Time Vortex or the TARDIS’s native universe is lost, it loses all main power; Emergency power exists, enough to dimly light the control room yet the Control Console is demonstratively completely dead (Rise of the Cybermen).
The TARDIS possesses no conventional weapons as such but is resilient to attacks and damage to a large extent, including exposure to the gravitational forces of a Black Hole with no apparent strain on any systems (The Satan Pit).
In extreme cases, the TARDIS can open its Control Console and expose others to ‘The Heart of the TARDIS’, which seems to possess unquantified abilities – presumably that of regressing persons in time (Boom Town) and direct telepathic contact (The Parting of the Ways).
The TARDIS is highly resistant to having things teleported in or out of it, it takes Time War Dalek level technology to be able to do so, a transmat beam ’15 million times more powerful’ than standard (Bad Wolf).
The interior is resistant to damage, the walls of the Control Room exhibiting no damage from being hit with Dalek firepower (The Parting of the Ways).
The Nestene Consciousness was able to recognize the TARDIS as ‘superior technology’, and that it had links to the Time War, which terrified it.
The Materialisation and Dematerialisation process causes the air to stir to the strength of a notable breeze around where the craft will land/depart from.
Noted systems include; Gravitic anomaliser, Helmic Regulator (Smith and Jones)
The TARDIS projects a telepathic field which automatically translates all spoken and written languages for recognised operators and companions (The End of the World). This field does not function if the operator is incapacitated/near death (The Christmas Invasion) and only works on languages which the TARDIS has knowledge of (The Impossible Planet).
If TARDIS arrival is imminent and someone with a key to the craft is near the landing spot, the key will glow. There is a small switch on the interior door lock which disables a key’s ability to open the TARDIS lock. Linked to this, there is a switch on the Control Console which renders the door un-openable from the outside (Utopia).
There is a phone attached to the Control Console which can interact with telephone networks on Earth (World War Three).
The TARDIS can send out signals which disperse signals sent by others, cancelling them out (World War Three).
There is an internal holographic display system, used for projecting the image of a person which then communicates a pre-recorded message (The Parting of the Ways, Blink).
There are power cells under the Control Console, which assist in regulating power through the ship. If main power is lost, it is possible that these ‘insignificant’ power cells may retain low amounts of power (Rise of the Cybermen).
The TARDIS possesses a tractor beam of some sort, a system able to drag an Earth made rocket out of the gravitational pull/effect of a Black Hole (The Satan Pit).
Noted Differences Between New and Classic (Type 40) TARDIS
The modern TARDIS has only one set of main doors, with no space between the exterior and interior dimensions. The classic version had two sets, an exterior and interior main door and a notable space between the two.
There is no lever on the Control Console which opens the main doors, they are opened only through manual use.
The interior has a completely different design, seemingly a stripped back version of the classic. The interior certainly does not seem as refined and does not fit the style seen in other TARDISes.
The Modern TARDIS possesses no innate defensive force fields capable of stopping an attack (The Parting of the Ways), whereas the Type 40 had two separate systems identified. The addition of an ‘Extrapolator’ device provided the ship with a fully functional force field of unknown upper limits (The Parting of the Ways).
For the purposes of this examination, only TV episodes of the series have been used as a reference. Novels have been ignored, as have any reference books and the like.