Monday, October 10, 2005

'The Time Monster' episodes II - VI


Erm, yes. Not quite sure what to make of that. Wasn't quite the total car crash I was expecting, just a bit loopy really. The overlong sequences in Cambridgeshire feature some entirely irrelevant chunks like the whole thing with UNIT and the medieval knight/Roundheads/V1 rocket, given that they play no further part in the story and the Doctor manages to leave in the TARDIS from the place where the convoy is struck - although the apocalyptic scenes following the V1's impact are actually superb. There is almost relentless technobabble, and a load of nonsense 'science' such as Ruth altering some properties of the time machine experiment by "turning the circuit upside down" and the Doctor's wholly barmy contraption made out of a wine bottle, forks, corks and a mug; again, though, the latter is partially redeemed by his delightful explanation that they used to build them in school to jam each other's time experiments! The Kronos creature is abject - passable when blazingly overexposed in its first appearance but still clearly a man in a white jumpsuit flapping his arms about, and later laughable when hanging from wires and whizzing around Atlantis like a demented seagull. Then there are several random elements, like Bessie's dodgy 'superdrive' and the worryingly phallic timefield detector device; Stuart being aged by some unspecified side-effect of the experiments, which still more inexplicably undoes itself shortly afterwards for no particular reason; the luckless Sgt. Benton, dragged along by the Brigadier just before he could go off-duty, successfully sees through the Master's impersonation of Lethbridge-Stewart (a great fun scene) but falls for "the oldest trick of the book" and gets regressed to a toddler - enabling him to finish the story with no clothes on, to the great amusement of his colleagues...

I should probably mention the headspinning scenes where the Doctor manages to materialise his TARDIS both inside and around the Master's one, but the whole sequence is also rendered ultimately irrelevant by the fact that the supposedly tense period when the Doctor is ejected irrevocably into the time-space vortex goes completely flat after Jo retrieves him with no effort whatsoever. The Atlantean scenes, when the story finally arrives there, are actually an improvement on the preceding action and hold together comparatively coherently compared to most of the earlier sequences that had seemed to chase their own tails in search of a point. The plot resolves itself into an average runaround that is augmented nicely by the Master's seduction of Galleia and failure to win over Dalios like the Doctor then does, and the labyrinth scenes are nicely shot although adversely affected by the useless Minotaur, which is so bemused by the Doctor's matador antics it crashes through a wall that just happens to reveal the crystal being sought, destroying all suspense that might have built up. Nice to see future Darth Vader Dave Prowse as the beast, though, neatly presaging his future role by having his head entirely covered up and not giving him a word to say... The Doctor's little story to Jo in the dungeon is lovely, although perhaps not lovely enough to grind the plot to a halt for five minutes to tell it, and Dalios' death moments later seems remarkably apropos of nothing very much. By the way, is there any point at all to the characters of Krasis or Hippias? Admittedly the latter glories in perhaps the worst hairdo I've ever seen, but still... I did like the scene in the two TARDISes, where the Master (Roger Delgado as reliable as ever) successfully calls the Doctor's bluff on destroying them both with a 'time ram' to save the universe - only to be confounded by Jo grabbing the controls herself; the subsequent scene with the female Kronos gives a better sense of the creature's power than any that had gone before, and reinforces the Doctor's humanitarian side when he rescues the Master from eternal torment at the hands of the Chronovore.

All in all, not a total washout then - but perilously close to it at stages. There is a magic moment to cherish at about the 1hr 11mins mark where the Doctor, seated in Bessie, ought to say "Do buck up, Brigadier" - but it comes out very similar yet infinitely ruder...! Oh, and this adventure features the third and final explanation for the destruction (maybe) of Atlantis, only a year after the last and all three within five years. It's possible to resolve all three into a single continuity, but it's tricky...


Episodes watched: 221
Episodes still to watch: 501

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