Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Time Meddler - January 2010


  1. I liked this. Then when it got to episode four I loved it.

    The fact that Vicki hears "someone in the living quarters" from the console room suggests that the Tardis isn't actually that big. It stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, she says - but quite how she knows that, I couldn't tell you. Perhaps she's been chatting to the Doctor between adventures. Obviously not paying that much attention, though, given that she's added an S to Susan's original naming.

    While on the cliff-edge, the Monk pulls out a snuff-box and takes snuff! At least, I assume it's snuff and not cocaine, or Tardis Engineer Crack.

    A speciality of episode 2 is the ominous door shot. Here is a door. Moving in closer... closer... OMINOUS! Love the Viking Raider Stock Footage, though.

    Though the Vikings themselves... I must say I was more than a little shocked to see a Viking gang rape. Off-screen, to be sure, but strongly implied by the text. This shows the power of keeping certain scenes away from the camera, as while adults may realise the true horror of the Vikings' actions, as far as the kids in the audience are aware, there's just been a bit of menacing going on.

    The Monk has obviously spent some time in the late 20th century with time management consultants, as he has a very fine ToDo list containing the phrase "Position Atomic Cannon". Frankly, every ToDo list should contain this bullet point from now on.

    Special mention, too, to the episode three cliffhanger. ZOMG! The Monk's got a Tardis! Shortly afterwards it's revealed that his Tardis is better than the Doctor's "That's a Mark IV" "Is that better than yours, Doctor?" And the two time-travellers have an amusing game of Tardis One-Upmanship.

    And of note purely and simply to geeks who bitch about Paul McGann's era: The Monk teases the Doctor about not being able to repair his Camouflage Unit. That's Camouflage Unit, not Chameleon Circuit. IN YOUR FACE, HATERS!

    It's a cracking little story, with a great guest star in Peter Butterworth, and no real weak points at all.

    A lovely little four-parter, and a great end to the second season.

  2. I owe this story a great debt. It was the full First Doctor serial I ever saw when the Beeb broadcast it in 1992. And I loved it. Loved it so much that it made me start buying the Hartnell era, something I had always been nervous about based on previous clips I had seen.

    I still love it. The opening once again shows the great bond between The Doctor and Vicki. And this touching scene is followed by the first sinister and then humourous introduction of the new crew mate, Steven. Lovely interplay between Maureen O'Brien and Peter Purves, topped by Hartnell being wonderfully gruff and bluff. "That's a chair with a panda in it, sheer poetry dear boy".

    This continues after the main story in Saxon England begins, with the line after discovery of a Viking helmet on the beach. "What do you think it is, a space helmet for a cow". Genius!!!!

    The Saxon village is great, with Alethea Charlton absolutely a stand out for the depth she gives Edith. Welcoming to visitors, god - fearing and prepared to defend herself. Her acting after the Viking attack on her is particularly powerful. I can only imagine what a child in 1965 made of it.
    The Vikings are something of a let down. Not because there are only 4 of them as I buy sending a few here and there to gather intelligence. My problem is that they are the least suited to this missionthan any other warrior I've seen. In short, they are idiots. And not well-acted idiots either. The major weakness of the story for me.

    Peter Butterworth is great as The Monk, his sparring with the Doctor giving full reign to Hartnell and he to show their supreme comic timing. Some magnificent looks and bumbles from both.

    The other thing this story has is that it draws you in and every cliffhanger really makes you want to know what comes next. I couldn't wait on broadcast for the next episode. In short, it made me into a kid again. THANKYOU!!!

    From me, not a classic but an excellent 7/10

  3. A word also on Season Two overall, as I did it for Year One. Only three stories this year I enjoy enough to watch outside The Mission. "Dalek Invasion of Earth", "The Crusade", and "The Time Meddler". So not a great year, particularly after the excellence of Season One. Still, onwards to Season Three with high hopes for our new crew member.

  4. Just a second; how did Steven Taylor get on board the Tardis? I thought the “Living Fungus” on Mechanus ate him but no, he escaped and somehow got into the Tardis living quarters before collapsing. Well file this under "another reason The Chase is a load of old rubbish" but didn’t anyone think we ought to have seen that?

    Anyway, this is a fresh, entertaining story that pits the Doctor against an equal for the first time. The Monk is like a mirror image of the Doctor, travelling through time and space making alterations to established history for his own amusement. Not an evil man (well, aside from being willing to wipe out an unsuspecting Viking fleet with an atomic cannon), he is more of a mischievous scamp.

    Steven is a great addition to the regulars. He has a slightly more youthful air than much-missed Ian and Barbara, and strikes an instant and enjoyable rapport with Vicki. This is especially obvious in episode two when Hartnell is off camera (and no doubt off on his hols) for the whole episode, leaving newcomers O’Brien and Purves to carry the show.

    This four-parter reeks of quality. The guest actors are excellent, the sets and costumes look good, there is even convincing use of stock footage. Also the story itself is something we haven’t seen before, a plot to accelerate a race’s development, contradicting the “golden rule” of time travel. As a matter of fact the rules of time travel have been changed forever here. Previously we were told that our travellers couldn’t rewrite history, “not one jot.” However we see here that the Monk’s threat is a clear and present danger to established history and the Doctor must leap to the defence of time itself.

    Butterworth is a delight as the Monk, and he and Hartnell are excellent together. As always Hartnell revels in the comedy scenes, although he is on fire throughout The Time Meddler whether dealing witty put downs to Steven or charming the local ladies.

    A word about Dennis Spooner, his period as script editor may not be the most consistent but I have come to really look forward to the stories written by him. With The Reign of Terror, The Romans and now The Time Meddler Spooner has taken the historical Doctor Who story in new and inventive directions. Bravo!

    Also this is the first full story directed by Douglas Camfield. He brings a lot of pace and energy to his episodes, and we are going to be reading his name on screen for quite some time.

    The Time Meddler is a classic, and a much needed dose of quality Doctor Who after the patchy (to be kind) second series. Roll on series three.

    Better than – The Reign of Terror
    Not as Good as – The Daleks