‘Timelash’ (TV)

‘TIMELASH’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Sixth Doctor and Peri with H.G. Wells, Tekker and the Borad

‘Timelash’ is the fifth and penultimate story in Season 22 of ‘Doctor Who’. It’s considered to be one of the worst ‘Doctor Who’ stories ever made in the classic series, following the likes of ‘Time-Flight’ and ‘The Twin Dilemma’. But in terms of checking out ‘Timelash’ on DVD and Blu-ray, is it really that bad?

Again, it’s a matter of perspective when you think about it. I personally find ‘Timelash’ to be an okay ‘Doctor Who’ story. It’s not great and it could have been better. I guess it’s bound to happen that there’s a worst story in every ‘Doctor Who’ season, and for Colin Baker’s first season, it’s ‘Timelash’.

Now, I always try to be open-minded when it comes to ‘Doctor Who’ stories that have a reputation of being the worst ever made in the series. This is the case in the classic series with ‘Time-Flight’, ‘The Twin Dilemma’ and ‘Timelash’, and in the new TV show with something like ‘Love & Monsters’. 🙂

I always try to find positives and negatives to say about a ‘Doctor Who’ story. Sometimes the ‘Doctor Who’ stories that are considered bad by fans win me over, since certain elements in them are appealing to me. ‘Timelash’ isn’t one of those stories, but there are some good things to say about it.

In the story itself, the Sixth Doctor and Peri are in the TARDIS, debating on where and when they should go next. The Doctor is using large paper-made star-charts to find their way in the universe. Why would the Doctor need paper-made star-charts? The TARDIS computers could have handled that.

The Doctor is about to suggest the Eye of Orion from ‘The Five Doctors’, but Peri puts a stop to that. 😀 Soon, the TARDIS duo are caught in a Kontron tunnel – a time corridor in space – called the Timelash. The Doctor and Peri end up on the planet Karfel. The Doctor has visited the planet before.

Apparently, this is a reference to an unseen ‘Doctor Who’ adventure which featured the Third Doctor and Jo. I found this unusual to discover whilst watching ‘Timelash’. I wondered whether ‘Timelash’ was a sequel to a previous story from the Jon Pertwee era, but this is actually not the case.

There isn’t a ‘Doctor Who’ story in TV form that I know of where the Third Doctor and Jo have visited Karfel. I don’t think there is one in the books and audios of ‘Doctor Who’ (correct me if I’m wrong on this), but I believe it does get referenced in a few stories like the book story called ‘Speed of Flight’. 🙂

I believe Mike Yates was also with Jo and the Third Doctor during their visit to Karfel. 😀 As I understand it, it was producer John Nathan-Turner’s idea to include a reference to the Third Doctor and Jo’s visit to Karfel in ‘Timelash’. It wasn’t script editor Eric Saward’s or writer Glen McCoy’s idea.

I don’t mind the references to Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and Katy Manning’s Jo in the story, since they’re nice little references to them and it adds more to the history of ‘Doctor Who’. I just hope Big Finish are considering a ‘Doctor Who’ story where the Third Doctor, Jo and Mike Yates actually visit Karfel. 🙂

It was nice to see the Third Doctor in an illustration once a wall had been blown up during a fire fight in ‘Part Two’ of the story. I also liked it when Katy Manning as Jo’s face in Katz’s locket was shown in the story. Mind you, how did Peri know who Jo was when asked to identify her photo in that locket?

I mean, I know she seemed to remember the names of the Doctor’s companions in ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ and she seemed to realise who Jamie was in ‘The Two Doctors’. But it’s a bit of a stretch if Peri knew the Doctor’s companions off-by-heart, unless he actually has a photo album of them all.

Anyway, back to the story. It seems that Karfel is a planet on the brink of war. The Karfelons are about to go to war with their neighbours, the Bandrils. This is because the planet Karfel is under the dictatorship of the evil Board. It’s not helped when the power-hungry Maylin Tekker is taking charge.

Will the Doctor be able to find out what’s going on with the Borad and why he wants the planet Karfel destroyed by a seemingly ‘nuclear’ missile so that it can destroy all humanoid life on it? Hopefully, the Doctor can save the day with Peri as well as his new friend H. G. Wells helping out (more later).

‘Timelash’ is a very ambitious ‘Doctor Who’ story and it had a lot going for it. The concepts featured in the story by Glen McCoy are very intriguing. ‘Timelash’ happens to be Glen McCoy’s first and only contribution to the TV series. He would later write the Target novelization of ‘Timelash’ in May 1986.

He also wrote the Short Trip called ‘Dream Devils’ with the Third Doctor for the ‘Short Trips: The Centenarian’ book collection in September 2006. Before ‘Doctor Who’, Glen McCoy wrote two episodes of the soap opera series ‘Angels’. At this point, his writing experience wasn’t all that aplenty.

Glen McCoy is arguably considered to be an inexperienced writer when working on the TV show back in 1984/85. JNT wanted new talent to be included in the writing of ‘Doctor Who’ as opposed to experienced writers like Philip Martin and Robert Holmes. Sadly, that ‘new talent’ tactic backfired. 😐

‘Timelash’ is a two-part 45-minute episode story in Season 22. Yep, we’ve gone back to the two-part 45-minute episode format after having a three-part 45-minute episode format in ‘The Two Doctors’. I’m wondering if three 45-minute episodes works better than two 45-minute episodes in Season 22.

I found ‘The Two Doctors’ a very exciting ‘Doctor Who’ story to watch in Season 22, both on DVD and Blu-ray. Not that the other Season 22 stories were less exciting than that, but I imagine more would be given in longer stories to explain their complexities whilst plot exposition was being given.

Sadly, despite the story’s intriguing concepts featured throughout, there were budgetary problems in getting the story completed and the script was weakly-handled in the process. ‘Timelash’ did suffer in its eventual output, which is a shame, as I can see the potential of this being a good story. 🙂

Heck, if you were to ask Wolfie what he makes of ‘Timelash’, he’ll tell you that he has his own version of the story called ‘Victims of the Timelash’ and has reworked the plot outline and the characters quite a bit. I should do something like that with ‘Time-Fight’ and rework its story structure a bit.

How do I explain how ‘Timelash’ suffered in terms of its eventual output? Well, perhaps it’d be better to begin explaining where Glen McCoy got his inspiration for this ‘Doctor Who’ story. He was inspired by the idea of H. G. Wells meeting the Doctor and getting to travel with him in the TARDIS. 🙂

Now in itself, that is a wonderful premise for a ‘Doctor Who’ story. Wells could have got his inspiration for writing science-fiction novels like ‘The Time Machine’, ‘The War of the Worlds’ and ‘The Invisible Man’ from meeting the Doctor. It’s something that I would find very intriguing indeed.

Mind you, it could be argued that H. G. Wells’ works of literature are what inspired the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series to begin with in the first place from when it started back in 1963. H. G. Wells’ works of literature also influenced other ‘Doctor Who’ stories during the William Hartnell era e.g. ‘The Ark’. 🙂

From watching ‘Timelash’ on DVD and Blu-ray, there are some neat references to Wells’ works of literature, including the books I mentioned. This is demonstrated when the Doctor prepares a trap for the Borad, involving one of the Kontron crystals he collected from the Timelash to be ‘invisible’. 🙂

There’s also mention of the lizard-like Morlox featured in the story, which I believe is a reference to the monstrous subterranean Morlocks featured in ‘The Time Machine’ novel by Wells. I’ve not read H. G. .Wells’ novels yet, but it’s very nice how Glen McCoy includes these references in ‘Timelash’. 🙂

Wells is amazed by the wonders he sees, even though he calls it ‘science…fiction’ at one point, which makes the Doctor frown a bit. 😀 From these aspects alone, you could argue that Glen McCoy had the makings of a decent ‘Doctor Who’ writer, especially when working with script editor Eric Saward.

However, despite the story’s good intentions, things got in the way during the production process. As well as the budgetary and script problems, there were also issues with some of the characters and how the actors played them, particularly with one actor who gave an over-the-top performance.

We’ll get back to him shortly. 😀 It’s also annoying that the story didn’t start with H. G. Wells meeting the Doctor, as we start the story on the planet Karfel before the Doctor goes to Earth to meet Wells. I would have started the story with Wells first before we got to the main action on the planet Karfel.

It would have been nice to see Wells in his cottage in the Highlands of Scotland first and to receive a visit from Vena before he became embroiled with the Doctor and his adventure on the planet Karfel. The Doctor could explain to Wells what had happened on Karfel beforehand in a series of flashbacks.

Sadly, as is, with the story starting on Karfel first, the H. G. Wells aspect of the story seems to be faded into the background. It doesn’t stand out, not helped by the fact that the Doctor doesn’t know who Wells is throughout the story until the very end. He’s simply referred to as ‘Herbert’ in the story.

This is a contrast to when the Doctor would later meet historical figures like Charles Dickens in ‘The Unquiet Dead’, Queen Victoria in ‘Tooth and Claw’, William Shakespeare in ‘The Shakespeare Code’ and Agatha Christie in ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’. He would know who they were when he met them. 🙂

How come the Sixth Doctor didn’t know who H. G. Wells was when he met him at his cottage in Scotland? Then again, the Sixth Doctor has a dismissive nature, but surely wouldn’t it have been better for audience members to know who Wells was before his identity was revealed by the end? 😐

Viewers would’ve just considered Herbert to be a 19th century human who stowed away aboard the Sixth Doctor’s TARDIS and not bat an eyelid, having no knowledge of who Wells was as an historical figure. I know it’s nitpicky on my part, but stories introducing historical figures are better than this. 😦

Incidentally, on a side-note, how did H. G. Wells get into the TARDIS without the Sixth Doctor and Vena noticing? Did he get into the TARDIS before the Doctor and Vena entered it or did he manage to get inside via the backdoor? You know, the one Leela would later mention to Charley in ‘Zagreus’?

I suppose it doesn’t matter because the story never explains that detail anyway. Even when the Doctor demands to know what Herbert is doing in the TARDIS, it’s never revealed how Herbert managed to get in, especially when he’s so absorbed by the wonder of the TARDIS’ massive interior.

Sixth Doctor: “What are you doing here?”
Herbert: “Just look at this place! I can’t believe it! Do you know it’s actually bigger inside…”
Sixth Doctor: “I know.”
Herbert: “…than it is on the outside.”
Sixth Doctor: “I know! I know!”

Reiterating the Sixth Doctor’s dismissive nature, I’m saddened the Doctor didn’t consider Herbert highly enough to be worthy of importance during the adventure. This might be down to the clumsy writing process, but old Sixy tends to find Herbert annoying to have around whereas he’s being helpful.

Despite that, the actor David Chandler delivers a very enjoyable interpretation of H. G. Wells as a young man before he became the great author in later life. David Chandler would later go on to appear in three episodes of ‘The Bill’, playing P.C. Locket between 1991 and 1992, which is very nice.

There were times where I think Herbert became a bit too enthusiastic, especially when he accompanies the Doctor in the TARDIS to a possibility of death involved. But I feel David Chandler played the role reasonably well. It’s easy to see Wells’ interest in the wonders occurring around him.

Another issue that I have with ‘Timelash’ is that Glen McCoy originally planned to put the Daleks into this story. Hence, this is why the Kontron tunnel/time corridor in space called the Timelash is present in the story. After all, the Daleks are well-known for utilising time corridors in ‘Doctor Who’.

When asked to take the Daleks out of his original pitch for ‘Timelash’, Glen obliged. Not that this is a major complaint, since the Daleks would next appear in ‘Revelation of the Daleks’. Mind you, the story becomes less intriguing as a result, especially when you see the dodgy special effects involved.

Yeah, without the Blu-ray CGI effects option, the interior of the Timelash is very unimpressive. It’s all tinsel and foil paper when you look at it and the design could have come out of a pantomime. The Doctor also seems very easily able to get inside the Timelash, without anything terrible to harm him.

Couldn’t the production team have designed the Timelash’s interior a bit better? Couldn’t the Doctor have suffered in pain whilst he was inside the Timelash? Or when he’s inside the Timelash, couldn’t there be a haze on his features to make him look pretty distorted? This does seem to be on the cheap side.

Now with that said, I’ve been able to enjoy ‘Timelash’ more with the new Blu-ray CGI effects option. I love how the time tunnel effects for the Timelash are handled as well as when the Doctor goes into the distorted Timelash rather than the pantomime-like tinsel-looking Timelash with Kontron crystals.

I wonder if the Blu-ray makers took my suggestion to heart or whether they realised that the Timelash interior design looked dodgy and they decided to compensate it with CGI. It doesn’t make the story any better with its clumsy writing involved, but at least it’s an improvement in a big area. 🙂

The direction for this story isn’t that great, I’m afraid. Pennant Roberts is the director of ‘Timelash’. Now, he did some fine directorial work during the Tom Baker era, with stories like ‘The Face of Evil’, ‘The Sun Makers’, ‘The Pirate Planet’ and the original ‘Shada’, although that wasn’t shown in 1979. 😦

Honestly, I think Pennant Roberts is a good ‘Doctor Who’ director for the 1970s, despite the laid-back approach he had. Sadly, his ‘Doctor Who’ work in the 1980s isn’t really his best. As well as ‘Timelash’, he also directed ‘Warriors of the Deep’, which I’m not a fan of whenever I’m watching it.

I find it surprising that Pennant Roberts did fine with directing ‘Doctor Who’ stories in 1970s compared to less so with directing ‘Doctor Who’ stories in the 1980s. Then again, ‘Warriors’ and ‘Timelash’ were probably given lower priority in terms of how much of the budget could be afforded.

There’s also the logistical issues ‘Warriors’ had when it was being made as the first story of Season 21 with Peter Davison’s Doctor. ‘Timelash’ also suffered in term of logistics, since a remount had to be done in order to record a new scene to make up time for ‘Part Two’ which underran (more on this later).

A lot of the story feels flat and unimpressive in terms of its set design. This is especially in Karfel’s brightly-lit rooms like the council chamber and corridors. I guess the production team learnt their lesson in not making ‘Timelash’ the season finale compared to ‘Time-Flight’ and ‘The Twin Dilemma’.

Mind you, the cheap-looking nature of some of the set designs in ‘Timelash’ could have been intentional, as stated by Peri in the story. This is especially when no reflective surfaces are to be found on Karfel, giving us a clue as to what the Borad’s plans are and how they will ultimately fail. 😐

There are a couple of set designs that are pretty impressive though. This includes the darkly-lit cave tunnels that Peri finds herself in and the Borad’s chamber where the Doctor confronts him. I quite like how the production team deliberately made those set designs darkly-lit to give us atmosphere. 🙂

Despite that, even with a couple of set designs to provide atmosphere, it still didn’t make the story exciting enough, especially when it lacked pace where action was required. ‘Timelash’ is a story that didn’t really have the pacy and exciting style ‘The Two Doctors’ and ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ had. 😦

It’s ironic that ‘Timelash’ was sandwiched between two arguably memorable ‘Doctor Who’ stories in Season 22, since it had a lot to live up to. This isn’t the same with ‘Black Orchid’ sandwiched between ‘The Visitation’ and ‘Earthshock’ in Season 19, as I find that story exciting and memorable. 😀

Colin Baker’s performance as the Sixth Doctor is very good in this adventure. Mind you, I did find the Sixth Doctor’s character rather inconsistent at times so far in the TV series. He sometimes shifts from being rude and unfriendly to being kind and compassionate. These inconsistences got on my nerves.

This is especially when you think the Doctor and Peri are becoming firm friends by the end of one story before they became argumentative in the next story. The Sixth Doctor and Peri seemed to be reset as characters in ‘Timelash’ compared to how they behaved by the end of ‘The Two Doctors’. 😐

All of this isn’t Colin Baker’s fault as an actor and it isn’t Nicola Bryant’s fault as an actress. It’s mostly to do with how the writing of these characters is handled. It’s like not enough thought was being put into how these characters were progressing, especially with how 1980s ‘Doctor Who’ was handled. 😦

The times when the Doctor and Peri argued with each other isn’t always done with good reason either. It would’ve been nice if the Doctor and Peri had some nice conversations with each other and they didn’t resort to arguing. Thankfully, the Big Finish audio adventures have made up for this issue.

When I hear the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ featuring Colin Baker’s Doctor and Nicola Bryant’s Peri, I find their relationship has softened and they enjoy being in each other’s company. ‘The Guardians of Prophecy’ and ‘The First Sontarans’ spring to mind. A pity it isn’t in the TV series much.

Despite these issues, I have to say Colin Baker’s Doctor has a way with words, especially when he confronts Paul Darrow’s Tekker in the story. Colin Baker’s Doctor is known for utilising elongated words, since the actor hopes the young viewers will be able to look up those words in a dictionary. 🙂

Sixth Doctor: “You gave me your word, you microcephalic apostate!”

However, the clumsy writing comes into play again when the Doctor expects someone like Herbert to know who Peri is, even though he hasn’t even met her on Karfel yet. 😀 I like how Colin Baker tries to put on a cheery face, despite the number of times he argues with Peri and when he faces his foes.

The Sixth Doctor does become resourceful, especially when he confronts the Borad in his chamber and he outwits him. I did think it a bit extreme when the Doctor taunted Borad that no-one wanted him and he pushed him into the Timelash. Mind you, the Borad was about to commit mass genocide.

Still, I would have ended that scene differently with the Borad willingly falling into the Timelash rather than the Doctor pushing him into it. It’s like when it was initially suggested that Frodo pushed Gollum into the fires of Mount Doom in ‘The Return of the King’ before the writers changed things. 🙂

I also found Nicola Bryant’s performance as Peri equally very good in this adventure. There were times where I felt Peri suffered a lot as a character in this adventure. She tended to be the damsel in distress, especially in ‘Part Two’ when she was nearly sacrificed and merged with a Morlox creature.

She tended to scream a lot and whilst Nicola is a good screamer, it did make Peri’s character less interesting when she became helpless. I would have liked it if Peri was more of an active player, especially with assisting the rebels who were trying to overthrow the Borad on their planet of Karfel.

There were times when Peri had her moments though, especially when she interacted with the Doctor, both in the TARDIS and on Karfel itself. I liked it when Peri was concerned about the Doctor at times and became upset when it seemed he and Herbert had self-sacrificed themselves and died.

Mind you, there was some badly-written dialogue between Peri and the Doctor, especially when they were in the TARDIS. 😐 This was when Colin and Nicola had to do the remount after the story’s initial recording block, and they had to record an extra scene to make ‘Part Two’ not less than 45 minutes.

I know Nicola Bryant wasn’t happy with that extra scene when she recorded it with Colin Baker and this was probably due to the fact that Colin and Nicola didn’t have enough rehearsal time for it. Beforehand, both were asked to attend a ‘Doctor Who’ convention and to perform in a pantomime.

This wasn’t just for the remount scene in the TARDIS, but for other parts of the story too. It would have been better for Colin and Nicola to just focus on the recording of ‘Timelash’ and not to have to perform in a pantomime after doing a ‘Doctor Who’ convention, as it would definitely tire them out.

It’s not helped when in a TARDIS scene in ‘Part One’, the Doctor repeats “Bad?!” to Peri twice before repeating it a third time after a long pause. This thing of the Doctor repeating something Peri said three times in the series isn’t something that caught on, since it’s not in the Big Finish audios a lot. 😐

Unfortunately for Peri, she gets chosen to mate with the Borad against her wishes. This is like another Sharaz Jek who became infatuated with Peri in ‘The Caves of Androzani’. It was tense when Peri got caught in the Borad’s clutches towards the end of ‘Part Two’ and the Doctor was saving her.

Mind you, I wonder how the Borad managed to get into the council chamber without anyone noticing and how did he survive after being aged to death in his chamber? I know it’s to do with cloning, but it seemed to come up at the last minute and out of nowhere whilst I watched the story.

And yes, it’s strange to see Peri not in a skimpy outfit this time. She’s dressed in a blouse and is wearing trousers for a change. I’m not sure if this was Eric Saward’s suggestion when he script-edited the story to give Peri proper clothes to set up ‘Revelation of the Daleks’, but it’s well-earned.

The late Paul Darrow guest stars as the villainous Tekker in the story. Tekker becomes the Maylin, which is like the presidential leader of Karfel, since the previous one called Rennis, played by Neil Hallett, got killed by the Borad. Paul Darrow is very well-known for playing Avon Kerr in ‘Blake’s 7’. 🙂

At the time, John Nathan-Turner was keen to have actors from other sci-fi shows appearing in ‘Doctor Who’. In ‘The Two Doctors’, Jacqueline Pearce (who played Servalan in ‘Blake’s 7’) played Chessene. So here in ‘Timelash’, Paul Darrow plays Tekker and gives an over-the-top performance. 🙂

I’ll get into that more but…yeah JNT probably regretted having ‘Blake’s 7’ actors appearing in ‘Doctor Who’ after Paul Darrow’s appearance in ‘Timelash’, since there’s clearly a lack of ‘Blake’s 7’ actors appearing in the rest of his tenure as producer of the TV show. And this shouldn’t be a surprise here. 😀

This isn’t Paul Darrow’s first association with ‘Doctor Who’ though. He first played Captain Hawkins in ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’. He would later go on to play Guidance, C’rizz’s father in ‘The Next Life’. Honestly, Paul Darrow’s performance in ‘The Next Life’ is way better than what’s in ‘Timelash’.

As you’ve probably gathered, I’m not a big fan of Paul Darrow’s performance as Tekker in ‘Timelash’. It does have its entertainment value and I know Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding enjoyed him in the ‘Behind the Sofa’ item. But at times, Paul Darrow’s performance could be cringy.

Paul Darrow decided to base his performance on Laurence Olivier’s portrayal of Richard III. I’ve not seen Laurence Olivier’s performance of Richard III yet, but I know Paul Darrow got into trouble with producer John Nathan-Turner and he was told to tone down his performance whilst playing Tekker. 🙂

It’s not really helped when Paul Darrow had clumsy lines of dialogue to say in the story. I know he should have played it straight, but it’s hard not to get a laugh out of it. How could anyone not give hammy performance like Paul Darrow gave us when he had clumsy lines of dialogue to say in the story?

Tekker: “The stories I’ve heard about you. The great Doctor, all knowing and all powerful. You’re about as powerful as a burnt-out android.”

With these things said, I don’t understand why Tekker is being so mean and ruthless in the story. He often comes across as a jerk at times. Maybe it’s explained in the Target novelization, but there’s not enough background given (if any) on why Tekker is so ruthless and why he seems loyal to the Borad.

It’s only at the last moment that Tekker decides to go against the Borad once he hears of his ugly plans to wipe out all mammalian life on Karfel. He seems dignified momentarily before he gets aged to death in an instant by the Borad’s death-ray. It’s a pity Tekker didn’t see that death-ray coming. 😀

Tekker: “You will not destroy my people. I am the Maylin now. I will not let you.”
Borad: “Idiot.”
The Borad zaps Tekker with his death ray.

Speaking of which, the Borad is an impressive ‘Doctor Who’ villain compared to Tekker. Robert Ashby who plays him is excellent in the story. For a while, we don’t see him throughout ‘Part One’. We only hear his voice and it’s quite a menacing voice, especially when he’s sitting in his chamber. 🙂

When we do see him in ‘Part Two’, he looks grotesque and creepy. The Borad is like a Fuzor (‘Beast Wars’ reference)-mix of a Karfelon and a Morlox. He’s like a half-man, half-animal. I’m not sure if the Borad is a character who appears in one of H. G. Wells’ novels, apart from the Morlocks’ influence, but would it be a surprise?

The make-up for the Borad works reasonably well, especially when the deep low voice provided by Robert Ashby works to its advantage. I agree that you don’t have to be loud and shouty when you have great power and are evil. It’s often the quieter villains that are very effective in any storytelling.

It was very interesting to see how the Borad interacted with the Doctor and how he revealed his plans to him. Apparently, the Borad was someone the Doctor knew from his previous visit to Karfel and before he became fused with a Morlox. That someone went by the original name of Megelen. 😐

It’s interesting that the name Megelen was mentioned only once in the story and that the Doctor was able to recognise him despite his ‘two-faced’ appearance. Incidentally, the name Megelen is an anagram of Mengele, the last name of the really notorious Josef Mengele, who was one of the Nazis in World War II.

Gee, you learn something new every day. 😀 On Karfel, the Borad has a double identity with its people. When people see him on a view-screen, they see Denis Carey as the older and pleasant-looking man appearance of the Borad that covers for Robert Ashby’s rather disfigured appearance. 🙂

It was nice to see Denis Carey in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. He played Professor Chronotis in the original version of ‘Shada’ as well as the Keeper in ‘The Keeper of Traken’. Well, at least Denis Carey got to appear in a Pennant Roberts-directed ‘Doctor Who’ story that was finished and not cancelled. 🙂

Mind you, I’m not sure why Denis Carey was particularly chosen to cover for Robert Ashby’s Borad in the story. Wouldn’t it have been interesting for people to see the Borad looking like Robert Ashby before he became fused with a Morlox. Then again, people could have recognised Mengele’s face. 😐

It’s interesting how the Borad’s fate seems to have turned out. Once he was pushed into the Timelash by the Doctor, it’s suggested he may possibly become the Loch Ness monster in the Highlands of Scotland. Hmm. The Zygons’ plans in ‘Terror of the Zygons’ could have been different. 🙂

Zygon: “It’s time to unleash our Skarasen into the waters of what the humans call the Loch Ness.”
Borad: (clears throat) “Or…you could just use me.”
Zygon: (thinks) “Hmm.”

The story also features Eric Deacon as Mykros and Jeananne Crowley as Vena, Maylin Renis’ daughter. I like how these two are portrayed as a couple engaged to be married on the planet Karfel, especially when they become concerned about the well-being of the planet under the Borad’s reign.

I liked Vena’s interaction with the young H. G. Wells in the story. There’s also David Ashton as Kendron. David Ashton would later go on to play Harold Xavier in an episode of Series 1 of ‘Monarch of the Glen’. He was also in a Series 7 episode of the original ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ TV show.

Sadly, Kendron gets killed in ‘Timelash’. 😦 There’s also Peter Robert Scott as Brunner, who seems quite a nasty sort when he’s loyal to Tekker and he oversees that Peri gets captured in a corridor when he gives her a tour of the Karfelon citadel. It’s probably just as well that he fell in the Timelash.

There’s Tracy Louise Ward as Katz and Dicken Ashworth as Sezon, a couple of rebels that Peri meets in some caves. Apparently, Tracy Louise Ward is a British duchess who did acting roles back in the 1980s. I found this intriguing to discover from Colin Baker when hearing the DVD audio commentary.

The story also features Christine Kavanagh as Aram, one of the rebels who is sadly killed off early in ‘Part One’ of the story. I’ve also heard Christine Kavanagh in the Big Finish audio adaptation of ‘Cold Fusion’ where she played Patience. And she has been in an ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ episode. 🙂

Another rebel who sadly gets killed off early in ‘Part One’ of the story is Steven Mackintosh as Gazak. I’ve seen Steven Mackintosh in the 1998 BBC production of ‘Our Mutual Friend’ and he’s been in ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’. It was amazing to see Steven appear in this and be so young-looking.

And there’s Martin Gower as Tyheer, one of the Karfelon council members who decides to join Aram and Gazak in their rebellion. Only to back out and be a crawler when about to sent into the Timelash. Yeah, I didn’t lose that much sleep over Tyheer’s fate compared to how Aram and Gazak ended up.

Martin Gower also voices the Bandril Ambassador in the story. Oh boy! The Bandrils! They are an embarrassment! Thankfully, we only see one Bandril and he’s on the viewscreen in a few scenes. But the Bandril Ambassador does look pathetic and cheaply put-together, and has a dreadful eerie voice.

The voice and the look of the Bandril Ambassador are so laughable and you can’t take things seriously whenever you see the Bandril Ambassador on DVD/Blu-ray. Even Peter Davison found it laughable in the ‘Behind the Sofa’ item. How come they’re one of the Eleventh Doctor’s top five enemies according to ‘Babblesphere’?

The Eleventh Doctor must have had an off-day! And there’s Dean Hollingworth as the sing-song Karfelon android. Dean Hollingsworth would later play the android bus conductor in ‘The Greatest Show In The Galaxy’. Let’ say his android in ‘Greatest Show’ is way better than the one in ‘Timelash’.

The Karfelon android is another thing that got on my nerves when watching this story. I know Sylvester McCoy, Wendy Padbury and Sarah Sutton made fun of it in the ‘Behind the Sofa’ item and that’s because it tended to speak in a sing-song voice that was pretty grating whenever you see and hear him.

I don’t know why an android like that would need to talk like that and it didn’t do much apart from look intimidating and being strong, such as grabbing the Doctor and about to push him into the Timelash at the end of ‘Part One’. When it fell right into the Timelash, I thought it was gone for good.

Imagine my disappointment when I saw that the Borad had another android to serve him in his chamber. Cursed android duplicates! 😀 It’s interesting how it got revealed that the Doctor had sent the android back in time in ‘Part Two’ to meet Peri, Katz and Sezon in ‘Part One’. Quite clever. 🙂

James Richardson plays one of the guardoliers/security guards on the planet Karfel in the story. I must say, I found the Karfelon security guards quite unimpressive when I watched them in this story. They look like beekeepers with guns. Perhaps they can help Goronwy in ‘Delta and the Bannermen’. 😀

The original DVD special features were as follows. There was the making-of documentary called ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, featuring behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews. There was a photo gallery of the story and a ‘coming soon’ DVD trailer for the ‘Tegan Tales’ DVD box set (‘Time-Flight’ and ‘Arc of Infinity’) with Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding (which is now included on Disc 8 of the Season 19 Blu-ray box set). There was a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story and an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There were audio options, including a mono sound audio mix option for the story and an audio commentary with Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Paul Darrow. There was also an Easter Egg to look out for on the DVD via the main menu, which happened to be BBC continuity announcements of the story.

On Disc 7 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 22’ Blu-ray, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ making-of documentary, the mono sound audio mix option and the DVD audio commentary can be found on there. The photo gallery and the info-text commentary option have been updated for 2022 on the Blu-ray. The BBC continuity announcements of the story have been updated into the BBC trailers and continuity announcements of the story on Blu-ray.

The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Timelash’ with Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri) and Terry Molloy (Davros) as well as Peter Davison (The Fifth Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) and Janet Fielding (Tegan) as well as Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor) and Wendy Padbury (Zoe). There’s also the ‘All’s Wells That Ends Wells’ featurette that focuses on H.G. Wells and ‘Doctor Who’ (taken from ‘The Ark’ DVD). There’s the ‘Nicola Bryant: In Conversation’ interview conducted by Matthew Sweet, studio footage of the remount recording of ‘Timelash’, and the ‘Was ‘Doctor Who’ Rubbish?’ featurette (taken from ‘The Three Doctors’ 2-disc Special Edition DVD). There’s also the updated CGI effects option for the story to enjoy.

On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of ‘Timelash’, there are production documents; and scripts for the story, including two rehearsal scripts, two camera scripts and one camera studio block.

‘Timelash’ is okay as a ‘Doctor Who’ story, but it’s definitely not great. Things could have been better with the writing and the production values, as it clearly shows that there were problems, especially with budget. This is quite an average story in the Colin Baker era, despite some intriguing ideas in it.

It’s a shame, as I like the idea of H. G. Wells meeting the Doctor and having adventures in the TARDIS. It would have been fascinating had things been done differently. Thankfully, the CGI effects option on the ‘Timelash’ Blu-ray makes the story better to cover the dodgy-looking pantomime interior of the Timelash. 🙂

‘Timelash’ rating – 5/10


The previous story

For the Sixth Doctor was

  • ‘The Stars Our Contamination’ (ST)

For Peri was

  • ‘The Stars Our Contamination’ (ST)
The next story

For the Sixth Doctor is

  • ‘Year of the Pig’ (Audio)

For Peri is

  • ‘Year of the Pig’ (Audio)
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4 thoughts on “‘Timelash’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007

    Good review Tim, there’s some good ideas in this story but there badly handled & it’s obvious the writer has no experience in sci-fi, Paul Darrows performance is cringeworthy as he doesn’t as much chew the scenery but consume it.

    The Borad make ups impressive but the budgets dried up & the whole production looks cheap, 5/10 a fair score for this underwhelming adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Yeah it is a shame about ‘Timelash’. Glen McCoy had some good ideas for this ‘Doctor Who’ story but they weren’t that well-developed and excecuted and it’s clear he was inexperienced as a writer. I hope his Target novelization is an improvement on this TV story.

      I could tolerate Paul Darrow’s performance to a certain point. But it’s clear from watching it again that he went over the top whereas he didn’t need to. He could’ve been menacing and intimidating, but he just came across as….not that.

      Yeah the Broad make up is pretty good and it’s such a shame the rest of the story doesn’t reflect that in terms of budget. Glad you agree with my 5/10 rating for this adventure. It’s lower than how I’ve rated ‘The Twin Dilemma’.

      Many thanks for your comments, Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

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  2. Wolfie

    It’s always difficult talking about a story that didn’t quite make it. “Timelash” was beset by a lot of production problems — ranging from overstrained actors to a lacklustre budget — but where it really hurts is the script. Everything of consequence can be whittled down to a steady 30-minute episode.

    So, what does work? The Kontron crystal lash-up with the Doctor as the Invisible Man works brilliantly. It’s a great set-piece that evokes the experimental ingenuity of how the Hartnell era initially handled time travel. Robert Ashby’s Borad is gruesome in make-up and his subdued, almost earnest performance sits comfortably alongside Nabil Shaban’s liltingly excellent Sil and John Stratton’s boisterous Shockeye. We do well for truly memorable villains this season. The idea of a story with H.G. Wells is great. “The Time Machine” would rear its head as an influence again for the status quo of Ravolox in “The Mysterious Planet” (a ruined Earth divided into underground dwellers and tribalist surface dwellers). Karfel as a planet that’s inadvertently taken aboard the Doctor as a folk hero is also splendid (later to be nicely inverted with “The Sandman”).

    Where does it fall apart? Well… I’d say the production values, but we’ve honestly dealt with this demon before. I think the main problem with “Timelash” was that it forgot that “Doctor Who” is a two-hander. The Doctor and their companion(s). Both are equally as valuable in telling a story.

    I just got the opportunity to read the Blu-ray Collection’s production pamphlet the other day and Nicola Bryant talks about how the script felt as though it’d come from a 1964 production, not a 1984 one. It’s tough to say, but thinking back to some of the worst instances of the “screaming helpless assistant” from ’64… I think “Timelash” comes out the worst for it. Each 60s story gives their female co-stars the opportunity to effect some kind of change on the story. Their presence, in the end, matters a great deal. “Timelash”, unfortunately, would function more or less without Peri’s presence and that’s a terrible shame. The script doesn’t just put the Doctor/companion dynamic in reverse, it slams it through a brick wall straight into a river. Even talking exclusively of the Sixth Doctor and Peri — their bickering here feels far more egregious than even “The Twin Dilemma” because… it’s not really about anything here (whereas “Twin” was at least about the regeneration).

    All involved had earned, and did, quite a lot better. With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps a tale closer to “The Horror of Fang Rock” and its pared-back locale would have soothed the production woes on “Timelash”? I wouldn’t have said no to a 1985 answer to John Carpenter’s “The Fog”…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Wolfie,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on ‘Timelash’. Interesting how you note that Nicola Bryant commented about this story being more like a 1960s ‘Doctor Who’ story than an 1980s story. Also interesting how you note that Peri could have easily been taken out of this story, due to the limited amount of things she does and how her bickering with the Sixth Doctor doesn’t have a purpose compared to when there was a purpose in ‘The Twin Dilemma’ over the Doctor’s regeneration.

      It’s a shame, as ‘Timelash’ does have some good ideas in it that are poorly executed by the production values and some of the hammy acting (Paul Darrow in particular). I hope to check out the ‘Timelash’ novelization/audiobook someday to find out how Glen McCoy does things differently in prose compared to TV for this story.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

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