Doctor Who - Timelash [DVD]
Back in the day, I used to go to Doctor Who Appreciation Society local meetings. The one following Timelash sticks in my memory primarily because of the way I was treated. The question was asked of me, "What did you think of Timelash?", to which I replied that I enjoyed it. Much scorn was heaped on me and thus began the start of my disaffection with organised fandom.
In retrospect I think all parties in that exchange were wrong. There are parts of Timelash that are enjoyable... just not many of them. Whereas Twin Dilemma is instantly forgettable, Timelash sticks out in the memory both for its good and bad parts.
Plot: It is an interesting idea: H.G. Wells being inspired by the Doctor into writing his stories and it is a shame that more is not made of this. In particular Wells doesn't really spend a lot of time in the presence of some of the inspirational elements in order to be inspired. Other than Wells, the plot seems somewhat formulaic with a hidden dictator who banishes people on a whim, rebels who want to kill the Doctor/Companion and villains who are hoist by their own petard. The plot failings are a major contributor to the dissatisfaction with the whole story. The insertion of Pertwee and Manning into the story seems forced and might have been better with a generic Doctor (as in Twin Dilemma) or someone more familiar to the original viewers - Peter Davison or Patrick Troughton perhaps.
Script: Absolutely terrible! And that is the nicest thing that can be said about it. Of prime concern is the large amount of arguing going on between the leads that does neither of them any favours. It might have been possible to get away with this early in the season and put it down to a Doctor suffering from a bad regeneration, but here it just seems out of place. What is worse it seems poorly acted as if neither of the leads had their heart in it (not surprisingly). The rest of the script is pretty forgettable.
Design: A mixed bag here. The costume design is very good, in particular the Guardoliers and the Android. The set designs are very functional, but not particularly spectacular, though a lot of care seems to have been lavished on Herbert's living room, making it the best of the sets, despite only a brief appearance. The Timelash itself doesn't work, either with the entrance in the main hall or the interior as seen by the Doctor and Herbert. With the exception of the Borad, the monsters just don't work. The Bandrils appear so small on the screen that one is not sure what one is watching. They are just not menacing. In addition their lips don't move in time with their dialogue. The Morlocks suffer an even worse fate - clearly a badly made puppet on someone's arm. It looks like something off of Blue Peter, not Doctor Who, though kudos to Nicola Bryant for acting as though it were totally real. Unfortunately overall the bad and the mundane overwhelm the good and there must be a general thumbs down to the design.
Acting: There are actually some very good performances on show here. David Chandler is delightful, making one wish that he would become a regular (although his annoying optimism might have to be toned down). Jeananne Crowley is very good and contributes to the lovely moment when she walks serenely across a room to cover while everyone else is rushing. Paul Darrow chews the scenery a bit. When he is not channelling Shakespeare he is rather good as a villain and according to the making of his performance was toned down at the insistence of JNT, so I dread to think how it might have been. Others provide good performances and credit should be given to Robert Ashby for making the Borad completely deranged while remaining intelligent. Dean Hollingsworth's Android is also very well done, with his movements, emotionless face and spoken lines coming across very well.
Direction: Pennant Roberts makes the best of a bad lot. There is not much else to say about this that I haven't already mentioned.
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