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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 September 2014
The Borad of Karfel is a supposedly benevolent dictator, but runs a surveillance state dominated by androids. Any opponents soon find themselves aged out of existence by a time accelerator or if they're lucky, exiled on a one-way journey into the unknown through the dreaded Timelash.

According to one poll (where it was rated next to last out of 200 stories), `Timelash' has a standing among `Doctor Who' fans almost as horrendous as the Timelash does for the Karfelons. But does either one really deserve their terrible reputation? Can anyone survive the experience? There's only one way to find out ... "Prepare the Timelash!"

As the Doctor and Peri bicker their way through the Vortex in the TARDIS, they become entangled first in the Timelash - a Space/Time corridor to Earth - and then the murky politics of Karfel. Imagine `Julius Caesar', set in space, complete with the intrigue, death and togas. The Doctor is not pleased at getting stuck in a Time Corridor (again), and when this Doctor is displeased, it shows! Colin Baker's portrayal of the Sixth Doctor is certainly different from the Fifth, but very enjoyable and with a great line in insults. ("Microcellaphic apostate!") Why shouldn't a brilliant alien sometimes seem brusque and a touch arrogant? The essential, reliable Doctor is still there under the mannerisms, he'll take any risk to save his companion or a world in peril - in this case he must track down a vital stolen power key before Peri gets eaten by a Morlox beast!

Glen McCoy's script is ambitious, perhaps slightly too ambitious for the budget but why not? Beyond the politics of Karfel, the story is also an extended homage to the works of H.G.Wells plus a few jokey hints of the Bond films and some of this perhaps went over many viewers (including me) at the time. I remember spotting the references to `The Time Machine', `The Invisible Man' and `The War of the Worlds' in 1985 but only now do I realise he also included `The Island of Doctor Moreau' with its grotesque human/animal hybrids, and a clever nod to Wells' satirical take on spiritualism from `Love and Mr. Lewisham' where the hero challenges a fraudulent spiritualist.

There's a large guest cast with generally good performances including four that really stand out:

Maylin Tekker is very memorably played by Paul Darrow in total contrast to the cold, controlled Kerr Avon he played in `Blake's 7'! If the ambience of Karfel is `Julius Caesar', he's playing `Richard III' as Tekker smiles, slimes and schemes his way to the top. Paul Darrow's enjoyment of the role and Tekker's enjoyment of the pursuit of power are both obvious. Not everyone liked the style here, but I think it's great fun - "Save your breath for the Timelash, Doctor. Most people depart with a scream!" Are there no limits to his villainy - or will a better man ever appear from behind the `mask'? Dean Hollingsworth is excellent as all the Borad's sing-song voiced androids (but only one at a time, for obvious reasons) with a cleverly acted, contemporary 1980s `robo-dancing' style.

Down at the far end of the time corridor, the Doctor does find rebel Councillor Vena and the amulet/power key, materialised in the room of a cheery young chap called Herbert (David Chandler), who's on holiday for a spot of fishing in the Highlands of Scotland, 1880. It's another excellent guest performance - he's bubbling with enthusiasm at the idea of time and space travel and desperate for a look in the TARDIS. Naturally, the Doctor refuses with all his usual tact (!) but Herbert stows away and for the rest of the story becomes a wonderful companion for the Doctor, actually superseding Peri with his eager, humorous (and on the Doctor's side, very grudging) partnership.

Back on Karfel, full-scale rebellion has broken out helped by the Doctor, doing some clever things with Kontron crystals taken from the Timelash to shift Time around as easily as only a Time Lord can. Eventually he challenges the Borad, skulking in his dank vault - and what a superb Borad it is from Robert Ashby. Almost hidden under layers of excellent makeup (and also rather hidden by being in this disregarded story), he gives one of the great `voice' performances of classic `Doctor Who'. Surely the way he is introduced to viewers, seated in a chair and filmed in close-up without revealing his face, is a tribute to Bond villain Blofeld? The Borad is seen stroking not a white cat, but his own flipper!, and one of his lines sounds like a nod to Goldfinger. (Goldflipper?) "Choose your next words carefully, Doctor. They could be your last!"

So if there are these very enjoyable performances and witty touches in the script, why does `Timelash' have such a poor reputation that even the DVD insert says apologetically "Timelash isn't all bad"!

The sets and costumes come in for some criticism, but the sets are meant to have matte and lifeless surfaces - the Borad (for all his claims of superiority) has a horror of seeing his own reflection, which, cleverly, is shown to also affect the androids he has programmed as extensions of himself. The costumes are mostly futuristic togas which look fine for `Julius Caesar' in space, but it must be said the mushroom-hatted, fishnet-draped `Gardoliers' don't look great.

The bad reputation is probably explained by the fact that in the two places where parts of this story don't work, they fail quite spectacularly. The one set that for me stood out for all the wrong reasons was the interior of the feared Timelash itself. As the Doctor dangles on a rope (and invisible wires) retrieving Kontron crystals, he's surrounded by silver tinsel blobs stuck on like sea-urchins and hexagonal lumps so obviously polystyrene that bits of it crumble off and float down like snow in the gentle breeze ruffling his hair. Why on earth (or Karfel) wasn't the Timelash portrayed by a `green screen' CSO void filled with swirling background weirdness, echoes of the screams of the exiled and a howling gale (not a gentle breeze) of `Time currents'? It would probably have been cheaper than building the set and certainly far better at convincing us that "He's dangling on the edge of oblivion!"

Peri is sidelined as companion and (by Nicola Bryant's own estimation on the commentary) spends 60% of her time chained up. Peri is not once but twice placed in jeopardy from an unconvincing Morlox creature and even when not tied up she seems unable to run away, though she is only `trapped' against a flat cave wall with miles of floor space to escape into. Nicola Bryant deserved a better characterisation for Peri in this story, and at least a small alcove to do her valiantly professional `trapped and screaming' acting in; the end result would have looked far less silly if Peri was obviously trapped, as it's clear the Morlox can't actually chase anyone - it consists entirely of head and neck.

But please don't let me put you off entering the Timelash, if you watch the odd ropey bits with a tolerant chuckle there's a lot else to enjoy. I haven't even mentioned the mysterious previous visit of the Third Doctor and Jo Grant, or the deadly missile fired by the Bandrils that the Doctor simply blocks with the TARDIS in a "neat trick" he'll "explain one day"! Actually no explanation is needed; everyone knows the TARDIS is *indestructible* - another "neat trick" of Time Lord technology.

Finally, before the curtain falls there are three twists in quick succession; one good, one implausible and one brilliant. I'll award this story four Kontron crystals, because although it's not a classic, it's fun and certainly far better than its awful reputation suggests. It turns out that surviving `Timelash' is easy; just throw yourself in and enjoy the ride! 4*

NOTE: If you don't know the story already, don't read the DVD insert before you watch it and do navigate off the DVD menu quickly to avoid seeing the background clips. Spoilers!

The DVD Special Features are few but good:
The commentary is really enjoyable, well worth listening to; Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Paul Darrow obviously had fun recording it and looking back at making the show and their own performances in it.
`The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' - 25 minute feature considering why `Timelash' turned out as it did, with an excellent set of contributors.
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on 11 July 2014
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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on 7 August 2007
When the booklet that accompanies the DVD claims "Timelash isn't that bad!" you know you're in trouble. When the making of extra merely reels off a list of reasons for why the story was rubbish, rather than discussing the actual making of the serial, you can't be too hopeful.

However Timelash is much better than its reputation would suggest. The story is pretty simplistic but decent enough. The acting isn't too bad except for Tekker, but I don't feel I really need to comment on that. There are some scenes which are so clearly placed for padding, principally the doctors argument with Perri at the end, which serves no other purpose whatsoever. The blue android thing was squeaky and so pretty ineffective as a menacing villain. The design in the serial was also poor, the interior of the Timelash was effective only for its comedy value. The fact that the terrifying Timelash could easily be climbed into ruined the premise f its use as punishment. Also the poor positioning of the prop meant that people had to throw themselves into the Timelash rather than being thrown into it. Colin Baker was only the Doctor for two full seasons and with such a high percentage of his stories falling short of the mark you can see why he was unpopular with the BBC bigwigs, however Baker is a good actor and could have been an excellent doctor, his performance here (excepting the cringeworthy TARDIS scenes) is a highlight, the design of The Borad is also good.

Another massive problem is the glaring plot holes displayed at the end. The explanation of the Borads escape is improbbable and unsatisfactory, and the fact that the doctor decides not to explain how he prevented the bomb shows weakness in the writing.

I have to say although I have managed to reel off a long list of faults with the serial I did enjoy it when I watched it. I have given it a low rating because it is hard to give it more when so many superior stories exist. However it is a budget release and I wouldn't warn people off picking it up for a cheap price. But with Genesis of the Daleks, Earthshock, Spearhead from Space, The Hand of Fear and other classic serials being released for bargain prices maybe you should shy away from this one.
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on 22 November 2015
A painful couple of episodes to get through...... Nevertheless, I will start off with the two things I like:

The Borad is a great villain, largely thanks to the effective make-up and creepy, deep voice.

On a far more minor level, I also quite like the androids in this story, with their high-pitched voices

And as far as I'm concerned, that's it. The rest is just a shocking abomination from the script and wooden performances to the dreadful production values. Peri is used appallingly throughout the story having absolutely nothing to do and Herbert has to go down as one of the most irritating characters in the show's history (the actor coming across as an even more annoying sibling of Matthew Waterhouse.....), a travesty to portray one of Britain's greatest science-fiction writers in such a shameful way.

I feel sorry for Colin Baker being served up this horror, seeing him dangling in the Timelash made me feel severely depressed for him and that people at the BBC must've really hated him. There are numerous other embarrassing moments, I don't think I can bring myself to mention.

It rightly deserves its place as one of the worst serials in the show's history.
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on 17 March 2008
Often regarded as the worst Dr Who story ever made, Timelash is actually not half bad if you're in the right mood for it. The script is actually fairly good, it's just in terms of production that it falls down. The sets are very bland and non-descript, some of the acting is woeful and there's a fair bit of padding and bickering scenes in the TARDIS that just go on and on and on...Paul Darrow's performance as Tekker is a joy to watch - completely hammy and over the top but never, ever boring. Colin Baker is as good as ever while Nicola Bryant is very pleasing on the eye. The main villain, The Borad, is an excellent creation, possessing possibly the most chilling voice ever heard on Dr Who and the make up is outstanding. The extras on this DVD are rather minimal - a 25 minute documentary that makes no bones about the fact that the story is no classic, and a wonderfully entertaining commentary. Timelash is nowhere near as bad as it's reputation. Watch with a few beers and an open mind and you'll probably find yourself really enjoying it.
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on 4 September 2007
As a self-confessed Doctor Who fan for the past twenty five years I am duty bound to be as positive as possible about any story from the programme's long history. Therefore I will not begin this review by carping about production values - it is a well-documented fact that during the mid-1980s Doctor Who received little support from the BBC and by the time this story was produced it was considered to be tired and irrelevant show that needed to be consigned to history - but will instead focus on the positives whilst remaining objective; surely the whole point of this review system.
Accompanied by Peri and a young HG Wells, the Doctor returns to the planet Karfelon, which is now secretly being ruled by the Borad; a scientist horribly mutated into a cross between a human being and a Morlox (the planet's reptilian inhabitants). The Borad intends to provoke a war with Karfelon's neighbours, the Bandrils. In the wake of the conflict, he will start a new race on Karfelon - a race of mutants like himself, of which The Doctor's companion Peri will be the first.
At the time it was made, the Script Editor (Eric Saward) seemed to be aiming to combine political comment with knockabout humour; a combination that tried the patience of most viewers. On top of this the writer, Glen McCoy, was a TV novice and this led to extensive re-writing of the scripts; the resultant 'disjointed' feel to many parts of the story obviously only served to highlight its limitations.
The story is also guilty of being a little too self-referential, something that would never happen nowadays. The third Doctor is referred to as having visited the planet sometime ago (or after!) and a somewhat bizzare portrait of him is unearthed in episode two.
Overall this is clearly not a classic slice of 'Who' but is nonetheless an enjoyable romp with madcap villains, stilted robots, wobbly sets and over-the-top performances. What more could you want?
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2007
This story has the unfortunate reputation as being one of Doctor Who's all-time clunkers. The story was hated by fans after it's transmission in 1985, including myself.

However in the 20 years since I have began to revise this opinion, the story is still no classic but looking at it again through the distance of time I have come to the conclusion that it is nowhere near as bad as the fans once thought.

The story deals with a dictator who resides on the planet Karfel and a group of rebels trying to overthrow him, anyone caught is sent to the Timelash which is a kind of portal to the space/time continuum with random coordinates, in other words they can end up anywhere and anywhen, this action is therefore a death sentence. Throw in elements such as H.G. Wells in person and aspects of his novel The Time Machine, the Loch Ness Monster, lots of tinsel and damsells in distress and you have the making of an enjoyable but slightly camp adventure.

The Doctor is played by the very underated Colin Baker who was usually dismissed as rubbish and second rate by the fans at the time, it is only recently that Doctor Who fans have come to realise just how good Colin actually was in the part and are reasessing his time on the show, the attitudes towards Colin Baker in a way mirrors the attitude to this story.

The worst aspect of the show is without a doubt the contribution of the actor Paul Darrow of Blake's 7 fame, here is someone who is usually consistantly good in just about everything that he does, except this. He hams up the part for all that it's worth and goes over the top on many occasions and is quite honestly painful to watch. Paul has gone on record in saying that he didn't like the story, well maybe not but that's no reason to treat it like a pantomime and why did he take the part in the first place if it wasn't to his taste. He at least does take part in the audio commentary and it will be very interesting to hear his side of the story.

So there we are this is certainly not the best Doctor Who story ever made but it isn't the worst either, this is just a fun filled adventure that does no harm at all and exists simply to fill 90 minutes of time.
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on 15 March 2015
Just have to say this is a very good story despite the flaws!! So dark and Shakespearian and you just wouldn't have that in Doctor Who now!! Love the villain the Borad the makeup is excellent!! Up there with Mason Verger in Hannibal, the sets are obviously BBC television centre!! There have been worse stories, Sylvester McCoys first season in my opinion was the low point!! Recommended!
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on 5 November 2007
Timelash is a very underrated classic Doctor Who story. Among Doctor Who fandom this is regarded as a duff story, but I would have to disagree. The budget may not have been the highest and the plot not the best but it was still a very enjoyable story. I was entertained thouroughly throughout this story and it had a terrific sense of fun. Colin Bakers gives a brilliant performance as the Doctor (as always), Peri was at her least annoying and the supporting cast were good. The monster was very well made and looked brilliant, it was certainly interesting too. If you'r looking for a fun adventure that does not necessarily need a teriffic plot then I'd recommend Timelash.
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on 1 July 2007
I realise this story has got a pretty bad press from some of the fans, but there is a lot in the story to like, from the way 'The Time Machine' has been cleverly updated to a futuristic setting, to the excellent Borad, one of the most underrated Who monsters/villains ever. OK so it isnt perfect and the effects let it down a lot, but I would rather watch this fun and interesting story any day of the week compared to dull bore-a-thons like Time Flight, Meglos, Arc of Infinity etc. If you have never seen it then ignore the naysayers and give it a go, you may be pleasently suprised...
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