Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Let me begin by saying that I have never understood why so many fans dislike ‘Timelash’. Personally, I really like it. Sure, it is undoubtedly the worst story of the otherwise excellent Season 22, but who cares’

Boasting a superb Doctor, an easily followed plot, a wonderfully hammy performance from Paul Darrow, an android that’s sucked in too much helium, and a quite ridiculous script, it is, in short, ninety minutes of great fun. Not a morbid classic like ‘Revelation of the Daleks’, nor a breathtaking epic like ‘The Two Doctors’, ‘Timelash’ is a disposable little story with a fair amount going for it.

Before I go any further though, I shall briefly outline the plot:

The TARDIS lands on Karfel, a planet ruled by an evil tyrant called the Borad. Now, although a hideously deformed mutant (half Karfelon/half Morlox), he’s also a bit of a randy nirk and soon decides to take Peri for his mate. Not only that, but the Borad also plans to destroy all Karfelons by provoking a war with their neighbours, the Bandrils. The Doctor, however, foils these plans, saves Peri and makes peace. 

Colin Baker (my favourite Doctor) is, as always, absolutely excellent. By the time of ‘Timelash’ (the fifth story of Season 22), the Doctor’s personality is fully stabilised and he really does come across as an articulate, exuberant, slightly bombastic, if rather fallible, eccentrically endearing character, roaming the galaxy doing good and righting wrongs. His performance is faultless, and you certainly get the impression that Baker is an actor whom relishes his role. Nicola Bryant is also quite good as Peri. Although she’s the sort of actress that one can always tell is acting, she imbues Peri with a bubbly enthusiasm which constantly entertains. Not only that, but her little jibes at the Doctor are also amusing - usually serving to prick the characters pomposity and bring him back to reality. Overall, the Doctor and companion team operating in ‘Timelash’ are never less than a pleasure to watch, blending perfectly into the story.

The other characters are a fairly two dimensional bunch. Paul Darrow delivers an amusing performance as Tekker - wringing every ounce of ham from the cheesy and silly script: ‘Save your breath for the Timelash, Doctor - most people depart with a scream.’ David Chandler is also good as a young H G Wells: he is suitably enthusiastic and jolly, if not a tad irritating. Clearly, the Doctor finds him annoying, and the banter between the two provides many a smile. Robert Ashby is fine as the Borad, although I shouldn’t imagine that sitting in a rubber costume looking angry requires much acting skill anyway.

When it comes to special effects, ‘Timelash’ is a mixed bag. The rapid ageing of Renis in episode 1 is actually rather impressive, and the way his brittle body crumples onto ground is really quite disturbing. On the other hand, the Bandrils and Morlox simply look absurd - pathetic puppet creations that, quite honestly, look like something out of ‘Splitting Image’. Mind you, ‘Doctor Who’ has never been a show brimming with fantastic special effects, and cacky ones should not be allowed to detract from the viewer’s overall enjoyment. If anything, I would suggest that the odd crappy effect adds tremendously to the programmes charm. 

Pennant Roberts’ direction is certainly nothing special - but, thankfully, does not detract from the story. In fact, he brings some of the sequences to life really rather well; for example, there is a very effective (if not slightly grotesque) scene in episode 1 in which an old man that is meant to be the Borad turns around to revel a head crammed with wires. Some of the shots are a bit clumsy, however: do we really need long drawn-out shots on a completely unconvincing looking Morlox’ 

I also like Liz Parker’s incidental music - flippantly eerie, it’s perfectly suited to the story.

In conclusion, ‘Timelash’ has it all: silly plot, ridiculous dialogue, absurd villains, tinsel sets - the lot! However, the central performances of Baker and Bryant are excellent and the story zips along, delivering many an unintentional smirk as it goes. This is not serious ‘Doctor Who’. To watch this story and enjoy it, you do need a sense of humour. And, as long as your humour is on stand-by, the much criticised ‘Timelash’ could well turn out to be a pleasant surprise.

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