The Time Monster
|(Doctor Who Story No. 64, starring Roger Delgado, with Jon Pertwee)
- written by Robert Sloman
- directed by Paul Bernard
- produced by Barry Letts
- music by Dudley Simpson
- 6 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Under the alias Professor Thascalus,
the Master and his university researcher colleagues
Ruth Ingram and Stuart Hyde are using a large
crystal to conduct time experiments, which attract
the attention of the Doctor and UNIT.
Why does each experiment produce greater anomalies?
What is the crystal's connection to
the destruction of Atlantis?
And what sort of creatures and dangers will the
Master let into the world in his quest for power?
DVD Extras include:
- Audio Commentaries by actors
John Levene (Sgt. Benton) and
Susan Penhaligon (Lakis),
producer Barry Letts,
production assistant Marion McDougall,
moderator Toby Hadoke,
and fan writers Graham Duff, Phil Ford, Joe Lidster, and James Moran.
- "Between Now... and Now!" scientific background featurette (24 min.)
with Letts, Katy Manning (Jo Grant),
Richard Franklin (Mike Yates),
and Professor Jim Al Khalili.
- "Restoration Comparison" Before and After featurette (3 min.)
- Photo Gallery
- Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
In-Depth Analysis Review
by Martin Izsak
WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for
those who have already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers,
read the Buyers' Guide version instead.
This is another fun story featuring all six regular cast members
of the Pertwee era - the only time all of them are together outside of season eight.
It might easily have been in contention for
top spot among the season's stories if not for two nagging problems: the Doctor's
heroics grow as impotent as the realisation of the Kronovore "Time Monster"
This story is really all about the villain, however, and Roger Delgado's
Master is at his absolute best in this one. He gets an excellent pair of
characters as foils in the early episodes: Dr. Ruth Ingram (Wanda Moore)
and Stuart Hyde (Ian Collier), who act as pseudo-companions for the rogue
Time Lord and offer the viewers some enjoyable and high-quality scenes.
The Master is superbly motivated this time around by a quest to gain the
power of a kronovore and the means to control it,
and he successfully tackles every obstacle in his path
and rises to the challenges in manners worthy of our attention.
The Master also has his finger on science, physics, archaeology,
and a host of other skills and talents.
Hypnotism still works on some people such as
incoming Cambridge director Dr. Percival. For the
more strong-minded, other tactics are used. Fear and mysticism work on
Krasis, while the Master is also seen to be capable of charming women on
opposite sides of the spectrum - through intellect and respect for the
women's-lib-minded Dr. Ingram, and in a more classically romantic style with
Queen Galleia. Even so, sometimes his manipulative charms don't work at all,
as evidenced by King Dalios and his 537 years of wisdom, completing a good
range of believability for the story as a whole.
Indeed, the Master becomes the primary explorer in the narrative, essentially
taking over the most important function of a lead protagonist in the science
fiction genre. He is fully rounded in this story, and fans of Roger Delgado
should put this one at the top of their Doctor Who wish-lists.
Perhaps unintentionally, Jon Pertwee's Doctor is severely short-changed
by comparison in this adventure.
Episode one's structure is typical of Robert Sloman scripts.
The Doctor is (rather
uncharacteristically) disinterested in the TOMTIT time experiment that
has the attention of every other character, and goes off on his own tangent.
In fact, this disinterest plays out for many topics before TOMTIT takes over,
beginning with a cup of tea offered to him by Jo, followed by some newspaper
reports on Atlantis archaeology. Then the Doctor goes off on his usual chase
through the English country-side, following his lead on the Master, and
only just arriving at the scene of all the action just before the
cliffhanger. Formula by the book.
The Doctor is actually at his most effective right around episode two.
Among the good guys, he alone understands the complete workings of the
TOMTIT time apparatus and the crystal, and after a brief investigation,
he puts all the clues together and solves all the mysteries. His monologue
introducing the Kronovore time monster is key to the unfolding tale. And
he seems to be the only one who knows how to run into and out of a
time-field without getting "stuck".
But he's pretty much a weenie for the rest of the story. He does
nothing for Stuart Hyde, who has to rely on blind chance to have his
time-problem solved. The wine-bottle merry-go-round he makes looks
exceedingly silly and is not a quality use of screen time. Then the Doctor
pretty much spends the rest of the story chasing after the Master in one way
or another, nattering on and on in Doomsayer mode like a broken record.
Again, not a great use of a hero's screen time.
One bonus of this story is its exploration of the interior/exterior
relationships of both Time Lords' TARDISes, and what can happen when the two
machines get wrapped up together too closely. TARDIS interior scenes are
a bit of a rarity in the Jon Pertwee era, so these should be enjoyed when
they are found. The new roundels on the walls are not so hot compared with
what will eventually become standard in Season 15 and onwards, but it looks
nice for this story. The "Battle of the TARDISes" is one of the more
memorable sections of the story that I always enjoy, but Pertwee's Doctor
manages to be so ineffective throughout that he still comes out of it with
a very low rating on the hero meter. At least he and Delgado remain charming
and witty throughout.
The Doctor remains ineffective in Atlantis. Although he earns the
respect of fellow doomsayer King Dalios, Dalios is suddenly deposed with
ridiculous ease. And even though the Doctor and the Minotaur are really
on the same side, trying to protect the great Crystal of Kronos from
power-seekers like the Master, they fight against each other instead
and wind up delivering the crystal to their enemies. No points for
wise and peaceful cooperation there.
Episode Six is far too late in any story for the Doctor to be playing
prisoner, but that's what we get. Meanwhile, Dalios builds up the audience's
expectations that the Doctor will pull off some amazing heroic feat to save
the day. Not so, for the Master gets his prize and escapes, leaving
Atlantis in ruins, while the Doctor is barely freed in time to go chase
after him again and run the broken doomsayer record several more times.
The time-ram idea is pretty stupid, about as spiritually wise as a
manipulative dictator throwing an apocalyptic tantrum when he can't get his
way (and this might not have been so important if Dalios hadn't also
built the Doctor up to be such a wise philosopher either), but even then
the Doctor hasn't got the guts to carry out the time-ram plan, and Jo
has to save the day again, just like in Sloman's previous Who script,
"The Daemons" (story no. 59).
Following that, the Doctor manages to let the Master get
away again, showing up empty handed in front of the disappointed Brigadier.
This story is not Jon Pertwee's Doctor's finest hour by any stretch of the
Of the three Doctor Who stories directed by Paul Bernard,
he does his best work here in this one, where the focus
is more on character and dialogue than action. It is interesting to note
how many effects shots require actors to stand perfectly still while
a TARDIS comes or goes. The kronovore works best when you can't see enough
of it to recognize it as a birdman on wires - when just a wing flashes in
and out of the frame leaving an overlit afterglow flaring on the screen.
In fact, if it had only manifested as the same kind of hungry superimposed
effects blob that appears in the next story, it could have been truly
excellent. Action is still Paul Bernard's weakpoint, as the ridiculous
fight with Darth Vader... er, Dave Prowse's Minotaur can attest to.
The jump-cut effects during the "Face of Kronos" sequence also leave
something to be desired, and the CSO wasn't keyed in as accurately as
they probably would have liked, but the colourful background makes the whole
thing quite surreal and, well, "groovy" as Jo put it. In the end, I like it.
It is with great relief that I welcomed Dudley Simpson's return
to the series in this story. The music is full of interesting bits,
and hits the mood of the story spot on - the piece behind the Doctor's
explanation of a kronovore in episode two is one of my favourites. Most
nostalgic of all are the tracks for the Master that debuted back in
"The Mind of Evil" (story no. 56),
often mixed in with new material to a much more wonderful
effect than was attempted back in
"The Daemons" (story no. 59).
There seem to be some
completely new variations as well, during the bits where Benton and the
Master shuffle around trying to outwit each other. Most memorable is the
Atlantean Fanfare, which might have worked a bit better if it hadn't been
quite so high-pitched.
In the end, if you can excuse a few of the least effective effects,
and the Doctor's pitiable attempt at heroics, the story is a lot of fun -
an enjoyable celebration of the later Pertwee era,
and Roger Delgado's Master in particular.
Season Nine Rankings:
- The Mutants
- Day of the Daleks
- The Curse of Peladon
- The Time Monster
- The Sea Devils
- Bob Baker & Dave Martin
- Louis Marks
- Brian Hayles
- Robert Sloman
- Malcolm Hulke
- Lennie Mayne
- Christopher Barry
- Michael Briant
- Paul Bernard
- Dudley Simpson (The Time Monster)
- Dudley Simpson (The Curse of Peladon)
- Dudley Simpson (Day of the Daleks)
- Malcolm Clarke (The Sea Devils)
- Tristram Cary (The Mutants)
This story is currently available on DVD and VHS video:
|DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
|DVD PAL Region 2
"Myths and Legends"
for North America
for the U.K.
(bundled with "Colony in Space" [story no. 58] in The Master Tin set,
only in the U.K.)
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