Timestamp Special #7: Dimensions in Time

Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time
(2 episodes, 1993)

 

Celebrating thirty years.

Starting off with a little backstory, this was shown as part of the 1993 Children in Need telethon over two nights. Both parts were bracketed by host Noel Edmonds, and the first part involved a short intro sketch with Jon Pertwee in character as the Doctor. Sadly, this was his last on-screen performance before his death.

On to the story…

The Rani is traveling with her companion, previously having captured (busts of) the First and Second Doctors in an attempt to assemble a menagerie of sentient life-forms to control the universe. That’s kind of her thing, really. Her companion checks off a Cyberman and a Time Lord from Gallifrey, noting that they need a human from Earth to complete the collection.

Elsewhere, the Fourth Doctor (in his Eighteenth Season garb) issues a warning to all of his other incarnations. It appears that he’s too late as the Rani takes aim on the TARDIS and knocks the capsule off course. Instead of landing in China, the Seventh Doctor and Ace materialize on the docks at the Cutty Sark Gardens, circa 1973. As Ace calls for help, the Seventh Doctor transforms into the Sixth Doctor, and both of them are instantly transported to (the fictional) Albert Square. The Sixth Doctor remarks that they have “slipped a groove” in time, and somehow he knows who Ace is.

This timey-wimey-wibbly-wobbliness will drive the rest of the adventure.

As Ace spots a clothing stand and a discount on a jacket from Sanjay and Gita (of The EastEnders), the Sixth Doctor discovers that they are now in 1993. The slipped groove has also slipped them two decades into the future. Just as he begins to question things, the slip happens again, leaving behind the Third Doctor and Mel. The Third Doctor believes that someone is rooting through his timeline and extracting previous incarnations and companions. The pair stop and ask two shop owners (Pauline Fowler and Kathy Beale from The EastEnders) what year they are in, and they are shocked to discover that they are in 2013.

The slips come fast and furious now, bouncing between 1973, 1993, and 2013, all in an attempt to separate the Doctor from the TARDIS and seal all of the Doctors together. One slip occurs, revealing the Sixth Doctor and Susan Foreman, the latter of whom is eager to find her grandfather, Ian, and Barbara. Another slip brings Sarah Jane and the Third Doctor back together. The next reunites the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, and Peri, and this time they’re under attack from the Rani’s menagerie because our heroes (in all their guises) are too close to the truth.

They face off against a host of villains from the last thirty years (including an Argolin, a biomechanoid, a Cyberman, a Mentor, an Ogron, a Sandminer robot, a Sea Devil, a Tetrap, a Time Lord, a Tractator, a Vanir and a Vervoid, and even Fifi), and after they attempt to warn Pat Butcher (The EastEnders) of the danger – a futile effort, it seems – they are trapped by the Rani outside the Queen Victoria (once more, The EastEnders).

The Fifth Doctor psychically summons the Third Doctor in his place, an act that replaces Nyssa and Peri with Liz Shaw. Liz attempts to disarm the Rani, but then flees after Mandy (The EastEnders) distracts the villain. Mike Yates arrives in Bessie and shoots the gun out of the Rani’s hands, offering the Doctor a way out. Together they flee to a helicopter and the Brigadier.

Another slip occurs, exchanging the Third Doctor for the Sixth as they reach safety. As another slip occurs, the Rani and her companion set course for the Greenwich Meridian to find their missing human specimen. In a garage, the second Romana is flushed out of her hiding spot by Phil and Grant Mitchell (you guessed it, The EastEnders), who point her to their doctor, Harold Legg. As she passes the Queen Victoria, the Rani captures her.

In 1973, the Third Doctor and Victoria Waterfield discuss the nature of the Rani as they return to the TARDIS. Time slips once again, and the Seventh Doctor lands in 1993 and encounters Leela, who has escaped the Rani after being cloned in the form of the second Romana. This is the key that the Doctor needs, since the Rani now has an extra Time Lord brain imprint instead of the human one she needed. The Seventh Doctor, Ace, and K9 rig up a device to overload the time tunnel, capturing the Rani inside while breaking the other Doctors free.

Triumphant, the Seventh Doctor and Ace board the TARDIS for their next adventure, confident in the fact that the Doctor(s) are difficult to get rid of.

 

This was fun but chaotic, and a decent nod to the franchise on its thirtieth anniversary.

 

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

 

Advertisements

Timestamp #147: The Ultimate Foe

Doctor Who: The Ultimate Foe
The Trial of a Time Lord, Parts XIII-XIV

(2 episodes, s23e13-e14, 1986)

 

It’s time for closing statements.

Picking up at the Doctor’s inadvertent admission of genocide, the Doctor charges that the Matrix has been tampered with so the Inquisitor calls upon the Keeper of the Matrix to testify. The Keeper denies the possibility on grounds that the Key of Rassilon is required to enter the database, and only senior Time Lords have access to the keys. Neither the Valeyard nor the Inquisitor is swayed.

Something sounded fishy here, so I waded back into the archives. The Invasion of Time calls out the Great Key of Rassilon, the literal key to ultimate Time Lord knowledge. So are all of these senior Time Lords holding Lesser Keys of Rassilon, and if so, what is the difference if they all lead to the same Matrix, arguably the source of all Time Lord knowledge?

Outside the station, two pods arrive and travel down the fancy corridor of light. They open to reveal Sabalom Glitz and Mel – though neither knows how they arrived at the station – and they barge into the courtroom to offer a defense for the Doctor. On cue, their mysterious benefactor is revealed as the Master, communicating to them from the depths of the Matrix.

First, this whole arc just got a lot more deus ex machina.

Second, it turns out that a Key of Rassilon can be duplicated. Looking back on The Invasion of Time and the (admittedly assumed) purpose of the Great Key and the “lesser” keys, this really makes me wonder about the Artifacts of Rassilon. Possession of the Sash, the Key, and the Rod could lead to absolute power and a Time Lord dictatorship, and if the keys are so easily duplicated then why hasn’t someone attempted a coup with a Gallifreyan 3-D printer?

The Time Lords in attendance do not recognize the Master (which is surprising given how often the High Council has interacted with the Master and/or sent the Doctor to stop him), but the Master seems to have a deep interest in the Valeyard and a strong desire to see him lose. The Inquisitor allows Glitz to testify and the rogue reveals that the mysterious box he was searching for contained secrets of the Time Lords. The sleepers – the inhabitants of Ravalox, then known as Earth – somehow gained access to the Matrix and were siphoning secrets into the box for later use, and the Gallifreyan High Council drew Earth out of orbit, initiated the fireball, and renamed the planet to protect the information.

Yikes. The Doctor’s enemy in this story is own people?

The Master reveals that the Valeyard was charged to tamper with the trial evidence in exchange for the rest of the Doctor’s regenerations. You see, the Valeyard is the Doctor… or rather the amalgamation of the Doctor’s darker impulses from somewhere between his twelfth and final incarnations.

The Doctor’s real enemy is himself.

The Inquisitor agrees that the trial must consider this new evidence, and the Valeyard flees into the Matrix. The Doctor and Glitz pursue him, landing in a warped recreation of Victorian-era London. The Doctor is attacked by a rain barrel, but he is saved by Glitz. The rouge hands the Time Lord a note from the Master pointing them toward a place called The Fantasy Factory. As they approach, Glitz takes a harpoon to the chest.

The Matrix is a place where logic has no hold, and we’re back to The Deadly Assassin.

In the courtroom, the Master testifies to the court that everything they saw was true with minor adjustments to cast doubt on the Doctor. He also reveals that Peri’s fate in Mindwarp was a lie. She is serving as a queen at the side of King Yrcanos, thus providing a great sigh of relief from your humble reviewer. The Master hopes that the Valeyard and the Doctor will destroy each other and leave him free to pillage the universe, and he suggests that the High Council be made to answer for their crimes.

Reasonable.

In the Matrix, we find that the Valeyard’s attack didn’t roll high enough to defeat Glitz’s armor class, and the rogue is convinced to help the Doctor and escape the computer. They enter The Fantasy Factory and meet Mr. Popplewick, a rather stuffy bureaucrat who loves his red tape. The Doctor rushes past the front desk to the proprietor’s office only to find a more officious version of Popplewick. The procedure is sacrosanct!

Before the Doctor is allowed to proceed, he is forced to sign over his remaining regenerations to Mr. J. J. Chambers – the Valeyard – in the event of his “untimely” death. Within moments, he is whisked away to a bleak beach where hands attack from beneath the sand and draw him down, reminiscent of the quicksand traps that permeated much of ’80s television and film adventures. Glitz adopts the role of reliable sidekick and tries to rescue him, but the Doctor overcomes the trap by sheer willpower, pretty much invalidating any amount of physical peril going forward. After a round of taunting from the Valeyard, the evil Time Lord forces the Doctor and Glitz into a nearby hut with a cloud of nerve gas.

The twist: The hut is the Master’s TARDIS. The Master explains that the Valeyard has to be stopped because he has none of the Doctor’s morality, leaving him eviler, more powerful, and a huge threat. The Master tricks the Doctor by putting him in a catatonic state and leaving him as bait for the Valeyard. The Master’s Tissue Compression Eliminator proves useless against the Valeyard and the pair is forced to retreat. Meanwhile, Mel somehow arrives in the Matrix and escorts him out of the Matrix and back to the courtroom.

Mel testifies in the Doctor’s defense, offering footage from Terror of the Vervoids as evidence. The Inquisitor is not swayed, sentencing the Doctor to death. The Doctor accepts the verdict with surprising calm, and we find out that this is yet another Matrix illusion. Outside the Matrix, the real Mel is incensed, prompting her to steal the Key of Rassilon and enter the Matrix. She intercepts the Doctor, but he chides her because he knew it was a ruse based on her digital doppelgänger’s testimony. Together they enter the Fantasy Factory in pursuit of the Valeyard.

The Master charges Glitz, first via failed hypnosis then with a treasure chest, with finding the Ravalox Matrix box. Glitz finds the memory tapes and Mr. Popplewick while the Doctor discovers a list (in his own handwriting) of judges from his trial. Together, they force Popplewick to take them to the Valeyard, but Glitz trades the Doctor for the memory tapes, which he then passes to the Master.

The Doctor reveals Popplewick to be the Valeyard in disguise. He further discovers a maser device aimed at the courtroom, ready to kill the assembled Time Lords as a last resort. The list of names was a hit list. He dispatches Mel to evacuate the courtroom.

In the real world, Gallifrey is collapsing into chaos. The High Council has been deposed by a civilian revolt, and the Master takes the opportunity to seize control. The attempt is stymied when he loads the Ravalox drive into his TARDIS console and it freezes both the Master and Glitz in the Matrix.

Mel tries to evacuate the courtroom while the Doctor destroys the maser using a feedback loop. The surge strikes the Valeyard, knocking him down as the Fantasy Factory explodes. The Doctor returns to reality and learns of Peri’s true fate. The Inquisitor offers the presidency to the Doctor, but he declines, instead offering it to her. He also suggests that the Master should be punished but that Glitz can be reformed.

Leaving his fate up to the Time Lords means that the Master will be back. No doubt.

Mel and the Doctor depart with a quip, and the Doctor nearly abandons Mel at the hint of carrot juice in their future. Instead, they board the TARDIS and take off for points unknown. Meanwhile, the Inquisitor dissolves the court and orders the Keeper to repair and reinforce the Matrix.

Unbeknownst to anyone in attendance, the Keeper is the Valeyard in disguise.

 

As part of the Trial of a Time Lord arc, The Ultimate Foe provides a decent enough resolution, bolstered by the revelation that Peri survived and is living a good life. She did look a little sad, but I assume that it’s the weight of her role as leader. I can’t imagine that she actually missed the Sixth Doctor after all the abuse he has subjected her to, but she might miss the thrill of the adventure.

On its own, the story of The Ultimate Foe is fairly weak. The introduction of the Master weakens the power of the Valeyard and turns this “dark Doctor” into “Master Lite”. The disguises, the logical trickery, the drive to steal regenerations and kill the Doctor… all of it is just a rehash of the Master’s various machinations. The resolution also points out a massive plot hole: If the Sixth Doctor dies with regenerating, there can’t be a Twelfth Doctor or beyond. The Valeyard cannot exist unless he remains outside of time, and if he does stay outside of time then what is the point of all that power?

On a series continuity note, I did enjoy the call back to the Doctor’s dislike of the nickname “Doc”. We’ve seen it at least four times before: The Dalek Invasion of EarthThe Time Meddler, The Five Doctors, and The Twin Dilemma.

On a project note, this is the first time that an incarnation’s finale doesn’t get the regeneration handicap. This wasn’t intended as the final story for Colin Baker, and he doesn’t even begin the regeneration process in this story.

 

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”

 

UP NEXT – Twenty-Third Series Summary

 

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #145: Mindwarp

Doctor Who: Mindwarp
The Trial of a Time Lord, Parts V-VIII

(4 episodes, s23e05-e08, 1986)

 

“May I remind you this is a court of law, not a debating society for maladjusted psychotic sociopaths.”

The trial continues as the Valeyard and the Doctor continue bashing heads. The Inquisitor scores the best burn and puts the squabbling children in their places before directing the proceedings to continue. The brown-nosing by the Valeyard – he addresses the Inquisitor as Sagacity, which is the state of being sagacious, or rather showing acute mental discernment and soundness of judgment – doesn’t hurt his case any, but it sure puts the Doctor on edge.

Today’s episode of Time Lord Theater is the adventure in which he was engaged just before being summoned to court. The setting is Thoros Beta, a pretty planet with pink oceans and pastel skies. As the TARDIS touches down just offshore, the Peri and the Doctor wade to the beach and start searching for the source of a weapon owned by the lecherous Warlord of Thordon, a man whom they just visited.

The travelers find a cave and explore it, finding a kelp monster that attacks Peri. In the struggle, the Doctor accidentally kills the beast, but the Valeyard makes the case that the Doctor’s actions were deliberate. A group of men arrives and, after accusing the Doctor of murdering the Raak, the leader asks if the travelers are part of Crozier’s group. The Doctor tries to play along, even though he faces inquiry for the Raak incident, and is invited back to the laboratory.

Crozier is a scientist who is conducting some kind of mental conditioning experiments. When the guards begin to question the Doctor, he and Peri apply the “skedaddle” test to the Raak’s corpse and flee. During their run, they find a chained man who has been altered to act and look like a wolf. They are nice to him and he relents, but they are forced to run further by the guards. They hide, and from the shadows, they observe Sil and two others of his species being carried by.

In the courtroom, the Valeyard asks if the Doctor relishes danger. When the Doctor deflects, the Valeyard points out that the Doctor courts it easily and places his companions into peril more often than not.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

The man in Crozier’s chair is King Yrcanos, a warrior who is resisting the attempting the tranquility conditioning. The Doctor and Peri sneak into the laboratory after Crozier and the guards leave to report the Raak’s death to Sil and company. We find out that Crozier’s experiments are designed to help Kiv, one of Sil’s species, overcome paralyzing headaches due to a rapidly expanding mutant brain. As the Doctor sabotages the lab equipment, Sil, Crozier, and the guards enter the room and confront the Time Lord. The Doctor is strapped into the machine, and Sil orders it to be used as a mind probe to extract the truth about the Raak’s death.

This is a lot of effort over this accident, but if it’s that critical to the experiment, I can see why.

King Yrcanos awakens in true Brian Blessed fashion, destroys the laboratory, and frees the travelers. Yrcanos outlines a plan to attack Sil and his followers, and a stunned Doctor agrees enthusiastically before collapsing. In the courtroom, the Doctor admits that he cannot remember anything after Crozier’s machine jolted his brain. The Valeyard doesn’t believe him but warns him that a nasty surprise is coming.

I don’t like this dark foreshadowing. I have a bad feeling about this.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

The king and his new companions go to where the new slaves are brought into the compound. Yrcanos tries to sneak attack the guards, but the scramble-brained Doctor fumbles his stealth roll and yells out, spoiling the surprise. Yrcanos flees, cursing the Doctor’s name, and Peri soon follows when the Doctor refuses to help her. Left with Sil and the guards, the Doctor sides with the reptilian rogue and claims that the odds were not on their sides for the attack.

In the courtroom, the Doctor protests, but the Valeyard retorts that the Matrix cannot lie.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

In the lab, the Doctor confirms that the Raak attacked first, setting Crozier on a path to fix the experiment. The Doctor lends a hand, and although Sil is skeptical, he is eager to save his people (who we find out are called the Mentors).

Elsewhere, Peri finds the heart of the operation before being discovered by the leader of the guards.  She runs and finds Matrona, leader of the servants, and she joins up rather than returning to captivity. As King Yrconas finds the wolf-man and frees him after recognizing him as one of his subjects, the servants are sent to Kiv’s chambers. As soon as Peri enters, the Doctor uncovers her ruse and denounces her as an enemy.

In the courtroom, the Doctor confirms that this was a ploy to gain the Mentors’ trust and allow the travelers to escape. The Inquisitor demands to see the interrogation tapes to corroborate his story.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

Peri is chained to the rocks by the sea. The Doctor tortures Peri and tells her that Crozier is planning to put Kiv’s brain in the Time Lord’s body. The whole thing, between the betrayal and the torture, is really uncomfortable. Crozier calls off the interrogation and orders them back inside. When they return, Yrcanos attacks the Doctor. Despite her reservations, Peri saves her friend, an act that angers the king.

In the courtroom, the Inquisitor offers (once again) a public defender for the Doctor’s case, but he refuses, reasoning that if the Time Lords want him dead, he cannot trust any of them to save him.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

The Doctor flees the scene and arrives at the lab. Crozier is trying to transplant Kiv into a new body that he found washed ashore, and the Doctor jumps in to assist. Meanwhile, Peri follows Yrconas to find pockets of resistance in Kiv’s organization. The three of them, Yrconas, Peri, and Dorf the wolfman take a rest, eat some flay fish, and plot while overcoming a spate of jealousy. They move on and are soon captured, but their captors are rebels against the Mentors. An army is raised and they go on the hunt, but they are eventually apprehended. When they try to escape, they are all shot down.

Luckily, they were only stunned, but for a moment in the courtroom, the Doctor truly thought that Peri was dead and that he was responsible.

Back in the lab, after a rather harrowing medical drama, Kiv is successfully transplanted, but there are complications. The brain is not quite compatible with the body of a fisherman, and the body is winning by taking over the memories. In order to save Kiv, they need to move his brain one more time. Crozier suggests Peri as a suitable candidate, but the Doctor shows his apprehension so Crozier sends him to the induction center to find a suitable candidate.

In their new cell, Peri expresses a desire to go back to her own time and be with people she loves. King Yrconas asks her about love, and Peri teaches him in her own magical way. Soon after, she is taken to the lab and sized up for the transplant.

The Doctor tricks the head guard and frees Yrconas and Dorf. The group follows the Doctor’s plan, taking over the induction center and setting their sights on the control center to free all of the slaves in the compound. A heartbreaking stray shot kills Dorf but the team takes the control room and destroys it.

As the Doctor rushes to save Peri, the Time Lords remove him from time and take him to the court, effectively catching us up on his timeline. Their reasoning is that he had unleashed chaos and set irreversible events into motion with Peri that would threaten the future of human evolution. They then show him what happened after he left Thoros Beta.

Kiv is transplanted into Peri’s body, effectively erasing her brain in the process. Yrcanos attacks the lab, but the Time Lords place him in a time bubble to await the perfect time to strike, basically turning him into an unwitting assassin. The Doctor chides the Inquisitor for this act of second-rate gods.

Kiv awakens in Peri’s body as the time bubble dissipates, and Yrcanos storms into the lab. He sees what has happened to the woman he has grown to love and he kills everyone in the room.

He killed everyone.

The Doctor is incensed – as am I at this point – but the Inquisitor and the Valeyard tell him that is was necessary to stop the pending disaster. The Doctor doesn’t believe them, and he vows to find out exactly why he is in this place outside of time.

 

Upsides: Brian Blessed was amazingly over the top, and it was glorious; Thomas Branch, the actor behind Dorf the wolfman sold the man’s best friend routine so well that my heart hurt when the character died.

Downside: I don’t like what they did to Peri in this story, between the Doctor’s perceived betrayal and her death. She has been abused so much during her travels with the Sixth Doctor (usually at his hand), and she deserved so much better.

 

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”

 

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Terror of the Vervoids

 

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #144: The Mysterious Planet

Doctor Who: The Mysterious Planet
The Trial of a Time Lord, Parts I-IV

(4 episodes, s23e01-e04, 1986)

 

Changes about with a darker theme tune and intricate model and special effects work. The same old creepy smiling intro remains a constant.

Swimming in effects is the TARDIS, drawn off course into a space station in the middle of nowhere. The Doctor emerges from the time capsule, confused and stumbling into a room where he is put on trial by his fellow Time Lords. The trial is spearheaded by the Valeyard and is overseen by the Inquisitor. The latter remarks that he has been put on trial once before for his meddling. He’s also been stripped of his title of Lord President of Gallifrey.

The Valeyard commences his trial of the Doctor with the tale of his adventure on Ravalox, which is contained in detail inside the Matrix. The assembled Time Lords begin to watch an episode of Doctor Who, and this whole thing goes kind of meta.

The adventure begins as Peri and the Doctor roam the forests of Ravalox, a planet virtually identical to Earth (but not in the same location) that is destined to be destroyed by a solar fireball. They are watched by Glitz and Dibber, a pair who try to shoot the Doctor but miss their respective opportunities. The travelers find a cavern, which apparently contains the L3 robot that the assassins are trying to destroy. As the Doctor and Peri proceed inside, the find a sign for the Marble Arch tube station, and Peri mourns the death of her home planet. Ravalox is Earth.

In the courtroom, the Doctor objects to what he considers a waste of time. He also questions where Peri is during this whole affair, which the Valeyard finds interesting. The Doctor has forgotten where he left her, presumably a side effect of being “taken out of time.”

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

The Doctor continues into the depths of the station alone and Peri gets captured by the local natives. In the clean and shiny underground complex, the Doctor picks up a bottle of water and is apprehended for theft. Water is life, and those who steal it must die by stoning. He has a discussion with Balazar, the leader of the water guards, and discovers that the man’s job is to read the sacred texts of Marb Station – Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, and UK Habitats of the Canadian Goose by H.M. Stationery Office – before being placed for the stoning. He tries to deflect the rocks but ends up unconscious anyway.

Meanwhile, Glitz and Dibber make their way to the native village to meet with their leader. They claim that the malfunctioning navigational beacon in their village, which Katryca and her people treat as a totem to a god, is what brought the fireball to Ravalox. The assassins try to overpower their guards and fail. They are soon joined in the village by Peri.

In the courtroom, the Valeyard proposes that the inquiry become a full trial of the Time Lord, with the penalty being his death. Presumably, not just regeneration as it was before, but a full-blown execution. I guess they’re semi-serious about this (despite their previous history of asking and compelling the Doctor to interfere).

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

Officials arrive and interrupt the stoning, and the robot (“the Immortal”) demands that the Doctor and Balazar are brought before him. The Doctor is cautioned not to look upon the Immortal – “On pain of being turned into a pillar of salt, I imagine.” – before being sent into the robot’s inner sanctum. The robot, known as Drathro, commands the Doctor to work with his two human assistants.

In the village, Peri is introduced to the queen, promised many husbands, and then placed in captivity with the assassins. Glitz and Dibber share their plan to destroy the robot, but Peri balks at mass murder of the underground civilization. The captives are taken before Katryca where Glitz is chosen as a sacrifice to the god as penance for his crimes. The trio stage an escape with Glitz and Peri heading to Marb Station while Dibber destroys the black light converter tower.

The Doctor identifies the problem with the black light system, even though it is outside his area of expertise, but Drathro forbids it since his instructions are to maintain an underground civilization, not one above ground. The Doctor rigs a trap and escapes, and Drathro sends a utility drone to pursue him. During the search, Merdeen (one of the guards) tells Balazar to head for the surface. Balazar objects, but Merdeen assures him that the firestorm has been over for hundreds of years.

Balazar and Merdeen find the Doctor and offer to help him escape, but circumstances bring Peri’s team and the Doctor’s team together at the entrance to Marb Station, trapped between the armed tribesmen and the service drone. Luckily, Balazar recognizes the leader of the tribesman as his friend Broken Tooth and convinces him to shoot the drone. The tribesmen insist that the Doctor and the collected crowd return to the village.

After another courtroom interlude where the Inquisitor expresses her distaste for primitive violence, the episode continues in Marb Station with a confrontation between Merdeen and Grell, a fellow guard who overheard Merdeen’s discussion with Balazar. Drathro breaks the tension by dispatching Merdeen to find Balazar as his assistants reactivate the drone.

Returning to the village, the Doctor, Peri, and the assassins are brought before Katryca. The Doctor offers to repair the totem, but she tosses the lot in a cell. They are inadvertently freed as the drone breaks down their cell and captures the Doctor.

In the courtroom, we learn that the Matrix files are updated with the experiences of all Time Lords no matter where they are. Further, the TARDIS can act as a collection device to add experiences within its range. The Doctor questions whether or not a Type 40 TARDIS can do this without being bugged and the Valeyard deflects. Curiouser and curiouser.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

Katryca and the tribesmen pursue the service drone and disable it. They celebrate the death of the Immortal and rush off to storm Drathro’s castle. Peri sees to the Doctor while Glitz sends Dibber for some heavier artillery. The Doctor and Peri head to Marb Station to stop Tribe of the Free before the robot kills them.

Hey, he’s all heroic again! It’s about time.

Returning to the courtroom, the TARDIS evidence tapes end as Glitz and Dibber, armed with a big gun, pursue everyone else into Marb Station. The Valeyard claims that the evidence has been classified in the public interest. The Inquisitor asks if the Doctor officially objects, but he does not. Instead, he lets the Valeyard continue with the imagery collected from the Doctor’s perspective.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

The Doctor and Peri are intercepted by Merdeen, and the guard claims to be hunting the Doctor. He fires his crossbow, but instead of killing the Doctor he strikes Grell, who was trying to capture the Doctor for Drathro. Meanwhile, Katryca’s group breaks into Drathro’s domain, but he kills both the queen and Broken Tooth. He sends the rest of the strike group to await culling while his assistants run. It seems that an explosion is coming.

In the courtroom, the Doctor and the Valeyard come to verbal blows over what they’ve seen. The Doctor disputes the relevance of what they’ve seen while the Valeyard claims that had the Doctor never been there, none of it would have happened.

He has a point, you know.

The Inquisitor also takes issue with censoring of the discussions between Glitz and Dibber.

 

Returning to the episode already in progress…

The Doctor returns to Drathro and tries to shut down the black light system, but the robot forbids it. The Doctor tries to reason that the robot is doomed either way, but the people who serve the Immortal can be saved. The discussion is a good back-and-forth on the value of life and finally solidifies the Sixth Doctor in the ideology of the Doctor overall.

Also, Drathro calls the Doctor out on his verbal abuse, which is fantastic.

Glitz and Dibber are in search of information so they can sell it on the black market. They find the castle entrance, presuming that five rounds rapid (The Daemons) could break it down, but Dibber objects. So, they find their way to the food chutes with Peri, Merdeen, and Balazar, but Drathro detects their intrusion and tries to kill them. Dibber blasts his way in, opening a path into Drathro’s domain, and the group join the discussion. Glitz and Dibber humorously try to salvage the situation, resulting in everyone being tied up while the assassins escort Drathro to their ship. The Doctor breaks free and tries to stop the explosion, but he is only able to limit it to the castle. The explosion also destroys Drathro, leaving the assassins a chunk of valuable rock to fund their next escapade.

In the end, the Doctor tells Balazar to take his civilization to the surface and start a new life before leaving with Peri for their next adventure.

With the episode over, the Doctor proclaims that he should be found innocent of the Valeyard’s charges, but the Inquisitor denies him his victory. The Valeyard is only getting started.

 

Not a bad story overall. The separate scene storytelling trope took a little getting used to, but the evidentiary episode was a fun adventure. The Valeyard has a point that fewer lives would have been lost if the Doctor had never interfered, but Glitz and Dibber were already on the planet and would have potentially stolen information that could have killed any number of beings. The Valeyard’s schemes appear transparent to both the Doctor and the viewer, but it’s fun to see someone using the ignorance and procedural nature of the Time Lords against them like he does.

Refreshingly, this was a low body count for this era of the show.

Additionally, the Doctor and Peri were a lot closer this time than they have been in previous adventures. It’s nice to see him being less abusive toward her.

 

 

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

 

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Mindwarp

 

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #143: Revelation of the Daleks

Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks
(2 episodes, s22e12-e13, 1985)

 

A swing and a miss for an abusive Doctor’s last at-bat this inning.

Peri and the Doctor arrive on the snow-covered vista that is Necros. They are both wearing blue – the Doctor has a blue and gold cloak over his typical garishness while Peri is in an overcoat and beret – in honor of the planet’s traditions for mourning. While Peri complains that the garments are too tight, the Doctor engages in a little recreational body-shaming. Honestly, Doctor, Peri is far from overweight.

The Doctor has arrived to honor the memory of Professor Arthur Stengos. As the travelers plan, neither notices a hand emerge from the icy pond where Peri just threw the remnants of her lunch until the resulting large splash startles them. As they walk away, a humanoid emerges from the depths and pursues them. Hey, zombies gotta eat.

In a warmer place, planetary funeral director Jobel and his staff are making arrangements. The director is notified that the presidential spacecraft is on approach, and using gallows humor he gives orders for his staff to look their best. He also rebuffs the advances of his protégé Tasambeker, much to her chagrin. As the staff disperses, two figures bearing firearms pass their stealth checks, sneak through the center, assault guards with both energy and projectile weapons, then break into a locked room.

As the Doctor and Peri muse over the local flora, they are attacked by the humanoid from the pond. The Doctor attempts to hypnotize it, and when that fails Peri strikes the creature dead. Their exploits are captured by a local disk jockey whose broadcast is being watched by a Dalek and the head of Davros. The villains are distracted by the gunfire, and they miss the dying humanoid’s revelation that he is the product of experimentation by the “great healer.” The humanoid also forgives Peri for her actions.

The mysterious duo continues their quest, but their sneaking about is captured on video by the disk jockey. Tasambeker dispatches two of the funeral staff to find them and, interestingly, the two officials are able to walk right by the Dalek guards with a flash of identification. No exterminations, huh? Meanwhile, Davros summons Tasambeker to his chamber before contacting a woman named Kara. The discussion reveals that Kara is a food distributor who works for and funds Davros, the Great Healer. In fact, Davros takes pretty much everything she makes.

The sneaky pair finds evidence of… something… before running from guards that shoot on sight. They escape only to encounter Daleks escorting gurney and corpse down a corridor. They carry on, unknowingly being observed on Davros’s cameras, and find a room full of brains being preserved in giant glass tanks. They also find a glass Dalek containing a humanoid head. Creepy to be sure, but it gets creepier: The head recognizes Natasha, one of the rogues and his daughter, and calls her by name. He reveals that the corpses (really, beings on the edge of death placed in suspended animation) are being transformed into Daleks and he demands to be euthanized to prevent that grisly fate for himself. Reluctantly, Natasha obliges, but they are soon captured by the guards.

Oh, and Natasha’s father is none other than Arthur Stengos. <dramatic music cue>

Outside the facility, Peri and the Doctor are unable to find a door so they climb the wall instead. The Doctor continues his abusive barbs about her weight and she inadvertently destroys his pocket watch. Inside the facility, the disk jockey continues to be annoying.

Kara meets with an assassin named Orcini and his squire Bostock. She fawns, Orcini demurs, and Bostock leers. Finally cutting to the chase, Kara hires Orcini to eliminate Davros and free her supply chain. While they scheme, the Doctor and Peri continue their journey to the facility, a place called Tranquil Repose.

I agree with Peri: Yuck.

Tasambeker arrives before the Great Healer: Davros wants her to be transferred to his private staff, effective immediately. Outside, Peri spots (but does not recognize) a Dalek, followed by the spectacle of the Doctor’s face on a memorial plaque. It seems that the Time Lord is destined to die here… and he nearly does as the plaque falls on top of him.

You know, I don’t normally point out the flaws in set design, but that falling memorial was telegraphed multiple times as it swayed and swiveled on all of its seams for minutes before falling over. Downright distracting, that.

Anyway, as Peri runs to the Doctor’s aid, she is intercepted by Jobel. The Doctor emerges from the rubble unharmed – his cloak is stained with blood, but the whole event was theatrics staged by someone else – and the pair continues inside to unravel the mystery of attempted assassination. They receive a sales pitch from Tasambeker, complete with a commercial by the infernal disk jockey, and learn that only the Great Healer can erect monuments to the dead.

On the surface, Orcini and Bostock continue their mission with pomp and circumstance. They encounter a Dalek and destroy it with bastic bullets, an act that raises the alarm in Davros’s chambers. Davros calls Kara (who is deeply invested in President Vargos’s approach) to investigate her involvement, and she deflects as best she can.

Peri asks to meet the disk jockey. The Doctor agrees, though troubled that Jobel is accompanying her while he investigates the Great Healer. He’s even more troubled a few moments later as he is taken prisoner by the Daleks. Peri ditches Jobel and meets the DJ, obsessed by his patter which reminds her of home. Sadly for her, he’s only imitating what he knows from historical records of the United States.

The Doctor wakes up in the same cell as the two rogues, and they fill him in on the goings-on. As they chat, Daleks apprehend Kara and take her to Davros, Jobel schemes to take down the Great Healer, and Davros manipulates Tasambeker into killing Jobel in exchange for immortality as a Dalek. Orcini and Bostock make their way to Davros’s sanctum, stopping along the way to release the rogues and the Doctor.

Tasambeker tries to reason with Jobel in order to save his life but ends up killing him in a fit of rage. Daleks kill her shortly afterward. Meanwhile, Peri contacts the Doctor and he asks her to warn the president away. Davros dispatches Daleks to capture Peri and orders a new glass Dalek incubator to be prepared, forcing his guard to leave as Orcini makes his attempt on Davros’s life. Orcini destroys the head, but it was a ruse; the real Davros emerges (apparently unscathed by the Movellan virus), kills Bostock, and incapacitates Orcini. Elsewhere, the rogues are killed in the incubation chamber by a self-destructing Dalek (after it inexplicably levitates) and a wasteful plot.

In the DJ’s studio, Peri warns the president as the disk jockey sets up a “rock and roll” cannon to defend against the incoming Daleks. It works until the DJ gets cocky and is exterminated. Peri is captured, as is the Doctor after hearing the entire battle on the compound’s intercom.

In his chamber, Davros entertains Kara with the “transmitter” that she gave to Orcini, revealing it to be a bomb. Orcini kills Kara as the Doctor is brought before Davros, and the leader of the Imperial Daleks gives the Doctor his best “evil plan” lowdown speech as the assassin schemes with Kara’s bomb. Davros plans to take over the galaxy with his new Dalek army while winning over the populace by eliminating famine. Of course, he’s taking the Soylent Green approach by turning people into food for the masses. After Peri arrives, a not-quite-dead-yet Bostock manages to shoot Davros’s hand off, and he pays for it by being exterminated for real this time. The Daleks squash the escape attempt and an irate Davros swears that the Doctor and Peri will become Daleks in exchange.

Despite Jobel’s death, his loyal staff have called in reinforcements: Daleks loyal to the Supreme Dalek arrive from Skaro and the civil war hostilities come raging onto Necros. The Renegade Daleks storm Davros’s chambers and apprehend their creator. Davros offers the Doctor in exchange, but the Renegade Daleks don’t recognize the Time Lord in this regeneration and they take Davros away.

In a nice touch of this incarnation’s caustic wit, the Doctor offers to shake Davros’s stump in farewell.

Using the gun with bastic bullets, the Doctor shoots the eyepiece off their Dalek guard before destroying it with a grenade.

(I’ve heard arguments that the Doctor doesn’t use guns, which is obviously false. I’ve also heard the argument that the Doctor only uses guns as tools, which is obviously false in this story.)

He then convinces Jobel’s staff to leave Tranquil Repose and start farming the purple flowers on the surface for food. In exchange for the Doctor’s promise to tell his order of his sacrifice, Orcini decides to remain with Kara’s bomb so he can destroy the Dalek incubation chambers. Everyone, including the Renegade Daleks, escapes just in time as the bomb reduces Tranquil Repose to shambles.

With the crisis solved, Peri asks for a real holiday somewhere fun. The Doctor agrees, deciding to take her to—

 

You know, I’m not even angry that the ending is freeze-framed as an artificial cliffhanger. In fact, I’m glad that the story is over.

The DJ is an annoying extravagance that could have been cut with no real consequence to the story. His exit was an addendum on a high body count plot that sidelined the protagonists for a long time as the plot eventually unfolded itself.

The whole thing was dragged down even further by the Doctor being abusive toward his companion. First, because body shaming her is unacceptable, period. Second, it has no narrative basis during the Sixth Doctor’s run except as an escalation of his petulant and boorish behavior.

I am beyond weary of this Time Lord equivalent of an internet troll.

The only benefit I could find to this tale was exploring the Dalek Civil War – in order to stop the Daleks, Jobel’s staff calls in more of them… that was an intriguing solution – but even that was tacked on as a means to stop the threat when the Doctor couldn’t.

 


Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”

 

UP NEXT – Twenty-Second Series Summary

 

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #142: Timelash

Doctor Who: Timelash
(2 episodes, s22e10-e11, 1985)

 

A less than stellar kiss with history.

The Doctor and Peri are on their way to the constellation of Andromeda (or possibly the Eye of Orion) for a holiday, of which the Sixth Doctor seems to take many. Their transit – and the Doctor’s grumpiness – is interrupted by a Kontron tunnel, a time corridor that tears them off course and sends them toward Earth in 1179 AD.

There’s an interesting callback here. Peri mentions the Daleks using a time corridor, but that adventure preceded both her and the Sixth Doctor. Was the reference for the benefit of the viewer?

On a desolate moon, three rebels attempt to escape from a rigid hierarchy and punishment in the timelash (*ding*). They don’t get far before being captured and punished by the Borad (the societal leader), the Maylin (Renis, a mayor of sorts), and the Councilors of Karfel. Two of them, Gazak and Tyheer, are sentenced to the timelash, which is effectively banishment by time corridor. The prisoners plead for clemency due to the threat of war, but leniency does not come.

Skeptical councilor Mykros is told by the Maylin to cure his outspoken future wife Vena – fellow councilor and the Maylin’s daughter – of her stubbornness. Ah, sexism. Mykros follows the Maylin to the Borad’s power chamber (a rare place without surveillance) where he sees the mayor reluctantly transferring power from the Karfelon supplies to the Borad using two amulet-like keys. This will leave the timelash online but will harm the rest of the society, including the Maylin’s wife who is currently in the hospital.

Unbeknownst to the two men, the Borad was monitoring their discussion. Maylin Renis is brought before the Borad while Mykros is sent back to the inner sanctum. Renis is subsequently killed by accelerated aging, and Councilor Tekker is installed as the new Maylin. Vena is skeptical of her father’s death, and her skepticism only grows as Mykros is sentenced to the timelash. She tries to stop the sentencing but instead falls into the timelash (with the Maylin’s amulet in hand) and flies through the TARDIS is a ghostly fashion as the time capsule stabilizes and lands in the council chambers.

The Karfelons apparently have met the Doctor before, about a regeneration or three back, but the Time Lord is concerned: The Karfelons shouldn’t have access to a time corridor at their technological progression. The travelers are greeted, although the android guards steal Peri’s St. Christopher’s necklace. The reception is interrupted by an ultimatum from the Bandrils that results in a declaration of war. Peri receives a covert message – “Sezon at the Falchian Rocks” – before the Maylin returns and offers her a short tour of the citadel while he confers in private with the Doctor.

The Doctor is not interested in retrieving the Karfelon amulet until the Maylin reveals the true purpose of Peri’s tour: She has been taken as a hostage and the ransom is the Doctor’s cooperation. Peri outwits her captors and escapes into the caves of the Morlox – not to be confused with the antagonists of The Time Machine – which are lizard creatures that look similar in snout to the dinosaurs that invaded London during the Third Doctor’s tenure. She is rescued from the Morlox by Karfelon rebels Katz and Sezon, but the whole group is soon captured by the Borad’s guards after they find Peri’s note. Before they are apprehended, Katz shows Peri a locket that she received from her grandfather. Inside is a picture of Jo Grant.

I guess Peri has been reading about the Doctor’s prior adventures. Fascinating.

The Doctor reluctantly agrees to find Vena, who would have followed the time corridor to Earth 1179 AD. Instead, due to interference from the TARDIS, she has landed in Scotland 1885 and is rescued by a man named Herbert, a writer and aspiring teacher. When the Doctor arrives, Vena explains things, and the trio board the TARDIS for Karfel… although Herbert is more of a stowaway than a ticketed passenger.

Tekker coerces the Doctor to return the amulet and then reneges on the deal, refusing to reveal Peri’s whereabouts. Instead, he sentences the rebels and the Doctor’s group to the timelash. The Doctor uses a mirror to confuse the android guard and the rebels fight back, eventually taking the sanctum as their own. The Doctor rappels into the timelash and, with Herbert’s help, removes two Kontron crystals. He uses the crystals to construct a time-break, which allows the rebels to repel an attack on the sanctum. The Doctor and Herbert leave to deal with Borad.

In the battle, a wall is broken to reveal a painting of the Third Doctor. Meanwhile, Peri is chained up in the Morlox cave as a tasty treat.

Tekker retreats with Councilor Kendron to the Borad’s side, and the leader’s public face is revealed to be an android. The real Borad is a human-Morlox hybrid, and the creature kills Kendron after Tekker betrays his trust. The Doctor faces the Borad while Herbert watches from above, and the Time Lord figures out that the Borad is Megelen, a crazed scientist the Time Lord exposed on his last visit for unethical experimentation. Borad intends to use the chemical that transformed him, Mustakozene-80, to transform Peri and populate the planet. He also wants to use the Bandril assault to cleanse the planet of everything but the Morlox, paving the way for his new society.

The Doctor activates his time-break, setting up a ten-second delay between his image and true self and allowing him to set a trap. The Borad’s aging beam is reflected in the Kronton crystal and kills the hybrid. The Doctor and Herbert free Peri and then set their sights on stopping the war. The Doctor uses his title as President of the High Council of Gallifrey to convince the Bandrils, but they are unable to destroy the missile. The Doctor returns to the TARDIS and maneuvers the time capsule directly into the projectile’s path, risking himself for the Karfelons.

That effort takes forever as the Doctor prevents Peri and Herbert from helping (as well as deflecting the latter’s sexism and prattling).

The nearly indestructible nature of the TARDIS acts as a shield, destroying the missile in orbit and opening the way for new peace talks. When the Doctor returns, he finds a clone of the Borad has taken Peri hostage. After some verbal sparring, the Doctor breaks the mural of his third incarnation to reveal a mirror. The reflection drives the Borad back toward the timelash and the Doctor shoves him through. The Time Lord destroys the timelash and then prepares to take Herbert (better known as Herbert George Wells) home.

Oh, and the Borad? He’ll have somewhere to swim since the time corridor supposedly dumps into Loch Ness. He’ll have company with the Skarasen in a hundred years or so.

 

On the upside, I enjoyed the references to the works of H. G. Wells – The Time MachineThe War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Doctor Moreau were most prevalent – and the inference that the Doctor influenced those works. I was amused that the Third Doctor had a few adventures with Jo Grant outside of their three televised seasons together, but I would have liked the idea more if it showcased Liz Shaw instead of Jo. Sure, the Doctor didn’t get his keys back until Jo was on the scene, but I’m still upset at how the production team shortchanged Liz.

On the downside, other than the historical bits, this story wasn’t very engaging. The story was decent enough, but it felt thin and hastily constructed. We got a heroic Doctor, but the body count is still pretty high and the character is still pretty surly and petulant.

Regarding that body count, I’m curious about the other victims of the timelash, including the android that fell in during one of the battles. Are they roaming Earth somewhere, or is the timeline cleaned up somewhere along the line?

Despite the Doctor’s quotation of numerous rules and regulations this adventure, it’s probably not that important to him.

 


Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”

 

 

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks

 

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #141: The Two Doctors

Doctor Who: The Two Doctors
(3 episodes, s22e07-e09, 1985)

 

The triumph of The Five Doctors brought Icarus too close to the sun.

Starting in black and white the Second Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon in their TARDIS – although, that’s not the right console – the adventure phases into color as the mission is revealed: The Time Lords have sent them Space Station Camera in the Third Zone. The Time Lords have also installed a recall device on the console. Victoria is off on her own studying graphology – placing this voyage of the TARDIS in the narrow window between The Evil of the Daleks and Fury from the Deep – and excusing the uncharacteristic interference in affairs by the Time Lords is an exercise left to the viewer.

When they materialize, it is in the kitchen of Shockeye, a knife-wielding cook who wants to buy Jamie as the main ingredient in his ideal meal. The Second Doctor talks his way out of the situation by flaunting his authority as a Time Lord, but after they leave, the TARDIS leaves, subject to recall by the Doctor, to prevent the station scientists from studying it. In the kitchen, Shockeye and a woman Chessene scheme.

The Second Doctor and Jamie meet with Dastari, the Head of Projects, and explain that the time travel experiments of researchers Kartz and Reimer threaten disaster for the universe and should be stopped. While they talk, Dastari reveals that Chessene is a special experiment in augmentation called an Androgum, which the Doctor considers dangerous.

His fears seem justified when (unbeknownst to him) she kills a technician who discovers three Sontaran battlecruisers bearing down on the station. Instead of raising defenses, she opens the docking bays. During the discussion with Dastari, the man succumbs to a sleeping drug while the Sontarans invade the station.

Moving to another place and time, the Sixth Doctor and Peri are vacationing near a lake. Peri is bored, but the Sixth Doctor is intent on catching gumblejacks, the finest fish in the universe. After the fishing expedition is a flop, the pair returns to the TARDIS with plans to try a different body of water, but before they can leave, the Sixth Doctor collapses in pain. In a parallel, the Second Doctor is being tortured by the Sontarans. After the Sixth Doctor recovers, he remembers images of jelly babies and recorders, and he concludes that he is a temporal anomaly. He decides to consult with Dastari.

The TARDIS materializes in the kitchen again, but this time the atmosphere is dank and dark, saturated with the scent of death. The Sixth Doctor and Peri explore the station and are confronted by station computer. It tries to kill them, but the Sixth Doctor saves himself and Peri from decompression by dragging her to Dastari’s abandoned office. He reviews Dastari’s journal but refuses to believe that the Time Lords were responsible for the sacking of the station. Peri suggests that a third party is responsible, potentially to destroy relations between the Third Zone and Gallifrey. The pair leaves the office via service ducts and tries to deactivate the computer before it kills them.

Moving to Earth, time unknown, Chessene, Shockeye, and a Sontaran seize a Spanish hacienda after killing the elderly owner. Chessene absorbs the contents of the woman’s mind, discovering that they are situated just outside of Seville, Spain. Their Sontaran escort, Major Varl, announces the arrival of Group Marshal Stike of the Ninth Sontaran Battle Group. They are observed by two humans, Oscar and Anita, who are hunting moths and think that Dastari and the Sontarans are helping victims of a plane crash.

After what seems like an eternity of walking in circles, the Doctor attempts to disconnect the main circuit. Peri is attacked by a humanoid creature in rags, and the Doctor trips a gas trap and is ensnared. When the travelers recover, they discover that the attacker is Jamie. Together, they uncover that the Sontarans are responsible for the attack, and the Sixth Doctor and Peri investigate while Jamie sleeps. The Sixth Doctor discovers that he could indeed be dead if he arrived in the focus point of a temporal experiment, and his status as an anomaly signifies the collapse of the universe.

Peri returns with a recovered Jamie as the Doctor views videos of torture. He concludes that they were red herrings, illusions to dissuade people from investigating further. He also concludes that the Sontarans kidnapped Dastari, the only scientist in the galaxy who can duplicate the symbiotic nuclei of a Time Lord and the subsequent ability to travel through time. Such technology would make the Sontarans unstoppable. The Doctor enters a telepathic trance to find his past self, and he does in Seville.

Nice jokes, Doctor. I laughed.

The antagonists set up their equipment in the hacienda’s cellar while Shockeye snacks on a rat. The Sixth Doctor, Peri, and Jamie make their way to Seville while the Second Doctor discusses matters with his captors. It’s worth noting that the Second Doctor recognizes Sontarans despite never meeting them in his run.

It’s also worth noting that Dastari is fully on board with this plot. So, what was the point in drugging him earlier?

If only that was the sole problem with this story.

The Sixth Doctor, having shed his overcoat due to the heat, talks with Oscar and Anita about what they saw. The humans mistake the travelers for plain-clothes police officers, and the entire group makes their way toward the hacienda. In the cellar, the Second Doctor and Stike have a little rhetorical back and forth while Shockeye studies cookbooks and the Sixth Doctor scouts the area.

While Jamie and the Sixth Doctor enter the cellar, Peri poses as a lost American tourist. Chessene is suspicious, having read Peri’s thoughts, and wheels the Second Doctor through the entry hall as a test. Since Peri has never seen the Second Doctor, she doesn’t react. Peri takes her leave of the hacienda, but Shockeye and his stomach pursue. He later captures her and takes her to the kitchen.

The Sixth Doctor and Jamie investigate the Kartz-Reimer module, a device that will use the symbiotic nuclei – the Rassilon Imprimatur – to make time travel accessible to all. The Sontarans overhear the exchange and capture the pair. Stike threatens to kill Jamie unless the Sixth Doctor primes the machine, so the Time Lord does so. Stike tries to kill Jamie anyway, but Jamie stabs him with his sgian-dubh and escapes. The Sixth Doctor and Jamie find the Second Doctor, but as they attempt to escape, Shockeye returns with Peri. The Sixth Doctor and Jamie hide while the Second Doctor feigns unconsciousness.

Chessene and Dastari find the Second Doctor and decide to transform him into an Androgum. Chessene enlists Shockeye to move the Time Lord to the operating theater, but betrays him to harvest the brute’s genetic material. Meanwhile, the Sontarans scheme to betray their allies with their newly primed time device, but they don’t realize that the Sixth Doctor reveals that he has sabotaged the craft.

Shockeye awakens and releases the Second Doctor, now halfway transformed, so they can go on a dining spree. Dastari and Chessene double-cross the Sontarans, attacking them with acid and killing Varl before chasing after their wayward diners. The Sixth Doctor, Peri, and Jamie pursue them separately. While they’re gone, a critically wounded Stike heads back to his ship (time circuits in hand) intent on bringing back reinforcements. He forgets that he previously set the self-destruct and is killed in the resulting explosion.

Once in Seville, the Second Doctor and Shockeye end up at Oscar’s restaurant. They order massive amounts of food, but Shockeye pays with Oscar’s life. Shockeye runs as the Sixth Doctor arrives. The Second Doctor reverts to his former self after rejecting the Androgum transfusion, and the whole lot are returned to the hacienda at gunpoint by Chessene and Dastari.

What was the point of this narrative side trip? What a waste.

Once they arrive, the Doctor reveals the truth about the time device and returns the part he stole. Peri unwillingly but successfully takes a trip in the machine to test it. Chessene gives Shockeye permission to eat Jamie, but orders Dastari to detain the rest in the cellar. Once Dastari leaves, the Second Doctor confirms that the Sixth Doctor sabotaged the part so the machine would only work once. The two Time Lords escape from the cellar, and the Sixth rushes to the kitchen to rescue Jamie. He encounters Shockeye and the brute wounds the Time Lord. The two lead a merry chase into the woods as Chessene gives in to her base instincts and licks the Doctor’s blood from the ground.

There are so many issues here. “Once a [category], always a [category]” is an overused and false trope. It’s a horrible message to send, particularly in a franchise built around the premise that anyone can evolve and change.

The Sixth Doctor stumbles across Oscar’s moth-catching apparatus and ends up killing Shockeye with arsenic. A fitting revenge, I suppose, but is the Sixth Doctor really so bloodthirsty? Given the body count in this story and so many others in this era of the show, it seems so.

Back in the hacienda, Dastari tries to rescue the Second Doctor and Peri. In the end, Chessene kills Dastari, Jamie saves his Doctor and Peri, Chessene tries to escape in the time device but dies when it explodes. The Second Doctor recalls his TARDIS and the survivors of this story say their respective farewells.

 

Nostalgia aside, the Second Doctor is completely wasted in this story. The Shockeye storyline is also superfluous, and the culinary stabs at carnivorous diets were heavy-handed and awkward. I get that writer Robert Holmes wanted to promote his vegetarian lifestyle, but his efforts were painful at best. Which is where we find this story on the whole. Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines are huge highlights, but Troughton’s talents are squandered by keeping his Doctor restrained throughout the adventure. When the Doctors do get to interact, the chemistry between the two cranky characters is amazing but (sadly) brief.

Honestly, it could have been better off without involving the Second Doctor at all. The key DNA could have come from a previously unknown Time Lord who was trying to stop the experiments. If a recognizable character is required, bring back the Monk (it’s been long enough that he might be less annoying). If it needs to be more personal, try K’anpo Rimpoche – without whom the Doctor wouldn’t have made it past his third incarnation, or even had some of his foundational guidance – or Romana or Susan.

Even better, since the Time Lords of Troughton’s era were very strict about interference in time – they exiled the Doctor for less – this could have been a follow-up to The Mark of the Rani with the Sixth Doctor being driven to save the Master and the Rani in order to save the universe.

The story itself was lackluster and boring before the bloody side-trip to the restaurant. After that bout of filler – I’m guessing that they needed to justify the trip to Spain? – this one fell hard and fast, leading me to a conclusion that hasn’t been made on the Timestamps Project since The Power of Kroll.

 

Rating: 1/5 – “EXTERMINATE!”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Timelash

 

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.