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.



Timestamp #130: The Five Doctors

Doctor Who: The Five Doctors
(Twentieth Anniversary Special, 1983)


“I am being diminished, whittled away piece by piece. A man is the sum of his memories you know, a Time Lord even more so…”

After a heart-touching introduction by the First Doctor, we find the Fifth Doctor – To save on confusion, I’m going to call them by number right out of the gate – putting the finishing touches on a brand new control console, and I actually kind of like it. The team is relaxing at the Eye of Orion, taking some time away from the rush of their recent adventures. The tranquil atmosphere has something to do with a bombardment of positive ions, and the Doctor agrees with Tegan that they can vacation for a little while.

Elsewhere, a black-gloved hand fiddles with controls and activates a scanner. On the screen is none other than the First Doctor (though not quite the genuine article due to an obvious need for recasting). A black Phantom Zone-like two-dimensional triangle swoops down and scoops up the Time Lord, an act that causes the Fifth Doctor considerable pain. The First Doctor is reduced to an Eaglemoss figurine and placed on a crystalline display.

Next up, we’re taken to UNIT HQ where Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is talking to his replacement, Colonel Crighton, when the Second Doctor arrives. The Time Lord has arrived to attend the Brig’s farewell speech and is unhappy with the renovations at UNIT HQ. He and the Brigadier take a walk, reminiscing over the Yeti, the Cybermen, Omega, and the Terrible Zodin (okay, not so much that one) before they too are swept into the Phantom Zone and turned into toys.

On to the Third Doctor, who is trying to outrace the spinning triangle in Bessie. He fails.

Tegan and Turlough escort the Fifth Doctor to the TARDIS, where he tells them that he must find his older selves to stop whatever is chewing at his soul. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Sarah Jane and K9 puzzle over the danger that the robotic dog detects. Sarah Jane ignores his concerns and heads to the bus for her daily schedule. She’s later consumed by the mysterious triangle.

The Fourth Doctor and Romana are punting down the river at Cambridge, just like they did in Shada. It’s a clever re-use of footage, really. Anyway, they are also taken, which causes the Fifth Doctor to collapse, but not before he sets the coordinates. The Fifth Doctor fades in and out before the TARDIS lands, and the mysterious figure adds models of Tegan, Turlough, and the Fifth Doctor to the display.

On Gallifrey, the Inner Council has convened, comprised of a newly-regenerated President Borusa, High Chancellor Flavia, and the Castellan. Shockingly, they admit the Master for a conference. The Inner Council offer a pardon for his long list of crimes and a whole new regeneration cycle in exchange for one act: He is to rescue the Doctor.


The First Doctor wanders an angular cave of mirrors, joined in a surprise appearance by Susan. (There were cheers from this Whovian. I’ve missed her.) The pair run as a Dalek (we haven’t seen them in a while!) rounds a corner and opens fire. The place is known as the Death Zone, an arena-like place on Gallifrey where beings from across the universe were sent to battle for amusement before the time of Rassilon. The Council sent two representatives who did not return. They attempted to send the Doctor, but all of his incarnations have vanished from the timeline. All of them (except the Fourth because Tom Baker had reasons) have been deposited in the Death Zone. Inside the Zone, the First Doctor and Susan trick the Dalek into a mirrored dead end. It fires and the reflected beam destroys the creature, revealing the mutant within the armored casing. Through a hole in the wall, they see the tower of the Death Zone and decide to investigate.

Elsewhere, the Second Doctor and the Brigadier tangle with Cybermen and the Third Doctor reunites with Sarah Jane as he rescues her from a terrible fall. As the First Doctor and Susan wander, they find the Fifth Doctor’s TARDIS and meet Tegan, Turlough, and the Fifth Doctor. The First Doctor spearheads introductions all around and then tasks Tegan with fetching refreshments. She objects, but the Fifth Doctor asks her to humor the oldest of the Doctors. After all, he used to get a bit tetchy. Meanwhile, the Master is sent into the Zone with the Seal of the High Council (to prove his credentials) and a transmat recall device. He is soon found by the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane, but the reunion is broken up by laser fire. The Master runs one direction while the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane go another, but without the aid of Bessie who took a direct hit to the engine.

The Fifth Doctor sets the TARDIS coordinates for the Dark Tower, a place that supposedly holds the tomb of Rassilon and is the current destination for all of the Doctors and companions. The Fifth Doctor, Susan, and Tegan set out on foot to disable the force field around it so the First Doctor and Turlough can move the TARDIS to its doorstep. Meanwhile, the Second Doctor and the Brigadier go in through the cave system beneath the tower, the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane encounter Cybermen, and the Fifth Doctor’s team encounters the Master. The last event is watched by a squad of Cybermen, who rush the Time Lords and stun the Master. The Fifth Doctor sends Susan (who twists her ankle) and Tegan back to the TARDIS before using the transmat recall to return to the capitol. The First Doctor decides to take up the Fifth Doctor’s task, and Tegan joins him. Amusingly, the First Doctor still has a great deal of resentment at being addressed as “Doc.”

The Fifth Doctor confers with the Inner Council about who has control of the time scoop and the Cybermen. He uncovers a homing beacon inside the recall device, surmising that someone led the Cybermen to the Master to attack the Doctors. Borusa has the Castellan, who originally gave the device to the Master, arrested and his office and quarters searched. Meanwhile, the Master makes an arrangement with the Cybermen, who then converge on the TARDIS.

The Third Doctor and Sarah Jane encounter a Raston Warrior Robot, a perfect killing machine, halting their progress until it passes. Luckily, the Cybermen approach and engage the Raston, providing a diversion for our heroes to escape (with the Raston’s supplies). In the caves, the Second Doctor and the Brig find a Yeti, which they evade before finding a door to the Dark Tower. It is unlocked, so a trap must lie beyond.

In the Citadel, a chest containing Black Scrolls of Rassilon, forbidden knowledge from the Dark Times, is found in the Castellan’s quarters. The Castellan is taken away for interrogation but is shot dead (without regeneration) en route. The Fifth Doctor is forbidden by Borusa from returning to the Death Zone. Flavia is tasked with taking care of the Fifth Doctor, and they discuss the possibility that the Castellan was not the traitor.

At this point, all three entrances to the Dark Tower are in use. The Third Doctor and Sarah Jane zipline across to the upper entrance, the Second Doctor and the Brigadier are in the basement, and the First Doctor and Tegan use a biometric entry coder to open the front door. The Master follows through the main entrance with the Cybermen. Interestingly, the First Doctor does not recognize his former classmate. The Master tricks the Cybermen into a death trap, but the CyberLeader survives until the Master tricks and kills him with a Cyberman blaster. The Master passes the trap, followed by the First Doctor and Tegan who survive by using π. Stay in school, kids… math can save your life.

The Third Doctor and Sarah Jane descend toward the Tomb of Rassilon, but the closer they get, the more psychic energy pushes back on Sarah Jane. The Third Doctor scouts ahead and finds former companions Mike Yates and Liz Shaw. Similarly, the Second Doctor encounters Zoe Heriot and Jaimie McCrimmon, but in both cases, the former companions are only specters designed to impede progress toward the heart of the tower. Once the Doctors understand that the companions are mere illusions, they disappear with chilling screams. The First Doctor is unaffected since, at his age, he has nothing left to fear.

The First, Second, and Third Doctors, along with their current traveling companions, finally arrive at the tomb. After a series of reunions, the Doctors decipher the Old High Gallifreyan language of mathematical symbols to discover that whoever wears Rassilon’s ring shall achieve immortality. The First Doctor is troubled by the last line in the text: “To lose is to win and he who wins shall lose.” The Master arrives shortly afterward and threatens the Doctors, but he is sucker-punched by the Brigadier and tied up by Tegan and Sarah Jane.

The Fifth Doctor goes to confer with Borusa, but the president is nowhere to be found. The Doctor discovers that the Harp of Rassilon is a musical key. The key unlocks a chamber where the figurines (including one of the Master) are being overseen by Borusa, the true mastermind of this scheme. The president is not satisfied with leading Gallifrey for all of his lifetimes, but instead want to be immortal and President Eternal. He plans to use the Doctors to clear the path and traps, leaving the way open for him to claim the prize. When the Fifth Doctor refuses to help, Borusa uses the power of the Coronet of Rassilon to compel his cooperation.

Politicians, right?

The Third Doctor reverses the polarity of the neutron flow on the control console, and with the forcefields down around the Tomb of Rassilon, the TARDIS engages autopilot and moves to the tomb with Susan and Turlough. The movement is just in time as the Cybermen detonate a bomb to destroy the TARDIS, but they miss. Soon, the Fifth Doctor and Borusa arrive via transmat to claim the prize. The first three Doctors combine their psionic powers to break the telepathic hold, and as the Fifth Doctor is freed, the voice of Rassilon issues a challenge to Borusa. The First Doctor convinces Rassilon to surrender the ring to Borusa, and the president’s desire is granted: The faces that line the plinth come to life, for they are those who have previously sought immortality, and Borusa becomes one of them.

Rassilon offers immortality to the Doctors, but they decline in exchange for the chance to go back to their respective timestreams. The Fourth Doctor is restored to Shada, and the Master is restored with the promise that his sins will find their punishment in due time. As the Doctors says their farewells, the First Doctor (smugly) explains that he convinced Rassilon to give Borusa the ring because he finally understood the riddle: It was a trap set by Rassilon to weed out the more selfish of their people because they were a danger to civilization. Each set of Doctors and companions boards the TARDIS in order and the TARDIS splits through a form of temporal fission to return them their proper homes.

Chancellor Flavia arrives and tells the Doctor that he is due back to the Citadel. Since Borusa has been disqualified, the High Council has decided that the Doctor shall resume his duties as Lord President. He orders Flavia back to the Citadel, telling her that she has full authority until he arrives in his TARDIS. After ushering Tegan and Turlough aboard, he sets a course and dematerializes, stunning his companions by announcing his intention to not take office.

“You mean you’re deliberately choosing to go on the run from your own people, in a rackety old TARDIS?”

“Why not? After all, that’s how it all started.”


All in all, this was a wonderful story to celebrate a significant milestone. I was curious, so I looked at scripted entertainment television across the United States and United Kingdom and came up with a short list of shows to reach twenty years by 1983: Coronation Street, Guiding Light, As the World Turns, General Hospital, The Wonderful World of Disney, Romper Room, Search for Tomorrow, Captain Kangaroo, and The Edge of Night. There were also a couple of semi-scripted children’s shows like Blue Peter and The Sooty Show, but the fact remains that, in a world dominated by soap opera longevity, Doctor Who was the only science-fiction drama reach that mark.

Yeah, they deserved this party.

I was very pleased to see so many of the companions back in action, even if their cameos were short. While I would have loved to see Liz, Zoe, and Jamie get into the mix, the saying holds true that too many cooks spoil the broth. It was clever, however, to subvert nostalgia with the canonical circumstances of The War Games. I appreciate that level of attention to detail.

I did miss having Tom Baker in the mix, which would have drawn The Five Doctors down to four if it hadn’t been for Richard Hurndall. From what I gather in fan circles, his involvement as the First Doctor is sometimes disparaged, but I thought he did a fantastic job. Mixing his performance with the archival footage at the beginning (effectively bringing us two First Doctors) was a nice touch and a beautiful tribute to the beginnings of this franchise.

Finally, that wonderful musical mix over the end credits to tie the eras together: C’est fantastique.


Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”



UP NEXT – Twentieth 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 #10: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
(6 episodes, s02e04-e09, 1964)

Timestamp 010 The Dalek Invasion of Earth

This was a great episode cover to cover, even with the dubious plot to steal an entire planet. Every one of the characters gets a chance to shine: The Doctor works through the puzzle in the Dalek jail cell, and helps Ian understand it as well; Barbara and Susan contribute to the fight at the Dalek saucer, which speaks volumes considering the lack of empowered women in 1960s science fiction; Barbara displays her intelligence and improv skills in stalling the Daleks by playing on their ignorance of human history; and Susan… oh, Susan.

Once again, Susan is yearning to grow, but is frustrated in trying to figure out how exactly to do so. David seems like a good mentor to help her find an identity and a place to thrive. The Doctor’s grudging respect for him points to this as well, and it was heart-wrenching to see him finally let his granddaughter go. It was interesting how much Susan grew on me in the short time she was on the show. After the credits rolled, I couldn’t press play to start the next serial because I felt like I needed time to say goodbye.

Even among the secondary characters, the development was great. Particularly, I point to the wheelchair-bound scientist’s sacrifice to test his Dalek killing grenade. It was very chilling, since he died in vain.

Some last notes on characters, it was good to see the Doctor back in his signature jacket. This episode also reinforced a couple of things with his character. First, he doesn’t kill unless under a direct threat, which will be interesting to track over this project. Second, he very clearly established that he prefers the name (title?) Doctor, and not the shortened form of Doc.

Finally, William Russell (Ian) sure does like testing the limits of the sets, doesn’t he? He keeps running headlong into set pieces that shouldn’t bend, but do under the power of his spirited no-holds-barred acting style.

Production-wise, this story has a lot of action and explosive effects. The location shoots make the story feel much more open, especially in the transit to the museum. The TARDIS looked rather beat up with the windows out of place. I loved seeing the Dalek coming out of the river at the end of the first episode. That innovative idea was so exciting to me, I can hardly imagine how kids felt when this serial first aired.

The one downside to me was the slyther. It is certainly an interesting creature, though it doesn’t make much sense that the Daleks would keep a pet given their desire to destroy everything not Dalek. But that is a minor quibble in this gem of an episode.


Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Rescue


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 #9: Planet of Giants

Doctor Who: Planet of Giants
(3 episodes, s02e01-e03, 1964)

Timestamp 009 Planet of Giants

The companions finally made it home… sort of. Welcome to the obligatory exercise in a science fiction series for the trope of shrinking the cast. I can’t grumble too much because there are some unique elements in this version that keep the idea from being boring repetition (even though it predates many of the modern sci-fi examples I can come up with).

The TARDIS model is back! I also thought it was refreshing for the Doctor to change his wardrobe a bit by exchanging his coat for a cloak. We also find out that bad things apparently happen when the TARDIS doors open during transition.

This one’s essentially an industrial thriller story, and even though it’s not particularly deep one, I still had a lot of fun with it. The effects are the highlight, and you can tell that the cast had fun as well. So did the set designers. But all that plus the character ingenuity can’t overcome a really shallow story.


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


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth


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 #8: The Reign of Terror

Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror
(6 episodes, s01e35-e40, 1964)

Timestamp 008 The Reign of Terror

This was a nice recovery from the drudgery of The Sensorites. I enjoyed that the Doctor was in left in peril, and the fire over the closing credits for the first episode was an especially nice touch. I also liked the location shooting and the use of an actual historical setting, building a beautiful kiss with history in this serial.

The incidental music was great as well. Bursts of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem I know best from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, helped set the mood. I also believe that I caught riffs of the main title theme in the Doctor’s whimsical walking music.

Addressing the story, it was good to see Hartnell’s duplicitous First Doctor being outwitted, crossed, and played by the people of the era. That makes a ton of sense to me, since the Doctor and his companions, for all their knowledge, are truly the aliens in every serial. It was also good to see that the Doctor and Ian made up after sharing this adventure and proving the relationship amongst this cast.

Episodes four and five are missing in this serial. The animated reconstructions are pretty good, but have a weird fascination with shots of eyes and lips. I won’t hold that against the serial in my final rating.


Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – First 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 #7: The Sensorites

Doctor Who: The Sensorites
(6 episodes, s01e29-e34, 1964)

Timestamp 007 The Sensorites

This story is essentially a parable about fear, from humans losing complete control of their autonomy to the Sensorites being afraid of confrontation and the dark. The serial is driven by the Sensorites and their fear of losing their molybdenum (“moly-mol-minerals”; poor William Hartnell) resources through betrayal of their trust in human explorers.

There were some great character building blocks. Susan is developing telepathy, and I wonder if it’s something in the Time Lord DNA. If so, does the Doctor share that skill? I also really enjoyed seeing Susan spread her wings a bit in facing off with her grandfather and demanding some space to run. She’s growing up physically, and yearns to grow emotionally.

I liked that they established the Doctor’s apprehension with weapons. I also enjoyed seeing the origins of the Tenth Doctor’s description of Gallifrey, even though it isn’t called that yet.

Despite those positives, this serial really drags on, and the unfortunate thing about watching something that doesn’t entertain is that you start to really pay attention to all of the flaws. First is that this serial is almost like a blooper reel for the entire first series. There are so many production errors, and they’re very noticeable. The guest stars can’t help distract from the verbal stumbles from Hartnell and Carol Ann Ford because the guests were terrible and single-note.

The second major flaw is costuming. The alien costumes are terrible, even for the 1960s, but they do remind me of the Ood (from the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctor eras) with the overall design, transmitters, and telepathy.

Third, I really had an issue with Susan and Ian making fun of the Sensorite “flip-flop” walking style. It flies in the face of the overall mythology I’ve come to expect from the later years, and seems uncharacteristic of characters who were earlier celebrating how much they’ve grown as people.

The writing problems didn’t stop there. I got hung-up with the way that Susan shows momentary interest in the spectrograph, and then rudely interrupts Ian as he’s explaining it. I also had a problem with the Sensorites not being able to tell one another apart by anything more than their rank insignia, but they have no problem making direct telepathic calls to one another or reading text on paper. The removal of the TARDIS lock to prevent the Doctor’s company from leaving also felt weak.

The “creature” in the aqueduct is never really explained. I can infer that the growling was man-made, and that the claw marks in the Doctor’s coat were from the spears, but it would have been nice to have it acknowledged.

I know that I’m beating up on this serial. There are a lot of great ideas and concepts here, but they’re lost in long, drawn-out delivery. It’s not terrible overall, but merely boring and exaggerated with a ton of squandered potential.

It didn’t help any that the Doctor’s anger at the end toward Ian is quite unexpected and makes no sense. Everyone agreed at the start that the voyage has been good for our heroes, but Ian is frustrated in not being able to steer their own course. I wonder if the Doctor is projecting his frustration with Susan’s growth onto Ian.

I certainly hope that The Reign of Terror rings out the first year of Doctor Who on a high note.


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


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror


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 #6: The Aztecs

Doctor Who: The Aztecs
(4 episodes, s01e25-e28, 1964)

Timestamp 006 The Aztecs

How delightful! This serial was great, with our heroes having to transition from being reactive to being proactive within the span of four episodes and unpredictable rapid-fire twists and turns. The TARDIS crew shows up, accidentally gets separated from the ship, and gets mistaken for a god and her assistants. As the main villain, Tlotoxl, the High Priest of Sacrifice, keeps throwing every twist and turn he can at the time-travellers in order to usurp the power mistakenly given to them by the other Aztecs.

The beauty of the serial is how the group is forced to shift from dodging Tlotoxl’s efforts to countering his machinations before he even makes a move. The smaller moments (the Doctor gets betrothed, Susan refuses to get married, and Ian fights warriors and discovers the path back to the ship) only add to the delicious point-counterpoint between Barbara and Tlotoxl.

Most importantly, this serial really starts to emphasize the points that I’m familiar with in the Doctor Who mythos. No matter what happens, the timeline must remain intact and certain fixed parts of history cannot be changed. The sacrifices must continue despite Barbara and Susan’s protests, and, amazingly enough, the story ends with a win-win for both the heroes and the villain.

This serial was an elegant dance. I had seen it once before, but within the context of the show, this time I actually experienced it.


Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Sensorites



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 #5: The Keys of Marinus

Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus
(6 episodes, s01e21-e24, 1964)

Timestamp 005 The Keys of Marinus

This is a great serial that is a effectively a series of short stories linked by a common thread. The companions carry the story quite effectively for two episodes while William Hartnell took a much needed vacation. Hartnell’s energy after his return made what was a simplified courtroom/detective procedural sing where it could have otherwise fallen flat. I had some problems with the detective story, but there’s also not a lot of wiggle room for the writers in a somewhat slow-paced 20 minute presentation. These companions are smart, which is something I’m enjoying as this team comes together. The resolution of the arc once the group acquires all the keys was also quite brilliant.

I also give a tip of the hat to the production team for saving money on the TARDIS materialization/dematerialization by using a model. It may not look like much in today’s era, but it was quite well done for what they had available. I almost want a model TARDIS like that one.


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


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Aztecs




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 #4: Marco Polo

Doctor Who: Marco Polo
(7 episodes, s01e14-e20, 1964)

Timestamp 004 Marco Polo

I watched the Loose Cannon reconstruct for this serial since all of the episodes are currently lost. It is a great story that ran a little long, but did have a decent ending. I particularly loved how the companions drove the story, even though it forced the Doctor into a much smaller role. It was also quite nice to remove the TARDIS from the characters so they couldn’t just jump in and fly away, although the ship does seem to be malfunctioning quite often. In An Unearthly Child, Susan points out that the chameleon circuit isn’t working. In The Daleks, we find out that the fluid link may possibly be a single point of failure for the ship. In The Edge of Destruction, a broken spring in a single switch causes an overload of the power source, nearly destroying the TARDIS. The fallout from that casualty drops the ship into Marco Polo without power, light, or heat. If I didn’t have the background from the Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith years, I’d be worried about how long the TARDIS can hold out.

Is the Doctor incompetent at operating the ship despite the adventures alluded to before the series began? Is the TARDIS intentionally causing some of these problems? Was it just a simple writing crutch in the beginning of the series?

I give Clara one thing: It does make for a more exciting journey.


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


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus



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 #3: The Edge of Destruction

Doctor Who: The Edge of Destruction
(2 episodes, s01e12-e13, 1964)

Timestamp 003 The Edge of Destruction

Aside from developing the mythology behind the TARDIS being a living machine and some nice moments at the end between the Doctor and Barbara, I really didn’t like this serial much. It did emphasize some of the inherent friction amongst the companions and the Doctor, and seems to have healed those rifts to make a more coherent team. The plot, and especially the ending, seemed rushed and almost pulled from thin air.

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

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Marco Polo

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.