Companion: Peri Brown
Written by: Glen McCoy
Directed by: Pennant Roberts
Editor's Note: Hello, gentle friends! Matt here saying that I have the week off but Cassandra has the unfortunate task of talking about Timelash, so I'd like to right-off-the-bat apologize to her (seriously, there's anger coming) because... well... I told her I'd give her two Colin Bakers, but by the time I realized I was doing that, this was the only one left. I'M SORRY. But that's okay, She'll be getting plenty of other good stories coming up as we continue this downhill race towards the end of this blog (which will be a sad but relieving day). No seriously, she has one in April that is just not fair. You don't even know how tempted I am to steal it from her. Or better yet I'll just blog it myself because I don't think I'd be able to resist it. And then I'll never release it. Because... I won't.
Background & Significance: So.... This story is pretty terrible. No, really, it consistently lands at the bottom of most fan polls, and if nearly everyone you talk to about it agrees that it's awful? You're probably in a lot of trouble.
The fact that it's written by a fairly new TV writer and rewritten from what was supposed to be a Dalek story doesn't help matters either. Since the parts turned out lopsided and part one ran too long with part two running too short, Eric Saward stepped in to help tweak things, and you can definitely see his handiwork all over this story (which isn't a good thing in this case).
There... isn't all that much else to say about this. Aside from it's awfulness. Again.
But enough of all that. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
As a reminder, I hate this story. But I'm trying to be at least a little bit fair and focus on some positive things first before tearing it a new asshole. So here we go.
My first thought with this first section is what a terrible idea it was for them to go to 45 minutes. Nobody at this point knows how to write to a 45 minute episode length, and... I can't decide if it makes this worse, or better (because there are only 2 parts instead of 4) but let's just say it's not good.
Crap. I said I'd be positive. Okay. Let's try that again.
This is my second time watching this story, and I was definitely not looking forward to it, since the first time was so awful. But (at least with this first part so far) I think I was playing it up in my head as way worse than it actually is, because, while still bad, it wasn't that bad. Some points were even tolerable.
I also like Peri's outfit in this because it's not horridly 80s and it makes her look good. And I think her fascination with the plants is amusing. And the guy who plays H.G. Wells (oops, spoiler, whatever) is kinda cute, so that's cool.
That's... about it for things I like. On to the other stuff.
I also think it's a waste of time that what we do see of the Doctor and Peri in the TARDIS is them bickering. Again. I don't want to see the Doctor and his companion bickering. I want to see them having fun and getting involved in adventures and saving the day. It's stupid. Who decided this was a good dynamic for a Doctor/companion relationship? Oh right. Ugh.
Seriously, why does the Doctor have to argue with his companions all the time? It didn't work with Tegan, it doesn't work with Peri. Of course I expect disagreements, but that's inherent in any positive relationship. It's healthy. But bickering? Bickering is not healthy. Nor is it entertaining or constructive towards telling a good story, but they're not even involved in the story at this point, so that's okay, right? (Spoilers: no. No, it is not. And at that point, why even bother? You're just wasting my time.)
last time the Doctor and companion didn't meet up or interact with the guest cast for an entire episode? That didn't turn out well, either. Moral of the story, if you're going to write a Doctor Who story, make sure the Doctor somehow gets pulled into the events as soon as possible. Otherwise, what's the point? I don't give a shit about the guest cast unless I'm given reason to (which I'm not); the Doctor and his companion(s) are the gateway for the audience to experience and get involved and invested with this adventure, and if the Doctor's not invested in some way, then I'm not. Plain and simple.
Again, though, I do like the concept behind this story. The toppling of an oppressive regime is standard fare for Doctor Who, and I like the dystopian take on this one (cuz I guess I just dig dystopias or something?), but the execution is... well, very decidedly lacking. None of the guest cast really stand out to me except the chick who plays Vena, who just has this fragile, vacant expression on her face the whole time (but I don't think that's a good reason for standing out to me) and the suuuuuper creepy Tekker, who has this kinda slimy suaveness to him that's pretty convincing.
My other beef with this story (well, actually, I have two, but this is the first) is the whole Doctor-has-visited-here-before schtick. Okay, fine, that's cool, whatever. I know the Doctor goes on magical adventures and we don't see all of them. If they'd mentioned it once and had done with it, I don't think I would have as much of a problem with it as I do. But they just keep bringing it up and at one point that rebel chick in the underground tunnels pulls out a locket with Jo Grant's picture in it and I'm like UGGHHHH because Continuity King JNT has struck again.
My other problem with this story? Why are we involving H.G. Wells? As a cute gag? 'Time Machine, haha, that's awesome, throw that in.' That must be what it is, right? I know he's not revealed to be H.G. Wells til the end, but he... Sigh. Why is he even in this?
Ugh. I don't even know anymore.
Dare I say that this story gets even worse?
But it does. By the time I'm finished with it, I'm just left with a mixture of apathy and furiousness. And here's why.
And sure, it's a neat trick, I guess, what with the time break or whatever, but I don't even care.
So there's more attempts at "stakes" with the threat from the alien worm people who are at war with Karfel now, or something, while the Doctor takes out Borad. WITH 20 MINUTES LEFT IN THE EPISODE. And now we just have a "Creature from the Pit" scenario on our hands. At least with the threat with the Borad, it's interesting. Sorta. (I'm so desperate for good things I'm grasping at the straws that this is giving me. Go with it.) But then there's a missile and the TARDIS is used as a deflector and I swear to god I'm watching "Creature from the Pit" again. All of this is recycled material but done way way worse than the original. It's STUPID. I cannot stand this.
This episode makes the first one seem good in comparison. At least in the first part, we're building towards something. But once the Doctor takes out Borad (the first time) all the story's momentum is gone. The threat that you started off your story with is the creepy dictator, not the esoteric threat of war from another alien race. So for them to go from the threat of the Borad, to this alien, outside threat of the missile, and then fake left and give us the twist of THE BORAD AGAIN is just insulting. We already saw this guy die. It was satisfying, even. Though the Doctor is kinda reflecting energy back at him that was shot, but WHATEVER. I accept this. But apparently we can't end on a good note.
And okay, that's boring, but the day is saved. SO WHY IS THIS STORY STILL GOING??
Oh, right. The twist. That is not deserved. At all. They don't even mention the fact that Borad's experimenting with cloning. They mention the fact that he's experimenting with time. They mention the fact that he's experimenting on the Morlox. So for him to show up again, and be all "lol jk guys, that was a clone, I'm the real deal" is just so insulting to me as a viewer. SO insulting. You don't even set it up properly and then you spring that on me? What a fucking waste of my time.
And the whole stupid H.G. Wells reveal that's just like "oh, hahah, aren't we clever" just fucking... Are they trying to shit all over me? I don't even care at that point because I'm too busy punching the writer of this story in the mouth.
I'm really pissed off. I apologize. [deep breath]
Thank god this is only two parts.
The only good thing I take away from this is Colin Baker's performance, which isn't even mindblowingly amazing to begin with. The fact that scriptwriter Eric Saward had to tone down the level of antipathy and dickishness from the orignal script McCoy wrote is insane to think about, especially when you consider the final product. But in the end, Colin Baker performs what he is given, and what he's given is.... less than desirable, though he still does a good job with it.
Ultimately, though, I hope I never have to watch this story again, and if I do, not for a long, long time. If Doctor Who puts me in an anger and upset place, then you're clearly doing something wrong.