OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 643
STORY NUMBER: 143
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 16 March 1985
WRITER: Glen McCoy
DIRECTOR: Pennant Roberts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Eric Saward
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Timelash
The Doctor and the rebels take over the council chamber but Maylin Tekker escapes pinning the blame on another councillor who the Borad kills. The Doctor ventures into the Timelash and retrieves a number of Contron crystals whose properties he aims to exploit to defeat the Borad. The Borad is revealed not to be the old man seen on the screen, merely a robot, but a hideously mutated scientist who was merged with a native Morlox creature. He has the captured Peri sent to the caves in the hope of repeating the experiment. The Doctor confronts the Borad who reveals his plan to mutate th entire populace but Tekker rebels against him and is killed. The Borad attacks the Doctor too but he uses the crystal to deflect the energy beam killing the Borad and Peri is rescued. However the aproaching Bandril fleet has opened fire on Karfel so the Doctor takes the Tardis into space on a suicide machine to deflect the approaching missile. The assembled people think the Doctor is killed when the missile explodes in orbit but Peri is seized by the Borad, revealing that the Borad the Doctor killed was a clone. The Doctor enrages the Borad with it's own reflection and pushes it into the Timelash where it heads for 12th century Scotlan where it will be mistaken as the Lock Ness Monster. The Doctor's stowaway Herbert wishes to stay on Karfel but the Doctor insists on taking him home revealing that he's the author Herbert George Wells.
Oh good grief that was awful! Make it stop, make it stop! Finding out for certain that it definitely was Tinsel in the Timelash is the tip of the Iceberg! And it just didn't know when to stop, there's *THREE* endings: First the Borad is defeated and killed, then we need to stop the Bandril missile and then the Borad's alive and has to be stopped again! It's almost like they realised the script was running short twice and had to tag extra endings on. (See also: Creature from the Pit) And how paranoid must the Borad be to use not one, but two decoys? No this might work as 25 minute 3 parter if you cut everything between the Borad's first and second deaths but this is a complete disaster of an episode!
Does Timelash need all the references to an unseen Third Doctor adventure? I've no problems with the Doctor name dropping he met so and so all over the place but hate the shoe horning of unseen adventures into Doctor Who: the New & Eight Doctor Adventures work far better for me than the Missing & Past Doctor adventures. So here we have a story where the Third Doctor has visited Karfel before with Jo and at least one other (Mike Yates? Sergeant Benton wandering into the Tardis with a round of Tea at the wrong moment?) having got the scientist that will become the Borad into a spot of trouble and having left behind a culture of Third Doctor worship that puts early DWAS members to shame? Lockets with pictures of Jo Grant in? Mural of the Doctor in action in the council chamber? Bunch of fanboys.... And what's the point? Just so the Doctor can know there's a mirror behind his picture, which in turn has been covered up?
The true Borad, and also the "fake mutant" Borad are played by Robert Ashby, who IMDB believe is Louise Jameson's ex husband. See previous entries, and in particular Invasion of Time & Pirate Planet for more confusion on this matter! The Borad provides this story's entry for our "Humanoid mutated into monster" list. Though I question the wisdom of making him out to be the origin of the Lock Ness Monster, since Doctor Who has already done that one, and quite memorably too! The insinuation is there that the Borad, a mutated human, and the Morlox provide the inspiration for HG Wells' depiction of the future humans in The Time Machine. It doesn't take a genius to see what's meant to provide the inspiration for the central concept in that book! I can see what they're trying to do here with the idea that travels with the Doctor may have inspired HG Wells works but it doesn't really work. The new series revisitation of the idea with Charles Dickens in The Unquiet Dead is another take on a similar theme.
Ever on "phallic item" watch, (see appearances of Alpha Centauri & The Tissue Compression Eliminator passim) my wife Liz points out that the laser used to cut through the door looks like a willy!
The line "Doctor did you get the crystals" imeadiately throws me as it sends my brain straight into Richard O'Brien and Crystal Maze mode now. We take this opportunity to refer you to The Mary Whitehouse Experience's Crystal Maze spoof Which you can find on YouTube.
So who takes the blame for this mess then? It's first and last time out for writer Glen McCoy but script editor Eric Saward should have been able to see that the three endings really didn't work. Director Pennant Roberts, making his last Who appearance, should probably be held accountable for not reigning Paul Darrow in a bit but there again if you cast Paul Darrow what do you expect?
Timelash was adapted by it's author in 1985 with the hardback appearing in December and the paperback in May 1986. It was released on video on 5th January 1998 and on DVD on 9th July 2007.
Oh thank the Lord, it's Revelation of the the Daleks tomorrow!