Tuesday 8 February 2011

078 The Time Meddler Part 1: The Watcher

EPISODE: The Time Meddler Part 1: The Watcher
TRANSMITTED: 03 July 1965
WRITER: Dennis Spooner
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Time Meddler

Vicki & the Doctor miss Ian & Barbara: Vicki wonders if they will ever land in their time so they can meet them and wonder where they will go next. The Doctor asks Vicki if she wishes to go home too but she says she wants to stay. They hear a noise in the Tardis and are scared it might be a Dalek but discover Steven who had strayed aboard while they were on Mechanus.

The Tardis materialises on a sea shore: a man in Monk's robes observes the event and seems interested in it. Vicki explains about the Tardis to a disbelieving Steven.

Now, my boy, there are two things you can do. One: Sit there until you get your breath back, and two: Don't call me Doc! Now do I make myself clear?
That is the dematerializing control. And that, over yonder, is the horizontal hold. Up there is the scanner, those are the doors, that is a chair with a panda on it. Sheer poetry, dear boy! Now please stop bothering me.

The Doctor believes they have landed on Earth. Outside villagers discuss the blue box found on the beach. The travellers stand on the beach as the Doctor tries to convince Steven that they've travelled in time
What do you think of that, now, eh? A Viking helmet.
What do you mean, "maybe"? What do you think it is, a space helmet for a cow?

The monk overhears their conversation as the Doctor explains how they don't know where they're going and why the Tardis doesn't change. When they leave the Monk excitedly examines the Tardis before reaching to his wrist for something he finds is missing. The Doctor has become separated from his friends and visits the village but is caught sneaking around. Returning to his monastery the monk lights a light as the sound of evensong is heard. The villagers find their way to where the Tardis was but it's now under water. The Doctor has befriended the villager, Edith, who found him who explains they live in fear of strangers. The Doctor works out that he is in the year 1066 and it is late summer: Vikings are due to invade soon and encounter Harold Hardrada in battle. The noise of evensong distorts making the Doctor curious. Edith tells him just one Monk has been seen and the Doctor leaves for the monastery to investigate. Steven & Vicki encounter a trapper, alarmed by Steven he drops an item he's just found on the ground. Steven & Vicki discover it's a wrist watch making Steven dubious of the Tardis' time travel abilities. The Doctor enters the monastery and discovers the singing is being played off of a gramophone record before being captured by the Monk, who seems to recognise him.

That was great. Super stuff. Nowadays we're used to the idea of other time travellers but then the presence of anachronistic objects would be a real mystery. If you had thought time travel might be involved somehow I suppose you'd be thinking that maybe it was part of the threat posed by the Daleks who we saw following the Doctor last story. The truth would be even more incredible and would start opening up the mysteries behind the Doctor himself.

Today all four episodes of the Time Meddler reside in the BBC archives but this wasn't always the case. Episode 2 has always been there, it was amongst the 47 black & white episodes found by Ian Levene when he first visited. All 4 episodes were found in Nigeria in 1984 along with all 6 episodes of the Web Planet (which was already in the archive) and all 4 of the War Machines (which only had it's 2nd part) However there was a delay returning these episodes to the UK because diplomatic relations between the UK & Nigeria were severed following the kidnap of a Nigerian politician on UK soil. They eventually found their way back to the BBC in early 1985. it was then discovered that the copies of the Time Meddler & War Machines have small sections missing, which probably means that the prints originated in New Zealand because they exactly match the cuts New Zealand censors made. Ian Levine also came by a second copy of episodes 1 & 3 which were this time complete, but held onto them for a while as bargaining material to use with any other collector who had missing episodes. These copies were eventually returned to the BBC and used to patch the Nigerian copies of episodes 1 & 3. This means only episode 4 stands incomplete, missing 13 seconds of a Saxon stabbing two Vikings.

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