Time-Flight: Doctor Who: Season 19
Concordes are being hijacked on a Time Flight back to prehistoric Earth. The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan arrive at Heathrow aitport still grieving over Adric's death and the Doctor convinces authorities to send another concorde on the same flight path with the Tardis stowed aboard.
Landing 140 million years in the past they find all passengers and crew under the illusion they are still at modern day Heathrow airport and set off for the citadel in the distance where a being known as Kalid operates from controlling kinetic forces called the Plasmatons. Nyssa is empathises with them and the Plasmatons draws her and Tegan to an inner chamber in the citadel.
The Doctor has freed his Concorde flight drew from the illusions and finds out the Kalid is the Master in disguise using electronics to try and control the plasmatons and Concorde passengers to break down the wall of what the creatures are protecting. A power source containing the race memory of the Xeraphin which he aims to use as the new power source for his dead Tardis.
The Doctor and Professor Hayter find a way into the inner chamber and together with Nyssa and Tegan try to prevent the sychizopheric Xeraphin from resurrecting themselves and falling under the Masters influence.
Return to top of page
Return to top of page
Time-Flight CAST & CREW
Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)
Anthony Ainley — The Master/Kalid
Nigel Stock — Professor Hayter
Richard Easton — Captain Stapley
Keith Drinkel — Flight Engineer Scobie
Michael Cashman — First Officer Bilton
John Flint — Captain Urquhart
Judith Byfield — Angela Clifford
Peter Dahlsen — Horton
Brian McDermott — Sheard
Peter Cellier — Andrews
Matthew Waterhouse — Adric
Hugh Hayes — Anithon
André Winterton — Zarak
Production Staff for Serial 6C:
Writer - Peter Grimwade
Director - Ron Jones
Script editor - Eric Saward
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
Return to top of page
Time-flight like most stories that feature TIME in the title re-affirms the myth that stories titled this way are usually rubbish. Strange for a time travel series.
Time-Flight is a bit of a comedown after Earthshock, anything would've been but this is a real comedown. A pity as it starts off so promisingly with filming at Heathrow airport and featuring Concorde but they must have forgotten it was the end of season story because they did all the expensive location shooting, then realised - shit! We have absolutely no money left for this show, damn and it's so complex and nonsensical, lets see what stuff is in the BBC storeroom. It just goes to show in this instance Peter Grimwade was a better director than writer.
As stated Time-Flight starts off well with the Heathrow filming, although did find it a little hard to grasp that if this really followed Earthshock directly. That Tegan and Nyssa would've gotten over Adric's death so quickly? although the Doctor's alien-ness explains his attitude. But the lack of emotion dulled the impact gained from the previous story. I do like the Doctor's line where he refuses to go back and rescue him and that his death was a "fixed point" that has happened on their time line and can't be reversed. Imagine if they had done a Father's Day type script back then it would've been great! The Heathrow bits were good and references to UNIT were nice and later the reference to the Doctor's scarf which raised the question for the first time - why doesn't he use some parts of his old costumes if they're practical? Even the first shadowy bits of the mysterious Kalid were good. What the hell's this guy up to with his big sphere?
But it detracts when they all land on prehistoric Earth, especially when they've stolen the set design of that time period from the City Of Death. The really dodgy CSO doesn't help, nor the extremely cheap Plasmatons which actually turn up on a Genesis album cover some 10 years earlier! (I kid you not, look it up!) But actually didn't mind the mystery of what was happening with the passengers hypnotized into breaking into a pyramid and even when Tegan and Nyssa are haunted by visions of the Melkur and Adric and what is the Kalid up to? But after episode 2 when it's revealed that the Kalid is really the Master it just turns the thing to utter shite. Why not leave Kalid as the central villain all the way through? Their was no need to bring in the Master or at least have him as the main baddie all the way though or being held captive by the Kalid instead but the way it was done just didn't make sense.
All the captive passengers do is mill around too. The Concorde flight crew dither about either in the Kalid's chamber or being stuck in the Tardis. While Davison & Fielding and that boring old professor try to free Nyssa from the mind control of the Xeraphin. Who look either like a pink dolly covered in pubic hair in a sarchophagus or really shite looking aliens in grey tights with big grey plasticine heads that have felt tip pen squiggles on them.
Time-Flight makes no sense by the end and the resolution seemed to be 'we don't know what's going on but we've found a way to go home'. The only nice touch I like is the 5th Doctor developing a subtle penchant for not really knowing which direction he's going to walk in and changes direction at the last minute, seemingly constantly lost. But then so was the audience after part 2 I reckon. Ainley's Master is really starting to degenerate into panto villain territory and apart from re-fueling his Tardis have no idea what trap he was trying to lure the Dr into this time. All good things come to an end but so did this. 2.5 each for parts 1 & 2 and 0 for the rest. 5/10 but being generous.
It was nice to hear on the DVD commentary that all the cast thought it was shite too.
What has The Aztecs, The Girl In The Fireplace, Human Nature, Family of Blood and Time-Flight all got in common? That's right, they feature a guest character that falls in love with the Doctor. I love a love story, particularly in Doctor Who and Time-Flight delivers it in spades.
But more on that later. After the riveting and dramatic Earthshock and bugger all left in the kitty at the end of the season what can we say other than "Who was the bright spark that thought Time-Flight could be realistically brought to the screen on the show's budget?????" Think about it; filming at Heathrow Airport, then setting the rest of the story on Prehistoric earth (in the bloody studio!) and then having a sequence where Concorde TAKES OFF from Prehistoric Earth and has to look realistic???? Lets not forget the Plasticine Plasmatons and the giant citadel. Or even that set which is supposed to represent air traffic control at the world's largest airport - yes; Heathrow is run by one guy and a filing cabinet. Geez, imagine if the guy was off sick, Heathrow would close down!
I don't know what is sadder about this story; the fact they actually MADE it in the first place thinking it could work, or the complete mess of it, or what it COULD have been like if they had used their brains and thought about their end of season story a little better. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if it were up to me I would have continued the story on from the Earthshock narrative. The Doctor and co, plus Scott, Briggs and Berger could have all gone to Earth for the Peace Conference and had any type of an intriguing story featuring all sorts of aliens rather than.......... well, THIS!
Time-Flight is so badly written, directed and produced that it just defies description. Take a look at where it starts. Adric has died in the previous story and even before the first Tardis scene has finished everyone has already gotten over the death of their fellow traveller. Adric who? Okay, I guess who can blame them? Tegan is appalling in this cos all she does in whine and complain. She spent the whole season moaning about wanting to get back home. She's there now and she still complains. Typical woman. And lets not forget her "air hostess moment" where she tells everyone to get on board at the end which is just embarrassing. Nyssa is either under mind control or lying in a bubblebath and the Doctor just looks like he doesn't want to be there at all. Actually it looks like PETER DAVISON doesn't want to be there at all, and who can blame him?
And what about the Master? Why is he still doing these idiotic disguises? What was the point of dressing up as Kalid complete with green slime in his mouth? How can his Tardis run out of juice? How do people put under his mind control instantly know how to disassemble the Xeraphin thing without him giving them instructions? As for the other characters; they are either boring or cliched. No one has any reason to do anything so in some ways its a blessing they are under mind control cos it saves them having to act.
But there is one small thing this story has going for it. One character does fall in love with the Doctor. That's right; good ol' Captain Stapely with his lingering looks and quick furtive glances in Doctor Five's direction is Time-Flight's one small redeeming feature. You can see he's just ITCHING to elbow his second-in-command Bilton out the way so he can have his way with the Time Lord. Its like watching the Sebastian Love? Prime Minister skits from Little Britain twenty years earlier!!!! As I said, one small redeeming feature.
But not enough to save it. 0.5/10
PS: As a final thought; on prehistoric earth, how did they get back into Concord without steps?
Well - what can you say about Time-Flight that hasn't been said before... it's good?... that's never been said before! This is a live review chaps, I'm watching it on youtube as we speak!
I don't think Time-Flight is as bad as everyone thinks... although it certainly has a lot of faults. To begin, the Master's plan isn't that bad. His TARDIS has run out of power (OK, so they're supposed to have infinite power, but the Doctor's has been drained often enough... that's why they went to Varos!) - and he can tap into the Xeriphin's power to make his TARDIS a super TARDIS! I don't have a problem with that... but it makes absolutely no sense as to why he decides that the best people to get to chip away at the Xeriphin pod would be people from a Concord in 1982 - nor does it make any sense at all for him to disguise himself as a Sumo Wrestler... WTF??? I mean, they don't know he's the Master!!
OK, I'm up to part 3 now, so I may as well hold tight for another hour and keep going after that... ah, converging with concord was an accident... OK, I guess that kind of makes sense... kind of... but gee that attack of the bubble bath really ruined part one... and the glove puppet at the end of part 2 didn't help that one! Alright... well that wasn't all that bad at all! I remembered liking it when I watched it last during the 4:30am runs. Sure it's not very well realised, but the whole idea of the Xeriphins is a great one - and they're realised well - kind of like Axons I guess.
OK, it gets pretty muddy by the end with lots of TARDIS part swapping, and then the old hitting the master back to Xeriphus like a 6 - which kind of makes sense, but at the same time it's certainly a bit silly... especially given the previous episode, and given that this is the series end. I suppose the ongoing theme for the year was getting Tegan back to Heathrow (even if she did decide to stay with the Doctor) - so maybe the whole setting does make sense. I know I was fooled into thinking that Tegan was no longer going to travel with the Doctor (even if there is no such thing as Air Australia!) - mind you, I also didn't pick that Kaild was the Master at the time... well I was only 9!
Performances are OK here - I like the pilot guys! The Doctor isn't as good as Earthshock, and neither is Tegan - but both are still OK. I think Nyssa is a bit confused by what the hell she's supposed to be doing (clearly they couldn't afford to do what they wanted to do, so poor old Nyssa just has to keep pretending to be things or be possessed by things!). Ainley isn't too bad when he's the Master - although he's shitful as Kalid (shaloom shallah??). Best on Ground probably has to go to the Professor... he was really having a crack.
Still, Time-Flight is pretty flat throughout, and most of that is because of the dull setting... and you do kind of get the feeling that it's been 24 months of reinventing the show, and they're all a bit worn out. It's a pity cos the idea of the Xeriphins and their plasmatronic energy is great... even if it is soap suds (that was really really bad!)... but it's still worthy of a pass. Time-Flight gets a 6.2/10
Return to top of page