Timelash: Doctor Who: Season 22
The TARDIS is ensnared by a time corridor and dragged to the planet Karfel. Their the population is under the rule of the Borad, a ruthless dictator, an old man only ever seen on video screens who controls citizens through fear and armed androids. Any rebels to his regime are sentenced to exile in the Timelash.
Karfel's senior counselor, the Maylin reveals to his rebellious colleague he supports the overthrow of the Borad and is soon killed to be replaced by the ambitious Tekker who seeks to wipe out all his political enemies and enforce the Borad's iron rule. Vena the former Maylin's Daughter steals the Maylin's amulet vital to supplying the Borad with power and dives into Timelash.
The Doctor is forced into retrieving Vena and the amulet when Tekker takes Peri prisoner. Peri is rescued by rebels and the Doctor finds and returns Vena to Karfel from 18th century Earth and finds H.G. Wells has stowed aboard the TARDIS.
The Real Borad is a human / Morlox hybrid determined to let their enemies the Bandrils wipe out the human population so only he and the Morlox will survive. But the Doctor harnesses the power of the Timelash and may yet defeat the Borad by stealth.
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Timelash CAST & CREW
Colin Baker (Sixth Doctor)
Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown)
Robert Ashby — The Borad
Denis Carey — Old Man
Paul Darrow — Tekker
Eric Deacon — Mykros
Neil Hallett — Maylin Renis
Jeananne Crowley — Vena
David Ashton — Kendron
David Chandler — Herbert
Tracy Louise Ward — Katz
Peter Robert Scott — Brunner
Dicken Ashworth — Sezon
Steven Mackintosh — Gazak
Christine Kavanagh — Aram
Martin Gower — Tyheer
Dean Hollingsworth — Android
James Richardson — Guardolier
Martin Gower — Bandril Ambassador
Production Staff for Serial 6Y:
Writer - Glen McCoy
Director - Pennant Roberts
Script editor - Eric Saward
Producer John Nathan-Turner
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Ok from scorching Spain to miserable Karfel…in more ways than one and one of the most appalling stories since - the Twin Dilemma.
The fact they are churning out stuff this bad in the Who cannon only 5 stories apart is a cause for concern. Not only that but Eric Saward even states on the DVD that he was on holiday when these were supposed to be being script edited - so who did the job????? Obviously not him, maybe JN-T who was too busy trying to promote the show abroad or Gary Downie even. Past continuity references, no mention of how the Timelash started up - it was just there as a way to end the first episode. Some of the rebel characters just disappear into the 2nd episode never to be seen again without any reference to what's happened to them.
Unfortunately there are some nice ideas but no explanation in there realisation, how did the Doctor survive the nuclear bomb using the TARDIS as a shield? Why did the Borad create an old man android of himself, that a clone of his could operate while he hides somewhere else and if he could create a clone why not a human version? You could steam the entire 4th, 5th & sixth fleets through the plot holes in this one. Pennant Roberts is obviously sick of being called back to direct Dr. Who 'cause there is no strong direction, a lot of the sets are cheap and tacky, especially the inside of the Timelash.
Plus the acting "let's find the worst actors in the world and some veterans who haven't acted in ages" says Pennant. Ok there were exceptions, Katz the hottie, the first guy who was Mailyn and the bloke who played Vena's boyfriend and even they were given cliché` one dimensional characters they really have to squeeze something out of to make work. No wonder Paul Darrow went soaringly over the top as Tekker just to make him memorable, unfortunately it makes the character look like an imbecile and the guy playing his off sider IS the worst actor in the world.
Herbert I found funny as a 13 year old but now he just gets on my nerves, some of his acting is very sloppy especially the bits where he first meets the Doctor and Vena, that's gotta go in my 10 most reviled scenes of the show. Vena herself acts like a block of wood and looks like she has some more wood stuck up her arse half the time. Then there's Colin and Nicola who are still bickering, far worse than in the previous story, then because the 45 min episode 2 is under running by 10 minutes Eric Saward returns from Holiday and writes a pointless 5 minute scene where all that happens is the Doctor and Peri bicker, argue and yell in the Tardis, there's no point to it!
The effects are bad too, when anyone is turned into a skeleton by the Borad's weapon, the skeleton makes a soft paper mache` thud when it hits the ground. The Timelash interior comes straight from the latest Duran Duran music video, all tinsel and polystyrene and the ray gun weapon effects are laughable. Even the usual Tardis in trouble distortion effects which are usually really cool scenes but now they're embarrassing as the Doctor and Peri wear seat belts this time round not to mention they are stuck in Tardis for almost 25 minutes AGAIN before joining the main action.
Plus who's in charge of the design? The guys in the citadel all wear cream coloured one piece overall suits and the rebels wear the grey versions. Vena is the only one who wears anything colourful - and the blue faced android's - really bad and they are wearing pinkish coveralls and have stupid voices. A society who builds these sort of creations needs to be wiped out! Add to that the Bandrils that appear on the screen are muppets! Karfel is going to be wiped out by muppets and their muppet bomb!! Maybe that's how the Doctor survived and didn't even bother with an explanation. The last part was excruciating and the fact some rebels who were contributing to the plot disappear without reference on screen is just sloppy direction
The pace is very slow and the music very tinny, fell asleep a few times on the last viewing. I distinctly remember being embarrassed when I used to watch Dr Who with Dad who always enjoyed watching it. When we got up to this one, he just gave me a sour sort of perplexed look as if to say "what was that rubbish?" Plus we have about 4 endings each one worse than the last and finally the Borad reveals himself and gets beaten by insults, actually Robert Ashby was prety good with his sympathetic performance under that rubber suit. Hmmmm ok I'll be the nasty one here and give it a 1/10. The one is they tried to make a good villain with the Borad.
I do wonder how much homework some new writers do on Doctor Who before they agree to write for it. Sometimes new writers come up with something really good (like Stephen Gallagher) or they turn in stuff that really sucks (like Kevin Clarke). Glen McCoy should have done some homework, although on the other hand maybe he did and he decided that Doctor Who was about running up and down corridors with alien civilizations ruled over by evil dictators.
Timelash is very much a "traditional" Dr Who story in so much that it is studio bound, features some sort of ruler on an alien planet, an android with a blue face, and a bunch of rebels trying to overthrow said ruler. Oh, and Paul Darrow. It also features an abundance of long white corridors and things in the shape of triangles and other things made out of tinsel. As always with Doctor Who, its not just a case of what you've got but what you do with it. So even though it doesn't break any new ground in building sets made out of things that were lying around the Curiousity Show studio it kind of needed someone to tell the lighting boys to turn the bulbs down. As a result, as with many shows in this era (Warriors of the Deep for example) its the overdone and bright white lighting that lets it all down. If the lighting went down to a lower setting, it would have looked okay.
Another problem with Timelash lies with Pennant Roberts' direction which is very point-and-shoot. There isn't any tension or any build up to anything, although if you're saddled with a script that has no tension and doesn't build up to anything anyway then you're probably on a hiding to nothing.
Character wise, I dunno why but for some reason I found the guy playing HG Wells really annoyed me. Maybe it was his continual curiosity coupled with the way he just seemed to irritate everyone around him - including the Doctor who for once would have been justified in punching someone out. Paul Darrow on the other hand pretty much makes a meal out of every scene he is in and happily chews away at the scenery to the point where no other actor is required.
As a kid, I loved sock puppets. I thought they were cool. As a teenager I kind of grew out of them when other interests took over. So when Doctor Who and Timelash came along, with the Bandrills in tow then whatever love I had for sock puppets went out the window. On the other hand, it does make you wonder what being in the Doctor Who studios when this story was made was like; who got the job of operating the sock puppet Bandrills and how much piss was taken out of them. The guy playing the Borad doesn't do too bad a job, although its not much of a job sitting around in a rubber costume sounding angry all the time.
And that is about all I can say about Timelash (again!!) It doesn't really grip me like a lot of other stories. And it doesn't really annoy me like some. Its kind of like The Mutants or Underworld cos it just sort of, well...is. Four out of ten.
There you go. I didn't mention Colin Baker. I didn't mention Nicola Bryant's breasts. I didn't give it a zero out of ten score. And I didn't mention that Timelash is an anagram of "Lame Shit".
So there. :)
The most disappointing thing about Timelash is that it shouldn't be as bad as it is... it starts out with a reasonable premise. Planet under fascist rule - sure it's been done before, but it's tried and true... as is a "time disturbance" plot - but again, it's a show about time, so there's no problems with that. We've also got the standard good guys on the board of directors (including a nice princess with morals who's Father and bloke are fighting the good cause), and the rebels wearing jumpsuits... who's base is haunted by hideous Monsters... if only they were colonists, you'd swear we'd have a Baker and Martin script! We also have the best part of the script - the amulet. Without both halves of the amulet the fascist ruler is powerless - and the nice princess with morals pinches it and throws herself into another time and place.
That's a nice setup and should be a nice standard tale... how can you fuck it up?
Then you get the rest of part 1 and part 2.
The Bandrill plot - which I must have missed every time I've watched it - makes sense on paper. The Borad wants to destroy everyone on Karfel by warring with the Bandrills and having them destroy everyone except for him and The Morlox. Well, maybe it's a bit stupid - cos I'm sure the Bandrills would want to have a fair bit of Karfel once they've blasted it - but it's not bad... the problem is it just gets so muddled in amongst so many stupid things that you can't help but lose interest.
In no particular order, the stupid things are 10 minutes of tedium in the polystyrene timelash where the Doctor needs a rope, but Herbert doesn't, Herbert turning out to be HG Wells (which maybe could have worked), the Borad turning out to be the Loch Ness Monster (goes against Who history - and is stupid... he's not big enough!), the Borad cloning himself for no apparent reason, the hidden picture of Pertwee in the big room thing... the list goes on and on and it just leads to confusion and boredom. The only nice bit in the second part is the crystal trickery... and maybe the neck cuffing of Peri... finally a way of holding them prisoner that they can't really escape from... except if the Doctor can find a central control switch somewhere... for a bloody handcuff thing??? The writer had no idea how to escape from it either!!
However one thing stands out as being more stupid than anything else - the Doctor is blown up. He tells Herbert that there's no way out, he has to sacrifice himself... something which is very Doctor like by the way. Then he reappears, and it's explained with "I'll tell you later"... WHAT? You don't get out of a massive build up life or death threatening situation with "I'll tell you later".... that is a disgrace. It's no wonder Glen McCoy was never asked back - and poor old Pennant Roberts, who tried to re-write a lot of this - should really have started with this bit.
Imagine how bad it must have been before the re-writes... apparently it had Daleks in it!!
It's a simple premise, which needs a simple solution... what a cock up.
Performances are OK. Doctor and Peri are quite good - and I like their squabbling at the start with Peri getting some of her own back. I don't really mind Herbert that much either - just don't know if the idea of having HG Wells is all that good. I don't mind the Borad or the over the top Maylin.... and I quite like the smurf robot... the only one who gives a really weak performance is Jeanne Crowley as Vena... she might be cute, but man, could she be any more bland???
Direction wise, well what can you do... it doesn't look that bad I guess... and there's no way you can make a timelash look good on a budget that stretches to polystyrene and foil.
The problems are purely in the last 2/3 of the script... I do like the first 1/3 though... but can't give it 1/3 marks...