Doctor Who #328: The Time Monster Part 3

"Being without becoming! An ontological absurdity."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.3 1972.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor does arts and crafts, the Master summons Kronos, and UNIT fights warriors out of history.

REVIEW: If I call the first two episodes "kitchen sink", Part 3 is where it really goes off the rails. The Master ropes the visitor from Atlantis, a high priest, into helping him call and control Kronos, which the temporal bridge has made possible. The Master needs both his scientific machine and the magical seal the priest carries. Back in Atlantis, still gorgeously shot on film, with proper sets and atmosphere, there's mention of the lord there being more than 500 years old AND of a minotaur lurking in the catacombs. In the present, the Master uses the fissures in time to call on a knight, Roundheads with cannons and a V-1 buzzbomb to battle UNIT, and Kronos itself, basically a guy in a white paper bird costume. And the Doctor uses what appears to be (as per The Lodger) the non-technological technology of the Lammasteen. It's all complete nonsense and very silly indeed, a threat to our willing suspension of disbelief.

UNIT has the most to lose in all this. For the sequences to work, we have to believe their modern equipment and tactics can't deal with those of the 17th century! The Medieval knight actually scores the first hit, forcing all the UNIT vehicles off the road (just a little bit) and getting them stuck in mud (oh COME ON!). The nature of this appearing and disappearing dangers makes them simple distractions to get the episode to the correct length, but then, the Doctor's silly improvised bricolage is just as bad. It's silliness of silliness' sake, only made palatable thanks to the Brig's dry wit. Not only is it profoundly silly (though perhaps a fun thing for kids to make at home), but it doesn't really do anything plot-wise. Keeping time with the stupidest of drums. The Brig's wit does fail him, and some viewers will find his chauvinistic "Females, stay under cover" unbearable (I do, but mostly because it's obvious the script just wants to give feminist Dr. Ruth a line). I'm not sure how I should take the Brig repeatedly accusing Yates of being drunk either.

The one thing I can't make my mind up about is Kronos. I should either be impressed they attempted a flying creature (on wires) and a little creeped out at how it flies around panicked in the lab, or embarrassed for the poor bloke flapping his wings in the damn thing, while wondering if Kronos is an animal or a god, based on what we see. No wonder they try to hide it with bright lights and blurry lenses. Like most elements in this episode, it appears, they disappears. It's sum zero story telling. Even Stuart is healed back to youth like nothing happened. So what are we left with? A reverse reference to The Lodger? The "bitter Stu" pun? The Atlantis cinematography? If it looks that good, let's go there already.

REWATCHABILITY: Low - Pure nonsense, crossing the border from fun to ridiculous, while simultaneously advancing the plot very little.



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