Doctor Who #329: The Time Monster Part 4

"The TARDISes are telepathic?" "Yes, of course. How else do you think they communicate."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.10 1972.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor flies his TARDIS inside the Master's and vice-versa. Benton is a baby.

REVIEW: Once again, not very much actually happens, but a lot is SAID. This serial hasn't just established the time vortex (though at this point, it is interchangeable with the Void between universes), but as of this episode, it's also defined the TARDIS as a living thing (the Doctor also says this of Bessie, or rather, he's probably contrasting his two "girls" as a reference to Bessie's false life in The Daemons by the same authors) and made mention of its telepathic circuits which have a role to play in translating language for its travelers' benefit. Stories as far back as The Edge of Destruction inferred it, but this episode makes it explicit. The Time Monster also features a completely redesigned TARDIS interior, the roundels looking like big bowls or mod lampshades, a "desktop theme" that -thankfully! -lasted for only this one story (see Theories as to why I think the Master's TARDIS suffered the same makeover at the same time). And this episode also has the craaa-aazy recursive element of one TARDIS being inside another, which in turn inside the first. I believe this is where the idea of the TARDIS as a mathematical construct begins (the debt owed by Logopolis is near certain).

And perhaps this recursion justifies the story going nowhere. It's the story's theme! Every time someone acts against someone else, the story basically loops back to cancel that action, whether it's the science team and Benton being unable to free UNIT from a time freeze, or the Master refusing to hear the Doctor's arguments against waking Kronos. The Doctor and Jo going 'round and 'round discussing old Venusian synonyms might be another example. But no, whether the script does this on purpose or not, it's really only a lot of wasted time. That dreadful dialog about Jo's coccyx, what the hell is that? Or Krasis the Atlantean high priest! What's HIS function in the story? He's just the Master's impromptu sidekick, afraid of everything, and mumbling through his dialog. The Master needed a magic seal and got stuck with the useless high priest it came with, looks like.

But I'll still give the episode some points for a few random elements. The buzz-bomb explosion was relatively well handled, but the site afterwards looked very real (could have done without the local yokel, of course). Benton as a baby is mighty cute. Though I still find the feminist rampage dialog somewhat forced - and wrong-headed, there's an awful lot of Dr. Ruth pushing the men to make the decisions - it sometimes provides sincere amusement. I like how Benton is told to stand over there and look pretty, for example.

THEORIES:
So why the one-off makeover? Let's remember that the Doctor has put his TARDIS' frequency in phase with the Master's so he can follow it (they're so in phase that it materializes inside and around it). Perhaps that frequency matching has made his TARDIS take on the other's desktop theme. The Doctor's only kind of joking when he says it's just a bit of redecoration, of course. The Master would have changed his TARDIS' look at some earlier point, and the Doctor returned his own to its former look after this adventure because, well, it was never his choice or taste. Yep, I'd think that makes sense if I were someone reading me.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The Doctor throws out a lot of information that builds the TARDIS mythos for future generations of writers, but that doesn't change the fact that the story is at a near standstill.

3 comments:

Mitchell Craig said...

I wonder if the youngster who was cast as Baby Benton ever made any convention appearances later on in his life (Lord knows you get them from the Daleks' tea ladies).

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I think in one of John Levene's convention appearances or DVD commentaries, he mentions that the baby passed away soon afterwards..."but at least he got to appear in Doctor Who".

:-(

-Jason

Siskoid said...

That's a terribly sad story, but I think I remember it now that you mention it.

 

Blog Archive

Category

5 Things to Like (21) Activities (23) Advice (74) Alien Nation (34) Aliens Say the Darndest Things (8) Alpha Flight (25) Amalgam (53) Ambush Bug (46) Animal Man (17) anime (52) Aquaman (71) Archetypes (14) Archie Heroes (10) Arrowed (20) Asterix (9) Atom (30) Avengers (58) Awards (33) Babylon 5 (140) Batman (677) Battle Shovel (13) Battlestar Galactica (134) Black Canary (22) BnB 2-in1 (40) Books (60) Booster Gold (16) Buck Rogers (12) Buffy (6) Canada (70) Captain America (69) Captain Marvel (55) Cat (156) CCGs (51) Charlton (12) Circles of Hell (6) Class (11) Comics (3961) Comics Code Approved (12) Conan (15) Contest (13) Cooking (15) Crisis (77) Daredevil (33) Dating Kara Zor-El (5) Dating Lois Lane (23) Dating Lucy Lane (13) Dating Princess Diana (11) DCAU (404) Deadman (9) Dial H (128) Dice (10) Dinosaur Island (16) Dinosaurs (67) Director Profiles (9) Doctor Who (1676) Doom Patrol (22) Down the Rabbit Hole (7) Dr. Strange (17) Encyclopedia (28) Fantastic Four (56) Fashion Nightmares (19) Fiasco (14) Films Within Films (6) Flash (83) Flushpoint (86) Foldees (12) French (49) Friday Night Fights (57) Fun with Covers (56) FW Team-Up (37) Galleries (9) Game design (26) Gaming (111) Geekly roundup (762) Geeks Anonymous (47) Geekwear (13) Gimme That Star Trek (60) Godzilla (53) Golden Age (432) Grant Morrison (75) Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction (8) Green Arrow (50) Green Lantern (87) Hawkman (39) Hero Points Podcast (13) Holidays (241) House of Mystery (15) Hulk (44) Human Target (8) Improv (34) Inspiration (45) Intersect (5) Invasion Podcast (44) Iron Man (50) Jack Kirby (87) Jimmy Olsen (74) JLA (95) JSA (25) K9 the Series (30) Kirby Motivationals (18) Krypto (202) Kung Fu (98) Learning to Fly (11) Legion (129) Letters pages (6) Liveblog (12) Lonely Hearts Podcast (21) Lord of the Rings (18) Machine Man Motivationals (10) Man-Thing (6) Marquee (89) Masters of the Universe (9) Memes (39) Memorable Moments (35) Metal Men (5) Metamorpho (65) Millennium (72) Mini-Comics (5) Monday Morning Macking (7) Movies (457) Mr. Terrific (6) Music (73) Nelvana of the Northern Lights (8) Nightmare Fuel (21) Number Ones (59) Obituaries (41) oHOTmu OR NOT? (76) Old52 (11) One Panel (291) Outsiders (165) Panels from Sheena (5) Paper Dolls (7) Play (76) Podcast (488) Polls (5) Questionable Fridays (13) Radio (18) Rants (20) Reaganocomics (8) Recollected (11) Red Bee (26) Red Tornado (10) Reign (563) Retro-Comics (3) Reviews (52) Rom (116) RPGs (539) Sandman (21) Sapphire & Steel (37) Sarah Jane Adventures (70) Saturday Morning Cartoons (5) SBG for Girls (4) Seasons of DWAITAS (100) Secret Origins Podcast (8) Secret Wars (25) SF (30) Shut Up Star Boy (1) Silver Age (368) Siskoid as Editor (34) Siskoid's Mailbox (10) Space 1999 (51) Spectre (20) Spider-Man (100) Spring Cleaning (15) ST non-fiction (19) ST novels: DS9 (8) ST novels: S.C.E. (19) ST novels: The Shat (2) ST novels: TNG (9) ST novels: TOS (13) Star Trek (1712) Streaky (2) Suicide Squad (38) Supergirl (89) Superman (1060) Supershill (11) Swamp Thing (23) Tales from Earth-Prime (7) Team Horrible (4) Teen Titans (83) That Franchise I Never Talk About (53) The Orville (29) The Prisoner (5) The Thing (54) Then and Now (4) Theory (51) Thor (52) Thursdays of Two Worlds (43) Time Capsule (8) Timeslip (7) Tintin (23) Torchwood (62) Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms (5) Toys (65) Turnarounds (7) TV (193) V (6) Waking Life (1) Warehouse 13 (9) Websites (102) What If? (103) Who's This? (204) Whoniverse-B (11) Wikileaked (3) Wonder Woman (82) X-Files (246) X-Men (102) Zero Hour Strikes (26) Zine (5)