Doctor Who #331: The Time Monster Part 6

"It's beautiful... but at the same time, horrible. It gives me a funny feeling."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jun.24 1972.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor escapes the Minotaur and the destruction of Atlantis, and Kronos turns into a girl and lets the Master escape.

REVIEW: How are they going to wrap all this up in less than 25 minutes?! By having a lot of it happen behind the scenes, actually (one might imagine a version of this story that takes place in Atlantis for a lot longer where we see the Master's revolution). I bet the Brigadier is more than slightly frustrated that he didn't get any closure on this one. Sorry UNIT, but the Atlantis stuff is a much better setting. This time around, we get the Minotaur's second of four appearances on the series (if the Nimon count - wait, it this one some kind of Nimon?), gorgeous on film, even if trapped in a somewhat silly fight - the Doctor defeats it with a red cape, matador style. The lighting's atmospheric even in the scenes shot on video (in the cell, for example). And I really like the last shot of Atlantis, with stone and timber falling from the sky, and its Queen, having betrayed her King, her head cast downward in shame and defeat. Galleia really deserved more screen time.

It's not just eye candy either. In the middle of this kitchen sink finale, there's a relatively long scene in which the Doctor tells Jo a story from his youth, a story about his darkest, but best day. It's a Buddhist fable about everything being a miracle, and relates to the Doctor's adventures quite well, and even his fascination with ephemeral, flawed humanity. Could Jo be the daisiest of daisies?--I am fighting the 6th Doctor's urge for wordplay, but I'm losing--Or the dizziest of dizzies? We don't know what day he's talking about, but I like to think it's when he decided to leave Gallifrey, having realized how his people are squandering the gift of time travel. The wise old man who guides him, well, we'll eventually meet him so, no spoilers.

The Master doesn't fare so well, but I'm not faulting Delgado who plays it like he's really unhinged. He's as angry as he is happy for the Doctor being dead, and grows quite manic even before his nemesis shows up alive and well. This is a Master whose lapses in judgment are due to mental illness, surely, and you see it when his cool veneer drops away. Maybe I'm grasping at straws trying to explain why he would let the Doctor speak at his "coronation". At least he calls the Doctor's bluff when a time ram is threatened, and he's right to. He just doesn't count on Jo making the ultimate sacrifice. And how humiliating is it for him to beg the Doctor for his life? Obviously, he takes advantage of the Doctor's mercy to escape, but it still comes at the cost of his dignity. And that's how his hate for his old friend grows. In that climax, Kronos can be perceived as a giant lady with golden eyes, a cool, dramatic visual. Oh, and baby Benton? Well, he survives some of the worst babysitting ever (duck for cover, the console the baby's sitting next to is about to blow!) and when the temporal anomalies evaporate, Benton becomes a big naked adult. Cue end of season laughter. (At least it doesn't feel that forced, as far as these things go).

THEORIES: Atlantis gets mentioned a number of times on the series, but does it all amount to a coherent history? The extracanonical material has tried to fill the gaps with some success. For example, The Daemons says the eponymous monsters were responsible for the destruction of Atlantis, but in this serial, we see it's Kronos' fault. The novel The Quantum Archangel says the Daemons gave the Atlanteans the Kronos crystal, which works, both as an explanation of that throwaway line and within the parameters of the Daemons' manipulation of civilizations. What about The Underwater Menace, which features a fairly different Atlantis? Well, that takes place in the present, which gives the survivors 3500 years to evolve (or, as it happens, devolve) and forget their history. In the novel Transit, the Doctor mentions there are three different Atlantises, which is meant to cover these inconsistencies (two of them colonies of the first?), but to further muddy the waters (so to speak), the Torchwood novel The Undertaker's Gift establishes that the Time Agency had a hand in it as well.

VERSIONS: I am unaware of any significant differences in the Target novelization.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Looks like I'm happy so long as we're in Atlantis. Great setting, nice characters, sharp dialog, cool effects. Still feels rushed as a finale.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I'm not kidding about the serial's kitchen sink quality. The show's makers through a lot of stuff at this, and while it builds up the TARDIS and how time travel works, it also plays for time with nonsense set pieces. Strangely, it means the really rather good Atlantis sequences get shorted, and the finale rushes by too quickly. A lot of good stuff, a lot of bad stuff, a lot of ambivalence.

1 comments:

Mitchell Craig said...

If the Master is indeed mentally ill, that would explain the tenor of how every other actor followed Roger Delgado in the role.

 

Blog Archive

Category

5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zine