"It's science... fiction."
IN THIS ONE... With the help of H.G. Wells, the Doctor defeats the Borad, prevents a muppet invasion and defeats the Borad again.
REVIEW: Timelash continues to look like a rough draft with almost every element lacking polish at all steps from script to screen. There's definitely a potable story THERE, but it's completely smothered by incompetence at every level. Take, for example, what might have been a clever idea normally - celebrity historical character H.G. Wells getting inspired to write The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Dr. Moreau all in a single adventure. If only they'd told the audience that's who he was before the final seconds. It's treated as a punchline, but we've had time to forget the elements of the joke, while Herbert was playing at being the "next companion", getting into trouble and asking stupid questions while Peri was relegated to damsel in distress and (once again) the object of the villain's lust.
Timelash seems to thrive on lack of clarity, in fact. I can see why the Borad hates mirrors, but why does it confuse the androids? No explanation. The Borad falls into the timelash and becomes the Loch Ness Monster, according to the Doctor, but it doesn't really make sense. Is he supposed to continue to mutate into a Morlox? Because if not, he's really nothing like the creature itself. And what about all the other people (and at least one android) who have fallen in and to 12th-century Earth? Aren't they a danger to the timeline? The suddenly appearing burning android from Part 1 is finally addressed, but because no one asked those questions IN Part 1, it just seemed like a weird mistake there. Here, well, it begs more questions, such as why the android appeared in another location. Things that could have been explained with a single line, surely, which is what makes Timelash such a mess. Structurally, we've got the villain being killed a good 17 minutes before the end of the program, leaving the Doctor to race against the clock to stop the slowest missile in spacetime from reaching Karfel, not that there's any tension in those scenes since the Doctor can apparently spend minutes on end bickering with Peri and then Herbert. (What is it about TARDIS scenes that instantly makes the occupants fight? A fault in the temporal grace circuit?). The Doctor's sacrifice goes nowhere of course, and we're never told HOW the TARDIS survives the explosion. The Borad then reappears, with the last minute revelation that what died was one of his clones. The production design is cheap and tatty, though the inside of the timelash is at least ambitious, but didn't they know spaceships that look like hairdryers are shorthand for "science fiction sketch"? Never mind the shape of the missile, or indeed, the cannon used to blow up the door by the "Guardoliers". And then there's the acting, which varies from absent (Vena) to so over the top Paul Darrow might just run out of air. The Borad himself looks asleep at the wheel most of the time.
So are there things I could recommend? Well, as a piece of camp Who for point-and-laugh viewings with like-minded friends, it certainly works. The effects, like the destruction of the door, or the mood lighting inside the timelash are pretty good. I like the Doctor making liberal use of time technology, creating a timeslip device that puts his actions on a 10-second delay to confuse his enemies. Tekker being turned into a skeleton that promptly falls over made me chuckle, though I doubt that was the intention. And for Who historians, it might be interesting to try and figure out what this story would have been like if the Daleks had been in it, as per the writer's original outline. Is the Borad in that chair because he was originally revealed to be Davros, for example?
VERSIONS: The Target novelization has a few small differences, such as the androids having black rather than blue skin, even though the cover image clearly has it blue. It does "reveal" the TARDIS has a pre-programmed circuit to take it straight to Earth and that the Doctor only pretends to set the controls for his companions' benefit. The Morlox is destroyed when it amalgamates with a wooden stake, and there's an extra subplot about 50 androids converging on the inner sanctum and the Doctor and Myrkos discovering the Borad's clone bank while going to deactivate them remotely. Oh, and the Doctor actually explains how he avoided being destroyed by the missile using yet another timeslip trick.
REWATCHABILITY: Low - Fails at almost every level.
STORY REWATCHABILITY: Low - There isn't one aspect of the production we can't criticize, except perhaps Colin Baker's performance, but he's the only one who seems to care about the show as the 18-month hiatus looms.