Our Doctor Who expert, Tony Cross, is journeying through all of time and space to bring us his thoughts on every available Doctor story. Today is the Sixth Doctor adventure Timelash...
Where do I begin?
Do I begin with the flat, matt, obviously studio bound sets topped off with a tinsel, polystyrene & lightbulb Timelash? A terrifying fearsome punishment for those who rebel against [dum...dum...dah] The Borad that the Doctor can abseil into as if it were a slightly windy cliff face.
Or do I start with Jeananne Crowley's bizarre performance as Vena. Crowley gives some odd line readings whilst drifting about the place as if she's stoned. In fact the acting in this is generally quite odd. Crowley's being fey & freaky, Paul Darrow is channelling Richard III as Tekker in one of Doctor Who's most hamtastic performances. Darrow eats, chews & spits out almost every line as if it is some foul tasting foodstuff. Its borderline genius & frankly hilarious. Dicken Ashworth as Sezon seems to think he's in an episode of some hard hitting cop drama & does a lot of threatening & shouting. David Ashton as Kendron - the third ex-Brass cast member in as many stories - seems to think he's in a light comedy, which isn't far wrong truth be told.
Only Eric Deacon as Mykros, Peter Robert Scott as Brunner and Tracy Louise Ward as Katz appear even vaguely normal & frankly they get sod all to do.
But I'm being harsh. Two actors from the guest cast do a fine job. David Chandler as Herbert, who is all wide-eyed enthusiasm & Adric-esque annoyingness & Robert Ashby as THE BORAD. Ashby's buried under a lot of make-up but his voice is amazingly dark & mellifluous. He doesn't go over the top, leaving that to Paul Darrow. He's a mean, nasty villain with a bit of a thing for Peri. Heaven knows what he'd have done if Peri had turned up wearing one of her leotards from earlier in the season as in this story she is surprisingly modestly outfitted.
The problem is poor old Peri is basically Penelope Pitstop in this story being literally dragged from one peril to another. I suspect Nicola Bryant did not enjoy this story as it really is the nadir of her time in the TARDIS. It is pathetic.
As is the 'oh I'm not dead, that was a clone' twist towards the stories end. I mean for heaven's sake & to try & paper over such a cliché with a clodhopping line like: "Ah but I didn't tell you about my OTHER experiment did I" is adding insult to injury.
Even Colin Baker seems to be flagging a bit with this.
Which brings me on to my main complaint about this story. The un-Doctor-esque five minutes taunting of THE BORAD at the stories end. It actually makes you feel sorry for THE BORAD who’s effectively bullied in to the Timelash by a series of playground insults about his looks from the Doctor. Yes, THE BORAD is an evil bastard but the Doctor doesn't do this kind of stuff. It's petty, cruel & unpleasant. The sort of thing that lesser Timelord’s would sink to but The Doctor's supposed to be above all that kind of stuff, most of the time. He knew Megelan aka THE BORAD before his accident. Why didn't he try & reason with him? To talk him down?
I don't know but it means this story ends on a bit of a sour note for me despite all the faux jollity that follows THE BORAD's plunge into the Timelash.
And don't let me get started on the Bandrils.
For all its many, many flaws I do find Timelash entertaining. Its fun in a silly kind of a way and it cheers me up in some bizarre way. You can't watch Timelash and be unhappy. Probably.
Tony Cross is the creator of the wonderful Centurion Blog's found HERE and HERE.
Image – BBC.