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The Time Monster

Production Code: OOO

First Transmitted

1 - 20/05/1972 17:50

2 - 27/05/1972 17:50

3 - 03/06/1972 17:50

4 - 10/06/1972 17:50

5 - 17/06/1972 17:45

6 - 24/06/1972 17:45

Plot

The Master, in the guise of Professor Thascales, has constructed at the Newton Institute in Wootton a device known as TOMTIT - Transmission Of Matter Through Interstitial Time - with which to gain control over Kronos, a creature from outside time. The creature is summoned but the effect proves uncontrollable, so the Master flees.

The Doctor shuts TOMTIT down but the Master later reactivates it, using it first to ensnare Krasis, High Priest of the lost city of Atlantis, and then to attack UNIT forces by way of a series of timeslips. The Master takes Krasis back to Atlantis in his TARDIS in the hope of stealing the sacred Crystal of Kronos, with which he aims finally to dominate the creature. The Doctor follows with Jo but is unable to prevent his enemy from seducing Queen Galleia and staging a coup. Galleia turns against the Master when she learns that he has caused the death of her husband, King Dalios.

The Master then unleashes Kronos, destroying Atlantis. The two Time Lords escape in their respective TARDISes and confront each other in the time vortex. The Doctor threatens to trigger a 'time ram' - a devastating collision - but cannot bring himself to do it.

Jo, held hostage by the Master, has no such qualms, and operates the controls herself. The two TARDISes reappear in a strange void presided over by Kronos - who now appears as a beautiful female face.

The time ram has released Kronos, who agrees to return the Doctor and Jo to Earth. The creature plans to subject the Master to eternal torment, but the Doctor pleads on his behalf and he too goes free.

Episode Endings

A radiation-suited Master is demonstrating TOMTIT to Newton Institute director Dr Percival and a group of observers, including Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. The device succeeds in instantaneously transporting a cup and saucer from the main area of the lab to a smaller inner area. From the inner area, lab assistant Stuart Hyde calls for the power to be switched off. Instead however the Master boosts it and shouts to Kronos to come to him.

The Master activates TOMTIT again and, as an astonished Dr Percival and a stunned Sergeant Benton look on, Krasis materialises in the inner area of the lab.

The Master directs a V1 flying bomb from the Second World War to fall on a UNIT convoy led by Captain Yates. The Doctor, Jo and the Brigadier witness the explosion from a distance. The Brigadier tries desperately to raise Yates on his walkie-talkie, but in vain.

The Master laughs as he sends the Doctor's TARDIS spinning into the time vortex with Jo left alone aboard it.

Jo is seized by Krasis and thrown into the Atlantean vault wherein lurks the Minotaur. She hears the creature roar and looks round in alarm.

Benton, having previously been regressed to a baby by TOMTIT, reverts to his normal age. He stands naked in the laboratory and demands to know what has been happening as the Doctor, Jo, the Brigadier, Stuart Hyde and Newton Institute scientist Dr Ruth Ingram look on in amusement.

Roots

Cleopatra.

Sodom and Gomorrah.

Pompeii.

Plato.

The Doctor's story about flowers and hillsides is a quote from Mumonkan, a Buddhist text where the Buddha holds up a flower, and Mahakasyapa understands Zen in that moment.

Atlantis.

The Minotaur.

Star Trek's Shore Leave.

A Taste of Armageddon.

The Devil in the Dark.

Wordsworth's The Leech Gatherer.

Arthur C Clarke's The New Serendip.

Dialogue Triumphs

The Master : "Ah, the tribal taboos of army etiquette. I find it difficult to identify with such primitive absurdities."

The Doctor : "When I was a little boy, we used to live in a house that was perched halfway up the top of a mountain. Behind our house, there sat under a tree an old man. A hermit, a monk. He'd lived under this tree for half his lifetime, so they said, and had learned the secret of life. So, when my black day came, I went and asked him to help me.'"

Jo Grant : "And he told you the secret? Well, what was it?"

The Doctor : "I'm coming to that, Jo, in my own time. I'll never forget what it was like up there. All bleak and cold, it was, a few bare rocks with some weeds sprouting from them and some pathetic little patches of sludgy snow. It was just grey. Grey, grey, grey. The tree the old man sat under was ancient and twisted, the old man himself - he was as brittle and as dry as a leaf in autumn."

Jo Grant : "But what did he say?"

The Doctor : "Nothing. Not a word. He just sat there, silently, expressionless, and he listened while I poured out my troubles. I was too unhappy even for tears, I remember. When I'd finished, he lifted a skeletal hand and he pointed. Do you know what he pointed at?"

Jo Grant : "No."

The Doctor : "A flower. One of those little weeds. Just like a daisy it was. I looked at it for a moment and suddenly I saw it through his eyes. It was simply glowing with life like a perfectly cut jewel, and the colours were deeper and richer than you could possibly imagine. It was the daisiest daisy I'd ever seen."

Jo Grant : "And that was the secret of life? A daisy? Honestly, Doctor!"

The Doctor : "Yes, I laughed too when I first heard it. Later, I got up and ran down the mountain and I found that the rocks weren't grey at all. They were red and brown, purple and gold. And those pathetic little patches of sludgy snow were shining white in the sunlight!"

Galleia : [Speaking of the Master] "Handsome? Aye, he looked well enough. But his face, Lakis. It was a face of power. Such a man would risk the world to win his desires..."

The Brigadier : "One moment you're talking about the entire universe blowing up and the next you're going on about tea."

The Brigadier : "You'll be consulting the entrails of a sheep next."

Dialogue Disasters

"All that Cretan jazz."

Stuart : "May God bless the good ship women's lib and all who sail in her."

Ruth : "Simmer down, Stew."

The Doctor : "Kronos can swallow a life as quickly as a boa constrictor can swallow a rabbit. Fur and all!"

The Master : "Nobody and nothing can stop me now!"

Double Entendre

The Master : [To the head of the Newton Institute] "I've never seen a more inept performance!"

Continuity

The Doctor has a precognitive dream. When he was a little boy, he lived in a house half way up a mountain, behind which sat a monk, or hermit, under a tree (see Planet of the Spiders, State of Decay, cf. The Invasion of Time). [Gallifrey] is described as bleak and cold [and has some form of religion, at least outside the Capitol].

The Master can duplicate the Brigadier's voice. Time Lords can survive in the time vortex (see Shada), and the TARDIS has an inbuilt rescue mechanism for when this happens, [the telepathic circuits locating the lost Time Lord by latching on to their unconscious thoughts]. TARDISes communicate telepathically, and exist outside time [in another dimension], with their appearance [the door] here (see The Hand of Fear). Travel time between places depends on the mood of the ship, which the Doctor states is alive (as Bessie is).

Jo knows Greek. There are lots of UNIT HQs worldwide and the Seventh Enabling Act allows the Brigadier to take over from Government forces (cf. The Green Death).

Kronos knows of the Doctor.

QV

Venus

A Short History of Atlantis

UNIT Call-Signs

Changing History

Location

Wooton, outside Cambridge (and 30 minutes' drive from UNIT HQ), a few days including Michaelmas (29 September, or perhaps just a reference to Oxbridge Autumn term), [1971]

Atlantis (the Thera or San Torini islands, off Greece), c 1500BC, during the Minoan era.

Trivia

There is a new TARDIS interior set in this story, designed by Tim Gleeson.

Popular horror film star Ingrid Pitt stars as Queen Galleia.

Dave Prowse, later to play (but not voice) the masked Darth Vader in the Star Wars films, features in an equally incognito role as the Minotaur.

Myth

Well-known actress Susan Penhaligon, making an early television appearance as Galleia's handmaiden Lakis, was originally to have been credited as Virginia Mull. (Virginia Mull was a different actress who had a small uncredited walk-on role as a serving girl in the Atlantis scenes of this story. Susan Penhaligon, who was a late replacement for actress Ann Michelle, was always to have been credited under her own name.)

Technobabble

E=MC³ in the extra temporal physics of the time vortex. 'Being without becoming, an ontological absurdity!' The Doctor makes a 'time flow analogue' from a Moroccan burgundy bottle, spoons, forks, corks, keyrings, tea leaves and a mug. 'The relationship between the different molecular bonds and the actual shapes form a crystalline structure of ratios.' [Since the Doctor and the Master made these at school (the Academy) to spoil each other's time experiments, it is only the shape of the things that are important.] The Master works out his landing coordinates with map and compass. A lot of polarities get reversed.

Goofs

The Master has a Greek accent for about two minutes. (Why does he persist in working in England under UNIT's very noses?)

In episode one, we see that the TARDIS is an empty police box.

The V1 is on black and white film.

Why does the UNIT/Roundheads battle last so long, and with no casualties?

What significance is there to the volcanic action on modern day Thera?

Why does the Doctor dream about it?

The Doctor's supposedly backwards dialogue when played backwards is still rubbish.

'Chronovore' is an awkward mix of Greek and Latin.

Where does the second cork come from?

Fashion Victim

Jo's frock and obvious Atlantean wig.

Hippias' eye shadow.

The humanoid Kronos' Pan's People make up.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Jon Pertwee

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney

Captain Mike Yates - Richard Franklin

Jo Grant - Katy Manning

Sergeant Benton - John Levene

Crito - Derek Murcott

Dalios - George Cormack

Dr. Cook - Neville Barber

Dr. Percival - John Wyse

Dr. Ruth Ingram - Wanda Moore

Face of Kronos - Ingrid Bower

Farmworker - George Lee

Galleia - Ingrid Pitt

Guard - Melville Jones

Hippias - Aidan Murphy

Knight - Gregory Powell

Krasis - Donald Eccles

Kronos - Marc Boyle

Lakis - Susan Penhaligon

Master - Roger Delgado

Minotaur - Dave Prowse

Miseus - Michael Walker

Neophite - Keith Dalton

Proctor - Barry Ashton

Roundhead Officer - Dave Carter

Stuart Hyde - Ian Collier

Unit Sergeant - Simon Legree

Window Cleaner - Terry Walsh

Crew

Director - Paul Bernard

Assistant Floor Manager - Rosemary Hester

Costumes - Barbara Lane

Designer - Tim Gleeson

Film Cameraman - Peter Hamilton

Film Editor - Martyn Day

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Joan Barrett

Producer - Barry Letts

Production Assistant - Marion McDougall

Script Editor - Terrance Dicks

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Derek Hobday

Studio Sound - Tony Millier

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Visual Effects - Michealjohn Harris

Visual Effects - Peter Pegrum

Writer - Robert Sloman

Writer - Barry Letts Barry Letts received no credit on screen in view of the fact that he was producer of the series.

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'Time isn't smooth... It's made up of little bits!' Like watching paint dry while being whipped with barbed wire: immensely dull and painful at the same time. It's as if the UNIT family are having such fun that they've forgotten that we'd like to have some, too. Episode four is intended to make the audience go 'Ooh, that's clever' but actually makes them fondly remember The Space Museum.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Time Monster is one of a number of stories in relation to which the weight of fan opinion has shifted significantly over the years. The views expressed by J Jeremy Bentham in Oracle Volume 3 Number 9, dated May 1981 are representative of those that saw print in the late seventies and early eighties:

'From start to finish the serial is just loaded with unexpected bonuses. The TARDIS is used widely...; there are some excellent sets; and the action never flags throughout the whole 150 minutes. Best of all is the stunning interplay between the Doctor and his principal adversary. Robert Sloman has carefully drawn out the personality of each Time Lord, giving them strengths and weaknesses that are not only delightful to observe but totally fitting...

'The Time Monster is a true example of Doctor Who at its best - an adventure in space and time in the classical sense, combining science-fiction with adventure with historical drama.'

In marked contrast is the following assessment by Jonathan Burt in Five Hundred Eyes Issue 5, dated summer 1990, which typifies the far more negative response that the story has received in later years: 'Although the ideas behind the story were solid, they were strained by the six episode format. Padding is obvious throughout... and especially during the Wootton section. The pace is terribly slow... When Kronos does make one of its irregular appearances, its "white dove" costume looks rather silly... The climax of Episode Six when Kronos is depicted as a huge yet distant god-like face, proving its asexuality, power and a beauty of its own type, is more effective in realising the potential of the "most fearsome" Chronivore.'

This distinctly lukewarm reaction corresponds more closely to that of contemporary viewers, as evidenced by the BBC's Audience Research Report on the story's closing episode: 'There was evidently some feeling among reporting viewers that Doctor Who was "ready for a rest"... Some, certainly, enjoyed this imaginative and enjoyable fantasy about the possible fate of the fabled city of Atlantis, which had some tense moments, but, on the whole, it was felt to reflect the general "tiredness" of the series, several dismissing it as "absolute rubbish" which was too obvious and stereotyped to hold their attention. "I see the Master has escaped again, so no doubt we are in for a further series of confrontations", remarked one viewer drily.'

Some fan commentators have been even more damning in their criticism. 'It is a story which covers some four thousand years of history - and even goes beyond the calculable boundaries of time,' noted David Auger in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1986. 'A simple artifact provides the common denominator...: a piece of quartz in the configuration of a trident; the very crystal which was once used by the priests of Atlantis to draw Kronos from beyond those temporal boundaries and into time itself. However, despite there being such an imaginative concept to link them, these diverse elements fail to meld successfully as a Doctor Who serial. It is almost as if someone has grasped the crystal and let it slip through their fingers to shatter on the floor. While still retaining some individual splendour, the resulting fragments lack coherence and can never match the magnificence of the original crystal.'

This is a persuasive analogy; and indeed, with hindsight, it is difficult to see how The Time Monster acquired its high initial reputation in the first place. It is easily the weakest story of the ninth season. Quite apart from its lack of dramatic focus and poorly worked out plot, it also features some of the silliest ideas ever to be presented in Doctor Who - most notably Bessie's 'minimum inertia superdrive' and the Doctor's use of a wine bottle and assorted kitchen implements to construct a device to jam TOMTIT. Some of the characters - particularly Ruth and Stuart, with their terribly cliched 'battle of the sexes' sniping, and Hippias, who is far too camp to be taken seriously as the lover of the voluptuous Galleia - are frankly cringe-inducing.

The realisation of Kronos is also less than impressive, as even Bentham was forced to admit: '[When it was] framed against the crystal, wings beating in slow motion like a malevolent dragonfly, a very powerful image was conjured up, which was totally lost on the few occasions we saw it in full view - swinging about the set on its flying harness like an apoplectic budgerigar.' Even worse is the depiction of the story's other 'monster', the Minotaur. 'Paul Bernard's direction really slips here,' wrote Burt. 'The Minotaur, looking... ridiculous, is fully lit by a white floodlight, so the viewer can appreciate all its inadequacies! The Doctor plays the toreador, and, inexplicably, the beast runs on and fatally crashes into the wall, conveniently exposing the crystal. Words cannot hope to sum up the ineptness of this sequence: it has to be experienced.'

The fragments of 'individual splendour' to which Auger referred are to be found mainly in the section of the story set in Atlantis, which boasts excellent performances from Ingrid Pitt as Galleia and George Cormack as Dalios and an unusual but highly effective subplot of the Master seducing the Queen. The characterisation of the regulars is also one of the story's best features - the sequence in which Captain Yates and his UNIT men are confronted by a knight on horseback and Roundhead troops, although admittedly superfluous to the plot, is wonderful - and reviewers have often singled out the Master for particular praise.

'The Master is the best aspect of the story,' asserted Burt, 'brilliantly portrayed by Roger Delgado. There are several subtle touches..., one of the best being in Episode One when [he] pretends to be a "life-long pacifist" to avoid eating lunch opposite the Brigadier. Although he hypnotises Percival with ease ("Just like the old days"), this is a story when his tricks do not always come off. Benton is not fooled [by his impersonation of the Brigadier over the telephone], because the Master calls him "dear fellow"... Furthermore the Master fails to hypnotise Dalios, and, although he controls his ire externally, we can see he is seething inside... Despite his evil, Delgado's Master is a likeable character, and this is at the root of his success.' It must be said however that even the universally admired Delgado has an uncharacteristic lapse when he overacts woefully in the scene where he pleads with Kronos to spare him.

One senses that the production team's aim in The Time Monster was to try to repeat the perceived success of the previous season's closing story, The Dæmons, also written by Robert Sloman and Barry Letts. There are, indeed, a number of similarities between the two, as Auger observed: 'The structure of the first episode in each case is very similar; The Time Monster has Jo Grant informing the Doctor about some of the latest theories on Atlantis, where The Dæmons saw her telling him about witchcraft and the occult; both episodes feature the two lead characters racing along in Bessie to get to the location around which the action is centred; and both climax with the Master calling upon a powerful being to come forth and do his bidding. Similarities extend beyond these first episodes, though. For example, the crystal of Kronos cannot be moved, just as the miniaturised spacecraft of the Dæmon could not be moved. And to cap it all, Kronos and Azal come from two different alien races, both of which were apparently responsible for the destruction of Atlantis!'

Despite all these similarities, the two stories are sadly far apart in quality, and Doctor Who's ninth season ends on a disappointing note.

< The MutantsThird DoctorThe Three Doctors >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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