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Doctor Who - Timelash [1985] - 9.48

Believe the vocal Doctor Who fanbase, and you'd have Timelash's card marked as a story to steer clear of. But thanks to the perspective of time, and another smashing DVD, this really is a whole lot better than you may be expecting.

Timelash is a tale from the undercooked Colin Baker era in the TARDIS, and on face value, there are lots of problems that were symptoms of this period of the show: hammed up acting, unconvincing monsters and a script that could have used a good deal more work are all present and correct here.

But--whisper it--Timelash is actually good fun. Really. There's the always-likeable Peri, H G Wells, an overarching sense of entertainment and ultimately a breezy 90 minutes to enjoy. Even those who don't usually warm to Colin Baker will find him in a calmer state here, although perhaps that's more to do with the hideously over-the-top performance from Paul Darrow.

There's never likely to be a revisionist call to instate Timelash as a classic piece of television, but time has at least proven that it's an enjoyable one. Factor in a DVD that features a commentary track (including Darrow!), a 25-minute documentary and assorted notes and listings, and it's hard to feel shortchanged. --Jon Foster

Customer reviews (av rating: 3.5):

Rating: 2:
Not that bad. : When the booklet that accompanies the DVD claims "Timelash isn't that bad!" you know you're in trouble. When the making of extra merely reels off a list of reasons for why the story was rubbish, rather than discussing the actual making of the serial, you can't be too hopeful.

However Timelash is much better than its reputation would suggest. The story is pretty simplistic but decent enough. The acting isn't too bad except for Tekker, but I don't feel I really need to comment on that. There are some scenes which are so clearly placed for padding, principally the doctors argument with Perri at the end, which serves no other purpose whatsoever. The blue android thing was squeaky and so pretty ineffective as a menacing villain. The design in the serial was also poor, the interior of the Timelash was effective only for its comedy value. The fact that the terrifying Timelash could easily be climbed into ruined the premise f its use as punishment. Also the poor positioning of the prop meant that people had to throw themselves into the Timelash rather than being thrown into it. Colin Baker was only the Doctor for two full seasons and with such a high percentage of his stories falling short of the mark you can see why he was unpopular with the BBC bigwigs, however Baker is a good actor and could have been an excellent doctor, his performance here (excepting the cringeworthy TARDIS scenes) is a highlight, the design of The Borad is also good.

Another massive problem is the glaring plot holes displayed at the end. The explanation of the Borads escape is improbbable and unsatisfactory, and the fact that the doctor decides not to explain how he prevented the bomb shows weakness in the writing.

I have to say although I have managed to reel off a long list of faults with the serial I did enjoy it when I watched it. I have given it a low rating because it is hard to give it more when so many superior stories exist. However it is a budget release and I wouldn't warn people off picking it up for a cheap price. But with Genesis of the Daleks, Earthshock, Spearhead from Space, The Hand of Fear and other classic serials being released for bargain prices maybe you should shy away from this one.

Rating: 5:
From reading the book im now a fan : From purchasing the book about five months ago, I decided to have a gander at this DVD, Been truly impressed by the book (actually the best of the "Who's I've read) I thought what the hay, lets grab the Popcorn and chill.

I gave the book 5 stars and this DVD will get the same "DEFINATLY ONE TO WATCH"

Thank you

Adam *****

Rating: 5:
There's nothing wrong here! Who is for kids : I really liked this story when it first aired in 1985. I enjoyed the Doctor and Peri arguments like Peri's - "Don't I get a say in all this" with the Doctor's - "Of course not, be quiet!". It's all about character driven fun.

I thought the Borad was terrific! I admit to feeling a little disappointed by the androids and the internal effect of the timelash itself but overall the story entertained me. I was 11 then and Colin Baker was by far my favourite actor to have taken on the role. Since then I have come across this immense hatred for anything from Colin Bakers era, Timelash in particular. I thought there must be something I had missed but on viewing it again I don't see what's wrong with it.

When I looked at later programs with the seemingly more respected McCoy in the role I could hardly bear to watch such rubbish as "The Happiness Patrol" , "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" and "Silver Nemesis". As a kid I didn't get through his first season and didn't watch Who again until I came across "Tomb of the Cybermen" in a video shop about six years ago and watched out of curiosity.

Colin Baker had fun with the role. Fun that was character driven. He engaged with his companions in a realistic way and wasn't blatantly silly unlike Tom Baker and McCoy.

Timelash demonstrates how his character could have developed had he not been so unceremoniously dumped from the role. Look past the twenty odd year old production values as I'm sure you might for say, "Talons of Weng Chiang," with it's taped over light switches and rather unbelievable mouse suit, and look at the development that takes place of the characters by the actors in an extremely cheap extract of an experimental season.

I loved this show as a kid and, quite frankly, Dr Who is a kids show. 20 years on, my 2 boys love the show too. It gets top marks from me.

Rating: 2:
Doctor Who at its flattest and cheapest : Story: 2/5 - Extras: 3/5

"Timelash", by Glen McCoy, is regarded by some fans as the worst story that the original series of "Doctor Who" ever produced. I wouldn't go that far - at least it's better than "The Celestial Toymaker" - but despite being a massive Colin Baker fan (we are in the minority), I was forced to admit after watching this that "Timelash" is, indeed, poor.
There are some interesting ideas knocking around with this story, such as the alien dictator who keeps his real appearance hidden, the disposal of enemies of the state through a time corridor to 12th Century Earth, and the inclusion of the character of Herbert (who generates a last minute plot twist that I shan't spoil for you if you haven't seen "Timelash" before). However, the full implications of these myriad ideas are never explored to their full potential, and the story is also riddled with poor guest performances; is plagued by flat direction; suffers from uninspired and incredibly cheap-looking set design; and features some truly dreadful, supposedly fearsome cave-dwelling monsters that, when allegedly about to savage the unfortunate Peri (Nicola Bryant), look like they're more likely to nuzzle her to death. Such things, you might say, are common in 1980s "Who" and can usually be forgiven - but they shouldn't all have been allowed to happen at once.
The highlights of "Timelash" are probably the joyously OTT performance of guest star Paul Darrow as the slimy and amoral Maylin Tekker, and the impressive makeup used in the final scenes featuring the true "monster of the week".
"Timelash" is one of the BBC's new, cheaper, "Standard Edition" Doctor Who DVD releases, and as such has a lower payload of special features. There's a commentary with actors Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Paul Darrow, and an interesting documentary looking at the story and examining, among other things, why it came out so badly. I would describe "Timelash" as a DVD for completists only: new fans looking to try out the Colin Baker years should probably turn to "The Two Doctors" or "Revelation of the Daleks".

Rating: 3:
A Lash Up In Many Ways : As has previously been noted, it comes to a pretty pass when the insert and the documentaries hold their hands up and explicitly state 'OK, guys, you got us, it isn't the best, but hey...' that said, it isn't, for me the WORST Doctor Who adventure of all time, The Twin Dillemma, Paradise Towers and Time And The Rani have a few more sever deficiencies in them than this.

It's worse problem is budgeting, there is just no money on this show at all and it tells. It has a very similar cheap look to Vengeance on Varos, un-natural over-lit sets in the main (the Vorat's being the exception), the exterior of H.G.Wells' cabin looking particularly unconvincing, and then the Timelash itself, supposedly terrifying, it looks just like a standing cabinet, and the set within it looks like a very cheap climbing wall. Then there's the script, there's so much padding in here that is beggars belief. There is a whole scene between the Doctor and Peri in the TARDIS which is so contrived it stands out a mile. Their relationship has also fallen back into them doing a lot of bickering, really to make sense it should have been placed before the Two Doctors rather than after, allowing Baker's first series to end on a high with two strong stories. I wouldn't go so far as to call the acting pantomimic, there's not much 'staginess' going on here in terms of the delivery, I always felt the 'pantomime' criticisms should always have been levelled at the interior sets up until series 25. However, there is no disguising the fact that Paul Darrow is SERIOUSLY overdoing his bit.

There are some strengths to this; Colin has truly found his feet in the role by this point and is beginning to stretch his muscles a little. Always sad that he never really got the chance to show what he could do on the screen (although thankfully audio has more than rectified this), and Nicola Bryant is on form as Peri. The Vorat is an effective looking and acted 'monseter' and although the twist at the end is a little long played, it is effective.

New viewers should approach this with an open mind, it's not the best, but I still think there are worse out there, and the extras are certainly worth a giggle.

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