The Time Monster

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064 – The Time Monster
Doctor Who serial
Time Monster.jpg
Queen Galleia plots with the Master.
Cast
Others
Production
Writer Robert Sloman, Barry Letts (uncredited)
Director Paul Bernard
Script editor Terrance Dicks
Producer Barry Letts
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code OOO
Series Season 9
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 20 May–24 June 1972
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Mutants The Three Doctors

The Time Monster is the fifth and final serial of the ninth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 20 May to 24 June 1972.

Plot[edit]

The Master has adopted the alias of Professor Thascalos[1] (the Greek version of his name) and is using this cover to tap into the resources of the Newton Research Unit at Cambridge University to conduct time experiments. His TOMTIT (Transmission of Matter Through Interstitial Time) experiment, assisted by Ruth Ingram and Stuart Hyde, is focused around transmitting matter by breaking it down into light waves. Having hypnotised Dr Percival, the Director of the Institute, into doing his bidding, the Master’s cover is maintained. He is particularly interested in examining a trident-shaped crystal in his possession, using it to attract a being he addresses as Kronos.

The Doctor and Jo Grant visit the Institute following a hunch of his that the Master is back on Earth with his TARDIS. He finds time moving slowly as the TOMTIT experiments disrupt the normal flow while Hyde, who is caught in the field of the experiment, ages to more than eighty years. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who also witnessed the TOMTIT experiment, has the project evacuated and begins to hunt for the Master, whose cover has now been blown. The Doctor explains to Ruth and Jo that Kronos is a powerful Chronovore, a creature from outside time that feeds on time itself, who was once attracted from the vortex to ancient Atlantis using a crystal trident larger than the one used by the Master. That one remains in Atlantis. The Doctor suspects capturing the Chronovore is the Master’s aim too, forecasting such a step is a danger to the entire created universe.

Meanwhile the Atlantean High Priest of Kronos, Krasis, is transported through interstitial time by the Master and brought to Percival’s office. The Master seizes the Seal of Kronos from the priest and uses it to control the Chronovore, invoking Kronos to materialise in the room. A white, feathered, male-like bird-like figure, Kronos exudes power and devours Percival without compunction. It is contained briefly by the Master, but breaks free and Krasis surmises this is because the Master only has the smaller fragment of the original crystal.

The Doctor and his allies have been alerted by the actions of the Master and he builds a time flow analogue to interrupt his rival’s experiments. The two enemies then spend time using time to trap each other, often with strange consequences: historical characters are transported into the present; Stuart Hyde is restored to youth, though Sergeant Benton is reverted to a baby when he is caught in TOMTIT’s flow; and several UNIT troops, led by the Brigadier, are frozen in a time bubble. The two Time Lords pit their TARDISes against one another, and the Doctor is ejected into the vortex, but survives thanks to Jo and his TARDIS.

In ancient Atlantis the aged and wise King Dalios is troubled by the disappearance of Krasis and the threat to the true crystal of Kronos, which is guarded by the Minotaur at the heart of a maze. The Master has travelled to Atlantis in search of the true crystal and soon inveigles himself at the Atlantean court, wooing the vain and gullible Queen Galleia and embroiling her in plots and schemes. Dalios warns of the dangers of the time when Kronos served Atlantis, but his wife is not moved by his pleas or his suspicions of the Master, whom he knows not to be an emissary of the gods. When the Doctor and Jo arrive, the old King – far older than he looks, since Kronos gave him the power of longevity – forms a bond of trust with the Doctor and confides that when Atlantis turned from Kronos, their civilisation sought to end the link by which the Chronovore could be enslaved. But the crystal cannot be destroyed, only splintered. Dalios also tells the Doctor that the Minotaur was once his friend, but grew eager for the strength of a bull, and Kronos in blind sport gave this man his desire. The Doctor then faces the Minotaur to rescue Jo, duped into the maze by Krasis, and the creature is destroyed. The crystal is now produced from the maze – but the Master’s plotting with Galleia has borne fruit and he has usurped the throne, with Dalios deposed and arrested. Jo and the Doctor are soon detained too, and witness Dalios' sad death after mistreatment and torture.

When the Council of Atlantis meets, Galleia finds that Dalios is dead and, having loved and respected him, his end is enough to break her faith in the Master. Krasis, however, is still in his thrall and uses the great crystal to summon Kronos to Atlantis once more. The enraged Chronovore begins to destroy Atlantis and to survive the Master flees in his TARDIS, with Jo Grant in tow. The Doctor heads off in his TARDIS in pursuit while Kronos destroys the city and people of Atlantis.

The two TARDISes are now in the vortex, where the Doctor threatens their mutual assured destruction by causing a Time Ram by which both vehicles would occupy the same space/time co-ordinates. When he carries this threat out Kronos is set free and, thankful for this action, saves the Doctor and Jo and returns them to their TARDIS. On the Doctor’s insistence, the Master is spared too, but he flees in his own TARDIS before he can be apprehended. The Doctor and Jo return to the Institute as Ingram and Hyde operate the TOMTIT machine one last time, thereby returning the UNIT men to normality, albeit leaving Benton in a nappy. The machine then overloads, its time experiments at an end.

Continuity[edit]

This story provided the third of three different explanations for the sinking of Atlantis in Doctor Who, the others being in The Underwater Menace and The Dæmons. The Doctor and his friends were previously menaced by a Minotaur in the Land of Fiction, in The Mind Robber (1968) and would later be menaced by minotaur-like creatures in The Horns of Nimon (1979/80) and again in "The God Complex" (2011).

The TARDIS interior set seen in this story – for both the Doctor's and the Master's time machines – is unique to the series, with walls consisting of far larger and contiguous bowl shaped 'roundels'. The scanner/communication screens seen in both TARDISes are circular, embedded within a 'roundel' (as only ever seen once before, in The Claws of Axos), and the two interiors are differentiated by the Master's TARDIS having a different central element on the console and its main doors on the opposite side to the Doctor's.

In this story, the Doctor tells Jo of a Time Lord 'guru' who influenced him as a boy. The story the Doctor tells Jo, about climbing a hillside and his guru pointing to a flower, is based on a story from Buddhist text the Mumonkan, where the Buddha holds up a flower and Mahakasyapa understands Zen in that moment. Buddhist themes are explored again in the Third Doctor's final serial, Planet of the Spiders.

The BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures novel The Quantum Archangel by Craig Hinton is a sequel to this story. The Chronovores are also featured in the Virgin New Adventures novel No Future by Paul Cornell.

Production[edit]

This story sees a redesign of the TARDIS interior. Producer Barry Letts was unhappy with the redesign. The set was damaged shortly after recording on this particular serial wrapped and, as a result, was discarded.

Although the PAL mastertapes had been wiped NTSC copies were returned to the BBC from TVOntario in Canada in 1983. In 1987, a low 625-line monochrome tape of Episode Six was discovered at the BBC. It was recoloured by combining the black-and-white picture with the 525-line colour signal of the episode, creating a superior copy to the NTSC one.

Cast notes[edit]

George Cormack also played K'anpo in Planet of the Spiders. Ingrid Pitt later played Solow in Warriors of the Deep. Ian Collier returned to play Omega in Arc of Infinity and appeared in the audio play Excelis Decays. Susan Penhaligon played Shayla in the audio play Primeval.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
Archive
"Episode One" 20 May 1972 (1972-05-20) 25:04 7.6 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Two" 27 May 1972 (1972-05-27) 25:05 7.4 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Three" 3 June 1972 (1972-06-03) 23:59 8.1 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Four" 10 June 1972 (1972-06-10) 23:55 7.6 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Five" 17 June 1972 (1972-06-17) 24:29 6.0 PAL colour conversion
"Episode Six" 24 June 1972 (1972-06-24) 24:55 7.6 PAL colour conversion
[2][3][4]

Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping gave the serial an unfavourable review in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), describing it as "immensely dull and painful at the same time".[5] In 2010, Mark Braxton of Radio Times felt that the serial teetered between "delightful" absurdity and "outright, galloping stupidity, and sadly it tips too often into the latter." While he praised the realisation of Atlantis and the Doctor and Jo, he wrote that many poor decisions were made in production and "any drama just dribbles away".[6] DVD Talk's Stuart Galbraith gave The Time Monster two out of five stars, finding problems in the plot structure and Kronos.[7] In 2010, SFX named the scene where the Doctor balances ordinary objects to counter TOMTIT as one of the silliest moments in Doctor Who's history.[8]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who book
Book cover
The Time Monster
Series Target novelisations
Release number 102
Writer Terrance Dicks
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
ISBN 0-491-03870-4
Release date 13 February 1986

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published in hardback by Target Books in September 1985, and in paperback in February 1986.

Home media[edit]

This story was released with Colony in Space in a VHS tin box set, The Master, in 2001. As of 5 August 2008, this serial has been offered for sale on iTunes. The Time Monster was released on 29 March 2010 in a Region 2 DVD box set named "Myths and Legends" along with Underworld and The Horns of Nimon. It was released as a stand-alone disc in Region 1 on 6 July 2010.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Secondary print sources generally give the Master's alias as 'Professor Thascales'. However, the cast refer to him as 'Thascalos', which is the correct Greek word for 'Master'. The error appears to have originated in the second edition of Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke's The Making of Doctor Who. The correct spelling is printed in Terrance Dicks' novelisation.
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "The Time Monster". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-05-18. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ "The Time Monster". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Time Monster". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Time Monster". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. 
  6. ^ Braxton, Mark (7 January 2010). "Doctor Who: The Time Monster". Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Galbraith, Stuart (18 August 2010). "Doctor Who: The Time Monster". Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  8. ^ O'Brian, Steve (November 2010). "Doctor Who's 25 Silliest Moments". SFX. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]