Timelash

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141[1]Timelash
Doctor Who serial
Borad.jpg
The face of the Borad
Cast
Others
Production
Writer Glen McCoy
Director Pennant Roberts
Script editor Eric Saward
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Elizabeth Parker
Production code 6Y
Series Season 22
Length 2 episodes, 45 minutes each
Originally broadcast 9 March–16 March 1985
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Two Doctors Revelation of the Daleks

Timelash is the fifth serial of the 22nd season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in two weekly parts from 9–16 March 1985.

Plot[edit]

The Doctor and Peri are arguing between themselves as to their next destination, when the TARDIS is suddenly ensnared by a Kontron corridor (similar to a time corridor). After the Doctor tries unsuccessfully to free the ship, he and Peri strap themselves in, bracing themselves for the potentially disastrous occurrences. The TARDIS approaches the corridor, and is nearly torn apart by the impact but stabilises once it has entered the corridor, and is navigated to the source of the disturbance, the planet Karfel, a world which the Doctor has visited before.

On the planet Karfel the small population is ruled in a rigid hierarchy, at the apex of which is the Borad, a sadistic and despotic ruler. The Borad has never shown himself in person, only via security monitors which reveal him to be a dignified old man, but something in his manner does not ring true. Fear is enforced rigidly through the policing of androids; and all rebels – such as Aram, Gazak and Tyheer – are dealt with either by summary execution or despatch and death via the Timelash - a permanent, and ultimately fatal, exile down a corridor of Time and Space. Acting as a proxy for the Borad, the Maylin is the most senior of the five Counsellors of Karfel. One of them, Mykros, has grown unhappy with the rule of the Borad. Since the Borad came to power their people have become disillusioned, rebellious and miserable, and their former allies, the Bandrils, are posed to invade. The Bandrils threaten war after the Borad rescinds the grain supply treaty which underpinned the relationship between the two civilisations.

Mykros determines to discover the truth and follows the Maylin, Renis, into the Borad’s power chamber. The unhappy Maylin is transferring the power supplies of the Karfelons into the Borad’s personal system, despite the danger to his own wife, who is recovering from hospital surgery. Renis finds Mykros and gives him his blessing in rebellion. However, the Borad finds out and metes out the usual punishment: the Maylin is aged to death in a deadly beam while Mykros is sentenced to the Timelash. Before he can be sent in, however, Vena, Renis’ daughter and Mykros’ lover intervenes to plead for his life. When this fails, she steals an amulet conferring the power to pervert the energy supply from the new Maylin, the sycophantic Tekker, and accidentally falls into the web of the Timelash herself.

The arrival of the TARDIS presents Tekker with an opportunity to try and retrieve the amulet. The clever Maylin greets the Doctor and Peri as favoured guests, but the Doctor is suspicious of a Karfelon society that has made huge scientific leaps in a short space of time and that does not permit mirrors. When the Doctor refuses to venture into the Timelash again, Tekker explains that Peri has been taken hostage to ensure his co-operation in retrieving the amulet. She has been taken to the caves of the Morlox (a reference to HG Wells 'The Time Machine', where the morlocks are degenerated cannibalistic humans), large lizards indigenous to Karfel, where her captors hope she will die. Yet luck is as ever on her side and some Karfelon rebels, Katz and Sezon, kill one of the creatures threatening her and take her into their company. However, they are soon attacked and captured by a patrol of guards.

To protect Peri the Doctor returns the TARDIS into the Timelash and calculates the normal path of the Timelash would be to 1179 on Earth, but the interference of the TARDIS caused her instead to end up in Scotland in 1885. When the Doctor arrived he finds Vena, the amulet and a justifiably agitated young man named Herbert. All three depart on their return journey to return the amulet – which is all Tekker cares about when the TARDIS arrives back in the Council Chamber. The Doctor, Vena and Herbert are rounded up with the rebels Mykros. Sezon and Katz are condemned to the Timelash...

They fight back, killing the toadying Councillor Brunner, and seal the doors of the Chamber, determined to hold out in a siege. This buys the Doctor enough time to hoist into the Timelash on a rope and take two Kontron Crystals from the wall of the Time Corridor. He uses this to create a time ruse allowing him to slip out of the Chamber, and Herbert follows.

Tekker has meanwhile fled to the Borad, and blames the setback on the last remaining loyal Counsellor, Kendron, whom the Borad executes. Tekker remains at the side of the Borad, now revealed to be a hideous amalgam of human and Morlox. Together they watch on a screen as Peri is brought into a cave and strapped down while Morlox gather to feed. A canister of the chemical Mustakozene-80 is placed nearby, which has the ability to fuse together different tissue as one creature. It seems the Borad has taken a liking to Peri and wishes to mutate her like himself. The Doctor arrives to confront Tekker and the Borad, recognising the latter as Megelen, a crazed scientist he encountered on his previous visit to Karfel and exposed to the Counsel for unethical experiments on Morloxes. It seems one of those experiments has now gone wrong, and Megelen wishes to replicate its effect to create a partner. His plan has been to provoke a war with the Bandrils that will result in their use of bendalypse warheads which will wipe out all the Karfelons – but leave the Morlox and himself alive – allowing him to repopulate the world in his own image. This revelation prompts Tekker too to rebel, but he is swiftly aged to death. The Doctor then uses a Kontron Crystal to deflect Megelen’ beam back at him, killing the mutant in his wheelchair.

Herbert now helps the Doctor rescue Peri from the Morlox. They return to the Council Chamber where Mykros and Vena have identified a Bandril invasion fleet armed with bendalypse warheads which is close to Karfel. The Bandrils are suspicious of the Doctor’s attempts to intervene and prevent a missile strike, causing him to take drastic action. The Doctor materialises the TARDIS in the path of the incoming warhead, risking his own life to save Karfel. He does so successfully and returns to Karfel to find Megelen returned from the dead and threatening the Council Chamber – or rather the other one was a clone of this original. Megelen is made unbalanced by the image of himself in a boarded up mirror, revealing the reason he hid himself away, and in this state is thrown into the Timelash by the Doctor, where he may have ended up as the Loch Ness monster (The doctor says "he may be seen from time to time").

As the Doctor and Peri are about to depart and take Herbert back to his right time. Herbert however, says he wishes to stay on Karfel with the expectations of learning new life. Peri suggests they accept his decision, but the Doctor produces Herbert's calling card showing his name: Herbert – or H. G. Wells as he is known – to his own time.

Continuity[edit]

At the end of this story, the Borad is thrown back in time to 12th century Scotland. The Doctor speculates that the Borad will become the Loch Ness Monster. This gives a second explanation for this creature as in the serial Terror of the Zygons, the legendary creature is a cyborg weapon of the Zygons. In the Eighth Doctor novel The Taking of Planet 5, however, the Borad is revealed to have been killed by agents of the Celestis - Time Lords who cut themselves out of time to escape the Future War - shortly after his arrival in the past as part of their efforts to eliminate temporal anomalies on Earth.

This story makes reference to a previously unseen adventure where the Third Doctor, Jo Grant and an unnamed second companion visited Karfel. This adventure has yet to appear in any of the spin-off media although the Virgin Missing Adventures novel Speed of Flight by Paul Leonard mentions that the Third Doctor and his companions, Jo Grant and Mike Yates, are on their way to Karfel at the start of that particular story. Jo mentions visiting Karfel in the Sarah Jane Adventures story Death of the Doctor. The Tenth Doctor meets H. G. Wells again in the IDW comic The Time Machination.

Production[edit]

The music for this story was provided by Elizabeth Parker who had formerly contributed special sound for Blake's 7.

Cast notes[edit]

Paul Darrow had previously appeared in Doctor Who and the Silurians as Captain Hawkins. Denis Carey previously played Professor Chronotis in the incomplete serial Shada and the Keeper in The Keeper of Traken.

Outside references[edit]

This serial makes several references to Wells' novels: The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Doctor Moreau.

Several commentators have pointed out the H.G. Wells in "Timelash" is different from the real-life Wells (he is not blond, lacks a Cockney/Kentish accent, and believes in spiritualism).[2]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 9 March 1985 (1985-03-09) 45:00 6.7
"Part Two" 16 March 1985 (1985-03-16) 44:36 7.4
[3][4][5]

Reviewing "Timelash", Tat Wood described it as "a grindingly dull story only memorable for being made as a school panto with belated New Romantic 80s fashion errors".[2] Wood singled out the story's script, production and costumes for particular criticism.[2]

Graham Sleight has noted that Timelash is "widely regarded as one of the worst series ever broadcast as part of Doctor Who", claiming the story has "a weak script, cheap-looking design, unimaginative direction, laughable special effects and some appalling performances".[6] However, Sleight also praises Robert Ashby's performance as the Borad, claiming Ashby's performance "elevates his menace to an entirely different level to the rest of the story".[6]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Timelash
Doctor Who Timelash.jpg
Author Glen McCoy
Cover artist David McAllister
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
105
Publisher Target Books
Publication date

December 1985 (Hardback)

15th May 1986 (Paperback)
ISBN 0-426-20229-5

A novelisation of this serial, written by Glen McCoy, was published by Target Books in December 1985.

Home media[edit]

Timelash was released on VHS on 5 January 1998,[7] It was released on DVD on 9 July 2007 [8] with a commentary provided by actors Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, and Paul Darrow, along with a selection of other features.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this as story number 142. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ a b c Wood, Tat (2007). About Time 6: Seasons 22 to 26 and TV Movie. Illinois: Mad Norwegian Press. pp. 73–90. ISBN 0975944657. 
  3. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "Timelash". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ "Timelash". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Timelash". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  6. ^ a b Sleight, Graham (2012). The Doctor's Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who. I.B.Tauris. p. 39. ISBN 1848851782. 
  7. ^ "Doctor Who - Timelash [1985]". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-02-28. 
  8. ^ "DVD update". BBC. Archived from the original on 8 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-28. 
  9. ^ "Doctor Who Restoration Team - Timelash DVD details". 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]