CRRRaSh! 277 Doctor Who: The Time Monster

By Roy Mathur, on 2019-07-29, at 11:54:01 to 12:19:47 BST, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

Aide Memoir

In 276 I started breaking up my thoughts about fiction into broad categories. These sections consist of themes, script, creature design, sets, props, FX, diversity, reception, and trivia. Although not all these headings are always applicable, they will help me to avoid forgetting to cover a particular topic. You won't actually see the headings, but I started putting them into a comment in the html source code in the last episode, which is what I look at when I record the show.

Hottest Day Ever

Sorry for the delay in podcasting brought on by the stupidly hot weather, including the hottest day the UK has ever experienced at just under 39 degrees C on Thursday. I sat most of it out with frozen bottles of water and, like a lot of people who don't have home air conditioning, tried to spend most of the days driving with the air conditioning cranked, which meant slowly, as my car's air conditioning is so powerful that it totally hammers the engine. I moved from one air conditioned environment to another with my laptop working on the finishing touches to the The Horus Box manuscript's conversion to an eBook, which is now complete. I still have decide on the final design of the cover though, so we're not quite there yet, but we are very, very near and I'll talk about it very soon on a next non-Revisit Reef general geekery episode. Please also note the slightly tweaked cheerier tone of my delivery today, which is only partly due to the relatively cooler weather. It has not escaped my attention that I tend towards the overly grumpy (since episode 1). I am (still) trying to be more positive. Are you noticing it yet?

Doctor Who: The Time Monster (1972)

Cast and Production

Third Doctor: Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant: Katy Manning
Director: Paul Bernard
Writer: Robert Sloman and Barry Letts
Producer: Barry Letts
6 x 25 minute episodes, first broadcast from the 20th of May to the 24th of June 1972
5th and final serial (story/adventure) of the ninth season.

What Happens

After an ancient Greek themed nightmare starring the Master and earthquakes, the Doctor asks Jo to research recent earthquakes or volcanic activity. Jo finds seismic activity centred in Santorini, known to the ancient Greeks as Thera, the centre of the Minoan civilisation and thought to be the source of myths regarding Atlantis.

The Brigadier goes to a demonstration of a teleportation device called the TOM TIT (Transmission Of Matter Through Interstitial Time).

The Doctor detects a disturbance in the time field with a time sensor he has built to detect the Master's TARDIS. He and Jo drive to the disturbance, which turns out to be where there Brigadier is attending the demonstration. They arrive quickly in a hot-rodded Bessie.

In fact, the TOM TIT device is being built by the Master, disguised as a scientist, as a conduit for summoning a powerful and chaotic extradimensional time eating being called Kronos. He first kidnaps a priest of Atlantis to incorporate the crystal Seal of Kronos into his device. The summoning only partially works, because the Seal is but a smaller part of the larger crystal in ancient Atlantis. They travel to Atlantis, where the Master seduces Queen Galleia, steals the crystal from a labyrinth guarded by the Minotaur, kills the King, and when the Queen turns on him, uses the crystal to summon Kronos causing the destruction of Atlantis.

The Master escapes, taking Jo and is by the Doctor who time rams the Master's TARDIS, but all are saved by Kronos. The Master escapes, yet again, and the Doctor and Jo return to the TOM TIT laboratory to witness the destruction of the machine and Sergeant Benton's confusion after being de-aged to a baby and then returned to adulthood.

What I Thought

Atlantis, Minoans, labrys axes, feminism, what's all this subtext? Or is it just text? There's the understandably embittered, when patronised, feminist scientist, who seems to be rebellious up to a point, but then just deflates. Youth culture is also represented. Unfortunately it's represented by an annoying semi-hippie young man. Had he not been horrifically aged, I would have been totally unsympathetic to him.

No pussyfooting around, the Master is there from almost the beginning. I prefer knowing that he's in the story from the start, rather than getting deep into a plot, and then find out he's the puppet master a few episodes in.

The Doctor's souped up Bessie! It now has a Super Drive. You know it's a Super Drive, because it's red and is boldly labelled "Super Drive" on the dashboard. Super Drive! (I can't stop saying it). And, as every sensible car modder knows, its not enough to upgrade the engine if you don't upgrade the brakes. But sudden braking means inertia, so the Doctor has the answer—inertia absorption! Actual science in science fiction! Sweeeeeet.

Kronos is ridiculous. He is portrayed as a squawking, squealing, white bird/human hybrid in fluffy feathery pantaloons, flappy wings and, just to keep things vaguely mythological, an ancient Greek style helmet. To make things even more laughable, the poor stunt person is awkwardly dangled from a wire harness so that Kronos can fly. By fly, I mean crash around the confined lab set like a trapped and panicked pigeon. This flighty birdie is even funnier than Bok the prancing gargoyle from 250 (The Daemons (1971). I snorted and giggled my way through its every appearance, but mercifully the frenetic flapping form has much less screen time than Bok.

Great big David Prowse (Darth Vader) is also in this as the great big Minotaur who the Doctor fights like a Matador, until finally the maddened bull-man fatally crashes head-first through a wall. Prowse is literally a muscly monster.

Ingrid Pitt! Ingrid Pitt played Queen Galleia. Why am I so excited? If you are of a certain age, you'll know Ingrid Pitt as an insanely hot 70s scream queen for companies like Hammer Films and Amicus Films. She is especially famous for raising the temperature of films like The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, The House that Dripped Blood, as well as returning to Doctor Who in Warriors of the Deep in 1984. Born Ingoushka Petrov in Warsaw in 1937 and interned in a Nazi concentration camp during the war, she had a long film and television career from the 60s until shortly before dying of natural causes in 2010. CRRRaSh! salutes the amazing Ingrid Pitt.

Conclusion? And interesting story that, minus aliens and robots, strove to be a different kind of adventure. It stars Ingrid Pitt and ends with Sergeant Benton in a nappy. Need I actually say more?

Next Time

In the very next episode, we're catching up on all the geeky stuff and in the next Revisit Reef after that, 'tis the season for, no, not Santa, but Omega! Yes, we're talking about a solar engineering mad scientist supervillain you definitely would not want to install your solar panels.