May. 4th, 2018

purplecat: The Third Doctor (Who:Three)
The Time Monster is widely considered the worst Pertwee story. I warned Tame Layman of this before we settled down to watch and we braced ourselves and... well it's not actually that bad. It has its flaws, but there is a great deal of far less watchable Doctor Who out there.

Its worst problem is probably the amount of padding. The Doctor spends a good ten to fifteen minutes of the story building a technobabble device out of a wine bottle, cork and some forks only for it to break instantly. This is followed by an episode which consists mostly of the Doctor and the Master trying to out-psych each other during a conversation conducted via Tardis screens. However, even this, as padding goes, is at least fairly novel. We do not get a lot of running down corridors or capture-escape.

It's odd that there is quite so much padding in the middle since, in the final two episodes, the action moves to Atlantis and events happen at a bit of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it pace. No sooner has the Master arrived and met the Queen (sporting a push-up bra that would make Helen Cutter from Primeval jealous) than a coup takes place, just like that. A whole load of political intrigue of some kind happens off screen while the Doctor and Jo faff around in a labyrinth or are locked up in a cell. One feels that, if you had to stretch the story to six episodes, why not have more Atlantean politics and less of the Doctor playing with corks.

To my surprise Tame Layman spent some time admiring Jo Grant's Atlantean frock and speculating about why the Atlanteans happened to have a suitable wig lying around for her to wear.

I wasn't particularly keen on the character of Dr. Ingram who struck me as a rather cardboard straw-feminist. However Tame Layman thought she was great and commented a couple of times about what a good companion she would have made. It's not hard to imagine since she's in many respects a cross between Liz Shaw and Sarah Jane Smith, but I still felt she was a little too much of a cariacature.

Benton also spends two episodes as a baby which was a lot less embarrassing than I'd thought it would be, though possibly only because nothing was really done with it. Benton gets turned into a baby. At the end of the story he gets better. The end. It makes the event seem a little pointless, on the other hand we were spared nappy jokes or Dr. Ingram suddenly discovering her maternal instincts.

I was actually quite suprised how well the effects for the Chronovore monster worked. In still pictures it looks exactly like your typical man-in-suit-forced-to-move-slowly-as-a-result type monster. However the reality in which it is overlaid by an image of a bird made it seem a lot less human-like and gave the impression of swift movement.

The resolution is a deus-ex-machina cop-out but at least makes a kind of sense. The worst that can really be said of it, is that it strongly suggests that matters would have resolved in largely the same way whether the Doctor had been involved or not.

As I said at the start there is a lot less watchable Doctor Who out there. Tame Layman was quite happy to watch along with this which he has not always been with Randomiser inflicted stories. There is certainly a lot better Doctor Who out there, and this is not a story I'd contemplate showing to anyone who didn't have a basic fondness for the show and a tolerance for 1970s TV Sci-Fi. If it is the worst Jon Pertwee then that says a lot for the baseline competance of the show during that era.

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