This was Doctor Who’s concession to the fact that military types often use post-watershed language when stressed. The main military figure in this episode, Brigadier Winifred Banbera, uses this motif on a number of occasions to express, in a typically British manner, that she’s just a little bit cross – quite possibly because the pre-9pm showtime forced her to restrain her preferred expletive!
This story is certainly a prime candidate for referral to the Advertising Standards Authority – if ever there was a misleading (and far too long!) title for a Doctor Who story, this is the one!
With this post, those fans who were holding their breath and thinking “Good grief, don’t tell me he likes The Twin Dilemma!” can now breath that sigh of relief – yes folks, it’s in the bottom ten, and quite rightly so!
After that brief interlude of acknowledging other Doctors had less celebrated serials, I am afraid we now return to Sylvester McCoy – but not however to Season 24!
One of the greatest assets of Doctor Who is the breadth of its fanbase – it is broad enough to encompass my best friend’s dad, who thinks that it was a mistake to replace William Hartnell with Patrick Troughton, all the way to another friend who loves the seventh Doctor. There really is something for everyone!
For a long while this was one of only two serials in Peter Davison’s first season that I hadn’t watched on VHS. For that reason, when my dad arrived home from whichever video outlet (most probably HMV) he had bought the video, I rather looked forward to watching it, having enjoyed rather a lot of the fifth doctor’s other episodes – as you will see later on in this blog!
I thought after my last review that I should provide a short apologia on behalf of the episodes I am currently working through – not least because I do not want to discourage my readers with wave after wave of excessive negativity!
In choosing to work from the bottom to the top that naturally means dealing with my least liked episodes first – and however much we try to pretend otherwise, every show has it’s duds, especially when it ran for 26 seasons! It would be entirely hypocritical to pretend that I don’t cringe with embarrassment watching Timelash – I honestly make no effort to defend the production values involved!
That said, I was struck by a certain optimism when writing the first two reviews. I have found with Doctor Who that there is almost a certain hope and tolerance – rather like buying an album for the good tracks, you don’t completely write off the rest of the album because it’s all part of the big story. So even when I’m thanking the Lord that Harry Hill didn’t have the opportunity to parody the Red Kangs telling the Blue Kangs that “Red Kangs are best!” (which one is better? There’s only one way to find out – FIGHT!) – I still admire the capacity of the show to continuously reinvent itself over 26 years; to bring different characters, storylines, and settings.
I might despair of the 1980s and be glad I was too young to remember most of it, but it is remarkable to see the story transition from 60s to 70s to 80s, constantly adapting but aiming to keep the core theme of adventure and exploration at heart. It is only a pity that by 1980s the show lacked the investment to keep up with the world around it.
So to my less enjoyed episodes – I still salute you! I only feel sorrow that your stories were not as good as they could have been.
And to my readers – it is going to become even more fun – before we even get to the top 100 I will be enthusing about serials, and apologising for why they are so low down the ranking order!
It’s good news! The next serial is not from Season 24!
The bad news is that Timelash is a serial with very little to redeem it – it was a very strong candidate to finish absolutely rock bottom – which unfortunately therefore says a lot about the two serials that finished below it!