Doctor Who: Revisiting THE TIME MONSTER

. . No comments:
First broadcast on this day (May 20th) 1972, Christopher Morley looks back at the Third Doctor adventure The Time Monster.


Is there such thing as a 'golden age' of Doctor-Master battles? If so, the Third's encounters with his old foe at the peak of his powers must be it. Following his introduction as the main attraction of Season 8, he was used more sparingly in the following run. But his appearances even then steal the show ( The Sea Devils & The Time Monster slotting easily alongside the likes of The Daemons). Prepare to dive as we head for Atlantis! Roger Delgado shines in his penultimate appearance before his sad death, as the Master plots to gain control of Kronos, the titular time beastie.

There's even a cheap laugh to be had- the device he constructs under the guise of Professor Thascalos ( an alias he's used before, if you count The Nameless City) is named TOMTIT! Stop giggling at the back. Outside of its use for toilet humour, it stands for Transmission Of Matter Through Interstitial Time. Further research will perhaps inevitably reveal that 'interstitial time' doesn't even actually exist as a field of scientific research...no matter though. Why let the facts get in the way of a good story? The Doctor is at least sharp as ever, having had a dream of the Master causing quite a stir with the help of a crystal...

Useful tools, these prophetic dreams ( part of which re-uses that exploding volcano from Inferno). The Master just so happens to be hard at work at the Newton Institute, & he's got hold of exactly the same lump of quartz Three saw in his slumber. There have been reports of earthquakes in Greece, too- more specifically the Thera islands ( modern day Santorini). Not insignificantly it's believed that that particular part of the world was the location of the mythical lost city of Atlantis, which explains the Master/Thascalos's interest. His experiments with the help of Doctor Ruth Ingram & Stuart Hyde are already beginning to cause disruptions to the normal flow of time!

Not that Institute director Charles Percival will mind. He's been hypnotised, & so leaves them to it. The Doctor, Jo Grant & a UNIT delegation aren't too far behind either- which is handy in the circumstances. The beardy badass is far too interested in the potential fruits of his research to be that bothered. He wants Kronos- who he's convinced can be used as a tool of his own will. Some never learn, do they? Besides, its only a bloke dressed as a seagull surely? It doesn't take the Doctor long to work out what's going on either. Someone really is mucking about with time, & ' Thascalos' is Greek for ' Master'...that's that sorted, then. An aged Stuart, now looking a good few years older than when he'd left for work that morning, will be relieved that little mystery's solved.


What did he see while he was out for the count? Kronos! Turns out he was feared even in Atlantis, & the crystal the Master's got is the original from that time ( having been moved through 'interstitial time'). All this fake science is confusing, we know. Have a cup of tea & a Jammie Dodger perhaps to clear your head- excuse us while we fetch our resident Ironside to do the honours. Thirsty work, this. But never fear, the Doctor can explain everything as usual. Kronos is a Chronovore! In the simplest terms that makes it rather frightful, especially since it eats time for every meal. Yummy.

A development which might explain the Master's decision to use the crystal to summon the priest Krasis from his proper home in ancient Atlantis. He wants the secret of how to properly control Kronos for himself & won't rest until he gets it! After it's summoned once more it gobbles up poor Percival, the greedy beggar- perhaps by way of disciplinary action the Master sends it back into its crystal until it learns how to greet company properly. Disrupting time in such a manner does have its uses though, as a medieval knight, some Roundheads and a German wartime bomb are used by the Master to destroy the UNIT convoy.

You didn't think we wouldn't get to visit Atlantis, did you? Picking up the pace, both our Time Lord protagonists arrive at the court of King Dalios. He's understandably desperate to avoid his kingdom crumbling now that Kronos is back, having long warned his people that the Chronovore is bad news. His Queen, Galleia ( played by no less than Ingrid Pitt, of Hammer Horror movie fame) soon gets her head turned by the Master's promises of greater power if she helps him overthrow her husband.

Lateral-thinking viewers might note that her utter ruthlessness in the role of Galleia could have helped her become a great female Master in her own right had things turned out differently, though of course she could still have taken over from Roger Delgado had the higher-ups of the Who backroom team really thought about it at the time, some 40+ years before Steven Moffat would gender swap the role.


After all, a post-regenerative Romana chooses for her next form to be based upon that of Princess Astra of Atrios in Destiny Of The Daleks, so in theory nothing would stop the dying Master settling on Galleia's appearance & hoping for some of her conniving nature to remain for his own use instead of becoming that awful half-dead husk of a man from The Deadly Assassin....alas, such ideas are only theory now, though of course the Doctor has previously regenerated into a chap who looks suspiciously like Arc Of Infinity' s Commander Maxil as well as The Fires Of Pompeii's Caecilius.

At least Dalios isn't taken in by the Master's attempts at hypnotism! And to think, the crystal everyone's getting in a fuss over isn't even the real one, which is guarded by a Minotaur- the intrigue deepens, no?


The Master's coup succeeds, to the shock of the Doctor- who in asking to see the king was expecting to be taken to Dalios. Instead he finds his greatest nemesis has now taken power. Galleia soon realises the folly of her scheming when told by Jo that her husband is dead, & tries to make amends by having her partner in crime seized. But it appears to be too late, as the Master has Krasis summon up Kronos- whom he orders to destroy Atlantis, History will record the place as a great myth, but its residents here won't be too happy. As the city begins its descent into ruin, a great battle between two very special TARDISes is about to happen, by means of a time ram,

All good for the winner, who'll get to go scot free. The loser will be ejected out into the ravages of space, though. Not so good, we're sure you'd agree! Both Type 40s appear to have lost, though, when they end up in a great featureless void with nothing but a giant ominous female face for company. She's Kronos, & she's grateful for her freedom. She does, though, want to keep the Master as a plaything in revenge for her torment at his hands- but the Doctor's nose for mercy offers a lifeline which he makes the most of by escaping post-haste. Well, you would wouldn't you?

The Master would be back though, in time for Frontier In Space ( Roger Delgado's Masterly curtain call). Farewell, Master of Masters!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Warped Factor
Daily features, news and reviews from the world of geek!