Doctor Who – tape 1474

Back to UK Gold for more from Doctor Who and The Time Monster which starts with a strange nightmare for the Doctor, featuring stock footage of volcanos, some old looking statues and The Master.

Now, I love Katy Manning as Jo Grant, but did the writers have to saddle her with lines like “I know I’m exceedingly dim, but would you mind explaining?”

He saw a strange crystal in his dream, and lo and behold, we cut to the Master who has exactly that crystal, and is doing experiments with it.

The Doctor thinks his dream must be related to recent volcanic activity near Greece, possibly the location of Atlantis. Then the Brigadier comes along and asks the Doctor to come and have a look at TOMTIT. Not rhyming slang, but an experimental matter transference system, ‘Transmission of Matter through Interstitial Time’.

It’s The Master who’s running this experiment, and he’s already using his famed hypnotic power to influence people.

Roger Delgado

The Doctor detects time disturbances, in the same place where the TOMTIT is being demonstrated, so he rushes there with Jo, in Bessie. The Brgadier is already there, with Sgt Benton, so the Master has to perform the experiment disguised in an anti-radiation suit, although why nobody else in the same room needs a suit is never questioned. He ramps up the experiment to full power, shouting “Come, Kronos, Come!” as the credits roll…

The Master is trying to conjure up Kronos, a chronovore who lives between the interstices of time. And so is someone in ancient Atlantis, apparently, where everything looks like it’s being filmed by a camera with vaseline smeared all over the lens.

Atlantis

After the next cliffhanger, he does indeed produce Kronos, who appears to be played by Albino Big Bird. He also summons Krasis, high priest of Poseidon, from Atlantis.

I think he needs to go to Atlantis to get the rest of the crystal so he can control Kronos and then take control of the whole universe. Or something.

The Doctor and Jo go after him in the Tardis, and manage to trap the Master’s Tardis (disguised as a computer bank) inside his (which has had a bit or remodelling – I don’t like the new roundels).

Tardis Interior and Exterior

But in fact, both Tardises are inside each other, in a great recursive loop. The kind of idea that we’d all think was brilliant when Christopher H Bidmead did it nine years later. Rather confusingly, there’s also a Tardis exterior back at the laboratory where the Master is working. Not quite sure how that works. Back door?

While the Doctor and the Master bitch about each other from their respective console rooms, the scientists back at the TOMTIT project are trying to release the Brigadier and his men from a timelock when they accidentally turn Sgt Benton into a baby. No really.

Baby Benton

The Doctor gets trapped in the time vortex, and Jo is also cast adrift, trapped in the Tardis. He communicates with her through his thoughts. “But what are all those other voices I can hear?” asks Jo. “Those are my subconscious thoughts. I shouldn’t listen to them too hard, if I were you, I’m not all that proud of some of them.”

They all end up in Atlantis, the Master trying to persuade the rulers he’s an emissary of the Gods. He’s rather surprised when he comes face to face with the Doctor and Jo, leading to one of my favourite lines. “Can’t think of anything to say?” asks the Doctor. “How about ‘Curses! Foiled again!'” quips Jo.

Now, I have no memory of watching this story when it first came out. Nothing about the story rings any bells. Except that one line, which I was convinced was actually uttered in The Sea Devils. So I suppose I must have watched it. But that’s the only thing that’s stuck.

There’s a lot of politicking as the Master tries to get his hands on the crystal, with Ingrid Pitt as an Atlantean noblewoman helping him along.

And Jo gets locked in with the Minotaur, played by Dave Prowse.

The Minotaur

When the Doctor and Jo are locked up by the Master, who has got himself made King of Atlantis, Jo is rather depressed, so the Doctor tells a charming story about his childhood, and a daisy.

It all ends with a confrontation between The Doctor in his Tardis, and the Master (and Jo, who jumped on his back to try to stop him getting to it) in his, and the Doctor threatens to Time Ram, but can’t sacrifice Jo. So she activates the Time Ram herself. Jo suffers a lot from patronising writing, but she does also get to be brave and self sacrificing an awful lot. If the writers had laid off the ‘daffy’ aspects of her character, she’d be string competition for best companion ever.

This isn’t really the pinnacle of Doctor Who. Kronos was poorly executed, it feels like there was a lot of padding, and the Master keeps escaping just by giving people a bit of a shove and running away. It looks weak and unconvincing now, and I’m fairly sure it did at the time.

On the plus side, the big set for the Atlantis courtyard feels large, and a good antidote for the tiny, cramped laboratories that make up the rest of the sets. And I liked Jo leaping on the Master’s back to stop him. But really, this is not one for revisiting. After the delights of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, it’s a hard fall to Earth.

After this, recording switches to the end of an episode of Dog House, a poor looking US sitcom.

Then, a trailer for Doctor Who omnibus editions that set my teeth on edge.

Dr Who omnibus

Also trails for David CopperfieldElizabeth RFairport Convention.

Then, there’s the first part of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, recorded from the Omnibus edition. It has a special introduction, presumably to excuse the black and white first episode.

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