Timestamp #146: Terror of the Vervoids

Doctor Who: Terror of the Vervoids
The Trial of a Time Lord, Parts IX-XII

(4 episodes, s23e09-e12, 1986)


The Doctor is given a brief recess to mourn Peri’s death before being allowed the privilege of his own defense.

This episode of Time Lord Theater delves into the Doctor’s future. The dark introduction focuses on the mining planet Mogar in 2986 AD, galactic liner Hyperion III, a shipment of minerals, and murder.

As the passengers get checked in and settled on the cruise liner, an elderly man named Kimber spots someone he recognizes as an investigator named Hallett. The other passenger corrects him, stating that he is a mineralogist named Grenville, but Kimber puts on his conspiracy hat and his belief begins to spread like wildfire. A trio of scientists – Professor Sarah Lasky and her colleagues – are disturbed by this news. Nothing shady going on there, right?

On the TARDIS, the Doctor is working out with a companion named Mel.

Now, Mel’s very presence removes all of the dramatic tension surrounding the trial. If Mel comes from the Doctor’s future from this perspective, then it logically follows that he has a future after this trial! Ergo, he isn’t executed and is allowed to travel again.

Second, where does Mel come from? After the demise of Peri, Mel feels like a replacement to fill a quota.

The Time Lord gags down some carrot juice as their passage is detected by the cruise liner. They soon pick up a distress call from the cruise liner, sent by a mysterious figure who just incapacitated the communications officer, and they materialize in the cargo hold. Mel wants to rush into danger, but the Doctor is concerned since the distress call was sent directly to them. They are soon apprehended by security officers and taken before the ship’s captain, one Commodore Travers, whom the Doctor has met before on a previous (untelevised) adventure. Travers denies sending the distress call and is skeptical of the Doctor’s presence. He gives them quarters after refusing to let them leave the ship.

Something evil is brewing down in the cargo bay among the scientific experiments. Meanwhile, Mel develops a plan to solve the mystery: The Doctor will ask about while Mel investigates the passenger spaces. She ends up in the gymnasium and receives a secret message. She relays this message to the Doctor and they head to Cabin Six for the rendezvous. There they find a wrecked room, evidence of a fight, and the seeds used in the scientific experiments.

The room and missing boot belong to Grenville, who apparently has just been vaporized in the waste disposal unit. The Doctor presumes that their adventure is over, but Mel is not convinced. In the courtroom, the Doctor claims that the memories have been tampered with. The Valeyard points to it as more evidence that he is reckless and endangers companions needlessly, but the Doctor continues in hopes of proving him wrong.

Aside: Do you want some particularly pointed commentary on the John Nathan-Turner era of Doctor Who? Look no further than “Why it is that every time you appear on the scene, people begin to die?”


Returning to the episode already in progress…

Mel investigates the hydroponics center, the focus of the scientific experiments. The unfortunate communications officer is killed in a freak accident, something emerges from one of the alien pods, and Mel screams.

Goodness, does she scream.

The guards arrive on the scene and Mel is taken to Travers. After she leaves, the other guard is killed, but both corpses vanish. Travers summons the Doctor and interrogates Mel, and they all come to the conclusion that something nefarious is happening on the Hyperion III. The Doctor and Mel take the seeds they found to Professor Lasky, but she claims that the Time Lord stole them. After they sort out the circumstances, Mel and Lasky geek out over the seeds while the Doctor watches aghast.

In response to the deaths on board, Travers alters course to arrive on Earth 72 hours earlier. Unfortunately, this will take them closer to the Black Hole of Tartarus. The Mogarians protest, coupling the danger with the politics of mining their home bare.

In the courtroom, the Valeyard objects to the politics, but the Doctor points out that he’s missing the forest for the trees.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

One of the Morgarians collapses after having a beverage, and the Doctor removes the being’s faceplate (despite objections that oxygen will kill the alien) to reveal Grenville. Or rather, Hallett, proving Kimber right. Grenville’s death was staged to remove a threat to his cover story. The Doctor only knew that Grenville was not a Morgarian because the undercover alien did not use his translator to speak.

This event prompts the Doctor to take a more active role in matters. He and Mel investigate the trashed hydroponics center as the scientists conspire in the gymnasium. Meanwhile, poor Kimber is killed by one of the plant creatures in his cabin, and our travelers witness Lasky leaving an isolated room. The Doctor sets off the fire alarm to distract the guards, then he and Mel take a look in the quarantined cabin. We’ll just assume for the sake of fiction that smoke masks can also filter pathogens. They discover a human-plant hybrid, and Mel screams.

Goodness, does she scream.

The hybrid tells the Doctor to stop Lasky before the scientists arrive and usher the travelers out. The scientists are escorting the hybrid, one of the lab aides, back to Earth in order to help her after being infected by a freak accident. The discussion is interrupted by the guards, who apprehend the Doctor for setting off a false alarm.

The Doctor is taken to Travers and he explains what he found. Elsewhere, an attendant raises the alarm about Kimber’s disappearance and Mel finds evidence of plant interference in his cabin. The plant creatures are using the ventilation system to move around the ship and systematically kill each passenger. Mel discovers this and records their discussions, but is abducted shortly thereafter and dumped in a refuse container. Coincidentally, the Doctor comes in after this and finds the recording. He runs after the waste bins and stops Mel from being killed in the waste disposal unit, but the recording disappears in the interim.

The Doctor heads to hydroponics as Mel investigates the stewardess. In the courtroom, the trial stops as the Matrix shows the Doctor destroying the communications center, which the Doctor disputes. He’s trapped in a logical quandary: If he stops because the evidence has been tampered with, he gives up his right to defense, but if he continues then he’s subject to being incriminated by the faulty recordings.

Regardless, he chooses to continue.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

Mel is interrupted by one of the plant creatures, but she is able to hide in time. Down in hydroponics, scientist Bruchner rebels against Lasky and knocks her out. He steals a weapon and takes over the bridge, changing the ship’s course for the black hole in order to destroy the threat. The bridge has been flooded with marsh gas by the plant creatures, now known as Vervoids, but the Morgarians are able to brave the gas and the save the ship.

The victory is short-lived as they turn the tables and mutiny with security chief Rudge. The Doctor signals Mel and she is able to escape with a small group as the Doctor, Lasky, and Travers are taken to the ship’s lounge. Mel’s group is able to take the bridge back by killing the Morgarians with water, but the Vervoids are still tearing through the ship. Mel rescues the Doctor and crew from the lounge, and the Doctor is given permission to search bow to stern for the missing audio tape. Rudge escapes, but is soon taken by the Vervoids.

The Doctor finds the tape on the scientist Doland, but it has been wiped. The Doctor figured it would be, but confirms what he already suspected about Doland’s involvement in the rise of the Vervoid menace. The scientist’s confession is overheard by Travers and Doland is arrested. On the way to the brig, he is abducted by the Vervoids.

On the bridge, the Doctor discovers the Vervoid plot to kill all animal-kind and the assembled team of Lasky, Travers, and Mel conclude that cooperation with the plants is impossible. Back to the courtroom, the Doctor presents this as evidence that he wasn’t meddling but instead working on a direct request for help from Travers.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

The chemicals needed to create an herbicide have been taken by the Vervoids, and a direct appeal from Lasky fails. Mel and the Doctor escape into the ventilation ducts, stumbling across the corpses of everyone who has died so far. It’s effectively a compost heap. They return to the bridge and develop a plan to defeat the plants using vionesium, a rare metal from Mogar (and therefore, in the cargo hold) that can release extreme light and carbon dioxide. This will simulate a passage of time and accelerate the life cycle of the plants.

Because science?

The Doctor and Mel get the metal and deploy it – Mel screams… Goodness, does she scream – and the threat is ended as the Vervoids become leaves on the wind. With that, the travelers bid their farewells and depart.

In the courtroom, the Inquisitor recognizes that the Doctor saved the universe from a major threat. The Valeyard, on the other hand, spins the events to paint the Doctor as a genocidal maniac.

And the trial continues…


I liked the Doctor a bit more in this one since he was a bit more heroic and less abusive. Mel wasn’t terrible aside from the screaming. Aside from that, the story was average with a few science-fiction conceits to keep the plot rolling.

Aside from that whole timey-wimey lack of tension due to evidence of the Doctor’s future.

Bonus: Professor Lasky was played by Avenger and Bond Girl Honor Blackman. She is a powerful actress and a world treasure.



Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”




UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Ultimate Foe



The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.


Timestamp #145: Mindwarp

Doctor Who: Mindwarp
The Trial of a Time Lord, Parts V-VIII

(4 episodes, s23e05-e08, 1986)


“May I remind you this is a court of law, not a debating society for maladjusted psychotic sociopaths.”

The trial continues as the Valeyard and the Doctor continue bashing heads. The Inquisitor scores the best burn and puts the squabbling children in their places before directing the proceedings to continue. The brown-nosing by the Valeyard – he addresses the Inquisitor as Sagacity, which is the state of being sagacious, or rather showing acute mental discernment and soundness of judgment – doesn’t hurt his case any, but it sure puts the Doctor on edge.

Today’s episode of Time Lord Theater is the adventure in which he was engaged just before being summoned to court. The setting is Thoros Beta, a pretty planet with pink oceans and pastel skies. As the TARDIS touches down just offshore, the Peri and the Doctor wade to the beach and start searching for the source of a weapon owned by the lecherous Warlord of Thordon, a man whom they just visited.

The travelers find a cave and explore it, finding a kelp monster that attacks Peri. In the struggle, the Doctor accidentally kills the beast, but the Valeyard makes the case that the Doctor’s actions were deliberate. A group of men arrives and, after accusing the Doctor of murdering the Raak, the leader asks if the travelers are part of Crozier’s group. The Doctor tries to play along, even though he faces inquiry for the Raak incident, and is invited back to the laboratory.

Crozier is a scientist who is conducting some kind of mental conditioning experiments. When the guards begin to question the Doctor, he and Peri apply the “skedaddle” test to the Raak’s corpse and flee. During their run, they find a chained man who has been altered to act and look like a wolf. They are nice to him and he relents, but they are forced to run further by the guards. They hide, and from the shadows, they observe Sil and two others of his species being carried by.

In the courtroom, the Valeyard asks if the Doctor relishes danger. When the Doctor deflects, the Valeyard points out that the Doctor courts it easily and places his companions into peril more often than not.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

The man in Crozier’s chair is King Yrcanos, a warrior who is resisting the attempting the tranquility conditioning. The Doctor and Peri sneak into the laboratory after Crozier and the guards leave to report the Raak’s death to Sil and company. We find out that Crozier’s experiments are designed to help Kiv, one of Sil’s species, overcome paralyzing headaches due to a rapidly expanding mutant brain. As the Doctor sabotages the lab equipment, Sil, Crozier, and the guards enter the room and confront the Time Lord. The Doctor is strapped into the machine, and Sil orders it to be used as a mind probe to extract the truth about the Raak’s death.

This is a lot of effort over this accident, but if it’s that critical to the experiment, I can see why.

King Yrcanos awakens in true Brian Blessed fashion, destroys the laboratory, and frees the travelers. Yrcanos outlines a plan to attack Sil and his followers, and a stunned Doctor agrees enthusiastically before collapsing. In the courtroom, the Doctor admits that he cannot remember anything after Crozier’s machine jolted his brain. The Valeyard doesn’t believe him but warns him that a nasty surprise is coming.

I don’t like this dark foreshadowing. I have a bad feeling about this.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

The king and his new companions go to where the new slaves are brought into the compound. Yrcanos tries to sneak attack the guards, but the scramble-brained Doctor fumbles his stealth roll and yells out, spoiling the surprise. Yrcanos flees, cursing the Doctor’s name, and Peri soon follows when the Doctor refuses to help her. Left with Sil and the guards, the Doctor sides with the reptilian rogue and claims that the odds were not on their sides for the attack.

In the courtroom, the Doctor protests, but the Valeyard retorts that the Matrix cannot lie.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

In the lab, the Doctor confirms that the Raak attacked first, setting Crozier on a path to fix the experiment. The Doctor lends a hand, and although Sil is skeptical, he is eager to save his people (who we find out are called the Mentors).

Elsewhere, Peri finds the heart of the operation before being discovered by the leader of the guards.  She runs and finds Matrona, leader of the servants, and she joins up rather than returning to captivity. As King Yrconas finds the wolf-man and frees him after recognizing him as one of his subjects, the servants are sent to Kiv’s chambers. As soon as Peri enters, the Doctor uncovers her ruse and denounces her as an enemy.

In the courtroom, the Doctor confirms that this was a ploy to gain the Mentors’ trust and allow the travelers to escape. The Inquisitor demands to see the interrogation tapes to corroborate his story.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

Peri is chained to the rocks by the sea. The Doctor tortures Peri and tells her that Crozier is planning to put Kiv’s brain in the Time Lord’s body. The whole thing, between the betrayal and the torture, is really uncomfortable. Crozier calls off the interrogation and orders them back inside. When they return, Yrcanos attacks the Doctor. Despite her reservations, Peri saves her friend, an act that angers the king.

In the courtroom, the Inquisitor offers (once again) a public defender for the Doctor’s case, but he refuses, reasoning that if the Time Lords want him dead, he cannot trust any of them to save him.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

The Doctor flees the scene and arrives at the lab. Crozier is trying to transplant Kiv into a new body that he found washed ashore, and the Doctor jumps in to assist. Meanwhile, Peri follows Yrconas to find pockets of resistance in Kiv’s organization. The three of them, Yrconas, Peri, and Dorf the wolfman take a rest, eat some flay fish, and plot while overcoming a spate of jealousy. They move on and are soon captured, but their captors are rebels against the Mentors. An army is raised and they go on the hunt, but they are eventually apprehended. When they try to escape, they are all shot down.

Luckily, they were only stunned, but for a moment in the courtroom, the Doctor truly thought that Peri was dead and that he was responsible.

Back in the lab, after a rather harrowing medical drama, Kiv is successfully transplanted, but there are complications. The brain is not quite compatible with the body of a fisherman, and the body is winning by taking over the memories. In order to save Kiv, they need to move his brain one more time. Crozier suggests Peri as a suitable candidate, but the Doctor shows his apprehension so Crozier sends him to the induction center to find a suitable candidate.

In their new cell, Peri expresses a desire to go back to her own time and be with people she loves. King Yrconas asks her about love, and Peri teaches him in her own magical way. Soon after, she is taken to the lab and sized up for the transplant.

The Doctor tricks the head guard and frees Yrconas and Dorf. The group follows the Doctor’s plan, taking over the induction center and setting their sights on the control center to free all of the slaves in the compound. A heartbreaking stray shot kills Dorf but the team takes the control room and destroys it.

As the Doctor rushes to save Peri, the Time Lords remove him from time and take him to the court, effectively catching us up on his timeline. Their reasoning is that he had unleashed chaos and set irreversible events into motion with Peri that would threaten the future of human evolution. They then show him what happened after he left Thoros Beta.

Kiv is transplanted into Peri’s body, effectively erasing her brain in the process. Yrcanos attacks the lab, but the Time Lords place him in a time bubble to await the perfect time to strike, basically turning him into an unwitting assassin. The Doctor chides the Inquisitor for this act of second-rate gods.

Kiv awakens in Peri’s body as the time bubble dissipates, and Yrcanos storms into the lab. He sees what has happened to the woman he has grown to love and he kills everyone in the room.

He killed everyone.

The Doctor is incensed – as am I at this point – but the Inquisitor and the Valeyard tell him that is was necessary to stop the pending disaster. The Doctor doesn’t believe them, and he vows to find out exactly why he is in this place outside of time.


Upsides: Brian Blessed was amazingly over the top, and it was glorious; Thomas Branch, the actor behind Dorf the wolfman sold the man’s best friend routine so well that my heart hurt when the character died.

Downside: I don’t like what they did to Peri in this story, between the Doctor’s perceived betrayal and her death. She has been abused so much during her travels with the Sixth Doctor (usually at his hand), and she deserved so much better.


Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”



UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Terror of the Vervoids



The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #144: The Mysterious Planet

Doctor Who: The Mysterious Planet
The Trial of a Time Lord, Parts I-IV

(4 episodes, s23e01-e04, 1986)


Changes about with a darker theme tune and intricate model and special effects work. The same old creepy smiling intro remains a constant.

Swimming in effects is the TARDIS, drawn off course into a space station in the middle of nowhere. The Doctor emerges from the time capsule, confused and stumbling into a room where he is put on trial by his fellow Time Lords. The trial is spearheaded by the Valeyard and is overseen by the Inquisitor. The latter remarks that he has been put on trial once before for his meddling. He’s also been stripped of his title of Lord President of Gallifrey.

The Valeyard commences his trial of the Doctor with the tale of his adventure on Ravalox, which is contained in detail inside the Matrix. The assembled Time Lords begin to watch an episode of Doctor Who, and this whole thing goes kind of meta.

The adventure begins as Peri and the Doctor roam the forests of Ravalox, a planet virtually identical to Earth (but not in the same location) that is destined to be destroyed by a solar fireball. They are watched by Glitz and Dibber, a pair who try to shoot the Doctor but miss their respective opportunities. The travelers find a cavern, which apparently contains the L3 robot that the assassins are trying to destroy. As the Doctor and Peri proceed inside, the find a sign for the Marble Arch tube station, and Peri mourns the death of her home planet. Ravalox is Earth.

In the courtroom, the Doctor objects to what he considers a waste of time. He also questions where Peri is during this whole affair, which the Valeyard finds interesting. The Doctor has forgotten where he left her, presumably a side effect of being “taken out of time.”


Returning to the episode already in progress…

The Doctor continues into the depths of the station alone and Peri gets captured by the local natives. In the clean and shiny underground complex, the Doctor picks up a bottle of water and is apprehended for theft. Water is life, and those who steal it must die by stoning. He has a discussion with Balazar, the leader of the water guards, and discovers that the man’s job is to read the sacred texts of Marb Station – Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, and UK Habitats of the Canadian Goose by H.M. Stationery Office – before being placed for the stoning. He tries to deflect the rocks but ends up unconscious anyway.

Meanwhile, Glitz and Dibber make their way to the native village to meet with their leader. They claim that the malfunctioning navigational beacon in their village, which Katryca and her people treat as a totem to a god, is what brought the fireball to Ravalox. The assassins try to overpower their guards and fail. They are soon joined in the village by Peri.

In the courtroom, the Valeyard proposes that the inquiry become a full trial of the Time Lord, with the penalty being his death. Presumably, not just regeneration as it was before, but a full-blown execution. I guess they’re semi-serious about this (despite their previous history of asking and compelling the Doctor to interfere).


Returning to the episode already in progress…

Officials arrive and interrupt the stoning, and the robot (“the Immortal”) demands that the Doctor and Balazar are brought before him. The Doctor is cautioned not to look upon the Immortal – “On pain of being turned into a pillar of salt, I imagine.” – before being sent into the robot’s inner sanctum. The robot, known as Drathro, commands the Doctor to work with his two human assistants.

In the village, Peri is introduced to the queen, promised many husbands, and then placed in captivity with the assassins. Glitz and Dibber share their plan to destroy the robot, but Peri balks at mass murder of the underground civilization. The captives are taken before Katryca where Glitz is chosen as a sacrifice to the god as penance for his crimes. The trio stage an escape with Glitz and Peri heading to Marb Station while Dibber destroys the black light converter tower.

The Doctor identifies the problem with the black light system, even though it is outside his area of expertise, but Drathro forbids it since his instructions are to maintain an underground civilization, not one above ground. The Doctor rigs a trap and escapes, and Drathro sends a utility drone to pursue him. During the search, Merdeen (one of the guards) tells Balazar to head for the surface. Balazar objects, but Merdeen assures him that the firestorm has been over for hundreds of years.

Balazar and Merdeen find the Doctor and offer to help him escape, but circumstances bring Peri’s team and the Doctor’s team together at the entrance to Marb Station, trapped between the armed tribesmen and the service drone. Luckily, Balazar recognizes the leader of the tribesman as his friend Broken Tooth and convinces him to shoot the drone. The tribesmen insist that the Doctor and the collected crowd return to the village.

After another courtroom interlude where the Inquisitor expresses her distaste for primitive violence, the episode continues in Marb Station with a confrontation between Merdeen and Grell, a fellow guard who overheard Merdeen’s discussion with Balazar. Drathro breaks the tension by dispatching Merdeen to find Balazar as his assistants reactivate the drone.

Returning to the village, the Doctor, Peri, and the assassins are brought before Katryca. The Doctor offers to repair the totem, but she tosses the lot in a cell. They are inadvertently freed as the drone breaks down their cell and captures the Doctor.

In the courtroom, we learn that the Matrix files are updated with the experiences of all Time Lords no matter where they are. Further, the TARDIS can act as a collection device to add experiences within its range. The Doctor questions whether or not a Type 40 TARDIS can do this without being bugged and the Valeyard deflects. Curiouser and curiouser.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

Katryca and the tribesmen pursue the service drone and disable it. They celebrate the death of the Immortal and rush off to storm Drathro’s castle. Peri sees to the Doctor while Glitz sends Dibber for some heavier artillery. The Doctor and Peri head to Marb Station to stop Tribe of the Free before the robot kills them.

Hey, he’s all heroic again! It’s about time.

Returning to the courtroom, the TARDIS evidence tapes end as Glitz and Dibber, armed with a big gun, pursue everyone else into Marb Station. The Valeyard claims that the evidence has been classified in the public interest. The Inquisitor asks if the Doctor officially objects, but he does not. Instead, he lets the Valeyard continue with the imagery collected from the Doctor’s perspective.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

The Doctor and Peri are intercepted by Merdeen, and the guard claims to be hunting the Doctor. He fires his crossbow, but instead of killing the Doctor he strikes Grell, who was trying to capture the Doctor for Drathro. Meanwhile, Katryca’s group breaks into Drathro’s domain, but he kills both the queen and Broken Tooth. He sends the rest of the strike group to await culling while his assistants run. It seems that an explosion is coming.

In the courtroom, the Doctor and the Valeyard come to verbal blows over what they’ve seen. The Doctor disputes the relevance of what they’ve seen while the Valeyard claims that had the Doctor never been there, none of it would have happened.

He has a point, you know.

The Inquisitor also takes issue with censoring of the discussions between Glitz and Dibber.


Returning to the episode already in progress…

The Doctor returns to Drathro and tries to shut down the black light system, but the robot forbids it. The Doctor tries to reason that the robot is doomed either way, but the people who serve the Immortal can be saved. The discussion is a good back-and-forth on the value of life and finally solidifies the Sixth Doctor in the ideology of the Doctor overall.

Also, Drathro calls the Doctor out on his verbal abuse, which is fantastic.

Glitz and Dibber are in search of information so they can sell it on the black market. They find the castle entrance, presuming that five rounds rapid (The Daemons) could break it down, but Dibber objects. So, they find their way to the food chutes with Peri, Merdeen, and Balazar, but Drathro detects their intrusion and tries to kill them. Dibber blasts his way in, opening a path into Drathro’s domain, and the group join the discussion. Glitz and Dibber humorously try to salvage the situation, resulting in everyone being tied up while the assassins escort Drathro to their ship. The Doctor breaks free and tries to stop the explosion, but he is only able to limit it to the castle. The explosion also destroys Drathro, leaving the assassins a chunk of valuable rock to fund their next escapade.

In the end, the Doctor tells Balazar to take his civilization to the surface and start a new life before leaving with Peri for their next adventure.

With the episode over, the Doctor proclaims that he should be found innocent of the Valeyard’s charges, but the Inquisitor denies him his victory. The Valeyard is only getting started.


Not a bad story overall. The separate scene storytelling trope took a little getting used to, but the evidentiary episode was a fun adventure. The Valeyard has a point that fewer lives would have been lost if the Doctor had never interfered, but Glitz and Dibber were already on the planet and would have potentially stolen information that could have killed any number of beings. The Valeyard’s schemes appear transparent to both the Doctor and the viewer, but it’s fun to see someone using the ignorance and procedural nature of the Time Lords against them like he does.

Refreshingly, this was a low body count for this era of the show.

Additionally, the Doctor and Peri were a lot closer this time than they have been in previous adventures. It’s nice to see him being less abusive toward her.



Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”



UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Mindwarp



The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Twenty-Second Series Summary

Doctor Who: Twenty-Second Series Summary


A stunning and sharp decline.

The Sixth Doctor’s full opening set was the lowest of any run to date in the Timestamps Project. After a promising start with Attack of the Cybermen and average adventures with Vengeance on Varos and The Mark of the Rani, the series nose-dived hard in the back half.

The problems are pretty much the same across the board: The stories were weak and overly convoluted, and the Doctor himself is acerbic, cynical, and downright abusive. The latter of those traits has been more often than not aimed at his companion Peri. Yes, she does bite back, but oftentimes she’s just as taken aback as the viewer at his verbal slaps.

Additionally, the stories have been continuing the John Nathan-Turner trope of high body counts. The difference between this Doctor and the previous incarnation under the same producer is that the Fifth Doctor still retained heroic traits and empathy. This Doctor has brief sparks – Timelash‘s attempted self-sacrifice is a notable example – but it’s never a sustained effort to actually be the Doctor.

It’s almost as if he’s just marking time until his hitch is up.


The Twenty-Second Series comes in dead last in comparison against the twenty-one previous sets. This score is over a half-grade lower than the Third Series, the Nineteenth Series, and the Twenty-First Series. All of them are tied for second to last, and the last two are the bookends for the Fifth Doctor.


Attack of the Cybermen – 4
Vengeance on Varos – 3
The Mark of the Rani – 3
The Two Doctors –  1
Timelash – 2
Revelation of the Daleks – 2

Series Twenty-Two Average Rating: 2.5/5



UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Mysterious Planet


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #143: Revelation of the Daleks

Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks
(2 episodes, s22e12-e13, 1985)


A swing and a miss for an abusive Doctor’s last at-bat this inning.

Peri and the Doctor arrive on the snow-covered vista that is Necros. They are both wearing blue – the Doctor has a blue and gold cloak over his typical garishness while Peri is in an overcoat and beret – in honor of the planet’s traditions for mourning. While Peri complains that the garments are too tight, the Doctor engages in a little recreational body-shaming. Honestly, Doctor, Peri is far from overweight.

The Doctor has arrived to honor the memory of Professor Arthur Stengos. As the travelers plan, neither notices a hand emerge from the icy pond where Peri just threw the remnants of her lunch until the resulting large splash startles them. As they walk away, a humanoid emerges from the depths and pursues them. Hey, zombies gotta eat.

In a warmer place, planetary funeral director Jobel and his staff are making arrangements. The director is notified that the presidential spacecraft is on approach, and using gallows humor he gives orders for his staff to look their best. He also rebuffs the advances of his protégé Tasambeker, much to her chagrin. As the staff disperses, two figures bearing firearms pass their stealth checks, sneak through the center, assault guards with both energy and projectile weapons, then break into a locked room.

As the Doctor and Peri muse over the local flora, they are attacked by the humanoid from the pond. The Doctor attempts to hypnotize it, and when that fails Peri strikes the creature dead. Their exploits are captured by a local disk jockey whose broadcast is being watched by a Dalek and the head of Davros. The villains are distracted by the gunfire, and they miss the dying humanoid’s revelation that he is the product of experimentation by the “great healer.” The humanoid also forgives Peri for her actions.

The mysterious duo continues their quest, but their sneaking about is captured on video by the disk jockey. Tasambeker dispatches two of the funeral staff to find them and, interestingly, the two officials are able to walk right by the Dalek guards with a flash of identification. No exterminations, huh? Meanwhile, Davros summons Tasambeker to his chamber before contacting a woman named Kara. The discussion reveals that Kara is a food distributor who works for and funds Davros, the Great Healer. In fact, Davros takes pretty much everything she makes.

The sneaky pair finds evidence of… something… before running from guards that shoot on sight. They escape only to encounter Daleks escorting gurney and corpse down a corridor. They carry on, unknowingly being observed on Davros’s cameras, and find a room full of brains being preserved in giant glass tanks. They also find a glass Dalek containing a humanoid head. Creepy to be sure, but it gets creepier: The head recognizes Natasha, one of the rogues and his daughter, and calls her by name. He reveals that the corpses (really, beings on the edge of death placed in suspended animation) are being transformed into Daleks and he demands to be euthanized to prevent that grisly fate for himself. Reluctantly, Natasha obliges, but they are soon captured by the guards.

Oh, and Natasha’s father is none other than Arthur Stengos. <dramatic music cue>

Outside the facility, Peri and the Doctor are unable to find a door so they climb the wall instead. The Doctor continues his abusive barbs about her weight and she inadvertently destroys his pocket watch. Inside the facility, the disk jockey continues to be annoying.

Kara meets with an assassin named Orcini and his squire Bostock. She fawns, Orcini demurs, and Bostock leers. Finally cutting to the chase, Kara hires Orcini to eliminate Davros and free her supply chain. While they scheme, the Doctor and Peri continue their journey to the facility, a place called Tranquil Repose.

I agree with Peri: Yuck.

Tasambeker arrives before the Great Healer: Davros wants her to be transferred to his private staff, effective immediately. Outside, Peri spots (but does not recognize) a Dalek, followed by the spectacle of the Doctor’s face on a memorial plaque. It seems that the Time Lord is destined to die here… and he nearly does as the plaque falls on top of him.

You know, I don’t normally point out the flaws in set design, but that falling memorial was telegraphed multiple times as it swayed and swiveled on all of its seams for minutes before falling over. Downright distracting, that.

Anyway, as Peri runs to the Doctor’s aid, she is intercepted by Jobel. The Doctor emerges from the rubble unharmed – his cloak is stained with blood, but the whole event was theatrics staged by someone else – and the pair continues inside to unravel the mystery of attempted assassination. They receive a sales pitch from Tasambeker, complete with a commercial by the infernal disk jockey, and learn that only the Great Healer can erect monuments to the dead.

On the surface, Orcini and Bostock continue their mission with pomp and circumstance. They encounter a Dalek and destroy it with bastic bullets, an act that raises the alarm in Davros’s chambers. Davros calls Kara (who is deeply invested in President Vargos’s approach) to investigate her involvement, and she deflects as best she can.

Peri asks to meet the disk jockey. The Doctor agrees, though troubled that Jobel is accompanying her while he investigates the Great Healer. He’s even more troubled a few moments later as he is taken prisoner by the Daleks. Peri ditches Jobel and meets the DJ, obsessed by his patter which reminds her of home. Sadly for her, he’s only imitating what he knows from historical records of the United States.

The Doctor wakes up in the same cell as the two rogues, and they fill him in on the goings-on. As they chat, Daleks apprehend Kara and take her to Davros, Jobel schemes to take down the Great Healer, and Davros manipulates Tasambeker into killing Jobel in exchange for immortality as a Dalek. Orcini and Bostock make their way to Davros’s sanctum, stopping along the way to release the rogues and the Doctor.

Tasambeker tries to reason with Jobel in order to save his life but ends up killing him in a fit of rage. Daleks kill her shortly afterward. Meanwhile, Peri contacts the Doctor and he asks her to warn the president away. Davros dispatches Daleks to capture Peri and orders a new glass Dalek incubator to be prepared, forcing his guard to leave as Orcini makes his attempt on Davros’s life. Orcini destroys the head, but it was a ruse; the real Davros emerges (apparently unscathed by the Movellan virus), kills Bostock, and incapacitates Orcini. Elsewhere, the rogues are killed in the incubation chamber by a self-destructing Dalek (after it inexplicably levitates) and a wasteful plot.

In the DJ’s studio, Peri warns the president as the disk jockey sets up a “rock and roll” cannon to defend against the incoming Daleks. It works until the DJ gets cocky and is exterminated. Peri is captured, as is the Doctor after hearing the entire battle on the compound’s intercom.

In his chamber, Davros entertains Kara with the “transmitter” that she gave to Orcini, revealing it to be a bomb. Orcini kills Kara as the Doctor is brought before Davros, and the leader of the Imperial Daleks gives the Doctor his best “evil plan” lowdown speech as the assassin schemes with Kara’s bomb. Davros plans to take over the galaxy with his new Dalek army while winning over the populace by eliminating famine. Of course, he’s taking the Soylent Green approach by turning people into food for the masses. After Peri arrives, a not-quite-dead-yet Bostock manages to shoot Davros’s hand off, and he pays for it by being exterminated for real this time. The Daleks squash the escape attempt and an irate Davros swears that the Doctor and Peri will become Daleks in exchange.

Despite Jobel’s death, his loyal staff have called in reinforcements: Daleks loyal to the Supreme Dalek arrive from Skaro and the civil war hostilities come raging onto Necros. The Renegade Daleks storm Davros’s chambers and apprehend their creator. Davros offers the Doctor in exchange, but the Renegade Daleks don’t recognize the Time Lord in this regeneration and they take Davros away.

In a nice touch of this incarnation’s caustic wit, the Doctor offers to shake Davros’s stump in farewell.

Using the gun with bastic bullets, the Doctor shoots the eyepiece off their Dalek guard before destroying it with a grenade.

(I’ve heard arguments that the Doctor doesn’t use guns, which is obviously false. I’ve also heard the argument that the Doctor only uses guns as tools, which is obviously false in this story.)

He then convinces Jobel’s staff to leave Tranquil Repose and start farming the purple flowers on the surface for food. In exchange for the Doctor’s promise to tell his order of his sacrifice, Orcini decides to remain with Kara’s bomb so he can destroy the Dalek incubation chambers. Everyone, including the Renegade Daleks, escapes just in time as the bomb reduces Tranquil Repose to shambles.

With the crisis solved, Peri asks for a real holiday somewhere fun. The Doctor agrees, deciding to take her to—


You know, I’m not even angry that the ending is freeze-framed as an artificial cliffhanger. In fact, I’m glad that the story is over.

The DJ is an annoying extravagance that could have been cut with no real consequence to the story. His exit was an addendum on a high body count plot that sidelined the protagonists for a long time as the plot eventually unfolded itself.

The whole thing was dragged down even further by the Doctor being abusive toward his companion. First, because body shaming her is unacceptable, period. Second, it has no narrative basis during the Sixth Doctor’s run except as an escalation of his petulant and boorish behavior.

I am beyond weary of this Time Lord equivalent of an internet troll.

The only benefit I could find to this tale was exploring the Dalek Civil War – in order to stop the Daleks, Jobel’s staff calls in more of them… that was an intriguing solution – but even that was tacked on as a means to stop the threat when the Doctor couldn’t.


Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”


UP NEXT – Twenty-Second Series Summary



The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #142: Timelash

Doctor Who: Timelash
(2 episodes, s22e10-e11, 1985)


A less than stellar kiss with history.

The Doctor and Peri are on their way to the constellation of Andromeda (or possibly the Eye of Orion) for a holiday, of which the Sixth Doctor seems to take many. Their transit – and the Doctor’s grumpiness – is interrupted by a Kontron tunnel, a time corridor that tears them off course and sends them toward Earth in 1179 AD.

There’s an interesting callback here. Peri mentions the Daleks using a time corridor, but that adventure preceded both her and the Sixth Doctor. Was the reference for the benefit of the viewer?

On a desolate moon, three rebels attempt to escape from a rigid hierarchy and punishment in the timelash (*ding*). They don’t get far before being captured and punished by the Borad (the societal leader), the Maylin (Renis, a mayor of sorts), and the Councilors of Karfel. Two of them, Gazak and Tyheer, are sentenced to the timelash, which is effectively banishment by time corridor. The prisoners plead for clemency due to the threat of war, but leniency does not come.

Skeptical councilor Mykros is told by the Maylin to cure his outspoken future wife Vena – fellow councilor and the Maylin’s daughter – of her stubbornness. Ah, sexism. Mykros follows the Maylin to the Borad’s power chamber (a rare place without surveillance) where he sees the mayor reluctantly transferring power from the Karfelon supplies to the Borad using two amulet-like keys. This will leave the timelash online but will harm the rest of the society, including the Maylin’s wife who is currently in the hospital.

Unbeknownst to the two men, the Borad was monitoring their discussion. Maylin Renis is brought before the Borad while Mykros is sent back to the inner sanctum. Renis is subsequently killed by accelerated aging, and Councilor Tekker is installed as the new Maylin. Vena is skeptical of her father’s death, and her skepticism only grows as Mykros is sentenced to the timelash. She tries to stop the sentencing but instead falls into the timelash (with the Maylin’s amulet in hand) and flies through the TARDIS is a ghostly fashion as the time capsule stabilizes and lands in the council chambers.

The Karfelons apparently have met the Doctor before, about a regeneration or three back, but the Time Lord is concerned: The Karfelons shouldn’t have access to a time corridor at their technological progression. The travelers are greeted, although the android guards steal Peri’s St. Christopher’s necklace. The reception is interrupted by an ultimatum from the Bandrils that results in a declaration of war. Peri receives a covert message – “Sezon at the Falchian Rocks” – before the Maylin returns and offers her a short tour of the citadel while he confers in private with the Doctor.

The Doctor is not interested in retrieving the Karfelon amulet until the Maylin reveals the true purpose of Peri’s tour: She has been taken as a hostage and the ransom is the Doctor’s cooperation. Peri outwits her captors and escapes into the caves of the Morlox – not to be confused with the antagonists of The Time Machine – which are lizard creatures that look similar in snout to the dinosaurs that invaded London during the Third Doctor’s tenure. She is rescued from the Morlox by Karfelon rebels Katz and Sezon, but the whole group is soon captured by the Borad’s guards after they find Peri’s note. Before they are apprehended, Katz shows Peri a locket that she received from her grandfather. Inside is a picture of Jo Grant.

I guess Peri has been reading about the Doctor’s prior adventures. Fascinating.

The Doctor reluctantly agrees to find Vena, who would have followed the time corridor to Earth 1179 AD. Instead, due to interference from the TARDIS, she has landed in Scotland 1885 and is rescued by a man named Herbert, a writer and aspiring teacher. When the Doctor arrives, Vena explains things, and the trio board the TARDIS for Karfel… although Herbert is more of a stowaway than a ticketed passenger.

Tekker coerces the Doctor to return the amulet and then reneges on the deal, refusing to reveal Peri’s whereabouts. Instead, he sentences the rebels and the Doctor’s group to the timelash. The Doctor uses a mirror to confuse the android guard and the rebels fight back, eventually taking the sanctum as their own. The Doctor rappels into the timelash and, with Herbert’s help, removes two Kontron crystals. He uses the crystals to construct a time-break, which allows the rebels to repel an attack on the sanctum. The Doctor and Herbert leave to deal with Borad.

In the battle, a wall is broken to reveal a painting of the Third Doctor. Meanwhile, Peri is chained up in the Morlox cave as a tasty treat.

Tekker retreats with Councilor Kendron to the Borad’s side, and the leader’s public face is revealed to be an android. The real Borad is a human-Morlox hybrid, and the creature kills Kendron after Tekker betrays his trust. The Doctor faces the Borad while Herbert watches from above, and the Time Lord figures out that the Borad is Megelen, a crazed scientist the Time Lord exposed on his last visit for unethical experimentation. Borad intends to use the chemical that transformed him, Mustakozene-80, to transform Peri and populate the planet. He also wants to use the Bandril assault to cleanse the planet of everything but the Morlox, paving the way for his new society.

The Doctor activates his time-break, setting up a ten-second delay between his image and true self and allowing him to set a trap. The Borad’s aging beam is reflected in the Kronton crystal and kills the hybrid. The Doctor and Herbert free Peri and then set their sights on stopping the war. The Doctor uses his title as President of the High Council of Gallifrey to convince the Bandrils, but they are unable to destroy the missile. The Doctor returns to the TARDIS and maneuvers the time capsule directly into the projectile’s path, risking himself for the Karfelons.

That effort takes forever as the Doctor prevents Peri and Herbert from helping (as well as deflecting the latter’s sexism and prattling).

The nearly indestructible nature of the TARDIS acts as a shield, destroying the missile in orbit and opening the way for new peace talks. When the Doctor returns, he finds a clone of the Borad has taken Peri hostage. After some verbal sparring, the Doctor breaks the mural of his third incarnation to reveal a mirror. The reflection drives the Borad back toward the timelash and the Doctor shoves him through. The Time Lord destroys the timelash and then prepares to take Herbert (better known as Herbert George Wells) home.

Oh, and the Borad? He’ll have somewhere to swim since the time corridor supposedly dumps into Loch Ness. He’ll have company with the Skarasen in a hundred years or so.


On the upside, I enjoyed the references to the works of H. G. Wells – The Time MachineThe War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Doctor Moreau were most prevalent – and the inference that the Doctor influenced those works. I was amused that the Third Doctor had a few adventures with Jo Grant outside of their three televised seasons together, but I would have liked the idea more if it showcased Liz Shaw instead of Jo. Sure, the Doctor didn’t get his keys back until Jo was on the scene, but I’m still upset at how the production team shortchanged Liz.

On the downside, other than the historical bits, this story wasn’t very engaging. The story was decent enough, but it felt thin and hastily constructed. We got a heroic Doctor, but the body count is still pretty high and the character is still pretty surly and petulant.

Regarding that body count, I’m curious about the other victims of the timelash, including the android that fell in during one of the battles. Are they roaming Earth somewhere, or is the timeline cleaned up somewhere along the line?

Despite the Doctor’s quotation of numerous rules and regulations this adventure, it’s probably not that important to him.


Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”




UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks



The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #141: The Two Doctors

Doctor Who: The Two Doctors
(3 episodes, s22e07-e09, 1985)


The triumph of The Five Doctors brought Icarus too close to the sun.

Starting in black and white the Second Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon in their TARDIS – although, that’s not the right console – the adventure phases into color as the mission is revealed: The Time Lords have sent them Space Station Camera in the Third Zone. The Time Lords have also installed a recall device on the console. Victoria is off on her own studying graphology – placing this voyage of the TARDIS in the narrow window between The Evil of the Daleks and Fury from the Deep – and excusing the uncharacteristic interference in affairs by the Time Lords is an exercise left to the viewer.

When they materialize, it is in the kitchen of Shockeye, a knife-wielding cook who wants to buy Jamie as the main ingredient in his ideal meal. The Second Doctor talks his way out of the situation by flaunting his authority as a Time Lord, but after they leave, the TARDIS leaves, subject to recall by the Doctor, to prevent the station scientists from studying it. In the kitchen, Shockeye and a woman Chessene scheme.

The Second Doctor and Jamie meet with Dastari, the Head of Projects, and explain that the time travel experiments of researchers Kartz and Reimer threaten disaster for the universe and should be stopped. While they talk, Dastari reveals that Chessene is a special experiment in augmentation called an Androgum, which the Doctor considers dangerous.

His fears seem justified when (unbeknownst to him) she kills a technician who discovers three Sontaran battlecruisers bearing down on the station. Instead of raising defenses, she opens the docking bays. During the discussion with Dastari, the man succumbs to a sleeping drug while the Sontarans invade the station.

Moving to another place and time, the Sixth Doctor and Peri are vacationing near a lake. Peri is bored, but the Sixth Doctor is intent on catching gumblejacks, the finest fish in the universe. After the fishing expedition is a flop, the pair returns to the TARDIS with plans to try a different body of water, but before they can leave, the Sixth Doctor collapses in pain. In a parallel, the Second Doctor is being tortured by the Sontarans. After the Sixth Doctor recovers, he remembers images of jelly babies and recorders, and he concludes that he is a temporal anomaly. He decides to consult with Dastari.

The TARDIS materializes in the kitchen again, but this time the atmosphere is dank and dark, saturated with the scent of death. The Sixth Doctor and Peri explore the station and are confronted by station computer. It tries to kill them, but the Sixth Doctor saves himself and Peri from decompression by dragging her to Dastari’s abandoned office. He reviews Dastari’s journal but refuses to believe that the Time Lords were responsible for the sacking of the station. Peri suggests that a third party is responsible, potentially to destroy relations between the Third Zone and Gallifrey. The pair leaves the office via service ducts and tries to deactivate the computer before it kills them.

Moving to Earth, time unknown, Chessene, Shockeye, and a Sontaran seize a Spanish hacienda after killing the elderly owner. Chessene absorbs the contents of the woman’s mind, discovering that they are situated just outside of Seville, Spain. Their Sontaran escort, Major Varl, announces the arrival of Group Marshal Stike of the Ninth Sontaran Battle Group. They are observed by two humans, Oscar and Anita, who are hunting moths and think that Dastari and the Sontarans are helping victims of a plane crash.

After what seems like an eternity of walking in circles, the Doctor attempts to disconnect the main circuit. Peri is attacked by a humanoid creature in rags, and the Doctor trips a gas trap and is ensnared. When the travelers recover, they discover that the attacker is Jamie. Together, they uncover that the Sontarans are responsible for the attack, and the Sixth Doctor and Peri investigate while Jamie sleeps. The Sixth Doctor discovers that he could indeed be dead if he arrived in the focus point of a temporal experiment, and his status as an anomaly signifies the collapse of the universe.

Peri returns with a recovered Jamie as the Doctor views videos of torture. He concludes that they were red herrings, illusions to dissuade people from investigating further. He also concludes that the Sontarans kidnapped Dastari, the only scientist in the galaxy who can duplicate the symbiotic nuclei of a Time Lord and the subsequent ability to travel through time. Such technology would make the Sontarans unstoppable. The Doctor enters a telepathic trance to find his past self, and he does in Seville.

Nice jokes, Doctor. I laughed.

The antagonists set up their equipment in the hacienda’s cellar while Shockeye snacks on a rat. The Sixth Doctor, Peri, and Jamie make their way to Seville while the Second Doctor discusses matters with his captors. It’s worth noting that the Second Doctor recognizes Sontarans despite never meeting them in his run.

It’s also worth noting that Dastari is fully on board with this plot. So, what was the point in drugging him earlier?

If only that was the sole problem with this story.

The Sixth Doctor, having shed his overcoat due to the heat, talks with Oscar and Anita about what they saw. The humans mistake the travelers for plain-clothes police officers, and the entire group makes their way toward the hacienda. In the cellar, the Second Doctor and Stike have a little rhetorical back and forth while Shockeye studies cookbooks and the Sixth Doctor scouts the area.

While Jamie and the Sixth Doctor enter the cellar, Peri poses as a lost American tourist. Chessene is suspicious, having read Peri’s thoughts, and wheels the Second Doctor through the entry hall as a test. Since Peri has never seen the Second Doctor, she doesn’t react. Peri takes her leave of the hacienda, but Shockeye and his stomach pursue. He later captures her and takes her to the kitchen.

The Sixth Doctor and Jamie investigate the Kartz-Reimer module, a device that will use the symbiotic nuclei – the Rassilon Imprimatur – to make time travel accessible to all. The Sontarans overhear the exchange and capture the pair. Stike threatens to kill Jamie unless the Sixth Doctor primes the machine, so the Time Lord does so. Stike tries to kill Jamie anyway, but Jamie stabs him with his sgian-dubh and escapes. The Sixth Doctor and Jamie find the Second Doctor, but as they attempt to escape, Shockeye returns with Peri. The Sixth Doctor and Jamie hide while the Second Doctor feigns unconsciousness.

Chessene and Dastari find the Second Doctor and decide to transform him into an Androgum. Chessene enlists Shockeye to move the Time Lord to the operating theater, but betrays him to harvest the brute’s genetic material. Meanwhile, the Sontarans scheme to betray their allies with their newly primed time device, but they don’t realize that the Sixth Doctor reveals that he has sabotaged the craft.

Shockeye awakens and releases the Second Doctor, now halfway transformed, so they can go on a dining spree. Dastari and Chessene double-cross the Sontarans, attacking them with acid and killing Varl before chasing after their wayward diners. The Sixth Doctor, Peri, and Jamie pursue them separately. While they’re gone, a critically wounded Stike heads back to his ship (time circuits in hand) intent on bringing back reinforcements. He forgets that he previously set the self-destruct and is killed in the resulting explosion.

Once in Seville, the Second Doctor and Shockeye end up at Oscar’s restaurant. They order massive amounts of food, but Shockeye pays with Oscar’s life. Shockeye runs as the Sixth Doctor arrives. The Second Doctor reverts to his former self after rejecting the Androgum transfusion, and the whole lot are returned to the hacienda at gunpoint by Chessene and Dastari.

What was the point of this narrative side trip? What a waste.

Once they arrive, the Doctor reveals the truth about the time device and returns the part he stole. Peri unwillingly but successfully takes a trip in the machine to test it. Chessene gives Shockeye permission to eat Jamie, but orders Dastari to detain the rest in the cellar. Once Dastari leaves, the Second Doctor confirms that the Sixth Doctor sabotaged the part so the machine would only work once. The two Time Lords escape from the cellar, and the Sixth rushes to the kitchen to rescue Jamie. He encounters Shockeye and the brute wounds the Time Lord. The two lead a merry chase into the woods as Chessene gives in to her base instincts and licks the Doctor’s blood from the ground.

There are so many issues here. “Once a [category], always a [category]” is an overused and false trope. It’s a horrible message to send, particularly in a franchise built around the premise that anyone can evolve and change.

The Sixth Doctor stumbles across Oscar’s moth-catching apparatus and ends up killing Shockeye with arsenic. A fitting revenge, I suppose, but is the Sixth Doctor really so bloodthirsty? Given the body count in this story and so many others in this era of the show, it seems so.

Back in the hacienda, Dastari tries to rescue the Second Doctor and Peri. In the end, Chessene kills Dastari, Jamie saves his Doctor and Peri, Chessene tries to escape in the time device but dies when it explodes. The Second Doctor recalls his TARDIS and the survivors of this story say their respective farewells.


Nostalgia aside, the Second Doctor is completely wasted in this story. The Shockeye storyline is also superfluous, and the culinary stabs at carnivorous diets were heavy-handed and awkward. I get that writer Robert Holmes wanted to promote his vegetarian lifestyle, but his efforts were painful at best. Which is where we find this story on the whole. Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines are huge highlights, but Troughton’s talents are squandered by keeping his Doctor restrained throughout the adventure. When the Doctors do get to interact, the chemistry between the two cranky characters is amazing but (sadly) brief.

Honestly, it could have been better off without involving the Second Doctor at all. The key DNA could have come from a previously unknown Time Lord who was trying to stop the experiments. If a recognizable character is required, bring back the Monk (it’s been long enough that he might be less annoying). If it needs to be more personal, try K’anpo Rimpoche – without whom the Doctor wouldn’t have made it past his third incarnation, or even had some of his foundational guidance – or Romana or Susan.

Even better, since the Time Lords of Troughton’s era were very strict about interference in time – they exiled the Doctor for less – this could have been a follow-up to The Mark of the Rani with the Sixth Doctor being driven to save the Master and the Rani in order to save the universe.

The story itself was lackluster and boring before the bloody side-trip to the restaurant. After that bout of filler – I’m guessing that they needed to justify the trip to Spain? – this one fell hard and fast, leading me to a conclusion that hasn’t been made on the Timestamps Project since The Power of Kroll.


Rating: 1/5 – “EXTERMINATE!”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Timelash



The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.