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Doctor Who: Timelash (Story 142)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant
  • Directors: Pennant Roberts
  • Writers: Glen McCoy
  • Producers: John Nathan-Turner
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: April 1 2008
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B00114XLZU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,080 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Doctor Who: Timelash (Episode 142) (DVD)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A love/hate for fans, but I like it. Feb. 26 2008
By Graves - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Timelash is one of those Dr Who adventures that sharply split the fan base. People either love it or hate it with very little in between.

The basic idea is that in a dictatorship of the future, political opponents are thrown into the "Time Lash" a time machine that sends them into exile in medival earth. It comes to the Doctor's attention as the tardis inturupts one such rebel and diverts her to 19th century Scotland. there she, the Doctor and his companion along with a vacationing school teacher named Herbert set off to see who's meddling in time, only to discover this is a world the doctor, as Jon Pertwee visited years before. The Doctor needs little spuring on to oppose any dictator but to find a planet where he's known has fallen on hard times makes it double so.

This is Colin Baker at his best, a bar whose height is fiercely debated. He and the writing staff have grown comfortable enough to know what they are about. Baker is confident to the ppint of arrogant smugness, but pulls it off. Sure the f/x are cheesey, this is Doctor Who and that is part of the charm.

The two down sides: Paul Darrow as the pawn of the dictator is so over the top in his performance it's camp out of all scale. and Secondly the ending has a sort of double play, like they weren't sure how to end it, wrote two endings and then used them both. it is, clumsy, and also contradicts the known Dr Who sequence of events.

But it still remains one of my favorites from a bad couple of seasons, partly for the doctor's style, partly from Herbert. With him, depicted as an almost 'happy puppy' you get a very good example of how just a little time spent with the Doctor can influence a person's whole life.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not As Bad As it's Reputation. Oct. 13 2016
By Mark Who - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Timelash is enjoyable as a dark comedy. Paul Darrow is basically playing Richard III. The monsters are crap. The actors recall how bad they thought it was in the special features. But I enjoy it in a funny way.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "To be perfectly frank, Herbert." April 5 2008
By Crazy Fox - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Poor Sixth Doctor. He just gets no respect. Here in "Timelash" he neither picks up a gun to shoot down the enemy nor smothers the enemy to death, dashing off a morbid quip as he does so. Nobody eats human flesh, nobody drops into a vat of acid. Nothing's unduly controversial or disturbing. So does "Timelash" get any credit for walking the comfortably straight and narrow? Oh no, far from it. It comes in for harsher criticism yet.

Which, just like the face of the story's principal villain, the Borad, is either perfectly fair or unfairly foul, depending on your perspective. The basic idea of the story is superb. The Borad, once an unsavory biologist on the planet Karfel who in the midst of one of his unethical experiments inadvertently became fused with his reptilian specimen, now he's the unseen but all-seeing dictator of the planet, banishing any dissidents through a time tunnel (the eponymous Timelash) while secretly engineering a war that will leave unscathed only himself and a new race like him in appearance. The Doctor and Peri step into this situation as it nears its crisis (of course), meanwhile involving Herbert, a bouncy young would-be science fiction writer from turn-of-the-century England--a clever pseudo-historical touch all the more enjoyable in that the real Herbert's later novel "The Time Machine" was one of the inspirations for "Doctor Who" back in the early 60's (Who made who?). Basically, this is all good classic Who through and through. And since both the prior two stories and the following one include as a theme shadily motivated genetic manipulation gone wrong, it's hard not to suspect that something was in the news or whatnot in 1985 making an unsettling impression on the social imagination. The manner in which the story plays with the unspoken power politics of seeing and being seen in its depiction of a claustrophobically totalitarian society is also ingenious. Judging only from all this, "Timelash" should be hailed as a classic. Has it been unfairly castigated?

Well, not exactly. The concept is sound enough, but its realization is radically uneven in quality. The actual plotting of the story and the script itself bear telltale traces that the writer, Glen McCoy, was himself (somewhat like Herbert) full of enthusiasm but just a bit unpracticed yet. The ending after an ending after an ending is anti-climatic, the Doctor's sacrificing himself and the Tardis to save Karfel only to show up moments later coyly deferring explanation is an unbearable cop-out, and the confusing references to a prior visit by the Doctor in his third incarnation unnecessary and cheesy. The acting ranges from excellent to horrid. Colin Baker carries the show as the flamboyantly brusque, temperamental, delightfully arrogant Doctor with hearts of gold, and Robert Ashby's portrayal of the Borad is flawless, coldly calm in his cruelty. Paul Darrow's villainous take on the Borad's majordomo Tekker is also great fun. Most of the rest of the cast though give the most uninspired and absolutely wooden performance imaginable, and this flatline context has the adverse effect of making David Chandler's Herbert seem a bit over-the-top in comparison. Strangely, the special effects show this same wild variability, from the Borad's amazingly convincing make-up to the painfully obvious Christmas tinsel of the Timelash.

So, in the final analysis, is "Timelash" the cream of the cream or the lees and the dregs? One might as well ask if the glass is half empty or half full. But if you're a Doctor Who fan it would be a shame not to take a sip and see for yourself.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Oct. 5 2016
By tamerlane623 - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Turn off when I'm dead, it's boring" April 7 2008
By Jason A. Miller - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Timelash" has long been maligned as the worst story from one of "Doctor Who"'s weaker seasons. Everyone, it seems, has a different explanation as to why "Timelash" failed: the fault might lie with the guest actors, or with the director, or the writer, the producer, the set designer... Everyone, just this once, is correct.

"Timelash"'s script is a mess, and that's the fatal flaw. There's too much going on and the end result is less than the sum of its parts. There's an interplanetary war, a deformed dictator (part man, part plesiosaur), some no-nonsense rebels (played here by a pretty young woman and a bald fat guy), a bunch of squabbling Senators, a time corridor in space... and a young H.G. Wells. The characters are by and large one-dimensional, and the dialogue is mostly woeful. Nothing that happens on the planet Karfel ever really engages the viewer... except for Paul Darrow.

Best known for his role on "Blake's 7", Darrow came to this story expected to turn in a similar performance. Instead, he wanted to explore fresh waters by playing his character as Richard the Third. He delivers, in the end, a sarcastic, pompous, oily performance that would have worked really well... had any of the other guest actors been up to the challenge. Instead, he sticks out like a sore thumb. As Darrow says in the DVD's making-of featurette, the story really does get boring once his character exits, midway through the final episode.

The making-of documentary, by the way, is one of the DVD production team's liveliest efforts thus far. Several members of the production (cast and crew) spread the blame around. Script editor Eric Saward, as he always does, blames the producer, a man who's been dead for years. He does point some of the blame at the episode director, but then blames the producer for hiring said director in the first place. As a result, these 20 minutes are far livelier than anything that happens during "Timelash" proper.

"Timelash"'s strength is in the voice acting. Three men alone were up to the task of adding gravitas to their lines: Colin Baker (the Doctor), Darrow, and Robert Ashby (the plesiosaur), who reportedly wrote his own ripostes when the script failed him: "Another expedition into the realms of duplicity". Separated from its drab sets and heard only as an audio play, "Timelash" might offer some moments of true menace.

Unfortunately, apart from those three performances, the rest of the guest cast are just going through the motions, likely as confused by the story as were the script editor and director. "Timelash" winds up a dull misfire, not as bad its legend has grown, but certainly not worth the DVD cover price unless you're a completist.