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Aug 10

Time Reconsidered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Who Eps: #4 THE TIME MEDDLER

FT1 comment • 199 views

or “nor would we be hampered by the MEAD

… being a show-by-show TARDIS-esque (ie in effect random) exploration of Doctor Who Soup to Nuts, begun at LJ’s diggerdydum community and from now on also crossposted at FT.

It was a simpler age: loveFILM has quit its BadBaker jag and sent me THE TIME MEDDLER, from mid-65, feat. DW1, Vicki and Steven. Verity Lambert is the boss, it’s a HISTORICAL — 1066! — and the main non-spoiler issue is that I realised, as I was cooing over the fact that Hartnell was a kid when Scott went off to the Antarctic, that he took on the role of OLDEST MAN IN SCIENCE FICTION AND LOOKS IT when he was just five yrs older than I am now. hmph

i: the story stars Peter Butterworth (not yet a CarryOnster) as the monk and Libby’s brother Peter Purves (not yet a BluePeterster) as Steven, newly established companion, who doesn’t believe in time machines
ii: the story establishes the beginnings of a backstory for DW, by showing us another of his kind — and that (DW aside) Timelords are TITANIC TWITS; Butterworth is distilled essence of bumbling in manner (this is why you’d hire him as an actor) but the MM’s plan is masterworthy in its utter ease of foiling
iii: simple as it is — only kids are watching, Lambert’s brief is still Reithian and semi-educational — the story does three things very tidily; A: ok it’s not Braudel or the Annales school, but it presents unglamorously repetitive saxon village life on a Northumbrian coast (despite Viking threat) memorably and economically; the story’s basic topic — anachronism as something we all somewhat manage intellectally and internalise — is nicely managed (we’re clued in that all is not as we think when the gregorian chant drifting down the hill wows&flutters like the warped record it is); and of course there’s the time paradox stuff: what will happen to our memories of what hasnt yet happened if the timeline is altered? (steven worries about the historybooks but vicki reminds him they haven’t been written yet, so this isn’t a problem…)
iv: timeraiders themselves (in “life of a timeless village” terms) these vikings are totally the Pathetic Sharks of vikingdom; the one we see most of, Sven, has a combination topknot&bunch and mumbles and pouts like a grumpy teenager… they all but run into walls to knock themselves out; among the saxons, the husband-wife relationship (he a big worried oaf, she a teeth-gritted, practical, kindly but passionate woman) is rather moving
v: this doctor is as familiar to me as a relative — self-amused, selfish, peppery, resourceful and sprightly when he’s engaged, not entirely trustworthy: the moment i liked best was when vicki panics that the companions may have been marooned; steven doesn’t even notice (he hasn’t known the doctor so long) but she is genuinely frightened and horrorstruck for a moment… it’s a possibility
vi: two oddities: one silly, one dark — when the companions are quizzing the monk, he gives away that he must have seen the doctor in classic style (a description he wouldn’t have if he hadn’t seen him), and after he’s gone they energetically discuss whether this isn’t a TRAP, surely he WANTED them to know he was lying, only nothing further is made of this curlicue; the second is that, well, vikings did rape and pillage, so what do these vikings actually do to saxon edith — she’s so traumatised that she appears dead in one scene (right after they grabbed her and dragged her off-screen) and her husband is shocked and grieving; is up and herself and active in the next scene, and tells the doctor she’s had “no visitors except him”… eh?
vii: best flipchart evah: it’s all “step three: contact vikings”, “step eight: meet king harold” — except for step two “position atomic cannon”

anyway, i liked it lots — no great surprise — and was intrigued how smart it already is about the moral ambiguities concerning the doctor’s own interventions, as, well, actual time-meddling: the monk has convinced himself he is working for the PROGRESSIVE GOOD (“with my help, shakespeare could broadcast hamlet on the television!”); and is of course QUITE LIKE the later doctor, except a massive massive twerp

Comments

  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 22 Feb 2011 #

    The start of my attempt to trace a literary antecedent for every Doctor Who story; http://drunkennessofthingsbeingvarious.blogspot.com/2011/02/doctor-who-reading-list-part-1.html

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