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The Time Meddler

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1 The Time Meddler on Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:57 am

Parts 1 and 2.

The Doctor: He's unquestionably the hero of the story and prime mover of the action; the interplay with Vicki early on is well played and we definitely have the idea that he regrets Ian, Barbara and Susan's decisions to leave him. The idea that marooning Susan never bothered the Doctor is based on a limited viewing of later Hartnell; he is clearly a lonely old man in a box here. And Hartnell solidifies the character traits we've come to take for granted in the intervening 51-odd years; the gleeful joy at finding out it's 1066 is fun to watch. It's interesting, seeing the "ground zero" of the Doctor as we now know him; the 'idiot in a box' that gets himself in trouble.

The Companions. First, Vicki. She's an effective foil of sorts for the Doctor, reassuring him when he's a bit blue after having been left by the entire original Team TARDIS. And she does a good job of re-introducing new viewers to the basics of the TARDIS in the interactions with Steven. And Steven. He's headstrong, but not as intellectual as Ian was; very much one for rushing headlong into things. I'm beginning to think The Gunfighters was just exceptionally poorly written as Steven seems to be a passable Companion here. Part two especially makes me revise my initial estimation of Steven as a warehouse clerk out of his depth. He is a reasonably effective New Companion, and Vicki is a very effective "straw boss," introducing Steven (and by extension us) to life as a part of Team TARDIS. Vicki seems naïve, but Steven (while not at a level of even a Ben) has some amount of "street smarts," as he immediately picks up on the Meddling Monk's maybe inadvertent description of the Doctor who (see the pun) he said he hadn't seen.

The Story. England, pre-Hastings 1066. Team Who is making good use of a smaller Team TARDIS and we're seeing some development of the locals, something we didn't have screen time to do with a four member Team TARDIS. Like so many Barry Letts stories, though, part one drags a bit towards the middle. This is an ep set in Earth history, but we are seeing anachronisms, like the phonograph and wristwatch. This is the first modern historical as we now understand them. Instead of being relatively pure history like The Aztecs, there's going to be some form of fantastic element like we'll see a decade later in Talons of Weng-Chiang. Another interesting change is rather than the TARDIS landing and us joining the main story from Team TARDIS' vantage, we have an internal story and we're slowly introduced into the world the adventure takes place in. I keep being drawn back to the inherent challenges in a four person TARDIS crew. Verity Lambert figured it out quickly, but it took JN-T most of the Davison run to get to the point of understanding that three Companions and a Doctor is just too much to do in a TV show. We haven't had four in Team TARDIS since 1983 and there's a very good reason for that; just too many storylines for a TV show. Two Companions give Team Who the option of several POVs and leave the option of a Local POV as well, as is explored here to some degree. We're seeing the modern formula of fantastic Companions joining the Doctor crystallize and it is very interesting to watch. The primitively choreographed fight sequence in Part 2 is fun in its own way, and overall the episode is a good one.

The perceptive reader will note I have almost never mentioned any sort of race or gender in any of my reviews; I invite Forum members to read "The Critic And His Job" by H. L. Mencken. Might be one of the best guides for budding critics ever written.


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2 Re: The Time Meddler on Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:54 am

Love Time Meddler, probably my fave Hartnell.

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