Monday, September 29, 2008

Timelash - a Tale of Two Parts (neither all that good)

A boring day in the summer...

A dvd arrives in the post...

Part 1

It's sunny and warm outside, everyone's buggered off and I have the afternoon to myself for once.

Let's watch Timelash!

An hour or so later...

Hmm, that was pretty painless actually. Timelash isn't as bad as I remembered, and nowhere near as awful as fandom claims.

Admittedly not a great deal happens, but I was quite impressed by the android, the beekeeper guards and the Borad himself. Actually scratch that - I was really impressed by the design and costuming of the cast. The Borad is, I think, the best make-up until the Destroyer in Battlefield. The android is suitably odd looking which makes its sudden and unexplained appearance in flames all the better.

Which is not to say that it's all good obviously; there's little plot to speak of, the Morlock rivals the Shrivanzale, the Myrka and the Magma Beast for worst colour monster ever, Vena's makeup is awful and there's lots of generic native milling around.

You know what's really bad though? Whichever clown writes the DVD liner notes obviously thinks it's rubbish and as a result they're most apologetic I've ever seen ('padded', 'over-acted', 'cheap looking' and similar adjectives are used throughout). If he doesn't like it, couldn't they get someone who wasn't basically a tosser to do the notes? You have to assume anyone buying it is a fan and having the sour-faced mewlings of some idiot lambasting the show the BBC are busy selling you is neither helpful nor intelligent.

In any case, I thought only the actress playing Vena lets the side totally down, with Darrow turning in a perfectly reasonable if deliberately stagey performance, for all that the sleeve note fool seems to think that this is story packed with old hams and hamettes, chewing the scenery with gusto.

That's forty five minutes in and I'm cautiously looking forward to part 2...

time passes...

a week later...

Part 2

My cautious optimism was pretty much misplaced.

The second part of Timelash is like a lost TV Comic adventure or a Tom McRae two parter. Key events take place for no reason (one particularly useful scanner just appears on the wall unbidden), plot progression takes place by illogical authorial fiat (the execution of Tekker's potential deputy for treason, for instance) and there are more coincidences than generally turn up in a whole season of the increasingly lamentable 24.

As for the plot - well there's nothing in the new series which makes as little sense as the Borad's plans for Peri (even in a period of Who keen on both body horror and marriage to aliens for Peri) or for Karfel itself.

Not that it matters since the Borad (who still looks excellent and is well played Google...Robert Ashby) turns out to be Just Nuts, so that it explains it all nicely.

Most disappointingly, the design work which I liked in the first part defaults to 'Shit with Styrofoam' in part two. The neck manacle and cell Peri is locked up in are both good but in no way make up for the astonishing ineptness of the Timelash interior, for which the adjective 'cheap looking' is in fact too kind.

The acting too swiftly heads down the crapper. Darrow turns in the hammy performance I expected throughout, although he's never as bad as is often suggested, while the various rebels roll about unconvincingly in the assault scene and the actress playing Vena continues to be rubbish. Baker's very good in the scene with Herbert in the TARDIS though.

The usual collection of unprofessionally lumped together further random thoughts:

I wonder if the solution to the cliffhanger in Rise of the Cybermen is a tribute to the cliffhanger here? Or just equally rotten.

Is the rope in the Doctor's decent into the Timelash designed to stop him falling off the polystyrene, to prevent him being torn into the vortex or for Colin Baker to hang himself with as he realises what happened to his youthful dreams of appearing at the RSC?

Why is the picture of the Third Doctor over a mirror anyway? Surely the Board wouldn't have done that?

And why is he bothered about mirrors anyway - he seems otherwise very proud of his new form.

Why does director Pennant Roberts spend so much time showing us the Morlox when they're so obviously crap? Oh yeah - it's Pennant Roberts.

All the answers presumably boil down to lazy writing, even lazier script editing and talentless directing.

All in all, a really disappointing conclusion.

Will I never learn? When it's sunny, go out and play with the other boys and girls...
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Blogger SAF said...

Anyone who willingly watches Timelash and blogs about it is just fishing for sympathy.

Oh what the heck, you can have mine :)

4:51 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

What's rteally deserving of sympathy is the fact that I've sat thorugh much worse televison than that.

'Journey's End' for one...

6:25 pm  
Blogger TimeWarden said...

"Timelash" is, probably, the weakest story of Season 22 but, I agree, it is underrated by fandom. I prefer to keep my distance from organised reverence! The padding with Herbert, in the TARDIS, is one of the better scenes while memory reminds me that Dicken Ashworth was the weakest link in the acting stakes.

5:05 am  

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