Written by:
Glen McCoy
Directed by: Pennant Roberts
Starring: Colin Baker
Year: 1984
Video Availability: Try sendit.com

Fans love to point out that this story's title is an anagram of Lame Shit, which always seemed to me to be an insensitive mocking of disability when you think about it. Though as this is a story that ends with the Doctor mocking a monster's "ugly" body, then maybe it's appropriate. Is it any good? Let's wade in...

Timelash is one of the most slated Doctor Who stories of all time, but to tell the truth I can hold no hate in my heart for it.

After a passable Tardis scene we get one of the worst planet exteriors I've ever seen in the series, followed by horrendously wooden bit-part players delivering hackneyed lines. Yet I like those blue-faced androids and the arch incidental music that accompanies them. In fact, while no great, Liz Parker's music is some of the best in an era with terrible, terrible music. (Obviously the best score is that of Revelation of the Daleks). The plot really is generic Who, if not generic SF even. Arcane society, time tunnels, people who have their "miserable life" spared. There are some truly, truly bad performances here, though at least Paul Darrow has the decency to ham it up like a mad bugger.

To be honest it's worse than I remember. Most of the "actors" simply cannot act, while the script is absolutely dire. Yet it's so inept it's kind of fun. Seeing Colin and Nicola attached to the console with seat belts is cringeworthy, but the obvious wires on the skeleton are a hoot, and Darrow positively chews the scenery. It comes to something when Paul Darrow is the best actor in a story.

It's over twenty minutes before the Doctor actually gets involved in the action. When he does we're suddenly thrust into a plot of the highest anorak order: the sequel to an unmade story. However, this is blown out of the water by the sight of Darrow hamming it up against a poorly-lipsynching glove puppet.

Peri is just a sex object, with even one of the androids admitting that she's attractive. ("Yes - indeed - she - was.") The latter stages of the episode see her menaced by an astoundingly crap monster, a monster that also resembles a phallus.

One plus point is that, among the relentless parade of tat, the direction by Pennant Roberts isn't so bad. He's no Graeme Harper of course, and his grip on the actors is ropy, but there are one or two nice camera angles in there.
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This really is a pile of crap to be honest. Liz Parker's music seems more OTT than in the first episode, and even though I quite like the bit with the Doctor playing with time, the majority of the plot is dire.

Particular attention must be drawn to the tinsel of the Timelash. Not only does it look unspeakably bad, it's also pure padding, taking up over three-and-a-half minutes of screentime. Like most of the season 22 stories, save for the superb Revelation, it has no real subplot, and suffers as a result in the 45m format.

This is easily the worst story of the season, though I perhaps have more affection for it than Attack. However, the whole experience of rewatching season 22 has brought to mind that old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Yes, season 22 was one of the weakest seasons to that date; perhaps topping some of Jon, Tom and Peter's middle seasons, but still quite patchy. Yet any problems with production, violence, continuity (and costumes!) could easily have been sorted out between seasons. Instead, they took it off, and when it finally reappeared it was immeasurably worse. As for Timelash, it is bad, and The Blimp is quite irritating.

Check out the wobbly control panel where they communicate with the Bandrels, while the contrived ending is just silly. By any standards this is a pretty poor example of Doctor Who. I would've liked to have seen the Bandrels send down their diplomatic party, though.
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Timelash, is - pre-Trial - the weakest Blimp story, yet also one of the most enjoyable. A real "so bad it's good" excursion...
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