Doctor Who: Time-Flight

Can you get HBO on this thing? I don't want to miss
Game of Thrones.
"The illusion is always one of normality."

Well, that was a load of s**t, wasn't it?

There is a common held belief in some Doctor Who fan circles that any story that features the word ‘Time’ in the title is automatically bound to be terrible. Just look at the evidence, it practically speaks for itself; 'Timelash', 'Time and the Rani', 'The Trial of a Time Lord', 'Last of the Time Lords', 'The End of Time', f**kin’ 'Dimensions in Time'!!! I’ll stop there. There are a few notable exceptions to this unofficial rule. But 'Time-Flight' sure as hell is not one of them.

It represents the nadir of the Fifth Doctor’s entire era. Following on from the events of Earthshock, which featured the much beloved death of the much hated Adric, 'Time-Flight' sees the Doctor and his companions become mixed up in some nonsense about Concord planes disappearing. In all honesty I can hardly remember what the actual plot was or why the characters were doing what they were doing. No doubt my brain is doing me a favour by trying to suppress the entire horrible experience. But occasionally something ghastly manages to resurface.

Produced at the end of the season when everything was running on the loose change found down the back of the sofa in the BBC lounge, the effects work is diabolical, while the sets and costumes aren’t much better. The cast were exhausted by this point and couldn’t really be arsed anymore. They all just wanted to go on holiday.

And just when you think it can’t get any worse, Anthony Ainley shows up as the panto Master. Well, technically he’d been there all along, disguised as a fat, offensive oriental stereotype with a nasty skin condition. There is no practical purpose to this entire charade other than to provide the audience with a surprise shock that might just wake them out of their boredom.

Notes and Quotes

--With this story, Doctor Who became the first television series to be allowed to film at Heathrow Airport.

--Since he appears in episode two as an illusion, this story, rather than 'Earthshock', marks Matthew Waterhouse's final television appearance as Adric.

--No explanation is given for how the Master survived the ending of 'Castrovalva'. This will become a recurring feature of Ainley's Master.

The Doctor: (about the Concorde) "It's amazing."
Nyssa: "What?"
The Doctor: "This thing is smaller on the inside than it is on the outside."

Nyssa: "Well, this is Earth. For once it's perfect camouflage."
Tegan: "This is the 1980s, Nyssa. Police box went out with flower power."

The Doctor: "It's times like this I wish I still had my scarf."

One out of four fat, offensives oriental stereotypes with nasty skin conditions.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


Kenny Teeology said...

Honestly all of the 5th Doctor's run is sub-par in my opinion. Davison even has the misfortune of having the worst Companions as well (although Nyssa is OK). Seeing a few of Peter Davison's run makes McCoy's low-end episodes like "Time of the Rani" (as you mention) seem like well above average Who.

Having enjoyed the modern Doctor Who episodes immensely, I'm now on a mission to see every Classic Who serial and reconstruction as well. I'm now at about 85%. Thank you for your Classic Who reviews. :)

John said...

I re-watched this very recently and was surprised that I didn't hate it.

Yes, there is no logical reason whatsoever for the Master to pose as Kalid, and the amount of co-incidence necessary for the Master to trap the Doctor makes his "Castrovalva" scheme look oversimple. Yes, the Plasmatons look utterly ridiculous, and the sets are so tiny that it could've been filmed in my apartment, and the Master's come-uppance in Ep. 4 happens offscreen, making the climax of the story the takeoff of Concorde (pretty shoddily realized).

But Anthony Ainley aside, there's very little overacting, the Xeraphim are an interesting concept, Professor Hayter is an interesting character, Tegan finally gets to play stewardess, UNIT gets name-dropped, there's a great joke about the door control, etc.

There's actually a decent story here, if only the Kalid plot was dropped and a few extra pounds and IQ points were applied to the production design.