Doctor Who

Starring: Colin Baker
RRP: 12.99
Certificate: PG
Available 09 July 2007

The Doctor and Peri are, as usual, arguing over where to go next when the Tardis is trapped in a time corridor. Unable to break free the Doctor arrives on the planet Karfel which is groaning under the tyrannical yoke of the Borad. Forced by the insane Tekker to follow Vena into the Timelash, the Doctor arrives in nineteenth century earth where he meets H.G. Wells...

Timelash (1985) was originally transmitted between 09 March and 16 March and was part of the longer running 45 minute two parters. Lets be honest, Timelash was one of those stories whose reputation for being dire has grown to legend proportions over time, and to some extent it deserves its reputation. That said, I never felt that Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant got either the great scripts or sets to do either of them justice - and the acid trip coat was a mistake of monumental proportions.

Let's get the kicking in out of the way. It's generally accepted that Timelash was, shall we say, not very good. Poor Nicola had almost nothing to do in the show, with her companion status hijacked by David Caulder as Herbert. She runs, she screams and she gets menaced by a monster that looks suspiciously like an over large penis with teeth. Most of the supporting actors' performances range from poor to bemused, especially the bee keepers - who must have wondered, to themselves, why an advanced civilisation was defended by bee keepers at all.

On the plus side you get Paul Darrow acting his socks off as an over the top Richard III character, throw this against Colin Bakers natural exuberance and you have a delicious slice of unintentional hilarity. Time has not been kind either for cultural references. It's not good when you find yourself just dying to have Borad ask Peri to do the big sexy with him, very nice or to sing Throw the Jew Down the Well as the convicts are chucked into the Timelash.

One thing you can never gripe about with the Doctor Who DVD releases is the number of extras on offer. Timelash comes with a very entertaining full length commentary from Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Paul Darrow, which is delivered with compulsive humorous warmth, making it well worth a listen to. There is also production notes in the form of subtitles. Next up is the documentary The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (25 mins) which acts as an apology for the show, explaining the limitations of the writer Glen McCoy - it was only his third script - the ten pence they spent on the show and the frustration that all involved felt. You get a photo gallery, a few trailers for forthcoming releases and the Radio Times listings as a PDF.

The disc comes with either episode selection or chapter selection, but the best way to view it is as one long story. There is a not very well hidden Easter Egg that allows you access to the continuity announcements for the show.

In the end the story still holds up as a bit of entertaining piffle. It was never going to be seen as the greatest story, but then I'm no longer convinced that it deserved so much invective. Sure it's too long and the Timelash looks suspiciously like it's made from Christmas tinsel, but its worth a watch if only to see Paul Darrow and Colin Baker trying to out act each other, both performances are full of bombast verging on madness, which misses being camp by a hairsbreadth.

Charles Packer

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