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< The Chase
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The Time Meddler

Rating Votes
10
15%
17
9
17%
20
8
48%
55
7
12%
14
6
4%
5
5
1%
1
4
3%
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Average Rating
8.1
Votes
115
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User Rating:
10
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Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 11/19/18 10:24 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Time Meddler is a 4 part story beginning with The Watcher.

This story is excellent entertainment, well written, well acted and good fun but most importantly it introduces 'The Meddling Monk', wonderfully played by Peter Butterworth, who gives us fascinating new information about The Doctor's background.

Writer Dennis Spooner is at his absolute best here with the humour blending beautifully with drama, unlike in some of his stories such as his earlier Season 2 effort The Romans where this is done badly. It is ironic that when Spooner was script editor standards were generally lower but he is the writer of this first story after Donald Tosh took over from him as script editor and it is brilliant. Tosh and director Douglas Camfield deserve a lot of credit for this I am sure. The humour is executed much better than it is in the stories when Spooner edited/oversaw the scripts himself.

It all begins very mysteriously with 1066 England having items such as electric appliances being shown. The viewer is left wondering what is going on and it makes the build-up really interesting. At the same time the new companion Steven begins to be established. The character proves to be superb and Peter Purves starts as he means to go on with a fine performance matching Hartnell's delightful Doctor. Butterworth also excels as the amusing and interesting Monk.

The character of the Monk finally gives a little development to the mysterious background of the Doctor as he is eventually revealed to be of the same race and planet of origin as the Doctor and also has a TARDIS time machine. This provides fascinating aspects to the story. It lets us know the Doctor is just one of a race capable of time travel. They are not yet named on screen as Time Lords from Gallifrey, though, that only happens in Second Doctor story The War Games.

The Monk uses his TARDIS to travel to Earth past and interfere in proceedings at the time of the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. He is not portrayed as thoroughly evil, more as mischievous and dangerously meddling in past events for his own gain.

The whole story is excellent in my view with script, story and acting of a very high standard. It is one of the great all-time gems.

My Ratings: All 4 episodes 10/10.

Overall, Season 2 was very uneven. It started and finished really well but dropped in quality noticeably in between for the stories where Spooner was script editor (except for The Crusade which was more serious in tone than the others and really top quality). That makes this one of the weakest of the classic series in my view up until the disappointing Colin Baker and early Sylvester McCoy years when the show reached its low point.

Average Season 2 Rating: 7.76/10
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Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 4/7/17 11:16 pm
0 out of 3 found this review helpful.

The Time Meddler is an oddity in the William Hartnell era of Doctor Who. It was a story set in the past like so many other stories of the era...only this time, with a science fiction twist. You see, instead of it being a straight historical primarily made to educate rather than entertain this serial was the first in Doctor Who's history with a historical event setting to feature a villain other than one from that time period for the Doctor to defeat.

The plot sees a member of the Doctor's own race the Meddling Monk (Peter Butterworth) attempt to change the course of Earth history during the year 1066: the Battle of Hastings. This is a serial that was clearly ahead of its time; nowadays not only are we used to seeing a historical period invaded by an alien menace but we also tend to see a lot of plots that involve changes to time. Steven Moffat most notably uses this frequently as a plot point in the series; The Wedding of River Song in particular sees a fixed point in time changed when River refuses to kill the Doctor.

Unfortunately in The Time Meddler it doesn't quite live up to its potential. Due no doubt to the shoe string budget of the time, it never really feels like you see time changed in any major or significant way. You see the Monk has access to technology in his monastery which doesn't belong to 1066 such as toasters and a gramophone but you never see anything particularly big happen to alter the course of history. The Doctor (William Hartnell) says that the Vikings are defeated at the Humber but it would have been cool to see the Meddling Monk change this so the Vikings win and I'm pretty sure had this been a modern Steven Moffat two parter this is what would have happened. Instead we are only offered hints as to what the Meddling Monk has changed, via a check list that includes things such as 'Position atomic cannon' ticked. The serial ultimately drags and would likely have been one of those stories that would have worked better in the new series than it does in the classic era of the show.

I'm not entirely convinced by Steven Taylor as a companion either. He joined at the end of the previous serial The Chase and something about him just feels a bit too rough and ready for a companion for the first Doctor. Peter Purves isn't the best of the Hartnell era main actors either; he's no William Russell, that's for sure. The chemistry that William Hartnell, William Russel, Jaqueline Hill and Carole Anne Ford is missing too; they will always be the definitive first Doctor TARDIS crew for me.

Seeing the Monk's TARDIS is unbelievably cool though; the interior is the same as the Doctors but it is fun to see them enter a TARDIS through one that looks something other than a police box:



Also, there is a nice effect by the production team when the Doctor messes with the dimensional controls, causing the control room to represent the size of the object the TARDIS is disguised as:




It doesn't stop the story from being a bit of a drag though and it would probably have worked better as a fun two-part diversion inbetween serials rather than a four parter. This is a story that would have been more suited to the Steven Moffat era of the show rather than the William Hartnell period. In fact, I'd like to see the Meddling Monk return in series 10 as I think he would fit in nicely now the Doctor has found Gallifrey in Hell Bent. This story just didn't do a lot for me, even if it did have a cool effect with the Monk's TARDIS. You've got to give credit to the writers though: they were ahead of their time.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
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8
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Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 1/17/16 11:50 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Monk is a great character and that is in no small way down to Peter Butterworth. I love the naughty school boy feel of the character, more mischievous than malevolent. In the final episode when the Doctor asks him what the point was and he just says that he could help advance technology, give the world planes by 1320 and help put Shakespeare's Hamlet on TV just shows that blowing up the Viking ships is a means and that death and destruction are not his ultimate goal. He seems like he wants to exert control rather than cause chaos like The Master. The anachronisms littered about the place for the Doctor, Steven and Vicki to find are great fun. The watch, the recording of Monks chanting and the bazooka on the cliff top give it a sense of fun. It's a shame they didn't bring the Monk back except for 'The Daleks' Masterplan', but that door shut once Peter Butterworth passed away. If he regenerated why would he still be a monk and how could you fit a monk into more than a very limited number of stories: it's too intrinsic to the character's identity. On the whole, none of the villagers and vikings felt like anything more than a device or cardboard cut out characters. Apart from the Tardis crew of course. And the production values are great.
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User Rating:
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Reviewed By: AbortedFoetusReview Date: 1/10/16 5:49 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The time meddler was fun and engaging, I loved the Time Meddler and I loved the overall concept, the story was intriguing and I had a lot of fun with Steven who is really likeable. This is probably one of my favourites in Hartnells run as it was just a blast of fun, I would seriously recommend it for any newcomers to his era.

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