“The Time Monster” is the much maligned season 9 finale of classic Doctor Who. Aired over six weeks in May/June 1972, it sees the Master posing as a university professor in an attempt to release and control Kronos, an ancient being from outside time worshipped by the citizens of Atlantis. There’s sci-fi, slapstick, BBC costume drama, ham acting, and bad acting. Continuity errors abound (a hatstand changes design eras between episodes, though this could be explained by the Master’s experiments with time). In its defence, “The Time Monster” has some excellent visual effects, especially the execution of slow and fast motion.
This story is not amazing, but it’s extremely enjoyable, especially as a camp classic. Roger Delgado is, of course, having the time of his life as the Master here; he has never relished evil with as much glee as he does in “The Time Monster”. UNIT are, unfortunately, reduced to a supporting cast of punchlines, but hilarious ones. Sergeant Benton actually gets to do cool stuff, sneaking around and getting one up on the Master. But then Benton gets turned into a baby and it’s all for nothing. And for crying out loud, one of the supporting cast actually exclaims, without a hint of irony, “Suffering catfish!”
One of the unsung heroes of “The Time Monster” is the set design of the Doctor and Master’s TARDISes. When I first saw this story in 2004, I was amazed by it. It looked modern, smooth, clean, and shiny, a complete change from the hard lines and muted greys of the normal design. It was not to last, however, as the producer hated it, and the set got wet and warped anyway, so that was it.
I have discovered this week, however, that I am not alone in my love for this particular TARDIS interior. The Doctor Who expansion pack for LEGO Dimensions was released this week, and BEHOLD the Third Doctor’s TARDIS skin:
Not only is that one of the most dashing Minifigures ever designed, he has easily the coolest TARDIS in the history of Doctor Who. We’ve had so many LEGO games in the past decade, but every time I see them make some fairly obscure reference in the background, it reminds me of a key reason they’re still so popular. For my part, I love them, and I can’t wait to play LEGO Dimensions.