The Time Meddler part 4

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    Craig @craig

    The final part. Checkmate.

    After the stunning revelation at the end of the last episode, Vicki and Steven discover even more about The Monk.

    The Doctor has realised he’s found a time meddler and reminds him of the golden rule of time travel – never interfere with the course of history.

    But what is The Monk’s masterplan?

    We’ve discussed the previous parts here:

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    After last week’s stunner of a cliffhanger, we discover more about the Monk’s plan. He’s going to destroy the Viking invasion fleet. King Harold Godwinson won’t need to fight them at Stamford Bridge, and his army will be fresh when it fights William the Bastard at Hastings.

    The Monk is a Time Meddler. The Doctor may be 100% rebel Time Lord, but he doesn’t change the course of history. Well, not unless he really has to. 😉

    The Monk is a ‘meddler’ – which as well as meaning ‘someone who interferes’, also carries an implication that they don’t really know what they’re doing. To ‘meddle’ is, at best, annoying. At worst it’s damaging. The Doctor, as was later pointed out, has taken a name that means he’s ‘the person who makes things better’.

    Going back to the story – our two thick Vikings are busy making yet another terrible decision. I’m beginning to suspect that their Captain sent this bunch off on a scouting expedition in the sincere hope that he’d never see them again – their ship is probably halfway up the Ouse and nearing York by now. 😈

    But anyway, having been comprehensively outwitted by two elderly monks (they think), they go ‘hey, lets nick all the treasure in the monastery’. Not exactly the sharpest swords in the sheaths – in fact, they’ve lost both sword and sheath.

    Slight script blooper in that the Monk – later referred to as being from the Doctor’s home planet and probably leaving about fifty years after the Doctor – calls a 1960’s police box ‘modern’. It was, of course, to the writer – but it wouldn’t be to the Monk. As well as this being the first time we’ve seen another TARDIS, we also see that the door of a TARDIS might be hidden or difficult to enter. Later producers will have some fun with that.

    I’m not entirely sure why Vicki would think that the tide might damage a spaceship – if it’s airtight, surely it’ll be watertight? Or possibly she thinks the TARDIS exterior is light enough to be pushed around by the tidal flow.

    Anyway, our dense Vikings are back. Despite one having been knocked out and tied up by the Monk, they immediately think he’s on their side as soon as he proclaims allegiance to Harald Hardrada. Yeah, their Captain has definitely sent them on a ‘please don’t come back’ mission…

    The Saxons, however, do have two braincells to rub together. They’ve added up the Doctor’s story of a Viking invasion, the beacon fires, the strangeness of the Monk – and come up with ‘Viking spy’. It’s not a bad guess, given that they’d have no way of realising that he’s a time traveller. Our injured villager coming back with a story of Vikings hiding in the monastery just adds fuel to the fire.

    Pitchforks at the ready! Well, actually we’ve got a spear that looks remarkably like it’s made of flint. Possibly that may have been someone’s idea of an in-joke, since the actress holding it was last seen as a cave-person in The Tribe of Gum.

    This is still the worst fight arranging ever. Run into monastery in single file, run out of monastery in single file. Meanwhile Edith has done the actual work by finding the Doctor and Companions and untying them. She also invites them back to tea. Edith may possibly be a direct ancestor of Jane Austen. 🙂

    The Monk dumps our thick Vikings right in it. They are then horribly slaughtered by a group of Saxons standing in a circle and poking them with sticks. Kudos to the actors, for keeping a straight face.

    The Doctor is doing something to the Monk’s TARDIS, involving the removal of some piece of apparatus. Hartnell plays it as very, very irritable – this becomes entirely understandable when we discover later on what he was doing.

    So the Doctor, Steven and Vicki return to the now uncovered TARDIS. The Monk, meanwhile, has the same idea. Let’s get the heck out of here. There is, however, now a slight problem with the Monk’s TARDIS.

    It’s smaller on the inside.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Time can be rewritten. New history books await possible publication.

    The Monk discussed powered flight with Da Vinci, who afterwards started designing flying machines. As Da Vinci’s friend, did the Doctor sort this at some point so that helicopters didn’t appear 500 years early?!?

    Success for the Monk’s masterplan would have seen jet airliners by the year 1320, of course . (Get thee to ye Easyjet!)

    Stonehenge was only built thanks to the aid of the Monk’s anti-gravitational lift. No wonder when you consider the depth of The Underhenge.

    A handy hint for bent time agents: Put £200 in a London bank in 1968, nip forward 200 years & collect a fortune in compound interest. Or simply borrow a pound and buy a lottery ticket with tomorrow’s winning numbers.

    The Doctor describes himself as ’50 years earlier’ than the Monk. An interesting way of putting it!

    The broadcast episode had an extra 12 seconds (now lost) which saw the brutal stabbing of the Vikings (Rough justice for what ‘probably’ happened in episode 2).  Methinks family viewing habits have since changed somewhat!

    Funny and dark at the same time? It’s Dr Who!

    Lovely closing credits sequence.

    Overall it’s been a great story, full of  ideas. Unusual as it’s not a straight historical and has no monster.

    An introduction to probably my favourite time-villain: The Monk.





    wolfweed @wolfweed

    @bluesqueakpip  – You’re right.

    The runs in and out of the Monastery are pure Scooby Doo. Eat your heart out, ‘Love & monsters’!

    And the Vikings are very dim.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    The broadcast episode had an extra 12 seconds (now lost) which saw the brutal stabbing of the Vikings

    Ah, that explains a lot.

    As Terry Pratchett remarks, kids are quite keen on blood, especially when it’s the baddies who are doing the bleeding.

    I did enjoy the later running gag about ‘winning the lottery’ after it got a bit overused during the Tennant era:

    We don’t have a lottery!

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip @wolfweed

    I concur with the general feeling about our Viking raiders. “They aren’t the sharpest sword in the sheaths” is an excellent summary. You get the feeling that the Viking leader in ep 2 bid them a fond farewell, thought “that’s the massive distraction sorted out” and then sailed away to attack on another front.

    That aspect of the plot does play out a little like a farce – Carry on Pillaging, in honour of the future direction of Peter Butterworths fame, but there is a huge amount to enjoy in this final episode. The interplay between the Meddler and the Doctor continues to be a minor joy. The Meddlers insistence that he’s “improving” things, and his previous actions and application of medicines way beyond their time point to someone with mixed motivations to say the least. There was always a saying about The Master that he should share similarities with the Doctor, but be a counterpoint to his personality in many ways. I’ve always thought the Monk was an interesting addition to that idea, because he’s not necessarily “Bad/Evil”. @fatmaninabox mentioned he returned in the Big Finish Eighth Doctor series, and there he’s portrayed as something of a self deluding fantasist. He does what he wants for his own purposes (usually greed) but can spin falsehoods that he himself seems to believe.

    Worth noting how the Doctor complained bitterly about his exile to Earth in one time period by the Time Lords in the future. Here he does exactly the same thing with a song in his heart. It would have been fun to have the Meddler turn up to bark “hahahahah! Let’s see how you like it” to the Third Doctor. 😀

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I just thought I’d write something about Dennis Spooner, the writer of this, because he’s quite an important player of this time who never seems to get name-checked that often. Definitely a bit of an unsung hero in evolving the show.

    We’ve talked about the transition of the Doctor towards his status of hero, his humanisation by his companions, and it’s worth noting that Spooner was the Script Editor tasked to make this transition. He started with The Rescue and the introduction of Vicki, and finished Script editing just before this with The Chase, which saw the exit of Ian and Barbara. A bit of a critical time really. He started to introduce a lot more humour within the Doctor, letting Hartnell loose on some great dialogue in his own The Romans and Hartnell obviously enjoyed this aspect a lot, as he does in The Time Meddler. The faux historical (history with aliens) was really his idea, and he suggested the interlude on the Marie Celeste in The Chase to Terry Nation, and then wrote this as the first full adventure along those lines.

    He must have been good at juggling because he seemed to give everyone the support they needed. He wrote the back end (last six episodes) of the Dalek Masterplan (bringing back The Meddler and killing companions) and when the second Doctor was introduced he was bought in as an uncredited co-writer for Episode 1 of Power of the Daleks to “sort out” the characterisation of the Second Doctor. That’s not bad at all. He’s also got an astounding resume on IMDB of writing genre shows in the sixties that takes in most of what was important at the time. Absolutely astonishing.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Finally caught up with this. Not really much to add to what’s already been said, other than it’s interesting how seriously the Doctor takes the crime of meddling in time. Seriously enough that stranding the Monk on 11th-century Earth doesn’t appear to be seen as too harsh a punishment!

    I must say that this episode and others like it are a great response to remarks I’ve read over the years that more than one companion doesn’t work. I love the Doctor-plus-two dynamic, when it’s the right two. Also, in reference to our other conversation about historical stories versus stories with historical backdrops, I’d have to agree that this story comes across as much more the first than the second, despite the presence of the Monk. There is no overwhelming monster threatening life on Earth, just the Monk trying to “improve” history. And as a great demonstration of @brewski‘s point elsewhere, the natives are far from stupid, and are well able to stand up to the Time Lords in their midst!

    Marinus lost his keys again @marinus-lost-his-keys-again

    You know, the Time Meddler has some really unfortunate implications in it nobody really talks about. Like how the Doctor uses the local people’s help so he can make sure they can be overrun by vikings, just like the whose’s raped one of the local women like a day ago, so that their country will be overrun by the norsemen and they will all lose their independence and the whole country will become ruled by Norman overlords.

    Compare that with the Monk’s stated goals of simply speeding up progress and well, the Doctor looks really devious in comparisson. Especially since he never even says he’s doing it to avoid the future ending up much worse then it did, for example altering the future so the world is completely different by the time the Daleks invade and thus the Doctor can’t foil them, heck he probably would never even show up cause he’d never meet Ian and Barbara cause they wouldn’t exist etc. Not that I expected the Doctor to go into such continuity fueled detail but I was hoping this is the sort of thing he was trying to prevent by doing this rather evil stuff.

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