Doctor Who - Time-Flight (VHS)

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DOCTOR WHO: TIME-FLIGHT - Deep Hurting! DEEP HURTING!

Jan 17, 2008 (Updated Jan 18, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:At least it's not a six part story!

Cons:Crap monsters, crap sets, crap effects, crap story, crap guest cast, crap, crap, crap!

The Bottom Line: Please, for the love of god! Spare yourselves! Run as far away as you can!


Having just braved the slings and arrows that the worst Doctor Who episode ever had to throw at me - and coming out reasonably unscathed, I decided to take a crack at one of the other Worst Episodes Ever. Come on then! Have at thee, then and do your worst!

First, a quick primer: from 1963 to 1989 (and a couple of false starts thereafter) the BBC ran an immensely popular family program called Doctor Who. The main character is called The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He travels the universe in the TARDIS, a wondrous spaceship that can go anywhere in time and space - provided that the Doctor can steer it correctly. During his adventures, he and his companion (usually a young human female with weak ankles and good lungs) combat evil and injustice wherever they find it. Key to the longevity of the series - Doctor Who can do what the James Bond movies have done several times. When fatally injured, a Time Lord has the ability to regenerate, totally changing their faces and personalities, allowing the ability to swap out the lead roll when the actor wants to leave the series. So there have been several Doctors with different faces (ten, so far), but all of them the same character.

Oh, and the name of the show is Doctor Who. The main character is simply called The Doctor.

In an effort to bounce back from the death of Adric, The Doctor (the one with the celery and cricket sweater) sets course for the Great Exhibition in 1851, only to land - oh the irony - at Heathrow Airport. While trying to explain his presence there, he gets involved into investigating the disappearance of a Concorde on landing approach.

Throwing around his UNIT weight, he arranges for a second Concorde to follow the same flight path, with the TARDIS stowed safely in the hold. Faster than you can say Plot Point, the Concorde has been whisked back millions of years into the past through a time corridor (told you there were a lot of those about).

On prehistoric Earth, The Doctor encounter a genie-like figure named Kalid and his protoplasmic servants, the Plasmatons. But lo and behold, the Kalid turns out to be just the Master, who is engaged in a complex scheme to try to gain control of a powerful alien gestalt called the Xeraphin and use it as a dynamorphic generator in his TARDIS.

The Master's attempts to gain control of the Xeraphin to become divided into good and evil (aint it always the way), with the evil side intending to take over the universe. Now the Doctor has to get all the passengers home, stop the master and prevent the Xeraphin from doing that evil stuff they want to do so well. . . .

Sweet mother of god, where do I begin? Where Timelash was maligned unfairly, Time-Flight gets all the drubbing it deserves! While an "airplane lost in time" story has some merit, any potential is squandered away.

For starters, the "exterior" sets of stone age earth are horrific, the interior sets live up to every accusation of wobblyness ever leveled at the series and the model work of the Concorde is some of the most dreadful in the series to date. The monsters look appalling, the costumes are goofy and did I mention the horrible models and sets?

Now, being a Doctor Who fan, I've been long exposed to bad sets, crap models and abysmal monsters for years now. I think I've grown properly desensitized to wrapping a man in green bubble paper and calling it an alien. However, when everything ELSE breaks down too, that's when things go wrong.

Lets talk the plot, for example. I've seen Time-Flight many times over the years, and I still have no idea what the hell is going on. The Master needs another power source for his TARDIS (ignoring that TARDISes draw their power from the Eye of Harmony and don't need refueling*) so he can escape from prehistoric Earth. I can buy that as a motivation for his villainy, but what I find a touch harder to swallow is WHY THE BLOODY HELL does the Master have to dress up like some kind of Arabic Mummy?!? Well, aside from we need a "shock ending" for episode two cliffhanger as the Master reveals himself to the Doctor.

*Save for the new series, but that's because the Eye of Harmony was presumably blown to smithereens in the Time War along with the rest of Gallifrey.

I don't get it. Here's the Master, on prehistoric Earth, millions of years and thousands of light years away from anyone who could possibly recognize him. But he adopts this outlandish disguise and even when he's all alone and by himself, he stays in character as Kalid.

That's just the tip of the "My brain hurts" plotting this thing throws at you. If the Xeraphin are so all-powerful and all-knowing, how come they cant work out how to escape the dome thing that the Master has them in? What does the absorption of Professor Hayter into the Xeraphin have to do with anything, anyway? How the hell do they get in and out of the Concorde without a ladder?

What's worse is the lost opportunity. The show has just killed a companion - something that has happened only one time before (twice now, if you believe that the Face of Boe is Captain Jack), and that was some 18 years previous. Putting aside the whole "why can't the Doctor rescue Adric since nobody actually saw him die and his death was not a historical necessity anyway" thing, shouldn’t the emotional impact should have been longer than just a few minutes? But no, the Doctor and company are back to business as usual. "Sorry Adric, no time to mourn - we've got a MYSTERY to solve."

Gee, thanks guys.

The rest of the plot seems to be a string of cliches one after another. passengers trying to shake off the mind control, Nyssa (she she's not being mind controlled herself) and Tegan trying to disbelieve the apparitions that plague them, and There's Good And Evil In All of Us.

Oi vay.

THE DVD -
Again, fantastic work from the Restoration Team as they lovingly remove thousand of scratches and video drop outs by hand, remake some effects composites shots, and otherwise polish this turd as much as they can. While the show may be crap, it looks better than it ever has before!

THE EXTRAS -
As part of a boxed set of Time-Flight and Arc of Infinity, we get a commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and script editor Eric Saward. There's a short interview with Janet Fielding talking about her time on the show, a short selection of deleted and extended scenes (because that’s what we all need: a longer Time-Flight), and some behind-the-scenes bits shot during the studio recording sessions. We get some bloopers and an interview with the late Peter Grimwade interview from 1987

As always, there's a photo gallery, a trailer for the upcoming Time Warrior release (a Doctor Who episode with Time in the title that's actually GOOD), the production information subtitles and the 1983 Doctor Who Annual and Radio Times listings in a PDF file.


THE BOTTOM LINE -
Time-Flight is an overly ambitious script that needed at least one more pass for polishing,that makes totally unrealistic demands of the production team, straining the already tiny television budget (at the end of the season, where the budget is already at its lowest) well past the breaking point into complete shambles.

OTHER DOCTOR WHO EPISODES ON DVD:

DOCTOR ONE -
* The Beginning * Doctor Who and the Daleks * The Aztecs * The Dalek Invasion of Earth * The Web Planet * The Lost in Time Collection *
DOCTOR TWO -
* Tomb of the Cybermen * The Seeds of Death * The Mind Robber * The Invasion *
DOCTOR THREE -
* Spearhead From Space * Doctor Who and the Silurians * The Sea Devils * The Three Doctors * Carnival of Monsters*
DOCTOR FOUR -
* The Ark in Space * Genesis of the Daleks * The Pyramids of Mars * The Robots of Death * The Talons of Weng-Chiang *
Destiny of the Daleks *

DOCTOR FIVE -
* Earthshock * Time-Flight * The Five Doctors * Warriors of the Deep * Resurrection of the Daleks * The Caves of Androzani*
DOCTOR SIX -
* Vengeance on Varos * Timelash * Revelation of the Daleks *
DOCTOR SEVEN -
* Rememberance of the Daleks * The Television Movie*
THE NEW SERIES -
* Doctor Who - Series One * Doctor Who - Series Two * Torchwood - Series One * Doctor Who - Series Three * The Infinite Quest*


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