Doctor Who - Time-Flight (VHS)

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Doctor Who: Time Flight - The Bottom of the Barrel

May 18, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:actors, DVD remastering and special features

Cons:story, special effects, sets

The Bottom Line: Well, the commentary is good.....


When people talk about Doctor Who, one of the parts of the show that it is known for is how much things were done on the cheap back in the day.  The new show has a huge budget comparatively, and more than once during the commentaries for these DVDs I've heard the participants talk about how much they could have done with a similar budget.  Time-Flight is probably the lowest of the low, though.  As much as for fans of the series the cheesy effects and monsters in rubber suits are a source of endearment, what's in this end-of-the-season production has little to redeem itself.

Doctor Who is a British science fiction television series which has been around off and on since 1963. The main character is just known as "The Doctor" and is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. This means he travels through time to various places. One of his favorite places to visit is Earth. Typically, he has a companion traveling with him, usually female, sometimes male, sometimes one of each. He travels in a time machine known as a "Tardis" which is disguised as a British Police booth.

A Time Lord can regenerate if fatally wounded, which has accounted for all the different actors who have played The Doctor throughout the years. In this episode, the Doctor is portrayed by Peter Davison. He is traveling with Nyssa (portrayed by Sarah Sutton) who is a native of the planet Traken and Tegan (portrayed by Janet Fielding), a stewardess from the U.K. Of the 1980's.

Tegan, Nyssa, and the Doctor are still feeling the loss of a third companion, Adric in the previous story.  The Doctor tries to think of something they can do to cheer themselves up, but before they can head to the International Exhibition in London in 1851, the TARDIS seems to be caught up in something.

A Concorde has gone missing while traveling to London.  As air traffic controllers monitor the plane's flight path, the TARDIS seems to be caught up in whatever happened to that plane and materializes over Heathrow Airport. The Doctor scrambles and at least gets them into a terminal building. When approached by security, he uses credentials from UNIT and mentions the Brigadier.  Soon he has been brought in to help with the problem of the missing aircraft.

The Doctor decides to take the TARDIS on another Concorde on the same path.  Back at air traffic control, they see the same thing happen.  However, the Doctor and the crew think they have just landed at Heathrow Airport again.  That is, until the Doctor sees that something is quite wrong.  They are actually 140 years in the past and facing a dual alien threat not just to the passengers and crew of the two Concordes, but to their future.
Following Time-Flight, there wasn't another Doctor Who aired for nine months. It probably took that long to recover from the ill feeling of the series fans.  Everything here is cheap and it shows, from the sets to the aliens, to the blending of green screen shots.  If you ever wanted to show someone why the classic series had the bad reputation that it did, this show is the prime example.

Whatever field it is that encases the Doctor appears to be just bubbles from laundry or dish detergent.  The two planes obviously look like models in most of the scenes they are in.  In the commentary, Peter Davison states that it was due to the end-of-season "finance" issues.  I guess that means things were being done cheaper than usual.  Janet Fielding even declares "Holy crapola!" in regard to what the Plasmaton creatures look like when they appear at the end of the first episode.

Not to mention I am beginning to get a bit weary of The Master, a renegade Time Lord and sort of a Moriarty to the Doctor as Holmes.  It seems like during this time The Master was behind every nefarious situation The Doctor and his friends find themselves in.  That's not to take away anything from Anthony Ainley, who is a terrific actor and generally makes a terrific villain, but bring back some of the alien-noir feeling and plots of the Tom Baker as the Doctor era.

Add to that the fact that the whole plot doesn't make sense in so many ways.  It's easy to toss a rock through the holes in the plot and I could write another thousand words detailing those. I won't because it's pointless. The show just seemed to be coasting to the end of the season, instead of actually trying to do something with the impact of having killed off wunderkind Adric.  The show seemed to want to be current by bringing in the Concorde and setting it in the (then) current time period, but it falters in many ways and doesn't build on anything.  These plot points are simply there, like so many others.

Despite their assessment of the show in the commentary, it does seem as if all the actors do give their all.  It would have been nice to give them the time to sort out all of their feelings instead of the diversion of a guest cast who seems more like the red shirts from Star Trek.

The DVD can't be faulted, except that in remastering the print, the shortcomings of the show are all the more evident.  They've packed it with a slew of extras which will please series fans if they want to wade through the crap of an episode.  The Doctor Who commentaries are probably the best out there and this is no exception.  There are also a few featurettes and interviews as well as clips from other television shows.

The only place Time-Flight has is as the low point of the series to point out why some people dismissed the series over the years.  If this was the first story-arc I ever happened upon, I might not have been back for more either.



SPECIAL FEATURES:

• Commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Script Editor Rick Seibert
• Mouth on Legs
• Deleted Scenes
• Jurassic Larks
• Out-takes
• Peter Grimwade Interview
• Information Text
• Photo Gallery
• Doctor Who Annual
• Radio Times Listing



© 2010 Patti Aliventi


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