Friday, 17 July 2015

080 The Time Meddler Episode 3: A Battle of Wits

EPISODE: The Time Meddler Episode 3: A Battle of Wits
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 17 July 1965
WRITER: Dennis Spooner
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 7.7 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Time Meddler

"What is it you're doing here? What are you up to?"

The Monk finds the wounded villagers somewhere to lie down. In the cell Vicki & Steven discover a secret passage and figure the Doctor must have used it to escape. The Monk finds his captive gone but is called back to the villagers. The Doctor is in the village where Edith has told him where his friends have gone and about the Viking visitors. Steven and Vicki emerge from the tunnel and seek the Doctor. The Monk treats villager Eldred with penicillin for his wounds and pumps him for information on the Vikings who tells them the main fleet is probably two days away. There are two Vikings left in the woods, Sven & Ulf. They decide to assault the monastery and hold the monks hostage. The Monk ticks another thing off his to do list before plotting on a map he has laid out on the altar. Knocking on the door makes him hide the papers, and answering he is grabbed by the Doctor who makes the Monk think he is being held at gunpoint. Steven & Vicki arrive at the cliff discovering the tide has come in burying the Tardis. Steven discovers a bazooka set up on the cliff. They head back towards the monastery, where the Doctor & Monk are arguing as the Vikings hammer at the door. When they answer it the Doctor is overcome as the Monk slips away to overpower Ulf while the Doctor knocks Sven out. The Monk goes to the village and gets the villagers to set beacons on the cliff tops. The Doctor captures him on his return and asks him what the fires are for.

This is one of those occasions where it's necessary to look at most of the episode and then come back for the ending

Superb. Hartnell & Butterworth are fabulous opposite each other and really make the episode.

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MONK: I thought I'd seen the last of you, Doctor.

DOCTOR: Oh, did you now? Well, as it happens, I happen to be a very curious fellow. Yes, very curious. Now then, I have some questions for you and I want them answered. Continue.

The Doctor coerces the Monk into co-operations and eventually ends up dressed like him in a habit. Then both he and the Monk separately knock out Vikings with planks of wood:

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It's almost as if the story is trying to make us think that the Doctor and the Monk are similar. There's another hint to the same extent in episode 1 where the Monk is shown to be wearing a ring on his little finger just like the Doctor:

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It's evident from this episode that they know each other from before this story with the Monk being surprised at the Doctor's threat of violence and teasing him about how he looks in the habit of a Monk.

Nevertheless the episode ends with the Doctor holding a sword to the Monk's throat wanting to know details of his plan....

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The Monk is actually a very well organised villain: he's got a plan with a list of goals that need achieving which he's helpfully written down:
1 Arrival in Northumberland ✔
2 Position Atomic Cannon ✔
3 Sight Vikings ✔
4 Light Beacon Fires
5 Destroy Viking Fleet
6 Norman Landing
7 Battle of Hastings
8 Meet King Harold
vlcsnap-2014-10-16-10h58m01s164Item 2 on the list is interesting: it talks about the weapons that Steven & Vicki find on the cliff top before they find it!

The time frame of this story, 1066, would immediately bring to mind the Battle of Hastings. But the events leading up to it wouldn't be known in detail to everyone so even though it's written down for us to see not all viewers would have got what he was trying to do. An explanation will follow next episode but the key points there are 7 & 8, and in particular the order they're in! But the Doctor in the course of this episode has made a connection between the Vikings, Hastings and the Monk.....

The atomic cannon is not the only thing from out of it's time that we see this episode. There's the Monk's first aid kit, housed in a tin box with the red cross symbol on it, and containing the penicillin that he gets the injured Saxon to take to avoid infection:

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MONK: You need to swallow these.
WULNOTH: What are those, Father?
MONK: Oh, it's just some penicillin. It's a sort of herb.
Then there's the altar covered in maps and a compass:

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Note he kneels down afterwards, seemingly hiding them behind the altar.... We'll see more of that altar later
Oh, no more visitors. It's getting it's getting so that you can't call a monastery your own.
He does seem to be getting quite annoyed at getting interrupted though!

As we've said, the principle guest star for this story is Peter Butterworth. At this time he was already well known but was shortly to find fame in the Carry On series of films. The first Carry On was Carry on Sergeant, made in 1959, and had featured William Hartnell in the title role. Butterworth, who'd been a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III with the series regular writer Talbot Rothwell, made his Carry On d├ębut in 1965's Carry on Cowboy with fellow first timer Bernard Bresslaw who would later appear in Doctor Who in The Ice Warriors as their leader Varga. Future Doctor Who Jon Pertwee has several appearances in the Carry On series and film companions Roy Castle & Bernard Cribbins both have Carry Ons on their CV while prominent Carry On star Joan Sims appears in the Sixth Doctor tale Trial of a Timelord. The list of actors who have been in both Doctor Who and Carry On is so legion that it beats even my OCD/ASD powered list making ability. (I started one: it was huge when I gave up!)

Butterworth was married to actress & impressionist June Brown. While performing in pantomime in 1979 he failed to turn up one day and was discovered dead in his hotel room having had a heart attack following the performance the previous night.

vlcsnap-2014-10-16-10h31m28s86Like episode 1 this episode was recovered from Nigeria with a portion missing: during Sven and Ulf's argument mid episode a ten second portion was cut containing the moment where Ulf urges Sven to kill him. Like episode 1 collector Ian Levine held a complete copy of this episode and that was used to patch the episode for it's 1992 repeat and subsequent commercial releases. The quality of the episode is better than one but is still more grainy and less sharp than episode 2. There's certain points where I can spot repaired damage including tramline scratches.

Back to the end of the episode......

Steven & Vicki discover a cable on the floor of the Monastery leading to a door in the back of the altar.

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Opening it and entering they are amazed at what they discover:

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VICKI: It's a Tardis. The Monk's got a Tardis!
What an ending! As they walk through those doors you're hit with the familiar console room noise and then pulls back to reveal the roundeled walls. The shock in 1965 of discovering that there was another Tardis out there must have been HUGE. The whole story has been leading up to this moment. How has The Monk obtained all these anomalous objects? How does he know what's about to happen historically? Really the only conclusion you can draw is he's a Time Traveller somehow/ But a Time Traveller with his own Tardis? Huge! It removes the uniqueness of the Doctor's ship to start with and opens up lots of interesting questions. If The Monk has a Tardis then by extension the Monk must be from the same place as the Doctor...... so where is it that? And are there any more like him out there?.

It's a real game changing moment right up there with the first appearance of The Daleks, their reappearance from the Water in Dalek Invasion of Earth and Susan's departure at the end of the same story. Oddly the Daleks getting time travel feels like a logical step for them to be able pursue their enemy wherever he goes. The revelation that the Doctor's technology, and thus the Doctor, isn't unique is a big jump.

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