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28 February 2017 @ 07:18 pm
The Randomiser: Timelash  
"This is a story from the 1980s with `Time' in the title. That's always a bad sign," I told Tame Layman as we put this one on.

It is, frankly, pretty poor. Time and the Rani forms the most obvious point of comparison since we watched that not so long ago on the Randomiser. I would be tempted to say that Time and the Rani at least has some good bits - there is at least one nice special effect, some thought has gone into creating the alien race, Kate O'Mara impersonating Bonnie Langford is fun - but it also has some pretty egregiously bad bits - the brain, anything purporting to be science. Timelash is basically just rather tired and sub-standard throughout. I don't think anything in it rises to the standard of good and though it teeters on the brink of embarrassingly bad occasionally (the climb down into the Timelash) I don't think it quite hits the depths of Time and the Rani. If I had to choose one to be consigned to fires of destruction never to be seen again by anyone I'd probably sacrifice Timelash if only because Time and the Rani features a regeneration and a returning villain and a few fun bits. On the other hand, if I was forced to pick one to have to watch again I'd probably also pick Timelash on the grounds that at least one can mostly just let it wash over you while Time and the Rani demands a sort of horrified attention.

I'm not quite sure what else to say about this. The acting is uniformly lacklustre, including from Paul Darrow who seems to be sleep-walking his way through some Avon-inspired type-casting. Lots about it doesn't really make sense, not at the level of gigantic plot holes but more just at the level of a script that is just going through the motions without wanting to think particularly about why anyone would behave in a particular way, or how a "Timelash" might fictionally work, or what H. G. Wells might actually be like. It doesn't help that a number of behind the scenes issues led to part 2 under-running and the hasty insertion of extra padding in the form of an extended Tardis scene.

I've been doing a bit of googling and seeing a lot of people claiming that Timelash isn't as bad as its reputation and despite the fact it is mostly not cringingly embarrassing (for a value of cringingly embarrassing calibrated to someone who likes 1970s British SF TV) I'm inclined to think it is actually that bad. Because, at the end of the day, it is boringly dull with nothing to recommend it.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/239969.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on February 28th, 2017 07:45 pm (UTC)
I would broadly agree with this. It is pretty awful. It's interesting to compare with modern celebrity historicals, though: I find them painfully sycophantic at times, but that's probably a better approach than here showing the founder figure of all science fiction as a wimpy moron who couldn't think up an original idea and who is nothing like his real life namesake (I think Tat Wood suggested this is a completely different Herbert G. Wells which would make a degree of sense. As much as anything in Timelash makes sense).
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 28th, 2017 08:53 pm (UTC)
At least modern celebrity historicals are generally written by people who are either fannish about the historical figure or who at least want to depict them at least vaguely realistically albeit with a fair sprinkling of dramatic license. Timelash seems to think one can just take the name and make up the rest and it will be fine, at which point you kind of wonder why they bothered.
lost_spook: dw - Six & Perilost_spook on February 28th, 2017 08:45 pm (UTC)
Aww, but it has a tinsel tunnel and invading glove puppets! (The desperation of the invading glove puppets that make no sense amuses me highly, I have to say. I'm probably a terrible person.) Out of the small bunch of episodes that are officially labelled awful, it's not my worst.

(Actually, funny story: I was given the VHS copy of this by a non fannish friend for my 21st. She said she was going to buy me the TV Movie, but she'd heard it wasn't very good, so she'd got me this one instead. I think that in itself makes me a tiny bit fonder of it than it deserves. :loL:)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on February 28th, 2017 08:50 pm (UTC)
That's sweet.

I don't know. As I was watching it I was thinking that Doctor Who had on occasion been much worse, but after the fact I think I felt it had rarely been just so mediocre over a sustained stretch. At least its failures are usually interesting in some way.

lost_spook: dw - Six & Perilost_spook on February 28th, 2017 09:21 pm (UTC)
Mediocre is probably fair! But mediocre with a tinsel tunnel, heh.
eve11: dw_six_peri_bookseve11 on February 28th, 2017 10:18 pm (UTC)
Aw... I kind of loved Timelash. That's not to say I thought it was any good, but it was lolariously entertaining to me. (I did a recap/liveblog of it here when I watched it.)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on March 1st, 2017 07:44 pm (UTC)
Well, I will concede it has Peri's best outfit in it but I'm not sure it really gets into so-bad-its-good territory. I sort of feel it would have had to be worse to achieve that...
parrot_knightparrot_knight on March 1st, 2017 01:03 pm (UTC)
Someone recently pointed out that it sets itself up as a sequel to a non-existent past story which was by implication the better one! Not sure about that, but so much of it is awful (and Glen McCoy, claiming to be a huge Wells fan, mixes him up with Arthur Conan Doyle).
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on March 1st, 2017 08:08 pm (UTC)
It's framing of the non-existent Pertwee story is oddly confusing. I recall being mildly confused about it at the time, vaguely wondering if I should have heard about it, and Tame Layman was mildly confused this time around. Obviously something in the presentation suggests it is a story the viewer should remember rather than accepting it is a story we never saw.
liadtbunny: DW Sixliadtbunny on March 1st, 2017 04:02 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of trying 'Timelash' again because it seems to have become "good(ish)" in the eyes of fans, but I won't bother now!
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on March 1st, 2017 08:09 pm (UTC)
Well it is being moderately robustly championed by eve11 and lost_spook though somewhat on the lolarious glovepuppets level....
liadtbunny: DW Team Twoliadtbunny on March 2nd, 2017 04:53 pm (UTC)
I wasn't impressed by the sock puppets on DW featurettes so it's back to the cybermen for me!