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The Master wants to steal an ancient, omniscient space race to use it as an engine for his TARDIS

Adric’s dead. Yay! Ahem, sorry… Adric has just died and the remaining TARDIS team are mourning the loss of such a worthwhile companion. Doc thinks they could do with cheering up so puts the TARDIS on track for The Great Exhibition, Hyde Park, London, Earth, 1851. Alas, that little adventure will have to wait because some external force is causing problems for the TARDIS and they have to materialise mid-flight at Heathrow Airport in the present day. Good job too as a Concorde has just gone missing and they’re going to need the help of Doc and his TARDIS to track it down.

Why? Because the plane’s gone through a time contour and ended up 140 million years in the past, that’s why! It would be far too simple to just pop back in time to find it in the TARDIS, so Doc hitches a ride on another Concorde and everyone winds up in a prehistoric land where everything is not quite as it seems. Mysterious psychokinetic forces are at work, and there appears to be someone or something behind them. Good job Nyssa has developed her own extrasensory perception then as they’ll need that to find out who’s masterminding these series of events and get the Concorde crew and passengers safely back to their own time.

 

Here's what we think of C123 Time-Flight

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

1.5

Jim | @jimmythewho

2.0

Here's what we think of C123 Time-Flight

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

1.5

Jim | @jimmythewho

2.0

Here's what you think 13 Responses to “C123 Time-Flight”
  1. Peter Zunitch

    Hi all,
    To answer your question, no it’s not in the story, I totally made it up. I was trying to deduce a reasoning for this ability that Nyssa has in this story and in the end there were only two possibilities.

    The first is that being a bio-psycho-mechanical system, Kalied’s crystal ball was mentally controlled, and since the Master took over Tremas, there was a bit of the system tuned to that DNA, thus giving Nyssa some sort of access.

    The other thought was that part of the Master somehow still felt a bond to Nyssa and the Serafim picked up on that, which given what we’ve seen of how the Master treats Nyssa in the past, is not the case. As a nice retro-rewrite, it would have been nice to see the exploration of this inner conflict. Two sides of the Master battling, like the two sides of the Serafim trying to control the singular host. It could have ended with the last vestiges of Tremas “dying” to save Nyssa and wrapping up her pursuit of closure with her father nicely.

  2. Steven from Canada

    What the hell did I just watch!

    What started out as what I thought was a simple mystery along the lines of the Bermuda Triangle quickly became a fever dream of racism, confusion and masterful antics.

    The villain of the first half is shockingly offensive. I know the show hasn’t had the best track record with regards to race but this “Celestial Joy-Taker” is something else. At least “Talons of Wheng Chiang” is well written.

    The Master is back. He’s a joy as always but even Ainley’s campy fun can’t rescue this abomination.

    The effects look awful and cheap. I knew the show was on a tight budget but I didn’t think the crew would be desperate enough to just throw their own fluids onto the lense and call it a day.

    Is there anything good to say? Well yes. The location filming was very good, the first and last episodes are certainly watchable (with the ending being somewhat touching), and Adric’s “return” was well done, it’s nice to see his death wasn’t brushed off too quickly.

    Overall this story earns 1 green-puréed, exposition-dumping, tweed-emblazoned, Russkie-hating Professor Bumbletron out of 5.

  3. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    Oh dear…

    The first episode is fairly good, with the airport scenes and the Doctor using his UNIT credentials to get out of trouble. That’s nice, the Doctor actually remembers to do that. I wish he did more often.

    But from there the silliness begins to rise…Like, it’s enjoyable but after last time’s outing the budget is woefully too low for what the script demands. Just everything looks a bit too tacky and there’s so much nonsense. When watching the DVD, it’s better to watch with the commentary on as you get Peter, Janet, Sarah and Eric Saward taking the piss out of it. Apparently, Peter Grimwade had shown the script to Anthony Read (script editor on seasons 15 & 16) and he said no. He then definitely asked Bidmead (last season) about it and Chris said yes but then left, leaving it to Saward who apparently probably wouldn’t have said yes to it.

    Well, the Master is back (again) and at least the back and forth with the Doctor is nice and good fun. And we lose Tegan? Well, we’ll see about that. I can’t really say much more about this one. It’s probably worse than Four to Doomsday but I had more fun watching it so 2/5 (somehow).

    The Fifth Doctor’s first season thoughts: mixed but some promising stories. Also rewatching the season for this, I think you get the Fifth Doctor fairly quickly. He just wants to have a good time but gets shit thrown at him.

    Kieren

  4. Ed Corbet

    The opening scene on Concorde, the clothing of the passengers and the ATC staff’s hair establishes we are well and truly in the 80’s.

    Thankfully Doc has enough sense to wave his UNIT credentials and spares us an episode of trying to avoid getting locked-up, getting locked-up, escaping and getting locked-up again. But he does have enough time to bemoan the state of the English Cricket Team (If you think this bad, don’t go to the 90’s Doc), although I did notice, even Nyssa is giving Doc crap now.

    We arrive in Heathrow 140 million years ago or in the Jurassic (one of these); I guess the Time-Contour accounts for continental-drift and for the budget it looks alright (at least it’s not a quarry). Then some Pumice Stones attack Doc with bubble-bath (well it was about as effective as bubble-bath).

    Anthony Ainley rejoins us playing The Master and a Ferengi. I guess Kalid’s job is to make us pleased when the Master turns-up (doesn’t work). He uses numerous illusions and threats to the pilots to make Doc surrender the TARDIS; none work, and then just goes with “Do it or I’ll shoot them” and it works a treat (probably should just start with that next time).

    This story may have had potential, but the budget really hurts it (the big climax of bouncing the Master’s TARDIS was woefully underwhelming). They go to the Jurassic/Cretaceous period and not one dinosaur (Oh wait, I remember Invasion of the Dinosaurs; good call).

    2.1

  5. Peter Zunitch

    Finally arriving at Heathrow, this episode has all the makings of an absolutely smashing production. Unfortunately, it just isn’t. On any of my dozen or so viewings of this, I’m always a little reluctant to start watching it. Yet it’s not horrible because afterwards I always feel like I was entertained. You know there’s a problem though when ep4’s cliffhanger is one of the most intriguing highlights of the series.

    I love the use of the Concorde, a plane I often saw flying over my head when I was young. The majority of the effects are simple, but mostly adequate. It successfully mixes sci-fi and human lifestyle. The acting is fine. Yet in the end It’s just not all there.

    What I’ve come to realize is that I like eps 1 and 4 but 2 and 3 are slow and convoluted with irreverence. Nyssa is able to tap the source psychically because the Master has some of her father’s DNA. I guess I can fan-splain that. But why is the Master in disguise? Why the debates between electronic and psychic? Why the repetitious ping-ponging around the same few locations with no plot progression? Mostly, why wait until late in ep3 to reveal the Zeraphin, the 2nd best part of the story? It’s all ham-fisted.

    There are a lot of good ideas here, but half feel like they belong in another story. Like the Zeraphin, this script fights itself. Two different scripts, each with more action would have served much better. 2.4

  6. Kristaps Paddock

    I love this serial, but I’ll be honest, it’s because it’s just a little bit trashy. While on the one hand, it resembles nothing so much as Land of the Lost (please look this up if not previously familiar), on the other, between dinosaurs, aliens, weird temples, and prehistoric cities, it’s just a few babes in bikinis away from a Conan the Barbarian knock off. Also, it looks cheap as all hell, which again puts the trash factor very high. Trashy stories would eventually doom Colin Baker, but for now, I’d file this alongside The Creature from the Pit and Full Circle as lovable schlocky stories. Three point two rubbery Master disguises out of five. It’s good, but it’s not that good.

  7. Tanz Sixfingers | @Tanz6fingers

    Hello Leon and Jim!

    Having blown their load on Earthshock, arguably one of the best classic Doctor Who serials, the production team belatedly realised they still had another serial left to film in series 19. So in trade for some product placement and good PR for British Airways and Concorde they threw together a decent story on a shoestring budget by recycling an unused script from the previous season.

    According to IMDB: This is considered by fans to be the worst story of Peter Davison’s run, an opinion shared by the actor himself. He claimed it was a “very good story, but we had run out of money… The monsters were bits of foam. We didn’t do the story justice.”

    HOWEVER, I personally love this story, so much so that my favorite number is 192.
    First of all, it’s a story that actually uses time travel as a plot device.
    Second, writer Peter Grimwade reminds us of both UNIT and BAGLS, mentioned for the first time since “The Seeds of Doom” in season 13.
    Third, the irony that after an entire season of trying in vain to get Tegan to Heathrow, he finally succeeds when he is trying to take them to the Great Exposition in 1850.
    Fourth, The Master is back, and is very reminiscent of the Delgado/Pertwee dynamic, i.e. after initially appearing in disguise, he tries to use the power of the aliens for his own plans, which then backfires and he has to join forces with the Doctor to set things right. The exchange of TARDIS components reminded me of the Third Doctor era as well.

    Fluff: even though there is snow on the ground at Heathrow when they board Concorde, the thing that breaks the illusion for Nyssa when they land is “a chill in the air”.

    My rating: 4.2 out of 5

    Thanks,
    Tanz Sixfingers

    PS – personal trivia: The night this aired, I realised I didn’t have a blank VHS tape, and I could only record it as an audio cassette tape. However, I was then able to bring it with me on a trip over christmas break, where I listened to it repeatedly, and my imagination filled in for the awful special effects, which might be why I remember it being much better than it appears.
    Trivia – The Concorde flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow is called “Speedbird Concorde 192” in the story, but the real flight number was actually BA1, British Airways signature flight.
    Also, when asked by a fan at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con What story of yours would you like to see a new Doctor redo? Peter Davison replied “I’d like to see them do Time-Flight again, but do it with some money in the budget.”
    https://youtu.be/rVYik7wh1j8?t=2023 (start time 33:40)

  8. Neil | @neilandrozani

    Oh hey guys! Reached the end of the 5th Doctor’s debut season already. Absolutely splendid! The show is great as always.

    Time-Flight (228 words):

    The Adric aftermath is ticked off very swiftly and it’s on with the show at Heathrow. The airport scenes are really fun and after a mysterious and entertaining part 1, I’m sure the viewers back in 1982 thought they were in for a belter! They thought wrong.

    Trying to create a prehistoric landscape in a studio when they had clearly run out of money was very brave, but it just looks awful. They make a big deal out of how cold it is but then later on the pilots have taken off their jackets and rolled their shirt sleeves up! Part 3 in particular is almost coma inducing.

    Anthony Ainley once again goes for it in this story as the Master (of disguise!). Back in Castrovalva he did a wonderful job as the elderly Portreeve. Here he plays Kalid and it’s completely bonkers! It makes zero sense but the costume and make-up are brilliant.

    On the plus side Davison has settled well into the role and I do like some of the scenes with the 3 (very camp) Concorde pilots. Also, I’m a fan of Professor Hayter – so fuck all the Hayter haters! I adore this season as my previous minis have proved so it’s a shame it ends on a low point. But at least we got Adric back for a few sweet seconds. Bring on season 20!

    Rating – 2.1

    Neil James
    @neilandrozani

  9. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    OMG So I love this serial right up to the end……………of the opening credits.
    OK so I’m being a little harsh, the first half of episode 1 is good. Concorde disappears as the TARDIS materialises at Heathrow. A mystery to solve! After that the story plummets out of control not helped by some horrible prehistoric sets, woeful monsters and The Master in another pointless (and a bit racist?) disguise.
    I try not to criticise Classic Who special effects, but DW script-editors have many a time thrown out scripts due being too hard to realise, so why pick this story when you have a budget of £3.42 and a bag of crisps?

    There are so many beefs I could open a steak restaurant

    • The opening scene in the TARDIS –

    Tegan and Nyssa “oh we’re really sad about Adric we’ll miss him”
    Doc “Let’s go to Disneyland”
    Tegan and Nyssa “Yay fuck that Adric guy anyway”

    • How do the Concordes land on a prehistoric landscape? I know the pilots are hallucinating but the planes aren’t! Aircraft need a smooth area to land.
    • How do the passengers and crew get in and out of the plane without steps? Again, I know they are hallucinating but you can’t hallucinate away gravity!
    • When the plasmatrons attack Doc, Nyssa etc is that…er…fairy liquid? What the bubbly fuck is that about?
    • Captain Stapley can fly the TARDIS now?

    I do have a couple of likes

    • The scenes of Concorde – it really was an amazing aircraft
    • I like the characters of Captain Stapley and Professor Bumbletron AKA Prof Hayter (aptly named as he seemed to hate everyone and everything!)
    • The good/evil sides of Anithon which reflects the struggle between Doc/The Master

    Warriors Gate for example tried but failed to do something different, but I admire its ambition. This story however was never going to be able to achieve what it wanted and it just looks rubbish. Peter Davison does his best, but with a poor script and little else to help it tailspins into oblivion.

    I award this 0.6 dynomorphic generators out of 5

    Andy Parkinson
    @caffreys71

  10. Any story that followed the truly excellent Earthshock was always going to suffer in comparison but Time-Flight is a low-point for the show. Too many ideas and lack of budget and time are all to blame for this mess.

    First, a few good points. The opening scene in air traffic control sets up a good mystery. We see an acknowledgement of Adric’s death (adding some welcome continuity). There are some nice location shots of Concorde and Heathrow – but then the whole story nose-dives.

    Anthony Ainley’s “aha!” moment as the Master fares less well than in Castrovalva. Who exactly was he hiding from in Part One?

    The Xeraphin are completely wasted, doing little more than materializing as dodgy bubble effects, bumbling Plasmatons, and two-headed, fangless snakes.

    Adric returns briefly (and is promptly killed again). Teagan and Nyssa do next to nothing and even fall asleep at one point. We do get a lively airline crew to fly everyone home at the end. Oh yes, and Professor Hayter turns in an awesomely over the top death scene.

    Davison’s Doctor himself contributes very little in this story. And the resolution is just a few clever sounding lines of dialogue. Wasn’t the TARDIS broken before the Master returned the parts he had stolen? How did it make all of those precise landings in Part Four when they haven’t been able to land at Heathrow all series long?

    Overall, one of my least favourite fifth Doctor stories.

    Rating: 0.5/5

    Cheers,

    Mike

    • P.S. I have been regretting contributing such a low rating as my first mini-review (I really am a fan of the show, I promise!) but, in all honesty, my rating has to stand as I enjoy every classic episode from here on out more than this one.

      So, in short, things are looking up!

      M

  11. James Ashley | @JamesAshIey

    Personally, I was quite looking forward to revisiting Time-Flight. It’s not a serial I return to often – and now I know why. The plot is just bizarre and non-sensical, and isn’t aided by the comically poor performances from the guest cast.The performances from the regulars (including the Master) are not much better either, while the ‘character’ of Kalid is horribly racist (in an alarmingly recurring theme for this series). This serial doesn’t feel like it belongs in either Season 19 or Season 20 and, given it’s quality, maybe we should just forget its existence.

    Overall: 1.1/5

  12. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    Things I noticed about this serial:

    Was the writer into musicals? There’s an early scene between the flight crew and Doc with lines about being “over the rainbow” and a “time warp” and a “time slip”.

    Oh look, Kalid is played by Leon Ny Taiy. Totally not suspicious for an anagram!

    Doctor-y stuff-
    Doctor insistent almost to anger that they not double back and try to save Adric. (Think Doc 9 in Father’s Day)
    Doctor just itching to solve the mystery even as the others are asking to leave.
    Flips a coin. Doesn’t like the result. Turns coin over.

    Master-y stuff-
    Overly confusing or pointless actions designed mostly or completely to hurt or belittle the Doctor.

    I sorta wonder if Nyssa can sense the form of her dad. She has that intuition moment. Is it more like a psychic vibe?

    Adric! Oh. He’s an illusion.

    Think we should start a game called Drink Every Time Doc Says “I’ll explain later”.
    Was this what ‘The Curse of the Fatal Death’ was parodying?

    Hey you forgot Tegan!

    Multiple collection of souls in one body is very neat sci fi concept stuff.

    Rating: I’ll explain later.

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