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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

9 Comments

  1. Wm Keith
    August 19, 2011 @ 1:52 am

    I hadn't realised that Dennis Potter's wonderfully poignant final interview http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2007/sep/12/greatinterviews
    referenced "The Time Monster"'s "daisiest daisy" in a memorable passage about how his imminent death removes all relevance from past and future.

    "The only thing you know for sure is the present tense, and that nowness becomes so vivid that, almost in a perverse sort of way, I'm almost serene. You know, I can celebrate life.

    Below my window in Ross, when I'm working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It's a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it's white, and looking at it, instead of saying "Oh that's nice blossom" … last week looking at it through the window when I'm writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn't seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There's no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance … not that I'm interested in reassuring people – bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it."

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  2. Jesse Smith
    August 19, 2011 @ 6:29 am

    There is a lot I enjoy in "The Time Monster", though I agree the execution is… troubled. I particularly like the sequences in the TARDIS – very similar to the scenes in Logopolis some 8 years later. There's also a level to the stakes in this story that was rarely matched in the classic series – the permanent destabilization of time itself.

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  3. Don Zachary
    August 19, 2011 @ 6:56 am

    …But this restores my faith in you. It’s a lot better. I can’t stand The Time Monster, and you’ve come up with interesting sides to it, almost like (and even about) that bloody flower story, as you do in many of your best. Even if you criticise the acting here more than for The Mutants, when to me the cast are as bad in both.

    “as if he's simply recounting someone else's anecdote.” I love the idea that all of Pertwee’s namedropping, even about his own life, is all just nicked from other people. Suddenly his Doctor makes more sense if he’s Gilderoy Lockhart, who loves himself almost as much as Three.

    Though: (this apparently major figure in his life, who is presumably K'anpo from Planet of the Spiders, is never mentioned again after that story. Except in State of Decay)

    And the bits on the TARDISES / Crystal as Platonic forms and the division of the Doctor / Master as Philosopher / King are brilliant. They make me warm to The Time Monster, so I’d better not watch it and cure that. You even end on a great “Next Time…” trailer. Even Cookie Monster is brilliant.

    Don

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  4. Gavin
    August 19, 2011 @ 9:24 am

    I recently saw The Time Monster for the first time, and it was one of those cases where my expectations had been lowered so far by its reputation that I ended up quite enjoying it.

    Re: Plato. That the story is about Atlantis is a rather obvious connection. As is the divided person stuff – It would be fairly easy to rewrite the above analysis in terms of (aspects of) the Platonic tripartite model of the soul.

    Also, that the Atlanteans are Greek philosophers with Greek names has to be a conscious divergence from historical plausibility*, given how carefully the set design and costumes are based on actual Minoan architecture and art. It's hard to believe that Letts and Sloman didn't know that Linear A was not Greek, and that the Minoans were around over a millennium before the classical Athens that the Doctor goes out of his way to associate them with.

    *Not reality, since I don't believe that Plato's Atlantis really has anything to do with the Minoans.

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  5. 7a1abfde-af0e-11e0-b72c-000bcdcb5194
    August 19, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    Agree on Platonic Forms. I would add that the Doctor himself is a bit like a Platonic Form, in that he remains timelessly the same while manifesting himself in different incarnations. Though that may have been less obvious in Pertwee's era than in ours. (Still, we do have The Three Doctors coming up.)

    But it strikes me that an even better example is Scaroth/Scarlioni/Tancredi in City of Death. He's splintered into different manifestations in different eras, but each is conscious of the other's experiences, just as a Platonic Form is supposed to exist as a whole in each of its parts.

    P.S. – I still can't see The Dominators as "a story that should never have been attempted" — but that's because I still can't see a story that defends youthful curiosity and innovation against a stodgy closed-minded traditionalist council of elders as an indictment of the counterculture.

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  6. Spacewarp
    August 19, 2011 @ 9:52 am

    I find your description of the original intent for the Master as a kind of "part of the Doctor rather than an individual in his own right" very compelling. In particular the way it kind of explains why the Time Lords seem unable/unwilling to apprehend the Master even though it's plainly obvious where he is.

    It's certainly more interesting and complex than simply the Master being a Black hatted Moriarty to the Doctor's White hatted Holmes. It would seem that Roger Delgado's death not only robbed us of his charismatic take on the Master, it robbed the character of the Master himself of a far more interesting future than simply the Hooded Claw of 80's Who. Even RTD's reimagining and eventual redemption of the character in Tennant's era could have gone so much further if it had more than just a past pantomime Master to draw on.

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  7. doktorvox
    August 22, 2011 @ 5:27 am

    It does seem to me that "Vincent" is as apt a Dr. Who song as anything by Bolan.

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  8. danrachelcleasby
    August 23, 2011 @ 4:34 am

    Funny you should mention Gary Glitter … have you seen this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdTELokKfCk

    Reply

  9. Seeing_I
    September 1, 2011 @ 11:34 am

    Great essay! I am glad you found a lot to like about this story. I always found it tough going but it is indeed full of lots of good ideas.

    It's distressing to me to recall that my most vivid and formative memories of "what Doctor Who is like" come from this story, Planet of the Daleks and Destiny of the Daleks. Oh well!

    Don't forget that "Beyond Good & Evil" is straight of of Nietzsche.

    Reply

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