The Master, in the guise of Professor Thascales, has constructed at the Newton Institute in Wootton a device known as TOMTIT - Transmission Of Matter Through Interstitial Time - with which to gain control over Kronos, a creature from outside time.
The Doctor shuts TOMTIT down but the Master later reactivates it, using it first to ensnare Krasis, High Priest of the lost city of Atlantis, and then to attack UNIT forces by way of a series of timeslips.
The DVD EXTRAS for THE TIME MONSTER are:
- BETWEEN NOW... AND NOW! SCIENCE AND THE TIME MONSTER
- EPISODE THREE - THE RESTORATION PROCESS
- PHOTO GALLERY + INFORMATION TEXT
COMMENT - SPOILERS AHEAD
The commentary is hosted by Toby Hadoke, with actors John Levene, Susan Penhaligon, DOCTOR WHO Producer Barry Letts, Production Manager (Assistant) Marion McDougall, and a plethora of TV writers (Graham Duff, Phil Ford, Joe Lidster and James Moran).
On utilising "myths & legends" within science fiction, Producer of THE TIME MONSTER, Barry Letts: I find it a good way to look at it in DOCTOR WHO. In the early days, it was a children's show but we tried to make a show for everyone.
Barry Letts commented that Katy Manning's giggle to Courtney's "dead-pan" delivery (about the Doctor consulting the entrails of a dead sheep) was genuine.
On his writing partnership with Robert Sloman, Barry Letts: Bob Sloman 50% and 50% me. Bob was a fast writer and would write one episode in two days. A complete collaboration at the time. The BBC didn't like Producers writing for their own shows. We used to take out the humour out of the script. Sloman had a wicked sense of humour. His background was not TV but writing plays. He knew what he was doing as writing was concerned; he wrote off the top of his head. He didn't give a damn about the structure. Doing a six-parter can be very boring but on this occasion we went a bit too far.
To be honest, episode 1's commentary was slightly dull, lacked pace and the content was hardly revealing (and was poorly "moderated" by a comedian called Hadoke). I am sure that whilst the combined expertise of Letts and (Production Manager) Marion McDougall is to be highly regarded the lengthy "off-topic" diatribes (including a reminiscence of the 1971 story, THE CLAWS OF AXOS) should have been curtailed and brought back to focus on THE TIME MONSTER. Additionally, the moderator allowed the professionals to discuss an episode 3 stunt accident (including a horse) during the first episode commentary. A bit daft.
EPISODE 2 - Hosted by John Levene (Sgt. Benton).
Unfortunately, the commentary for episode 2 is one of the most obscure contributions ever in the history of DOCTOR WHO DVD. The charming Levene had not quite grasp what a commentary is, and it is certainly not a second-by-second dissertation of on-screen action. Sadly, it is cringe worthy, and uncomfortable to endure.
On seeing Roger Delgado on-screen, John Levene: One of my favourite human beings of all time - Roger Delgado.
On Pertwee's cabaret act, Levene recalls the moment during the recuperation of time-affected scientist, Stuart Hyde, that the lead actor "chipped" a tooth on a plastic spoon as he eat it. It was revealed that Pertwee's vaudeville act was to eat a plate but no plate could be sought.
On Pertwee's professionalism, Levene: Jon took it seriously. Jon didn't mock it. I'm biased, of course.
On Katy Manning, Levene: Katy was a lovely companion - a tender lady. A good face.
For episode three, "fans" present the commentary, albeit "professional" ones that have some connection to either DOCTOR WHO (or its spin-off series such as TORCHWOOD and THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES). It's a bit of an oddity. Five chaps attempting to deliver something akin to BBC 2 NEWSNIGHT REVIEW but ending up with the annoying chat akin to the CBBC "broom cupboard" with an endless pile of Wagon Wheel biscuits & cherryade pop on hand to keep the fan memories jerking into existence.
The most notable comment being: Jo's boots match Bessie!
Oh. John Levene is back. Steady yourselves.
John Levene: You are most welcome back. I believe this is the climax.
Oh. No. There are another two episodes.
He did comment that the actor-baby, Darren Plant, that Sgt. Benton regressed into died within a months of filming THE TIME MONSTER. Though, in the commentary for episode 6, it was stated that there were two actor-babies so which one died in an untimely fashion is unknown.
On an action sequence outside the Institute, Horticulturist Levene informs: A huge tree. About 2000 years old but I'm not too sure.
I am not too sure if the expression, "Thick as two short planks" should be attributed to Levene's inconsequential commentary or to the person/s who employed/briefed him on what a DVD commentary should focus upon. Disappointing.
On her acting debut in DOCTOR WHO, Susan Penhaligon: A highlight. I grew up with DOCTOR WHO, and I went up later to play the girl in DOCTOR WHO; Elisabeth Sladen got the part. When I heard when I didn't get it, I cried.
Barry Letts: I saw 200 actresses. I'm sorry that I didn't see you.
Susan Penhaligon: I was at drama school with Katy Manning and Jon Pertwee was a quite young boyfriend of my Mother's.
Barry Letts: Well, well, well.
On the melodrama within DOCTOR WHO being carefully monitored, Susan Penhaligon: You're just a nanosecond from a CARRY ON.
On Roger Delgado, Barry Letts: Perfect.
Susan Penhaligon: In the presence of someone exceptional. He was another planet in terms of a different style. Quite believable.
On the set design within DOCTOR WHO that has attributed criticism over the years, Barry Letts: We didn't have wobbly sets. CROSSROADS had flipping wobbly sets.
On seeing the head-mask for the Minotaur creature, Barry Letts: Daisy the Cow. Not very creative.
On Pertwee's professionalism, Barry Letts: Pertwee was "dead letter" perfect.
On Gleeson's revamped TARDIS console room design, Barry Letts: I just feels so wrong - lots of circles. Very undistinguished.
On the ending of THE TIME MONSTER, Barry Letts: We (Sloman and Letts) were very late on delivery. I practically scrapped his ending but I wasn't pleased.
THE DVD EXTRAS FEATURETTES
BETWEEN NOW. AND NOW! is an interesting collaboration between the main cast & crew and University of Sussex professor, discussing the scientific principles behind THE TIME MONSTER. The most comfortable contribution is intelligence, dignity and creativity of an (at the time) ailing Barry Letts. A genius for producing intellectually challenging and gripping drama within a financially challenged period.
RESTORATION COMPARISON is brief yet fascinating, demonstrating the technical capacity of the BBC. THE TIME MONSTER has been superbly restored from a copy made for Canadian TV and mixed with a 1983 "tatty" used for internal BBC training purposes. In this featurette, we see sections of episode 3 before and after the restoration process.
DOCTOR WHO - THE TIME MONSTER may not be the most highly regarded of the Jon Pertwee stories but in its newly restored form it worth having a second look. The partnership of Pertwee & Manning, Pertwee & Delgado and that of Pertwee & the UNIT family was at its zenith and was not equalled for another three years (Baker & Sladen). For younger fans of the BBC WALES' current NEW SERIES the pedestrian (if not plodding) storytelling may stretch their concentration level beyond the standard 45-minute episode they have come to know (and love).
It may not be the most perfect "entry-level" CLASSIC SERIES story for them to be introduced to (the time travel and the classical Greek plotline may be confusing) but give it a couple of viewings and it may be acceptable.