The Doctor, Vikki, and their new friend, Steven, arrive in 1066 on the eve of a Viking invasion of Saxon Northumbra, but unexpectedly, they discover that a seemingly innocent monastery nearby hides someone who isn’t supposed to be there and who seeks to interfere with the normal flow of history.
I have to admit, I was not expecting to like the classic Doctor Who episodes as much as I am, but “The Time Meddler” is such a great set of episodes. It’s not overlong, never feels particularly drawn out, and could easily be a two-parter of a modern Doctor Who episode.
I enjoyed several things about the plot itself, mostly the idea that the Doctor would run into another wandering Time Lord (though he wasn’t called a Time Lord) who was pretty much the antithesis of what the Doctor is. At that same time, the Monk isn’t what I would call evil. In fact, I actually see him as a misguided do-gooder, someone who wants to improve the world for the good of the world, but does it in a staggeringly misguided and irresponsible way. In a sense, the Doctor is the adult in the room while the Monk is an unruly teenager who thinks he knows everything which is annoying, but still… it’s out of the goodness of his heart.
I love stories like this… where there is no evil villain, but rather a clash of ideologies. Yes, it’s fun to have Daleks screaming and chasing after the Doctor and the Tardis Team, but I do believe that the best stories come about by means of the grays that exist between black and white. I didn’t agree with the Monk, but I could see how others would. I could understand his reasoning and I get where he was coming from.
Not evil, just misguided.
It doesn’t hurt that this episode is full of fun character moments as well. We see the Doctor as a manipulator and a prankster while the Monk is always looking to one-up him with his intellect. The two don’t see each other in cliched shades of good and evil, but rather with mischievous annoyance with one another. I don’t know if the Monk ever shows up again as this is my first journey through Classic Doctor Who, but if he did, I could see he and the Doctor having a good laugh about their previous misadventure together.
Vikki and Steven are well used in this serial as well and prove themselves useful. It’s kind of annoying how the female companions are used in these early episodes, even if I do recognize it as a norm for the time that the show was made, but I really have to hand it to Vikki and, by extension, Steven for being a lot more than useless and actually advancing the plot through their investigations.
I enjoyed “The Time Meddler.” It was well-written, well-paced, and fun. The fights between the Saxons and the Vikings were mighty cheesy, but that’s part of this old show’s charm. This show is shaping up to be awfully good science fiction. I’m sure it will last a few more seasons, at least.