No, there’s something here. Inside the ship.

I think if I’d have watched this without the infotext option on the DVD I’d have been quite bored by this story. Incidentally, if you don’t watch the stories with the infotext, you should give it a try.

I learnt lots about a story that I never really cared for.

I definitely watched this on VHS and the whole notion of the Fast Return Switch being stuck is one of those things you just know as a fan. Much of my opinions on this story really comes from the infotext and the documentaries on the DVD.

  • This is just odd.
  • The actors are playing around with their parts, none of them quite agreeing in what way they should play things. Ian spends much of the time just bemused. Suffice to say, none of them are acting the way we’ve come to see their characters over the last 11 weeks. It’s quite jarring.
  • Susan suffers the most. Her character goes into some kind of meltdown and the scene when she’s stabbing the bed is properly disturbing. No wonder the production team got a good telling off over that. “Look Mummy, I’m stabbing the cat just like Susan stabs the bed.” Nice.
  • And Carole Ann Ford is not a school girl any more in this: she’s a creepy older woman. Scary.
  • The Doctor is as unpleasant as ever. Not sure at what point children started to warm to the man, but his attitude to the teachers is again rather nasty.
  • Not much of this makes sense. Melting clocks. Doors opening. Photos of countryside. It would have been more fun if the story had been about something invading the TARDIS as Susan feared.
  • As a kid discovering black and white Doctor Who for the first time, I was fascinated to see more of the ship. I guess it stems from my first few episodes being around season 18 and 19, so Castrovalva is strong in my memory. I’d imagine all stories featured the TARDIS interior so heavily. So, it’s something of a disappointment that they don’t, and even more so when they do, and it looks as boring as this. Did they actually sleep on those pull on couches? Does that foam absorb their sleep drool? Who was sharing space with whom?
  • Barbara’s explanation for the ship’s behaviour comes out of left field.
    “That we have a measure of time as long as it lasts. Yes, of course. That explains the clock face. We had time taken away from us, and now it’s being given back to us because it’s running out.”
    Eh? Bonkers. I suspect she just wanted to sound clever.
  • There are some beautiful shots here. The darkening behind the Doctor as he delivers his soliloquy is suitably atmospheric.
  • Felt tip on the console. None of the production team or cast can agree as to why it’s there, but it’s probably to help Bill find the right control and should have been removed before filming.
DOCTOR: Yes. The heart of the machine is under the column. 
IAN: Well what made it move? 
DOCTOR: The source of power. You see, when the column rises, it proves the extent of the power thrust. 
BARBARA: Then what would have happened if the column had come out completely? 
SUSAN: Well, the power would be free to escape. 
DOCTOR: Can it be possible then, that this is the end? 
IAN: The end? What are you talking about? 
DOCTOR: We have ten minutes to survive. 
BARBARA: Ten minutes? As little as that? 
DOCTOR: Maybe less.