2.36 The Time Meddler Pt.1 - The Watcher Written By Dennis Spooner, Directed by Douglas Camfield
The Doctor and his companions find something strange happening in 1066.
A good first episode. Some nice character interaction first between the Doctor and Vicki, and then between the two of them and Steven. I particularly like Vicki and Steven together, with Vicki suddenly becoming the old hand having to deal with the excitable and disbelieving newbie.
Peter Butterworth seems to be enjoying himself as the Monk, and the mystery of the story is nicely revealed towards the end of the episode.
"You know that large rock over there looks exactly like a police telephone box to me!" - Peter Purves (Steven Taylor)
2.37 The Time Meddler Pt.2 - The Meddling Monk Written By Dennis Spooner, Directed by Douglas Camfield
Steven and Vicki go in search of the Doctor.
It's obvious the Monk is up to something, but as to what there is no clue, which works for the story, He's certainly a genial enough host, making the Doctor quite a decent breakfast. The rest of the story seems to move forward slowly but in a satisfying, and adult, manner. And Steven is still headstrong, but already shows signs of being a good companion.
"I don't think we've been as clever as we think we have." - Maureen O'Brien (Vicki)
2.38 The Time Meddler Pt.3 - A Battle of Wits Written By Dennis Spooner, Directed by Douglas Camfield
The Doctor tries to discern the Monk's scheme.
This one builds towards a great (and if you know nothing about the story, unexpected) cliffhanger. The interaction between the Monk and the Doctor is humourously adversorial and the story elements continue to build towards finding out the Monk's plan - though the fact that he has a giant checklist certainly helps!
Good performances by most of the cast, though the vikings seem a little weak in their acting this episode.
"Oh no, more visitors. It's getting so you can't call a monastery your own!" - Peter Butterworth (The Monk)
2.39 The Time Meddler Pt.4 - Checkmate Written By Dennis Spooner, Directed by Douglas Camfield
The Monk's master plan is revealed!
A satisfying ending to an enjoyable romp.
"What are we going to do with this man?! He's utterly irresponsible! He wants to destroy the whole pattern of World history!" - William Hartnell (Doctor Who)
8/10 - The Time Meddler
It's a solid and amusing tale, this one. While the Monk's plans would have serious repercussions on the world, he comes across as a well-meaning but irresistibly naughty schoolboy. He knows he shouldn't be doing what he's doing, but he just can't help himself. He even looks a little upset that in order to achieve his ends, people would die.
The interaction between the Monk and the Doctor is fun to watch. Both actors have excellent comic timing, and the scenes with their characters bumping heads are always enjoyable. Hartnell and Butterworth are in fine form throughout the story.
Vicki and Steven get a good outing, too. In fact, while it's Steven's first story as a companion, it's Vicki who gets to shine of the pair. She comes across as the old hand, wiser and slightly despairing of this headstrong newcomer. Given how poorly used Vicki was initially, it's nice to see her getting to do the explaining. Steven is likeable, and enjoyable to watch, even though his headstrong attitude can seem a bit forced at times.
Most of the rest of the cast do okay with their parts. The Vikings occasionally come across a little weak, but then again, they've not much to work with.
It's also a story with a couple of interesting firsts. It's the first semi-historical i.e. rather than being caught up in a normal set of historical events, the TARDIS crew find themselves up against an outside force whose actions threaten to change established history.
If you don't already know about the twists and turns of the story, try to keep it that way until after you've seen it. It's genuinely worth it. So don't read the back of the DVD! Nor should you let the opening menu run. Spoilers for the story, a cliffhanger, and I basically tell you the ending, so don't click here unless you've already seen it, you have been warned!
Other than Susan, this is the first time we meet another of the Doctor's people. The script very carefully keeps this information away from the audience until the end of episode three. Prior to that, it seems the Doctor and the Monk know each other, but it's not stated that they are of the same race. It's not until the cliffhanger to episode three that we see that the Monk has his own TARDIS.
One of the enjoyable aspects of the production at this point is the Doctor's admiration for the Monk's Mark 4 TARDIS, and his obvious annoyance when questioned as to what model his own machine is.
The light tone of the story continues on until the end, when it does a fairly dramatic shift. When he discovers that the Doctor has stranded him, the Monk's reaction is unrestrained anger and grief. In a story where he's been playing things for laughs, it's a beautifully straight performance by Butterworth, and Camfield's direction at that moment is perfect, the camera drawing up and away showing the Monk trapped and alone.
All up, a fabulous and fun story, and one of my favourites.