"Now you try to flatter me. You'll pull a string and want to see me dance."
IN THIS ONE... Politics and romance in Ancient Atlantis.
REVIEW: Since the 70s era started, the only places we've visited outside the present day were futures with matinee serial dialog and strange music cues, so it does the series a world of good to spend an episode in the past, even such a fantastical version of it. The sets and costumes are lavish, the music is evocative, and the dialog, though formal and stylized, is witty and poetic. As a big fan of the BBC's Shakespeare productions (and I, Claudius), I got really caught up in this courtly drama. It's certainly brought out the best in the regulars, with Jo acting as she did in The Curse of Peladon (ancient-ish settings are her element) but bringing more humor (she's delicious as she taunts the Master with "Curses, foiled again"), the Doctor finding a kindred spirit in the equally long-lived King Dalios, and the Master trying to pick up the Queen with some well-chosen double-entendres. Why couldn't The Time Monster be ALL like this?
Dalios is a fascinating character, well aware that Kronos isn't a god and beating the Master in their skirmish of words. He has a twinkle in his eye, but is also haunted by visions of Atlantis' inevitable destruction. That Kronos once perpetrated its temporal shenanigans on Atlantis isn't made plain exactly, but it's there in Dalios' warnings about a curse of plenty that once made his people weak and lazy. Had we spent more time on this island, we might have been better able to explore all this. Representing the fairer sex is Queen Galleia, played by Polish-born horror film sex symbol Ingrid Pitt, a character who shows power and intelligence without knocking you about the head with it as a certain female character in the present day keeps doing. Galleia plays her games and convincingly romances the Master, but she cares about her kingdom and husband as well. Now stop looking at her chest (yes, I know it's calling to you). As a matter of casting, her accent is interesting because it suggests she's from abroad, a princess from another land married off as part of an alliance. After all, Delios is much older than she is, her red hair seems atypical of the Atlantean race, and she has a cat (but she's too fair-skinned to be Egyptian, surely). She brings even more exoticism to the story. We'll see her again on the program, but not as well cast, in Warriors of the Deep. But that's in a while.
But wait, isn't there a TARDIS sequence as well? There is, and it should not escape mention. There we find the Doctor, in the vortex, using the TARDIS' telepathic circuits to contact Jo so he can have her materialize the ship around him. What's interesting about this is that the communication contains a jabber of unfiltered "subconscious thoughts" that suggest a Time Lord's mind is a very active and complex place. Most disturbing is the voice that whimpers. Hear it? Brrrr. And if I may trot out yesterday's theory about the two TARDISes being in phase, it may explain why the Master's doesn't camouflage itself in Atlantis. Its connection to the Doctor's likewise hampering its chameleon circuit?
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - It looks and sounds so great, I'm not missing UNIT at all. Benton will just have to stay a baby for an episode longer.