In the final scene of Timelash we find out that Herbert was in fact the famous author H G Wells and that the moral of the story is that quite a lot of his later novels were in fact based upon his adventures in the TARDIS in that story, or that Glen McCoy thought that he could get away with writing a Doctor Who story by using elements of HG Wells stories if he made out that he wrote the stories after meeting up with the Doctor. Not that the Doctor was aware of that at the time and had no choice to let Herbert tag along after he stowed away on the TARDIS.
We probably should have guessed that there was a bit more to the character of Herbert than meets the eye when he really didn’t blink an eyelid at the fact that the TARDIS was bigger on the inside and at the end of the episode the revelation probably shouldn’t be that surprising given some of the character names (Vena in particular being the female character from The Time Machine) and some of the other elements of the story we have been watching (The Morlocks being the most prominent one), or perhaps they were better hidden than we think.
At least a lot of what happened in the story actually made sort of sense with the revelation at the end of the episode but it didn’t make it better as a result of that. I think that the problem with Timelash is that it followed after the Two Doctors which, for all of its faults, was a good story badly executed whereas this one was a bad story well executed which meant that the main fault with the story was the script and to be honest some of the worse aspects of the story are the dialogue even if Paul Darrow does his best to make every line as dramatic as he possibly can, even though he is often fighting a losing battle.
Now I know that Glen McCoy was new to writing when he wrote this but it seems to me that Eric Saward as the script editor probably should have done a bit more work editing this story than he actually did as it could have worked better than it actually did if it had been given another lick and polish, even if would be just to polish a turd.
I am probably being a little bit disingenuous about this story as there are plenty of worse stories than this one in the annals of Doctor Who and there have been performances a lot hammier than Paul Darrow’s as well but in many ways it is Darrow’s portrayal that makes this story worth watching if only to see him eat his way through the scenery.
One of the worst things about this story isn’t the dialogue, or the acting but it is the Bandrils who are easily the worse realised alien race ever. They make the Myrka look like a work of art and are quite frankly embarrassing. I can only assume that they run out of money after the jolly to Seville, but I am pretty sure that they could have done better than what we got.
I can see what they were trying to do with the Bandrils but they didn’t quite pull it off here. Having said that the make-up job on the Borad was rather good for its time so they did a great job on that but not such a good job on the Bandrils but perhaps they focussed more on the Borad than the Bandrils as they did appear on screen a lot less then Borad, so you can see why this happened here, and was probably the right thing to do as well.
Having said all that though, I did quite enjoy watching Timelash, despite its faults, and I think that even though it is not great Doctor Who it is far better than most stuff on TV, both then and now.