Recap: Doctor Who S2 E9 "The Time Meddler"
That is the dematerialisation control, and that over yonder is the horizontal hold. Up there is the scanner, those are the doors, that is a chair with a panda on it... Sheer poetry, dear boy! Now please stop buggering me!With Vicki and still-sceptical stowaway Steven in tow, the TARDIS arrives in early 1066 on the eastern coast of England. Exploring, the Doctor finds a wristwatch and a toaster, and is trapped while investigating the sounds of chanting from a ruined monastery. Quite surprisingly, the chanting was a gramophone record.Turns out that one of the Doctor's (as yet unnamed) own people is here, complete with his own TARDIS — whose chameleon circuit actually works. He plans to defeat Harald Haadrada's Viking fleet with nuclear bazookas, allowing King Harold to win the battle of Hastings, and then help the English accelerate their development so that they have "jet airliners by 1320" and Shakespeare's Hamlet can premiere on TV.After thwarting his plans, the Doctor removes the Dimensional Control from the eponymous Meddling Monk's TARDIS, shrinking the interior to the same size as the exterior (a sarcophagus) and leaving the monk stranded.
— The Doctor shows Steven around.
The story has a number of firsts — the first Time Lord other than the Doctor and Susan (though the race is still not named); the first pseudo-historical story mixing real history with sci-fi elements and of course the first story without any of the Doctor's original companions. It also has a second, as in the Meddling Monk being the show's second reoccurring enemy after the Daleks.Watch it here.
- Bad Habits: The Monk is not really a monk.
- Bowdlerise: The only surviving copies of the story are censored, with the killing of the two Norwegian scouts Ulf and Sven by the villagers cut (though the audio portion survives from an off-air recording and is included on the DVD release as a special feature). The death of Gunnar is uncut, as episode two was still in the archives (albeit as an orphaned episode) when the BBC stopped junking episodes.
- Brandishment Bluff: The Doctor jabs a branch into the Monk's back and claims it's a Winchester '73. The bluff works till he is interrupted by Vikings.
- Compound Interest Time Travel Gambit: The Monk's logbook includes an entry recording his use of this.
- Funnily enough, while the Monk's money sat in a bank, The Daleks took over the world. One wonders if he was actually able to withdraw it.
- Continuity Nod: Vicki mentions that she hopes they've arrived in New York, as she'd like a closer look at it than the brief glimpse they got a few episodes earlier.
- Crew of OneSteven: You know, I'm beginning to like the idea of being a crew member on a time machine.
Vicki: A crew member? You'll be lucky! He's the crew — we're just the passengers.
- Fakeout Escape: The second time the Doctor gets locked up in the room with the secret exit, he lures the guard in by leaving the secret door wide open so it looks like he's escaped that way.
- Finale Credits: The season ends with the three time-travelers' faces superimposed over a starfield.
- Foreshadowing: The way the Doctor and the Monk each independently use a very similar technique to disable one of the two Norwegian scouts may be foreshadowing of their shared origins.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: It's fairly clearly implied that Edith is gang-raped by the Norwegian scouts.
- Giving Radio to the Romans: The Monk plans to give the English "a few tips" to increase the rate of technological development.
- Horny Vikings: The Doctor and his friends find a horned viking helmet at the beginning of the story, setting up the famous quip about space helmets for cows. The leader of the Norwegian scouts who show up later wears an equally-inaccurate helmet with little metal wings.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: The Meddling Monk (who is holding the Doctor prisoner) claims that he hasn't seen the Doctor but gives himself away by knowing what the Doctor looks like without Steven having told him. Subverted because Vicki and Steven soon realise that the Monk made his "mistake" on purpose to lure them inside.
- Insane Troll Logic: We know the Monk isn't thinking things through when he says that with his help, Shakespeare might be able to televise his plays. It's more likely the Bard would never exist.
- The Middle Ages
- Plot Hole: At the end, the Monk cannot use his TARDIS, but he still has the bazooka and its ammunition, so could still blow up the Vikings. In the novelisation, this is corrected by having Steven put the ammunition in the Monk's TARDIS before the Doctor sabotages it, rendering it inaccessible.
- Projectile Toast: One of the Monk's anachronistic home comforts is an electric toaster, which shoots the finished toast up into the air to be caught by the Monk.
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Discussed by Steven and Vicki, who wonder whether they'll still remember the old history if the Monk succeeds in creating a new one.
- Also averted - apparently one of the changes the Monk has made was to give Leonardo da Vinci some ideas for a flying machine.
- Secret Underground Passage: The Doctor discovers one in the monastery where the Monk is based, leading from one of the rooms to a thicket outside the monastery grounds, and he and his friends subsequently use it several times to get in or out without the Monk knowing.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: This is what the Monk thinks he's doing.
- Sleeping Dummy: When the Doctor finds a way out of the room the Monk has imprisoned him in, he makes one of these to delay the Monk noticing he's gone.
- Stick Em Up: The Doctor sticks a branch in the Monk's back and claims it's a rifle (incidentally gaining further evidence that the Monk is a time-traveller, since he understands the threat). When the Monk finds out it's just a stick, the Doctor keeps him in line a bit longer by pointing out that it's quite a hefty stick and still capable of doing quite a bit of damage.
- Tap on the Head: The two Norwegian scouts who take refuge in the monastery are each easily disabled by being whacked over the head with a plank of wood so thin that it breaks dramatically on contact.
- Temporal Paradox: Also discussed.
- Too Dumb to Live: The Norwegian scouts who are supposed to be gathering information for their invading forces, but decide to Rape, Pillage, and Burn at the first dwelling they come across.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The Monk maintains this.
- Wham Episode: The Doctor and the TARDIS cease to be unique, with the appearance of the Monk and his time machine and hints that such machines are not uncommon where they both come from. Also the first story in the series to suggest that it's even possible for history to be changed, paving the way for many more saving-history plots.
- Wham Shot: Vicki and Steven (and the audience) see the interior of the Monk's TARDIS for the first time.
- Vicki: "It's a Tardis! The Monk's got a Tardis!"
- You Look Familiar: Edith, the villager the Doctor befriends, is played by Alethea Charlton, who was the cavewoman in the very first Doctor Who story.