Doctor Who – The Time Museum

‘The Time Museum’

DrWho_BF_TheTimeMuseumWritten by James Goss, directed by Lisa Bowerman
Released July, 2012

Ian Chesterton has been taken out of time and finds himself on a strange planet as a part of an exhibit devoted to time travelers. The one time companion of the Doctor, Ian’s life of adventure is in his distant past. A retired school teacher, he is confused to once more find himself in a dangerous situation where dangerous creatures hunt himself and the curator Pendolin.

As Ian recounts his series of thrilling times past to Pendolin, monsters are on their heels, devouring his memories and getting ever closer. Desperate to escape, Pendolin is trying to reach a time scoop to another time and place, but Ian’s heroic nature has been roused and he is determined to stand his ground and fight.

The Time Museum is a lovely celebratory adventure that takes the listener back through all of Ian’s stories both on screen and in audio format. It was so much fun to hear Ian recall both the TV serial The Crusades as well as the Big Finish gem The Rocketmen and a few of the missing stories, placing all of them into continuity.

Like many fans of Doctor Who, I first viewed the Tom Baker stories and only saw the Hartnell tales when the local PBS station decided to run the entire catalog from start to finish. I was immediately taken in by Ian and think of him as one of the greatest of companions. Both emotionally diverse and clever, Ian is also a damned brave hero who always makes the more difficult choice in any situation to retain his moral values.

On first listen I have to confess that I was disinterested in what felt like a string of callbacks and references to previous stories, but after giving it a closer listen I was touched by the sophistication of the script, even as it touched on the most controversial moment in Doctor Who’s long history (later payed homage to, in a way, in The Twin Dilemma) when the Doctor nearly killed a wounded cave man in order to make an easier retreat, unhindered by the task of supporting and protecting the native. Ian realizes that both he and Barbara had changed the Doctor just by being there to stop his hand and that was the first step into a rounding off of the time travelers rougher edges.

88 year-old actor William Russell is truly a monument to Doctor Who and we are lucky each time he rejoins the team for another foray. His imitation of Hartnell’s Doctor is hear-warming and also incredibly accurate, making it seem like old Billy was still with us!  The former star of The Adventures of Sir Lancelot brought so much dignity and presence to Doctor Who and continues to add that extra layer of nobility and class, perhaps hearkening back to a time when the TV program strove to overcome its many limitations and take viewers on a grand adventure through time and space.

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3 thoughts on “Doctor Who – The Time Museum

  1. I really liked the “grand adventure” comment and the rest of what you said about William Russell here. Bravo! I’d love to see Ian Chesterton return to television for the anniversary, although I concede that’s not very likely to happen (predicted response of some of the more bigoted New Who fans: “Eww. I don’t know him. Who is he? He’s ooold. Yuck!”. Apparently when a tribute for – I think – Barry Letts was flashed up at the end of an episode, at least one person complained on the ‘net because they didn’t know he was other than “some old producer”. What a disrespectful and ignorant thicko :)).
    I was once noodling around with an idea for a Doctor Who story (as you do!) in which Ian and Barbara lived in a nice little house in the country when something strange happens in the lane outside and they meet a much younger – from their point of view, tho’ of course he’s actually much, much older – and different Doctor to the one they knew. I thought it was a sweet faintly melancholy yet quietly joyful idea. Jacqueline Hill may have died young but Barbara could live on in literary terms; then again if a story like it was done for television, it could be about an aged Ian feeling lonely and hopeless without the deceased Barbara before he encounters the Doctor and remembers all the wonderful things he and Barbara experienced and is rejuvenated by adventure and the thought that no one ever really dies, they’re always still alive somewhen. He is returned to life.
    I find the concept of The Time Museum intriguing, it sounds a compelling story. Presumably the memory-devouring creature is a metaphor for Alzheimer’s? Clever. Any chance of a Rocketmen review?! I can’t hear them but I enjoy reading the reviews (your recommendation led me to reading Doc Oho’s very good piece on The Rocketmen. It sounds great).

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