Writer: Dennis Spooner
Director: Douglas Camfield
Companions: Vicki (Maureen O’Brien), Steven Taylor (Peter Purves)
Season: 2, episode 9 (36-39)
Episodes: “The Watcher”, “The Meddling Monk”, “A Battle of Wits”, “Checkmate”
Summary: The Doctor and Vicki have bid farewell to Ian and Barbara, who left in the previous episode. Vicki discovers Steven outside the TARDIS and he comes in. Steven doesn’t believe the TARDIS is a time machine. To prove him wrong, The Doctor takes them to the year 1066, when the Vikings are invading England. They discover a monk who has many modern conveniences that shouldn’t even exist yet! They also discover something else–the monk has a TARDIS as well!
Review: This episode is a series of firsts:
- The first “pseudo-historical”. Unlike stories like “The Aztecs”, “pseudo-historicals” take place in history, but actually have science fiction elements besides the TARDIS.
- The first story without the original TARDIS crew of Susan, Ian, and Barbara. Susan left at the beginning of season 1, and Ian and Barbara left in the previous episode.
- Steven Taylor’s first full story. He was introduced in “The Chase”, but that was near the end.
- The first time the Doctor meets another time traveler. Remember that the Time Lords would not be introduced until the end of Troughton’s era.
Vicki and Steven really get their chance to shine in this story, as the two of them are the real focus of the story. Before this episode, I’d written Vicki off as just a substitute for Susan, but she actually gets a lot to do. Steven is great comedy relief with his skepticism in the beginning.
The Monk is a crafty foe. He actually believes he is in the right to prevent the Vikings, and has a plan all laid out. It seems even the Doctor won’t cause much of a hiccup.
This milestone is worth the watch. It paved the way for the Master, and I believe this was a prototype for his villainy.
- Steven: “What did you say this was?”
Vicki: “TARDIS: Time and Relative Dimensions in Space.”
Steven: “IDBI: I Don’t Believe It.”
- (Steven and the Doctor find a Viking helmet) The Doctor: “Well, what else could it be? A space helmet for a cow?”
- Vicki: “A TARDIS! The Monk’s got a TARDIS!”
- Steven: “You know, I think I’m beginning to like being a crewmember of a time machine.”
Vicki: “A crewmember? You’ll be lucky. He’s the crew, we’re just the passengers.”
Overall Review: 10/10
Continuity: The Doctor doesn’t like being called “Doc” by Steven, which he first objected to in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”. Vicki discusses Ian and Barbara’s departure in “The Chase.” The Monk’s next appearance was in the mostly missing episode “The Dalek Master Plan”, but he would not return until the Eighth Doctor story “The Secret Book of Kells”.