Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Serial 129: The Five Doctors

Doctors: Richard Hurndall (1st Doctor), Patrick Troughton (2nd Doctor), Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor), Tom Baker (4th Doctor), Peter Davison (5th Doctor)
Companions: Tegan Jovanka, Vislor Turlough, Sarah Jane Smith, Susan Foreman, The Brigadier, Romana

Written by: Terrance Dicks
Directed by: Peter Moffatt

Background & Significance: In 1983, Doctor Who turned twenty. You know what that means. Something big. Something epic. Something legendary.

Ten year's previous, they did "The Three Doctors," a multi-Doctor crossover that didn't suck and was kinda awesome (despite the lack of Hartnell, but even then, he had one of the standout lines) and succeeded. In 1983, they decided to re-capture the magic with "The Five Doctors." They gave the script to popular and incredibly prolific Who writer Terrance Dicks. He was given the following rule: to feature The Doctor in his five incarnations and "as many monsters and companions as you could cram in there." The intentions noble, stages was set for the anniversary special to be a celebration of the show's long and varied two decade history.

Spoiler alert: And it fails. Hard.

First off, that's my own opinion, and maybe I'm a victim of my own anticipointments, but I don't think so. And for the sake of some background, here's why...

1) Tom Baker passed on it because it was "too soon". So they used archive footage from an incomplete story that was never aired, meaning he doesn't even really appear in this serial.

2) Hartnell's dead, so they decided to bring in Richard Hurndall, who kinda looks like him, and expected him to pull off Hartnell... But we'll talk more on him a bit later.

3) If you count The Master and not The Fourth Doctor, there are TEN main characters in this ninety minute story. Such character work takes a remarkably skilled writer, and, while Terrance Dicks is good, he's not that good.

4) There was a HUGE mess of scheduling conflicts going on all through this. They couldn't accomadate Frazern Hines (Jamie) to be Troughton's Companion, so everyone got kinda bumped and dumped around leading to some awkward things that don't necessarily make so much sense.

So just know all that as we delve into this. I really wanted to like this, but it ended up being overly ambitious and it ended up failing if you ask me.

One more thing before I start. This story is remarkably bouncy, with each Doctor kinda getting his own storyline, so I'm going to bounce around and just focus (for the most part) on one Doctor at a time.

Or at least, that's the plan, anyways.

But enough blather! Let's get to it!

Commentary!: We open on a clip of William Hartnell saying a bit from the end of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" which is him promising to return to Susan after he's just locked her out of the TARDIS and stranded her on Earth. This is important for later, but really, it's nice to see some archival Hartnell before we get a whole mess of not-him.

I missed Hartnell =(

Here's the problem, though. This, in a way, is the thing that kinda sets up the character relationship between The Doctor/Susan for the story. The only problem? The context is never provided or acted on. Susan last showed up almost TWENTY YEARS AGO at this point, and there were kids twenty years later who were expected to remember her? There must have been a HUGE audience of Doctor Who out there who had NO idea who Susan even WAS. I find that insanely problematic...


We then go to a foggy moor, with a tower in the distance. We cut to empty hallways, lots of static shots of boring dungeon corridors. (And from this, I should've KNOWN it would be RIDICULOUSLY slow! These shots went on FOREVER).

Turlough's idea of a vacation. Kinda awesome.

Then we head to the Eye of Orion, where The Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough are taking a much needed break. Turlough paints. Tegan got a haircut (that looks better than the atrocious from Visitation, but still doesn't look that good). The Doctor is down with some relaxing. It's a zen, tranquil place, and they can finally take a rest.

What they don't know is an evil Dungeon Master is setting pieces into motion with his ways. He turns some dials. He's pushing buttons...

We cut again to The First Doctor, who looks like this now.

Good Lord.

Which is just fail. He looks so little like Hartnell it bothers me. He KINDA works, but deep down all I see is guy pretending to look like William Hartnell and it really, really just fails. Yeah. It's like that. Also, he's too tall, but we can talk about my 1st Doctor nitpicks a bit later, methinks.

Anyways, he's being chased by A GIANT TRANSPARENT HERSHEY'S KISS!

It swoops down, snatches him up, and he disappears.

At the same time that this is happening, the Dungeon Master pulls out his William Hartnell action figure and puts it on the board. So that's... that's good for him. A little creepy, but... yeah. I can get down with that. Except he broke the figure out of the box. That's got to diminish its value a bit. And he might have painted the black and white Hartnell figurine. Maybe he bought like, seven when they first came out and decided to paint one of them and keep the rest in their packages on the shelves, but you know it totally horcruxed him to tear that packaging open. He then probably burned the box and scattered the ashes across The Death Zone, or something.

ANYWAYS! Yes. He takes out his William Hartnell action figure and puts it on the board.

Almost instantly, The Fifth Doctor feels a tug on himself and gets noticeably weaker, freaking out Tegan and Turlough.

But the fun doesn't stop there.

Elsewhere, The Brigadier is having a small UNIT reunion of the old days when he gets a visit from an old friend: The Second Doctor, who's wearing a GIANT fur coat (I'll bet you he just went and killed a Yeti). They head out for a walk, but no sooner are they done with their two minutes all of a sudden THE GIANT TRANSPARENT HERSHEY'S KISS SHOWS UP AGAIN. The Doctor, terrified, makes a run for it (which is so f*cking awesome you don't even know. Gotta love Troughton. Sixty three and sprinting and leaping in like he's the Doctor all over again. Even the Brigadier is like "Oh f*ck that.")

Unfortunately, they get abducted, allowing the DM to strip the packing off his Troughton and Brigadier figurines (and that dude is rare. With those limited edition coats? Probably cost a fortune at the local Con.) and set them on the board.

The Fifth Doctor feels his past slipping away from him, as its stripped from time, and he collapses.

Elsewhen, The Third Doctor drives along in Bessie, sporting a noticeably whiter-hair look. Out of the blue, the Hershey's Kiss appears. He swerves, shouting Elvis lyrics ("Great Balls of Fire!"... Personally, I wish it was "Blue suede shoes!", but let's not nitpick), but he gets "kissed" too and whisked away and turned into a cute little 3rd Doctor action figure.

I love that the DM wears a glove. Classy. Apparently, though, there was too much value in Bessie for him to break the accessory out too.

The Fifth Doctor is near catatonic at this point, this attack leaving him devastated. He begs Turlough and Tegan to take him back to the TARDIS, which they do.

And then Sarah Jane is abducted. But first she gets a warning K-9.

Wow her hair and garment is atrocious. But I love K-9. And they're throwing as much legacy into this episode as possible, so K-9 is only in this scene for a nice quaint cameo. But that's okay, because K-9 rules.

Then there's what can only be called an interlude between The Fourth Doctor and Romana. It's a scene involving a Gondola. It's the ONLY scene with the 4th Doctor in the entire thing. It's not important for anything. All that happens is the two talk about Cambridge and Sir Isaac Newton. It's cute. It's never been aired before stock footage.

Oh, and then he's abducted.

But there's a problem. Indicated by frenetic typing, a dissolving image, and then the DM's fist hitting the table. What does this mean? Tom Baker didn't want to do the episode.

In the TARDIS, the Fifth Doctor collapses and starts fading away. The TARDIS shuts down and is whisked to the moor from earlier where that spire was. All looks dire. The DM's board has been completed.

I love that the 4th Doctor not being there makes the light go out.

With the first act of the story finished, we move to Gallifrey, where there's a council of three Time Lords (The Time Lord President Borusa, Chancellor Flavia, and The Castellan) discussing bringing in someone to help out with the current situation.

Spoilers! It's The Master!

So yeah. He's there. The Time Lords decide to bring him in despite the fact that he is "one of the most evil and corrupt beings the Time Lord race has ever produced" and his "crimes are without number and his villainy without end." And now, despite ALL OF THAT, the Time Lords are going to give him a full and free pardon along with a COMPLETE NEW SET OF REGENERATIONS. On the condition that he rescues the Doctor.

Okay. What? The Time Lords are an ENTIRE RACE of operatives. Send in one of those Time Lord Commandos or something. But giving it to The Master makes so much not-sense. AND to pardon him. AND to give him another set of regenerations? Insanity. Complete insanity.

So The Time Lords reveal that The Doctor has gone to an area on Gallifrey called "The Death Zone", which has recently become active. There's some sloppy exposition, revealing that The Fourth Doctor got stuck between times during his abduction and he has to sit this one out (and some other sundries. But really it's just talking heads and mad boring). So they send him off to the Death Zone.

Okay. So from here on out, I'm going to divide up the story by Doctor (sorta) just in the interest of time.

The First Doctor:

The First Doctor finds himself wandering around a Gallifreyan House of Mirrors. There is lightning and ominousity. And then, he comes to a stop only to find--


Okay. Here's my problem. Susan was last seen eighteen or more years ago and the Doctor had LOCKED HER OUT OF THE TARDIS to keep her with SOME GUY she grew to like during "The Dalek Invasion of Earth". Knowing Susan, she'd be pissed. Twenty years of anger brewing because her grandfather ABANDONED her. Would you be pissed? I'd be pissed. I'd be so resentful. My god. And here she comes and here he comes and he's like "It's so good to see you" and she's like "It's so good to see you!"

That's just bad writing. It's just such lying about these two characters and it doesn't fit at all. That's the problem with this whole thing. She's in this, and there's literally no reason for it. Going through the rest of it, Susan doesn't do ANYTHING in the story, she's designed to be fan-wank (and person-who-trips, but that too has zero effect on anything in the story. But that does make me laugh every time, so I'll give it that).

Oh. And then a Dalek shows up, blasting its blaster and chasing after them. They run and eventually manage to push it into a corner, leading the Dalek to fire blindly (for no reason) and then to spin (for no reason) as its blaster goes off wildly (for no reason), leading its laser blasts to bounce off the mirrors, exploding it.

And that's the entire Dalek in this episode. It's pointless. When the Daleks show up it has to be for a reason or their power is wasted. This is a PERFECT example of that. And it's ridiculously stupid and entirely pointless. The discussion must have been: 20th Anniversary? Dalek has to show up.

Ugh. That's what's wrong with this serial.

The First Doctor and Susan then head off across the moors, eventually coming across the TARDIS, which is being occupied by the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough. They stroll in to find The Fifth Doctor collapsed (for the sake of story, he thought someone was trying to erase him from history).

The First Doctor starts yelling and getting angry about "young people being in his TARDIS." They break into a series of introductions including The Fifth Doctor (suddenly fine) barely giving Susan a proper hello (I'm not even a fan of Susan and them handling her annoys the hell out of me).

In a saving moment, The First Doctor turns to Tegan and asks her to get them all some refreshment (personally, I wish he had said "Make me a sandwich" (which is essentially what he says in terms of tone and such), but it's funny that we all know he thought it). That's some classic Hartnell Doctor right there. There's some boring exposition and arguing what to do while Tegan, Turlough, and Susan sit around eating food.

I would like to point out, that this is a ripe opportunity for The Fifth Doctor and the First Doctor to bounce off each other. Unfortunately, there's none of that. Comparing this to "The Three Doctors" (and really, how could you not?) Troughton and Pertwee are bouncing off each other constantly, and you really get a sense of their strengths as characters while also being highly resentful but respecting the other.

This scene has none of that. And really, let's assume for a minute that Hurndall is a convincing First Doctor (he's not). On the page, there is no spark between them as characters. They're arguing and I can't even bring myself to care.

From the First Doctor's perspective, they decide to head for the Tomb of Rassilon (that tower), The Fifth Doctor taking the middle entrance. He leaves with Susan and Tegan, but they come back after a bit, saying that the Fifth Doctor has been transmatted away.

Faced with no other options, The Doctor opts to head for the Tomb of Rassilon along with Tegan. They walk for a while (no really, this is what happens... Also she calls him old. How batters is that?) and then reach the Tomb and enter the main entrance.

Almost instantly, they find themselves in front of a checkered area that is electrocuted in places. Soon, though, The Master shows up, making The Doctor and Tegan hide as he leads a team of Cybermen into the tomb (Ah! So they, too, want the prize of Rassilon). The Cybermen try to cross and they all get exploded...

Except for the Cyberleader who tells The Master to get him across safely. And then The Master turns around when the Cyberleader is half-way across and does this.

It's pretty ruthless....

Looking for the safe way too, The Doctor and Tegan ask The Master for help. He tells them "It's as easy as pie" and then leaves. The First Doctor interprets that as "Pi" and then rattles off some of Pi's digits and walks safely across. That's some sloppy writing. I have no idea what Pi had to do with walking across that thing. But it was made such a big deal out of!

Ugh. I dunno whatever. Things happen in this serial that never made any sense, so whatever. They press on and reach the inner sanctum of Rassilon's tomb.

The Second Doctor:

The Second Doctor and the Brigadier (in this moorish place) see a Cyberman in the distance. The Doctor yells at the Brigadier to get down, but he's grabbed by a Cyberman. Luckily The Doctor manages to hit the Cyberman with a lead pipe enough to let the Brigadier go. They run off.

They head into a cave, the Second Doctor gives some more exposition to the Brigadier (expositioning that there are three entrances to Rassilon's Tomb: from above, from below, and through the main entrance. Can you see where this is going?)... But really, it's more an excuse to see more of his ridiculous fur coat.

"In Soviet Gallifrey, fur coat wears you."

The Second Doctor and The Brigadier traverse the dangerous dark caverns that lead into the under-entrance to Rassilon's Tomb. They are attacked by a Yeti (which is fun because of their classic Yeti adventure which was the Brigadier's first appearance). There's a cool trick with a Sparkler. They keep moving and eventually get inside. It's not that exciting.

Once inside, the two traverse the corridors where they come across Jamie and Zoe who tell them to turn back, lest they step forward and blink the two of them out of existence. Quickly, though, The Doctor realizes they're phantoms and illusions and ignores their warnings, leading to some awkward screaming as they fade away.

It's nice to see them again, even though it is for just a real quick bit. I think (having gone through a lot of this) that Jamie and Zoe are among my favoritist companions. Which they coulda had a proper job in this, but alas... (Also, Wendy Padbury (Zoe) is still RIDICULOUSLY hott even fifteen years later).

Having traversed and completed the many(?) trials of the Tomb, The Doctor and Brigadier finally enter the Inner Sanctum.

The Third Doctor:

The Third Doctor is driving through the foggy moors of this Gallifreyan Death Zone, along conveniently placed roads (did the Time Lords put them there?) when he comes across Sarah Jane. Who falls. Spectacularly. As if she's fallen off a cliff. This is what she falls down.

Now I'm all for suspension of disbelief and realizing that Doctor Who in the old days had zero money for its budget, but this stunt is just completely ridiculous. The original script apparently called for a cliff, but that wasn't in the budget, so they found a shallow hill that poor Elizabeth Sladen has to sell as much worse. That, alone, is pathetic. BUT to add insult to injury, The Doctor pulls out some cable out, ties it to Bessie, and PULLS HER UP THE PATHETIC HILL.

My God. That's dedication to a gag. But seriously, it's so... this show is above that. I don't say that the show always pulls it off perfect, but they figure out a way to make it work, and it ends up being silly but also cool. This is just fail.

AND! Because this is a 100 minute special there's no episode breaks. BUT. When divided into episodes, the first episode ends here, with her falling. I'm sorry, but that's just pathetic.

The Third Doctor and Sarah Jane drive along, meet The Master and don't believe his offers to help, so he leaves him behind (which is a nice touch because The Master was so much The Third Doctor's enemy... so they get a good moment). Unfortunately they're attacked by an unknown aerial laser blast (which they NEVER explain) and have to walk. From their position they'll have to go over the mountains to get to Rassilon's Tomb.

Oh. And they see Cybermen.

And then we get to what I consider one of the two best parts of the episode: The Raston Warrior Robot.

I don't want to say too much about it, except that if you're going to watch ONE youtube this week, make it this. Basically The Third Doctor and Sarah Jane are traversing the Mountain to get to the Tomb when they come upon this guy, and there's nothing about him that doesn't suck. Just watch this sh*t because it's CRAZY.

Couple things. One. How incredible was that? Seriously, one of my favorite things ever, not even in this watch-through, although that too. My favorite bit isn't even the teleporting either (although that's mad genius), but the part where this mother f*#$&er just CUTS OFF THE HEAD OF A GOD DAMNED CYBERMAN. That's awesome.

Oh. And to continue meaningless plot, there's a part where they grab the Robot Warrior's darts to use later. And they never do.

So then they climb some stuff (Sarah Jane complains about her vertigo some more, proving that even eight years can't fix falling off Thal scaffolding) and prepare to ZIP-LINE INTO THE TOMB OF RASSILON (from above; which is awesome). A Cyberman from the aftermath of the Raston Warrior Robot chases them. Sarah Jane rolls a stone at it (great gag; just a weak roll and then a shrug and a "I missed") before zip lining inside.

Her vertigo must be going nuts right now.

Now inside the Tomb, The Doctor comes face to face with Liz Shaw and Mike Yates from their old days at UNIT. That's a good touch. Part of the UNIT family, and The Third Doctor's "forgotten" companion (Liz was companion for only Pertwee's first season before she was replaced by Jo Grant). They entice the Doctor on, which, (if you compare it to the Jamie/Zoe phantoms) is weird. Do they want him to turn back (2nd Doctor) or come forward, beckoning him like Sirens? (3rd Doctor).

He's too smart for them, though and runs away. The Phantoms dissipate, leaving The Doctor and Sarah Jane to head into the inner sanctum of Rassilon's tomb.

The Fifth Doctor:

Backtracking a bit, when we last left The Fifth Doctor, he was arguing with the First Doctor about the TARDIS and going to move it. He decides to make for the Temple. He brings Tegan and Susan along for the trip.
As they go, however, they come across The Master. The Fifth Doctor (having had several run-ins with The Master over the past two years) is skeptical. And really, this scene is the first scene that just... grabbed me. It's one of my favorite scenes in the entire serial. Watch how much Davison owns it. So badass.

Oh, and the Susan falling part is just lame and amuses me. So I left that in.

Having been left behind, The Master offers himself as a partner to the Cybermen, willing to help the Cybermen to [do whatever it is they want to do; it's never actually explained and the Cybermen don't do anything at all in the story except provide tension/more Doctor Who legacy whatever. Their storyline isn't even dealt with], which establishes what happens later between The First Doctor and The Master at the chess board.

The Doctor arrives on Gallifrey, meeting with that Time Lord Inner Council. With some investigation and arguing that there has been Time Lord treachery, The Doctor goes all rogue badass, exposing the corruption of the Castellan, who is arrested once they find out that he has Scrolls of Rassilon, which have been banned.

They spontaneously combust in a minute, too.

Once exposed, however, The Castellan is arrested and escorted form the sanctum. But he doesn't get very far. He's killed by Time Lord sentries "while trying to make his escape" and "because he pulled a weapon on them" (which sounds fishy, but there's no point dwelling on it because it's never really dealt with. Did the sentries murder him? Is there a Time Lord conspiracy? Apparently no one cares. This episode picks up and drops storylines like it's no one's business).

Business done, The Doctor prepares to leave, but Time Lord President Borusa requests that The Doctor stay for... some reason or another. He requests that some arrangements be made for the temporary.

Quick interlude (because I don't know where else to put it):

At some point in all of this, Turlough and Susan see Cybermen building a bomb outside the TARDIS... to... blow it up? Which is mighty contradictory because just earlier they talked about using a Time Lord to pilot the TARDIS off the Death Zone. NOT IMPORTANT! All that is important is that there is a bomb.

I'd tell you where the characters are at psychologically, but this about sums it up.

Complaining/Whining: Same as Always

How We All Feel

On Gallifrey, the Fifth Doctor is unsettled. Nothing about any of this seems quite right. He goes to talk to Borusa's room to investigate the Castellan further because nothing about any of this adds up.

Unfortunately, Borusa is not in his room. Stymied because no one transmatted away and he didn't leave, The Doctor is left wondering where he is. He opts waiting for him and, while idly sitting around, tries the harp, which unlatches something. Not much, but a something. The Doctor decides to play the harp.

That about gets us out of the broken up storytelling. We shall continue from here.

I love this set.

The first Three Doctors, The Brigadier, Tegan, and Sarah Jane all find themselves in the actual inner sanctum of Tomb of Rassilon, which is a massive regal cavernous space and featuring Rassilon lying in state on a raised platform in the middle. There's a really GREAT scene between The Third Doctor and The Brigadier (because of their connection) where they meet each other again. But there's no time for much of that CHARACTER nonsense. Story calls!

Without provocation, The Doctors investigate that little thing in the middle, the Puzzle of Rassilon, which is written in Ancient Time Lord. Also, Ancient Time Lord has some Greek in it.

Also, there's still no jabbing and bantery interplay with them. I'm just saying.

Oh. And then The Master shows up randomly. He threatens people and The Doctors, telling them to show him how to obtain Rassilon's puzzle's promise of immortality. That is, until The Brigadier JACKS HIM IN THE FACE.

This shot is much hilariouser than I thought it'd be.

And that's literally the last thing The Master does in this serial. He gets jacked in the face and goes down. I don't really even know why he was here. That's kind of a problem. He did a good job, but I don't understand what his role was. And then he kinda ends and lies on the ground for the last twenty minutes of the story? Weak. Weak storytelling.

The Cybermen finish building their bomb, but not before the TARDIS trans-somethings into the Tomb of Rassilon (cuz someone lowers the forcefield). And that's the last appearance of the Cybermen in this story. Why were they even there? Don't know. Not important! Just look at the Cybermen! Isn't it cool that they're here.

On Gallifrey, The Fifth Doctor finally manages to unlock the music puzzle and gains access to Borusa's secret room. He heads inside and finds...

The Dungeon Master: Time Lord President Borusa

And as friend-of-the-blog Cassandra pointed out when she first saw him, he kinda looks like The Queen from Snow White. And it's kinda true. I love that crown though. Look at that thing. It's ridiculously silly. He LOVES to play dress-up!

Borusa spills the details of his plans. That he would bring The Doctors into the Tomb of Rassilon so they could figure out how to win the Prize of Rassilon and become immortal (so why did he need The Master or The Cybermen?). He also takes control of the Fifth Doctor (because he's wearing the Coronet of Rassilon, making him able to bend minds). The Second Doctor calls them both, telling them the Three Doctors have figured out the Puzzle to Rassilon.

The Fifth Doctor arrives at the Tomb with Borusa, and the other Doctors quickly figure out that he's controlling the Fifth Doctor's mind. The First Three Doctors combine mind-forces and try to stop the connection using one of those psychic links introduced in The Three Doctors. Unfortunately, there's no face-flickering. That almost would have saved the whole thing... But alas, the spell is broken, and all before the Fifth Doctor gets to eat Borusa's evil poison apple.

Rassilon, Genghis Khan of the Time Lords

But Borusa is still the Dungeon Master Snow White Queen! He demands to know how to obtain Rassilon's promise of immortality. The Doctors refuse to tell him, except for the First, who tells him to put on the ring that's currently on Rassilon's dead body's finger.

Rassilon, knowing the burden of immortality, appears as A GIANT FLOATING HEAD and confirms this, telling Borusa to put on the Great Time Lord's ring. Once on, though, the ring transforms Borusa into a statue, living in stone, trapping him in the Tomb for all eternity.

"Oh Immortality gives my Queen Brain a migraine!"

Rassilon then turns to The Doctors to see if they want their own immortality. In a funny moment they all say "No! No! No! That's okay! We'll be fine without it." Pleased (because immortality is not supposed to happen), he agrees to send them home.

And then comes a really disappointing bit. This is all the Doctor banter in the thing. So disappointing. So limited! The entire ninety plus minutes at this point has kept The Doctor's separate, discouraging synergy and bouncing energy off each other.


Also, there's a tag at end that involves the fate of the Fifth Doctor. And it's awesome. Great genius Davison here. Here's the youtube.

Love that bit. Had me giggling.

P.S. Also, I'd be remiss to mention the closing titles, the music of which start with the classic 60's/70's opener, and then halfway through transitions into the awesome Davison rendition. Which was awesome. Super classy. Super awesome.

What about the Doctors?: Oh this is a bit of a mess, now. Isn't it? Let's go one at a time and then deal with it all as a whole.

Starting with the Fourth Doctor (because he's the easiest to deal with at this point in time), it's a HUGE shame that he's not a part of this. He's the legendary Doctor and the most widely known (arguably) and he had done the job for seven years. He would have been a HUGE boon to this story, and it's a shame he didn't do it (more shame is that he later said he regretted it). Granted, I don't know how well the story would have shown up if he had taken the job because it would have had to deal with another character, and a Doctor at that, but apparently the first draft had him going to Gallifrey and stirring up the dissent. Which would have rocked. That said? The one scene he's in was pretty great.

Regarding the Third Doctor: I heard recently that Pertwee's Doctor is considered the "average" Doctor. I would agree with that. He's as good in this as anything I've seen him in before or since. He comes in, delivers a solid performance, and does a really good job. My only problem with him (really) is they keep him in this giant poncho/coat for the entire time and you don't get to see his awesome classy Victorian costume. But other than that, he's about as good as he always is.

For the Second though... I gotta say Troughton let me down a little bit. Troughton is totally one of my favorites (as I've said before), and while he does slip into the role effortlessly (after ten years, no less) and deliver a solid performance, my disappointment with his Doctor comes from the overall weak writing. Troughton's storyline in this episode is a series of walking while giving just heavy, heavy blasts of exposition. He deals with it quite well, but you can tell it's just not his strength and it doesn't jive with Troughton's performance. Troughton's era was a highly action/adventure time with energy and running around, but here he's trouncing across the moors and into caves while wearing an insane fur coat. He doesn't get to do the delicious goofballiness of his Doctor, and that all comes because the writing is just not up to par.

Regarding the First Doctor... Ummm... yes. For me, there's a problem with Doctor Who mythology where I want to see these Doctor team-ups (albeit sparingly), but the question comes from whether or not different actors can do such iconic performances. Hurndall's casting here is solid proof of how badly that could go. Having seen enough Hartnell to have a bead on his performance, it's clear that Hurndall... kinda missed the point. Hurndall's performance assumed that the First Doctor was an angry old man, and it just... It didn't work. It really, really didn't. I'm optimistic that one day someone might be able to pick out a nice First Doctor "replacement", but Hurndall here was just.... so so so so so disappointing and I was really upset at how poorly done it all was.

And that brings us, finally, to the Fifth Doctor. Again, it's no secret that I'm a huge Peter Davison fan, but based on the layers and layers of mediocrity in this serial, Davison stands out as a great performer. From his transmat beam "Must dash" line to his rustling about in Gallifrey to his handling of the receiving the Time Lord presidency, this is Davison as good as I've seen him and it was just so so delightful. It inspires me to want to watch more of him (as much as I already did already) and I can't wait for more.

So overall, The Five Doctors was kind of a bummer and I wasn't so much a fan. I think the script suffered from trying to cram too much stuff in and a weak story with some really awesome ideas (Death Zone, Tomb of Rassilon, Raston Warrior Robot). And really, I want a Doctor team-up. Not Doctors walking for an hour twenty and then they finally meet at the end for less than two minutes of conversation. That's just disappointing. It makes me want to re-write it and see the original draft by Robert Holmes. But ce'st la. There will be another, almost assuredly.

Next Time!: Sixth Doctor! Another annoying companion! A REALLY Dark Dystopia! And a tiny midget alien who needs to stfu. Also an acid bath! "Vengeance on Varos!" Coming next Tuesday!


  1. You saw the remastered version (DVD? - Check out Davidson and Dick's commentary), which helps and hinders: corridors at the beginning = lame, 'black triangle' vs. "caspar the friendly ghost" = draw. more S-J and Tegan = win, 4th directly back in the boat vs. Romana finding him = loss.
    As Dicks points out it was, given the constraints, made like a pantomime, with characters from Little Red Riding Hood, Peter Pan and Dick Whittington's cat all joining in.
    Also, if the 4th Doctor had been in it, he would have had most of the 5th's lines ("And very fetching it is too" - classic 4th).
    Susan's Sprained Ankle is a "Terry Nation Sprained Ankle" and was specifically designed to send up the early weak ankled companions.
    Elisabeth Sladden says Jon loved his Tartan driving coat so much he wouldn't take it off (hence the disparity between his chess piece and his costume).
    Apparently at that time, for the first time, old episodes were being replayed on TV, so Susan may not have been a total unknown, unfortunately her appearance just doesn't give her any sort of mid-story.
    My personal peeve is Susan gets so little time with her various Grandfather, and that there are so many useless troops of Cybermen. One should have been Sontarans (Saward kept putting them in!)
    And SJ and Susan's costume - eurgh.
    Five Doctors is a personal favourite, but should be seen in the same light as Time-Crash

  2. "In Soviet Gallifrey, fur coat wears you."

    I nearly pissed myself laughing at that one...!! Great review and great insight. Thanks!

    Chris from Toronto.