Hello, Wanderers, and welcome once again to the next installment of 50 Years of Doctor Who. We’re fairly speeding by the Doctors at this rate, though granted that’s because yours truly has been (lazily) choosing the few multi Doctor episodes that have been available to us thus far. Today, I present you with the second of these multi-Doctor episodes, this one meant for the original 20th anniversary of the show. Aw, back when there were only five Doctors. Appropriately enough, this episode is called The Five Doctors.
And yes, I did say episode. This was a one-off 90 minute special that the BBC did for Children in Need all the way back in 1983. Though I should point out that on that particular year Children in Need aired two days after the actual anniversary, so only the US audience got to see it on Whovian Day. Yeah, that’s right, I’m naming the day. Someone’s probably done it before me, but I don’t particularly care. Write it in your calendars people. Whovian Day – 23rd November. But anyway, I’m clearly just padding here, so let’s get to the actual meat of the review.
The special starts out on the Eye of Orion, one of the most tranquil places in the whole universe. Five, as we will call him, and his companions Turlough and Tegan are having a very rare vacation from the whole adventure thing. Well, everyone needs some downtime once in a while. And things are pretty relaxing, until Five is struck by pain and mentions that someone is drawing on his past selves. (We’ll stick with ‘past selves’ for this review, it’s far less complicated, though we will refer to each by number.) For those of you who haven’t guessed it yet, some big bad is interfering in the Doctor’s personal time-stream, bringing him to play in an ancient and forbidden game in the Death Zone on Gallifrey. One (here played by Richard Hurndall) is taken as he walks around a garden, Two is taken when visiting the Brigadier, bringing the Brig with him. As Three is taken, Sarah Jane Smith gets pulled along to go with him.
And then there’s Four. Now, here’s the thing. Tom Baker didn’t actually want to take part in the episode as he had played the Doctor for so long, he felt it was too soon to return to the role. Granted, in later years he’s said he’s regretted not doing it, but that was his choice at the time and this author has accepted that. That being said, he does appear in the episode, sort of. Clips from the unfinished serial Shada are used instead. Now, if we were to base our entire knowledge of Four on this clip what could we say. Well, he’s a bit alien, to be fair, with a decent knowledge of Earth but absolutely no sense of direction, or at least willing to claim the TARDIS hasn’t got any. He also seems to be in a romantic-eque type relationship with his companion, who at this point happens to be the second Romana, as played by Lalla Ward who was actually married to Tom Baker for a brief time. Commenting on the relationship, Ward said that she and Baker thought they were in love because the Doctor and Romana were. So… yeah, that’s a bit about Four for you. Hints at the romance in the series since the reboot, really.
And now on to the newest Doctor we’re meeting, Five. Five is a very personable Doctor, and much younger then his past selves. At the time, Peter Davidson was the youngest actor to be cast as the Doctor and it shows in his seemingly boundless energy. It does actually make a bit of a jarring scene when Susan reappears to see her Grandfather so young. And it is a bit odd when it looks a little like Five is accidentally checking his granddaughter out, but I personally think I’ve been looking at that scene wrong. The grin seems so ridiculously pleased at seeing his precious granddaughter again. Five seems the most proactive of the Doctors in this episode, but all of them get a moment to shine, and it’s great seeing them all working together to solve the problem at hand.
So would I recommend this episode? Well, yeah. It’s fantastically fun, and its clear that both the cast and crew were having a blast in its filming. It’s a great celebration for the 20th anniversary and I really think it’s one of the few Classic Who episodes that’s accessible for everyone. So, next time, we look at … Actually, I don’t know. I should get on that. Allons-y!
Z McAspurren (thinks we need to reverse the polarity)