Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Five Doctors

Tegan and the Doctor at the Eye of Orion
Carole Ann Ford as Susan with a NEW First Doctor.
After twenty years, it was time for a one-off special, and in the vein of ‘The Three Doctors’, ‘The Five Doctors’ provides an entertaining, fun story to celebrate a very special milestone. The fact that Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee were in it is a little bit magical. Tom Baker declined (in the end), and I must admit I think it might have been a little strange if he was in it. The use of the ‘Shada’ clips was a clever way around it and allowed the story to be called ‘The Five Doctors’. Add to that Richard Hundrell’s First Doctor, (Hartnell sadly passed away in 1975), and the thing works brilliantly. Hundrell is NOT William Hartnell, but similar in many ways whilst putting his own mark on the part as well.

Then Carole Ann Ford, Lis Sladen and Nicholas Courtney came back to reprise their roles, with cameos from Caroline John, Richard Franklin, Wendy Padbury and Fraser Hines. Plus Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti and Athony Ainley as the Master. It really was a celebration of all that had come before in the previous 20 years. A tough task for Terrance Dicks, but one he did a great job with considering all the things he had to include. His writing is very natural, and whilst it feels quite different from recent stories, it was a true ‘Doctor Who’ tale from a man who knows the show as well as anyone.
Jon Pertwee is also back.
I won’t go into the behind-the-scenes issues with Robert Holmes and the likes here, I will just look at this 90 minute special, which was slightly extended on the version I saw on the DVD. To the short comings firstly. It was sad to see Borusa turned into the bad guy, and Peter Moffat cast him with the fourth actor in as many stories (Philip Latham) who seems evil from the get-go to be honest. So this turn to the dark side was telegraphed and with the Borusas we have seen previously, it is rather hard to believe as well. Paul Jericho is back as the Castellan, getting brutally
And Pat Troughton!
shot on Borusa’s orders, and the garish Gallifrey/capitol sets are also back with a vengeance. Borusa also gets some crazy headwear at one point. A couple of dodgy direction points here and there – Susan spraining her ankle was perhaps more a nod to this oft-used plot device rather than anything else, but it’s not done or directed convincingly. When the Third Doctor meets Sarah, he pulls her up a slight incline using a cable and Bessie. To be frank it looks ridiculous and something else should have been done in my opinion if they couldn’t convince.
A couple of old companions cameo.
Aside from that, what’s not to like? Okay, the script isn’t amazing, ground-breaking stuff, but it didn’t need to be. It needed to provide something for all appearing Doctors to do, which it did admirably, and it needed to wrap things up nicely. It also did
that. The principle location, Wales, was a good choice. Certainly better than a quarry! Then we have a new TARDIS console, a huge step up from the previous one which had been used, I think, since Graham Williams took the reins, and to be honest was a poor cousin to the original console first seen in 1963.

It’s a wonderful nod to the past, Peter Davison gets a good run as ‘the Doctor’, as he should have. I agree with some disappointment that it would have been nice to have the Doctors sharing more screen time together. Pertwee and Troughton again are great together but they don’t  get that much of a chance. They both still retain what they originally brought to the role brilliantly, even if Troughton is a little more understated than he was in ‘The Three Doctors’. He is ten years older of course.

What else is there to say? This ticks a lot of boxes for me. Much better than the general feel of Season 20 too, which was rather bland at times despite the Guardian stories being rather solid.


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