Doctor Who – The Three Doctors

Yes, it’s time for another classic Doctor Who DVD review thingy. This is one of the reissues in the Revisitations 3 box, along with a couple of other DVDs that are on my tuit list. The original DVD came out in 2003, and didn’t have a lot of extras, but if memory serves, it did come with a model of Bessie[1], so it wasn’t all bad.

Anyway, this was at the time, and still is, a significant story. It was the opener for the tenth anniversary series, and sets a few precedents. It’s the first of several multi-Doctor stories. It establishes more Time Lord mythology and history. And, perhaps more significantly, it frees the Doctor from his imposed exile on Earth. It was first shown in December 1972 and January 1973.

I won’t do a full run through of the story, but I’ll mention some of the highlights. The Brigadier gets to be very Brigadier-y (“I’m sure that’s Cromer” being a great line). The Doctor has a bit of trouble getting on with himselves[2], leading to some comedy bickering between Two (Patrick Troughton) and Three (Jon Pertwee). It’s left to One (William Hartnell) to keep some kind of order[3].

And it’s sad to say that William Hartnell was in very poor health at the time. He had good days and bad days, and it seems he eagerly agreed to take the job on one of the better ones. So his role was as an observer and adviser, appearing on the TARDIS scanner while perched in an odd pyramidal structure. Despite the fact that he was simply reading his lines in, he gives a great performance for one last time as the Doctor.

There is, of course, a very good reason why the Time Lords have broken the Laws of Time[4] and caused the Doctor to meet himselves. All their power is being drained into a black hole, and only the Doctors can help, etc.

Soon enough, the Doctors and their friends find themselves in the antimatter world created by the semi-legendary Time Lord hero Omega, who not having been killed in a supernova after all, is a wee bit cross with the other TIme Lords, and is seeking vengeance and a drama award. Yes, of all the Pertwee-era drama queen villains (Azal comes to mind), Omega is the biggest of them all. Come to think of it, he’s played by Stephen Thorne, who also played Azal.

Of course, our heroes triumph, the other Doctors are returned to their proper times[5], and the Time Lords give the Doctor a new dematerialisation circuit and restore his blocked memories of how to actually operate the TARDIS.

It’s all good fun, and fills its four episodes nicely. A proper celebration if there ever was one.[6]

Extra features include:

  • Pebble Mill at One – a 1973 interview with Patrick Troughton and assorted monsters
  • Blue Peter – Jon Pertwee talks to former companion Peter Purves
  • BSB Highlights – Former satellite TV service BSB (absorbed into Sky later on) ran a Doctor Who weekend in 1990. Parts of it are included here, including some cast and crew interviews, and an introduction from 80s producer John Nathan-Turner
  • The Five Faces of Doctor Who – trailer for a 1981 repeat season
  • BBC1 Trailer – a recreated version of the original trailer, based on a poor quality audio track
  • 40th Anniversay Trailer – the notes say this was included on the 2003 DVD, but it’s not listed there.
  • Happy Birthday to Who – A new making of documentary with cast and crew doing the usual stuff. Good fun
  • Was Doctor Who Rubbish? Fans defend against claims that Doctor Who had wobbly sets (pretty much all TV of the time did) and dodgy effects (occasional failures of the available technology to achieve the director’s vision). The short answer is “of course not”.
  • Girls, Girls, Girls – The 1970s in which Caroline John (Liz Shaw), Louise Jameson (Leela) and Katy Manning (Jo) talk about the troubles they had dealing with the rather more sexist attitudes of the times. Good to see Caroline John one more time.

[1] The Third Doctor’s distinctive yellow car
[2] Err, this is one of those cases where Douglas Adams’ contention that the real problem with time travel wasn’t becoming your own grandparents, but sorting out the grammar
[3] That’s long puzzled me, really. If you think about it, the First Doctor is younger than the other two, and less experienced, so why is he taking charge? Hmmm? Hmmm?
[4] Suggesting that these are laws of the “no parking” rather than “conservation of momentum” variety
[5] Presumably with memory alterations to prevent them knowing about all this before it happened
[6] Talking of which, next year should be interesting…

2 thoughts on “Doctor Who – The Three Doctors

  1. Pingback: Doctor Who – The Tomb of the Cybermen : Losing it

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