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Nov 23, 2005

Cut 'n' Shut

It's got the front end of a Doctor Who adventure, the middle of a pair of comfortable action slacks and the back end of a badly put together, amateurish, fan convention.

Hartnell"One day, I shall come back. Yes...." Yeah right. Blah, blah, blah. I always thought this preamble from Billy Bob was a neat way of introducing him, from beyond the grave, into the proceedings. But it just goes to underline how different his replacement is. Much like having Peter Jones' voice mixing it with William Franklyn's, on the last three parts of the Hitchhiker's trilogy. You just start to miss the original even more. Yes, that's right. You actually begin to miss Hartnell. Why they didn't just have rotating heads, pickled in time, spinning through the title sequence I'll never know. Oh, my dears, it's The Five Doctors, the TV equivalent of a fan convention. Loosely fitting cameo roles that don't really hang together off the back of any form of rigorous narrative structure with a plot so paper thin it would make supermarket own brand value loo roll look sumptuous and quilted by comparison.

Also, I'm not too sure whether this extended version should be viewed as the de facto standard version of The Five Doctors in the same way that Lucas re-crafted the first three Star Wars epics. The DVD was the first one the BBC brought out when they were still experimenting with this new fangled media. And is complete with authoring defects. Six years worth of DVDs later and at least they have mastered the process and ensured that all new Doctor Who releases are defect free... Oh, hang on...

ConsoleSo. To the action. Turlough's taken to sketching things on a pad. Black. BLACK! Like the blackness of the inky black sky. The marmalade... is stalking... my gnome of fear. The Doctor unveils a brand spanking new console, complete with state of the art BBC Micro monitors built in as standard, and proceeds to polish up his knobs. Given the celebratory/convention feel I'm actually expecting Dame Andrew Beech to prance out into the console room and maniacally twiddle the knobs whilst pretending he's the centre of all universal attention. Who else was at Panopticon 30 and felt like hurling things?

TeganTegan pops out in a dress that can only be described as a kaleidoscope. I dare say it's something to do with the high bombardment of positive irons, smashing into the ladies from the wardrobe department, that's created the strange material that was used in the construction of this little number. And from Turlough's sketching in the Eye of Orion we move from a black gloved hand, the universal symbol for evil incarnate, to some doddery old chap in a garden who's about to be hovered up by some sort of intergalactic Mr Whippy cone. And so it begins. One scoop or two? Actually, we'll go for several. And stick a flake in mine.

Troughton_1Next to be captured are the Brig and the Second Doctor. Why, in this reinvigorated version of the story, do we still have the wimpy sounds of a BBC Micro as the intercom alert. Troughton comes off the best in this I think. Always nice to see the Second Doctor in colour, even if he does look like he's skinned a Yeti to get that coat and we have to suffer a very bad version of the "doctor who?" gag.

PertweeNext under the cone is the Third Doctor and Bessie then Sarah Jane, being warned by that bastard dog. Not about there being intergalactic danger, but of the risk of going out in a see through mac. I wonder if David Brierley was too busy to star as the voice of K9? When Sarah says that her car's in dock does she actually mean it's in the dock, on a charge of being a very bad car? I take it she's still flouncing around middle England in that convertible rust bucket of a Metro?

BakerA pre-recorded Fourth Doctor and Romana are then swiped by the ice cream of temporal doom and, fortunately for the story, are trapped in some sort of clip show stasis field.

The be-gloved man is revealed to be using a trackball in place of standard mouse input device, perhaps he's been the recipient of a recent workplace assessment from Occupational Health from the department of Evil Despot Resources who have advised him on alternative input devices so he can achieve his Machiavellian plans without incurring a bad case of RIS. With all the players in place, and the Fifth Doctor being diminished piece by piece and wanting to be Whole Again (by the Atomic Kittens) Turlough discovers he has Two Hearts (by Phil Collins) and the whole scene goes bad as it descends into a middle of the road compliation album.

Ah Gallifrey. Gallifrey. Gallifrey. Home to the most inopportune named holiday areas since Butlins opened up in Kabul (bet the Death Zone is a bad name to sell as a desirable tourist destination amongst the travel agents of the galaxy) and pitiful indoor fountain/garden displays.

The Master joins the High Council. He's been offered a brand new regeneration cycle. And to seal the deal they offer him a special commemorative ashtray and a doorbell. The Seal of the High Council. How much better it would have been to give him the pet seal of the High Council and a bucket of fish to take to the Death Zone to find the Doctors.

Meanwhile the Doctors start their journey through the Death Zone:

     
  • The First Doctor ends up in some cheap hall of mirrors and Susan appears out of nowhere. Where did the Mr Whippy time scoop scoop her up from? Hurndall's playing a charactiture of Hartnell - with a dash of old man Steptoe thrown in for good luck. Just why is he wearing fingerless gloves? And when they escape, and get out onto the moor, how on earth did they not see the TARDIS from where they were? Is their eyesight that bad? Must be almost in a shit a state as Susan's ankles. Wonder if she'll sprain them again? Old brittle ankles...
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  • The Second Doctor and the Brig end up in a quarry and get felt up by some Cybermen through a glory hole in a dry stone wall that they just so happen to have stopped beside.
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  • The Third Doctor meets up with Sarah Jane in a mist and she proceeds to fall down a very gentle slope that still necessitates the use of Bessie to drag her up the slight incline. And then they meet up with "my best enemy". What would the Nimon say to that? Jehosophat indeed.

MasterWhilst the Master and the Cybermen meet up and agree to put the band back together, the Fifth Doctor makes it to the High Council's chamber and leaves Tegan and Susan to run back to the TARDIS. Watch out you don't trip over that.... oh well, never-mind. The First Doctor now takes over the Fifth Doctor's part of the quest but is saddled with Tegan, possibly the most oddest companion/Doctor combination since Richard Nixon travelled with the Sixth Doctor for a weekend.

Brig_1The Brig and the Second Doctor are set to explore the below entrance to the Dark Tower, going through Stump Hole Cavern in order to gain access. But they've still got to face another horror in the tunnels. A Yeti. Not controlled by the Great Intelligence, this time, but this lone Yeti thinks that the coat that the Doctor's wearing makes him look like a female Yeti. It's the Doctor Who equivalent of a Pepe Le Peu cartoon. You know, the ones where Pepe always falls for a female feline that's just had a white stripe of paint applied down her back.

RastonSarah Jane and the Third Doctor aren't faring much better as they come across a vicious Jamaican automaton with its own built in armaments and a rasterfarian hat. Yes, the Rasta Warrior Robot is definitely passing the dutche to the left hand side and dispensing shafts of hot lead from the right hand side. But I'm misunderstanding for comedic effect. Aside from the dodgy jumping effects I actually though that the Raston Warrior Robot cutting it's way through the army of Cybermen (in this case, more like Dad's Army in Cyber form) was actually fairly spectacular.

AdventuregameSo almost simultaneously the three incarnations of the Doctor and their respective companions arrive at their designated entry points in the Dark Tower. But there's one additional hurdle for Hurndal and Tegan, a weak Adventure Game style puzzle. Just what on earth is all this about? Pie. Pie?! It's all Greek to me. Dronga dronga. Following the dispatching of the Cyber army the Master then seems to tiptoe around like some crazed comedy villain. You almost expect there to be a sound effect dubbed on as he creeps around the place.

BorusaAnd to the grand finale, as Boursa, reveled to be the dark hand behind all this, pitches up with the Fifth Doctor and seeks the gift of immortality from Rassilon. Boursa seems to have become a little unhinged - he's gotten a touch of the Tony Blairs. Finally, I've worked it all out. It's actually a satire on Blair's premiership, how he thinks he can go on for ever and ever and even attempts to gain access to the tomb of Thatcher to steal her secret of immortality. Then it all kind of ends with Boursa becoming a face on a plinth.

Yes, that's just about all the sense it ever needs to make. Just lie back and revel in the parade of familiar faces from 20 years of history and enjoy the sights, sounds and, dare I say it, the smells of Who. Just don't concentrate too hard on the actual story otherwise you might just realize it's shit. Forty two years later and we're still here, discussing this little show of ours, only this time in blog form. Choosing to consort with other similar nutters on a rackety old web site.

That is, after all, how it all began...

The Bumper Book of Doctor Who Made-Up Facts has this to say about The Five Doctors: Terrance Dicks sub-contracted much of the work writing the complex story line to a team of crazed Ormolu Chimps, a very rare strain of the genus only to be found up palm trees in Rekiavic. He worked them to near exhaustion whilst he tanned himself in the land of the midnight sun.

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