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Nov 27, 2005

Nooooo! Not the Five Doctors!

5doc1OK, so the Master is sent to the Death Zone by the Time  Lords, right? And when he steps into the transmat he's wearing a black suit, right? However, when he arrives in Wales (sorry, the Death Zone) he is suddenly - and inexplicably - decked out in a big black cape!

Is this a continuity error par excellence? Why no! It's a...

...wait for it...


Der Boom Boom Tsk!

[the sound of tumbleweed drifting by]

Oh, please yourselves...

5doc3I've seen The Five Doctors more times than I care to admit. Partly because it was the very first story that I bought on VHS, but mainly because it's so damned funny. Now, I don't want to flog a dead horse, but if Mystery Science Theater 3000 had ever bothered to tackle some Doctor Who, then this story would have provided the perfect fodder: the heroically naff performances ("Not the mind probe!"); cheesy special effects (ice cream cones of doom); questionable plot devices ("Easy as Pi?"); a planet that turns everyone blind ("Look! It's the TARDIS!"); Philip Latham's diction; Sarah Jane's exciting incline-hanger. I could go on and on but all the other reviewers beat me to it.

In fact, Sean gave us an excellent 4-part MST on The Five Doctors without even realising it. I think we should make it our very first Tachyon TV Podcast. What do you think?

Anyway, I've decided to base my flimsy "review" on the shopping list that JNT gave to Robert Holmes when he originally came up with the madcap notion of making a 90 minute 'Now That's What I Call Doctor Who'. It's only when you see the ingredients written down like this that you finally realise just how ridiculous a concept it really was.

Doctor #1:
Ah, sweet Billy Hartnell. He was right, you know, he did come back. Yes, he did come back. It's just a shame that this tender kiss to the past is immediately ruined by the insane decision to recast him with an actor that looks absolutely nothing like him!

5doc2Doctor #1.1:
The decision to recast the 1st Doctor reeks of bad taste and even worse judgement. To be fair, Richard Hurndall does look a little bit like Hartnell from the back, but instead of trapping this incarnation in the timescoop, which any other sane person would have done, JNT decides that some bloke he once saw in Blakes 7 will do the job just as well. And he even has the balls to describe himself as "the original"! Just imagine what it would be like if Russell T Davies made the Ten Doctors today and he recast the 3rd Doctor with David Dickinson...

Doctor #2:
Troughton manages to slip effortlessly back into the role he made his own. Back in 1983 I didn't really have all that many references to go by, but with the benefit of hindsight it's like he's never been away. He comes out of the whole mess smelling of roses, his reputation completely untarnished (if not enhanced).

Doctor #3: 
Jumping Jehosophat! Pertwee does what Pertwee does best: he moans, he groans, he rubs the back of his neck. And as the 3rd Doctor gently patronises the hell out of Sarah Jane whilst simultaneously jumping to the wrong conclusion about the Master,  you'll discover that your hatred for this incarnation is just as strong as it's ever been.

5doc5Doctor #4:
The miserable old git refused to take part. But just you try telling me that in 1983 - as far as I was concerned he was in it! He was on the front of the Radio Times for starters, and he also turned up to that photoshoot (although I do remember thinking that he looked a little worse for wear). And there he was! Doing stuff I'd never seen him do before! Of course he was bloody in it! And Lalla Ward too!

Doctor #5:
As the incumbent incarnation it's only right that Davison gets the lion's share of the action. And besides, Tom pulled out. He also manages to rumble Borusa and he gets to take part in some of the better set-peices too, especially when he leaves the Master to deal with the Cybermen (a moment that borders perilously close to the sadistic).

Tegan & Turlough: Tegan gets to strut her stuff with Doc #1, while poor Turlough gets to watch the Cybermen slowly construct a bomb with only a 40-year old 16-year old for company...

Susan: The strangest performance in the whole story, bar none. Just how old is she supposed to be, exactly? 16? 40? 150? And the fanboy in me is always struck by the lassier faire manner in which the 5th Doctor and Susan initially respond to each other. Considering that she is his own flesh and blood and he hasn't seen her for centuries, he doesn't look all that thrilled, does he?

5doc4Sarah: Everything we love about Sarah is present and correct - questionable dress sense, nasal whining, unconvincing ankle-breaking and more "What is it, Doctor?" per square inch than all the over companions combined. Roll on April, eh?

K9: The time soft-scoop leaves the metal mutt behind, which is extremely convenient given that they are filming on uneven hillsides for the majority of this story. David Brierley was busy, apparently.

The Brigadier: Courtnay gives a typically stoic performance. Splendid chap - all of him.

Zoe & Jamie: Who cares if this screws up established continuity - it's Fraiser 'Three Up Two Down' Hines!

Liz Shaw: Scarier than most of the monsters.

Captain Yates: Virtually unrecognisable.

5doc6The Master: Boooo! Hissss! He's behind you! Ainley is on fine form here; his lock-jawed grin of absolute evil working overtime as he tries desperately to upstage all the other villains (with, it has to be said, complete success). And no one can prance down a flight of stairs quite like Tony.

A Dalek: You couldn't possibly stage a Dr Who panto without one of Skaro's finest turning up, could you? And as it's the 1980s the Dalek will immediatley blow itself up, further diluting any menace they once possessed.

A Yeti: Having only seen black and white still images of this legendary 60s beast, I had always found it difficult to believe that something that looked so fluffy and cuddly could be so scary. And you know what? I was right.

Cybermen: It doesn't take a genius to work out that Uncle Terry hates the Cybermen almost as much as I do. According to his hilarious Region 1 DVD commentary they were shoehorned in by Eric Saward at the last moment, and in a vengeful fit of pique Terry turns them into the most incompetent race of villains ever to grace the series. I don't know what's worse - their moronic wandering around the Death Zone, getting duped by the Master, being slaughtered by the Kylie Robot or getting sliced and diced by the chessboard of doom.

The Raston Warrior Robot: One of the cheapest and silliest "monsters" ever created for the series. Now you see him... Zipppp! ... now you don't! Brilliant! And strangely sexy, too.

Autons: Opps, they've gone way over budget, even without Tom. They'll have to replace an exciting action sequence with yet another talky scene set in the airport departure lounge that is Gallifrey. Oh well.

Borusa: Who saw that coming? Well, it was either him or Chancellor (ooo-eeeee-ooooo!) Flavia, and his hands kinda gave it away.

Rasillion: Ho! Ho! Ho!

The Bumper Book of Made-Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about 'The Five Doctors': JNT was going to recast the 4th Doctor with Mike Yarwood until Ian Levine phoned him up and reminded him about 'Shada'.


I could be wrong, but didn't MST tackle 'Death to the Daleks?'

Not officially, but fans have - head to http://www.mst3kinfo.com/ward_e/listalive.html

If you hit Ctrl-F and enter 'Doctor' you'll find that a whole bunch of Doctor Who episodes have been tackled.

How do Jamie and Zoe screw up established continuity? Their memories of him weren't completely erased.

Actually, I *believe* (although I'm not 100% sure) that the Auton sequence gave way to Sarah rolling down a slightly slope. The sequence went something like Sarah finding a lot of deactivated Autons strewn amongst some ruins, and goes over to one she thinks might be an actual body, before they all suddenly jump up and start threatening her, before Doctor Jon arrives to save the day.

Oh, and on the subject of the First Doctor, if Davies is ever mad enough to want that incarnation in the new series, how about Charles Dance, as seen currently as Tulkinghorn in "Bleak House"? The more I watch that series the more I'm convinced. Am I just losing it?

I think the problem with that scene is that Troughton remembers his trial but if he does then surely he's regenerated? I realise that Terry believes that the 2nd Doc spent some time doing some work for the CIA in between The War Games and Spearhead but this is where the whole problem rears its ugly head.

I need to find out if Rasillion (founder of time lords) was an enemy to the Doctor


If in doubt, Wiki for it.

Just watched this for the 500th time. Three words can sum it up every single time, no matter how many times you watch it;

"Haha lolz wtf"

Review ended.

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