Thursday, November 21, 2013

50 Years of Doctor Who, The Five Doctors - Or is it three? Two? Four? *UPDATED*

So we've now seen how Doctor Who set off, grumpy, kidnapping some teachers, and landing them who knows where. What a start. But the show grew from there.

Old companions would go. New companions would join up. Old Doctors would fall. New Doctors would arise. It was a process. One that would go on for decades. Leading us to the 20th year the show was on the air. 1983.

Now you may ask why I am skipping past the story, "The Three Doctors"? It's a good point. It has some similarities with "The Five Doctors". It is the 10th Anniversary story. It has the Doctor meeting up with his past selves (Though William Hartnell's family made it clear that a full on acting job was not in the card for the 1st Doctor at this point.). It has the Brigadier along. It involves the Time Lords, and their old business.

But...I'm not made of Time. And I have more of an old school nostalgic tie to "The Five Doctors". It was one of the two episodes that would get shown often on PBS fundraising drives, late at night. Many a time I curled up on the floor of the living room as a kid, watching "The Five Doctors" as I nodded off.

But I salute "The Three Doctors". It is an interesting romp for the series. As well, it' the last time we see William Hartnell as the Doctor in the show. It's also near the end of the era of the more alien and above it all Time Lords. And, it gives a great line from the trailer for "The Day of the Doctor".

(They also call back to this line in "The Five Doctors".)

So, let's get a blanket, turn down the lights, and enjoy some time with the Doctors.

"Sorry. Tom had to go spend a penny."

As I've said, the show was intended to herald the 20th year of the show. So they wanted to bring as many people back as they could. It is to the show's benefit and detriment. Some people ended up just getting cameos in the story. But even then the story is very crammed. So you don't get as much interaction as you might like. But for longtime fans it was and is a rare chance to see the Doctors connect and bicker, and have many old companions return. It is a celebration! ...And let's remember that it's not "Dimensions in Time" (The Star Wars Holiday Special of Doctor Who...Wait, at least Dimensions centers on the Doctors (3rd-7th Doctors). ...Anyway!

The show opens with a clip of the 1st Doctor (played by William Hartnell) commenting. He is promising that one day he will have to return. (It's a classic line from the end of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" story. Why he's saying it, I'll leave for you to discover.)

It's a nice moment. It calls back to the early years, and portends the returns we are about to witness.

And then credits start. Ah. Those early 80's Doctor Who credits.

I don't know why people complain. Glasgow is lovely.
The show then opens on a craggy and foggy expanse, with a tower in the distance. (I should note I am basing this recap on the Special Edition of "The Five Doctors". So if you haven't seen that version, this will look a little different than you remember.) We are taken into the tower, where braziers are lit, and a howling wind echoes. Something is coming.

We then go to a quiet little world where the Doctor (The 5th, played by Peter Davison.) is finishing work on the TARDIS. (The producers decided to spruce up and update the TARDIS interior for the anniversary.) He's polishing up all his new buttons and screens. Nice and shiny new.

With him are his companions of the day, Tegan and Turlough. Tegan chides the Doctor a little, wondering if the TARDIS will actually work now (After they first met, the Doctor spent quite a long time getting her home.). But she has a point, as the main doors are slow to open. (To more recent fans of Doctor Who, the main doors of the TARDIS, like in "An Unearthly Child", were large heavy things back in the original series. You had to hit a switch so they would open themselves.) 

We cut away again. (Hey, we have a lot of Doctors in a lot of timelines, and subplots. Get used to this.) We see the Doctor (the 1st, played by Richard Hurndall, who replaced the now deceased William Hartnell) walking in a garden. Then a strange form appears in the sky above him, and gives chase. But it quickly catches and carries the Doctor away. The 1st Doctor is gone.

(Now this strange form is a curious thing. Depending on the edition of this story you watch, what they use will change. Here it is a whirlwind. In other versions it is a spinning black triangle. Your preference in regard to this may vary.) 

The 5th Doctor can feel this happen. He's struck with a pain in his chest, and realizes that something horrible has happen. He's lost something.

In another time and place, the Doctor (the 2nd, played by Patrick Troughton) is visiting the Brigadier. It's the day that the Brigadier is retiring from military service, and UNIT. The Doctor decided he couldn't resist the chance to see and reminisce with his old friend.

But then they are set upon. The strange form that grabbed the 1st Doctor appears. The two run across an open area trying to avoid it, but it grabs the pair. The 2nd Doctor is gone.

Then we cut to another time, and the Doctor (the 3rd, played by Jon Pertwee) is driving down a road in his prized car, Bessie.

He's racing at high speeds, when he sees the strange form to. As it approaches, he ramps up his speed to escape. After a moment he sees that it's gone. But it's just gone over him, and then down on him. The 3rd Doctor is gone.

With each Doctor's disappearance, a game board somewhere has pieces added to it. The Doctors (and the Brigadier). But more are to come.

As each Doctor vanishes, the pain inflicted on the 5th Doctor grows. He finds himself struggling to make it back to the TARDIS. But he needs to get back, to find an answer to what is going wrong with him, and when?

The attacks continue, as the Doctor (the 4th, played by Tom Baker) is punting down a river, talking to his companion Romana. He pontificates for awhile, then the strange form descends. It makes a grab for the Doctor, but something goes wrong.

The Doctor seems to be stuck. The 4th Doctor is gone. The 4th Doctor is lost.

It frustrates whoever is plotting this sinister temporal crime. But they continue, seeking their next victim.

This time it is Sarah Jane Smith, an old companion of the 3rd and 4th Doctors. She heads out from her home, saying good bye to her robotic dog, K9. Then, down the road, the strange form appears, and snatches her.

As well, the 5th Doctor, has been barely able to work the TARDIS, sending it off. But then he collapses, not explaining to Tegan or Turlough where they are heading. Then the Doctor starts fading out. Before long, the TARDIS lands. They have arrived near the tower from the start of the story.

And the 5th Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough have all joined the game board.

 Now we come to the Time Lords. The High Council of the Time Lords is in council. The events surrounding the Doctor trouble them, they see a great danger arising from events. But President Borusa finds himself in disagreement with Chancellor Flavia and the Castellan on solutions. They have overridden him and brought in support to reach the Doctor.

The Master. And he's just incredibly amused to find himself a gust of the High Council. (He's assassinated a president. Nearly destroyed the planet...You know, Master stuff.) And then they tell him that they want him to save the Doctor's life. The universe is funny, huh?

The explain to him that the Death Zone is reactivated.

It's an area of the planet Gallifrey (the homeworld of the Time Lords) that is set aside and isolated under an impenetrable shield. Once, in the darkest days, it was used as an arena. The Time Lord's ancestors would grab creatures and beings from Time and Space and place them in the Death Zone to fight and die. But it has been shut off and ignored for ages.

Now it is activated again. And, it's being powered by the Eye of Harmony, the power source of the Time Lords. It is risking the safety of Gallifrey. So, someone needs to find out what's happen to the Doctor, and then open the shields/turn off the connection to the Eye of Harmony.

So, they turn to the Master, a tricky, evil, but clever being. One who could survive the Death Zone.

For this, they offer the Master a full pardon. He doesn't care. Then they offer him a full new set of regenerations. This interests the Master. (In an earlier story of the Master, the idea that the ability to regenerate was finite, was introduced. The Master had reached his end, but refused to accept his end. Leading him to compound his crimes. -- Sometime I'll have to write on my thoughts on the regeneration limits and new Doctor Who. It has yet to be ever brought up. And I don't think the show needs them.)

They explain that they will send him with the Seal of Rassilon (Rassilon trademarked EVERYTHING), to prove he is actually being honest. Also a transmat (Doctor Who universe teleporter) device.

Back with the 1st Doctor, he's lost in a maze of mirrored walls. He walks and walks, but is unsure where he is or where he's going. Then he see's a shadow. It's Susan! His granddaughter. She was grabbed as well.

But they aren't alone. Also taken and dropped into the Death Zone, a Dalek. And it is eager to exterminate the Doctor.

The two run, and then hide, waiting for the Dalek. When it approaches, they shove it into a dead end. Startled the Dalek starts shooting, hitting the mirrored walls, which reflects the shots back, destroying the Dalek, and opening the wall.

The Doctor and Susan look out and see the tower. Being Gallifreyans they know it well. They now know just where they are.

The 2nd Doctor is also wandering. He isn't sure where he is, but he has an inkling. Then a metallic hand grabs the Brigadier through and opening in a collapsed stone wall. The Doctor realizes it's a Cyberman, and pulls him away. They begin running.

When they can finally see the tower, he knows for sure it is the Death Zone. They now need to get to the tower. It is where the Tomb of Rassilon lies. And it's where answers to why they are there lie.

But the Doctor is unsure. Rassilon, while dead, could be watching them. He could be toying with them, making them play the Game of Rassilon.

The 3rd Doctor, lost in the fog, comes across Sarah Jane, who slipped down an incline. She's surprised to see him back, but happy to have found a Doctor.

Meanwhille, the 1st Doctor and Susan are making their way to the tower. On the way they make a discovery, the TARDIS.

Pleased to see it, they enter the TARDIS to find the 5th Doctor and his companions. The 1st Doctor reaches out to the semiconscious Doctor on the ground, and helps him up. This seems to help restore the 5th Doctor some.

Up again, the 5th Doctor realizes that he isn't sure how the TARDIS got to the Death Zone. Someone else must have brought it in. The 5th Doctor also gets to be reunited with his granddaughter, someone he hasn't seen since the days long before, when he was younger and grayer.

Man! He just knows how to
dress evil.
Meanwhile, the 3rd Doctor and Sarah Jane come upon the Master. He greets them. But the Doctor isn't having any of it. He thinks this is all the Master's doing. ...It seems like what he's do.

The Master shows the Doctor the Seal of Rassilon. But the Doctor isn't buying it, saying he just stole it. And when lightening begins striking, and the Doctor takes it as confirmation. (I'd say the Doctor was being pigheaded, as he is wrong,'s the Master...)

From here on out, it's three separate quests to reach the tower, and the Tomb of Rassilon. The 1st Doctor, and Tegan, head for the front door. The 3rd Doctor, and Sarah Jane, head for the entrance at the top of the tower (Always showing off.). And the 2nd Doctor, and the Brigadier, are heading into the tower by the underground entrance.

And the 5th Doctor? Well, he meets the Master and ends up getting transmatted to the High Council.

There, he updates them on what he knows, which is little. He also learns what they are up to. This begins his run in with intrigue in the halls of powers.

Meanwhile, a large force of Cybermen have been trapped in the Death Zone, and plot a course of action. Some are sent to try and take the TARDIS, trapping those inside. Others capture the Master. He then agrees to help them, by taking them to the tower.

Of course when they get to the tower, he's done with needing them, and has them walk into a trap. They cross a tiled floor, and are struck by a tremendous electrical force, killing almost all the Cybermen. The one remaining is shot dead by the Master.

Meanwhile, the Doctors face tests. The 2nd Doctor flees Yeti in the caves under the Tower. Then inside, he meets old friends lost, who are actually a trap to bar his way.

The 3rd Doctor escapes a deadly robot sentry. Then after sliding down a wire into the tower, he to faces friends from the past, that try to separate him from Sarah Jane.

Hi and bye, Jamie, Zoe, Liz, and Captain Yates. It was nice to at least see you.

Once he's bested, the trap that the Master used against the Cybermen, the 1st Doctor is also in the tower. And now the Doctors can meet up once again. Between them, can they solve this mystery?

What is the secret of the Tomb of Rassilon?

Who sent them all here? And, why?

And if Rassilon awakens, what will he wrought?

If you haven't seen this story before, I hope you will check it out, and find out. Because it is a treat to see the Doctors tripping over each other trying to show that they are the definitive incarnation of the Doctor, the standard bearer.

If you are interested, beyond "The Three Doctors" and "The Five Doctors", there have been other times that the Doctor has stumbled upon himself.

Later in the series we have "The Two Doctors", where the 2nd Doctor and 6th Doctor cross paths in Spain while dealing with the Sontarans.

In the new series of Doctor Who the 5th Doctor and the 10th Doctor end up meeting when the TARDIS has a little fault. It's a short video that was made for the Children in Need charity special in 2007.

And, of course, this continues up to this 50th Anniversary.

And in the audio drama, they also sought to cross the Doctor's timeline. Heck, you have all these actors coming in and recording stories, why not have them together?

Here are some of the stories that have done this. Check them out if you need some more Doctor.

Also there's The Veiled Leopard. It's an odd one. It doesn't actually have any Doctor in it (they appear, but don't speak). But it does have the 5th Doctor's companions facing off with the 7th Doctor's companions on conflicting missions for the Doctor. It makes for an amusing story. And it's recommended.

So, I hope you all enjoy a Doctor overdose. So many sources you can turn to before we even get to the anniversary, and "The Day of the Doctor".

So now let's look back at one more story. The story that acted as the 25th Anniversary story. "Remembrance of the Daleks". Let's she how it remembers the shows history.

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