Doctor Who Reactions: "The Five Doctors" (SPOILERS)

1)The most recent release of this story contains two versions - the story as originally broadcast, and a "special edition" with upgraded effects and some small additional scenes. I don't find too much noteworthy difference between the two, but it's an interesting experiment. The broadcast has two commentary tracks - one a "companions" commentary with Carole Ann Ford, Mark Strickson, Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney, in they talk about making the story and whatever else crosses their minds (Sample: Nicholas Courtney claims to have been the only person from Doctor Who to have attended Anthony Ainley's funeral) and a "hidden" commentary track featuring David Tennant, Phil Collinson and Helen Rayner, which is interesting to listen to, since you get to hear the makers of the new show talking utter fanboy drivel whilst slowly getting drunk. The special edition has a track featuring Peter Davison and Terrance Dicks, both of whom are always entertaining.

 

2)Nice to see the little snippet of "The Daleks Invasion of Earth" to get the real First Doctor in there. Richard Hurndall did OK, I guess. I suspect he probably worked better for 1983 audiences who wouldn't've seen much of the Hartnell stories for quite a while at that point.

 

3)They introduced another new console in this - it's funny how "start-of-the-art" it looked back then and how outdated it looks now.

 

4)Philip Latham does fairly well as Borusa. He vaguely reminds me of John Carradine a bit.Interesting that Borusa takes time out from his evil plan to make little figurines of everybody. Nowadays, they'd be selling replicas of those like a shot. Borusa's plan in general seems a little too complex - like he's one of these people who likes complexity for complexity's sake.

 

5)Always good to see the comedy team of Troughton and Courtney again - those two work so well together.

 

6)I feel bad for Davison - he spent most of this either being "unwell" or "dominated". Also, a shame there couldn't have been more interaction between Davison and Ford.  I'd love to see them bring back Ford in the new show, if she'd do it. She must be about as much older than Smith now, as Hartnell was older than her, then. It would make for an interesting dynamic, I think. I also feel bad for Strickson and Ford - I sure hope they got along, spending all that time stuck in the TARDIS together, doing nothing.

 

7)Who dressed Lis Sladen in this? A purple PVC raincoat? You'll notice that by the end, she'd ditched much of her costume.

 

8)Dicks claims that he had to fight to get K-9 and a Dalek in this. He seems somewhat bitter against Saward for pushing the Cybermen so much. Similarly, Ford says that they didn't want her calling the Doctor "Grandfather" I seem to recall something of a push at the time to deny that the Doctor had ever had a family as such - I suspect Saward, but cannot offer any direct evidence. Oh, well, at least the Third Doctor got to meet the Cybermen, sort of. They can go bakc and update "Earthshock" now.

 

9)It's lucky there was a bit of "Shada" that they could use. I can understand why Baker might not have wanted to do it, but it would of been cool if he had.

 

10)I like the music in this - one of those rare stories where the electronic stuff suits it.

 

11)I think Ainley was quite good in this - he's actually trying to do the right thing in this for once (albeit for a selfish reason), and he just gets dumped on. Per Terrance Dicks, the scene where the Third Doctor is so muleheaded towards the Master is Dicks' own little private jab at Pertwee, whoch Pertwee apparently didn't pick up on. "A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about."

 

12)Good to see Paul Jerricho again as the Castellan.

 

13)"Regeneration - a complete new life cycle." If they can do this, why is Borusa so het up about immortality? Couldn't he just keep on granting himself new life cycles as needed?

 

14)Lucky for the First Doctor and Susan that Daleks are hysterical idiots. I believe this is the first time we get a good look at a Dalek's insides.

 

15)That's really not all that much of a slope that Sarah Jane goes down, for there to be such a production about "rescuing" her. Sladen has said that Pertwee tended to prefer his companions to be more "girly", which is why Sarah Jane seems to have regressed a bit here.

 

16)Note that the transmat to the Death Zone appears to have given the Master a black cloak to wear. It must have sensed that he would be a little cold.

 

17)Tegan's the one wearing high heels, and yet Susan's the one who twists her ankle?

 

18)No mention of Kamelion in this at all - you'd think they could've wasted a line to say that he shut down for self-diagnostics or something.

 

19)"A Raston Warrior Robot - the most perfect killing machine ever devised." Dunno about that, but the Cybermassacre was pretty brutal.

 

20)I gather there was supposed to be some Autons in this as well, but they ran out of money.� Just as well, really, this story was cluttered enough as it was.

 

21)The business with the checkerboard makes no sense - sometimes the Master hops onto different squares, sometimes he just strolls across it.� Also, it's lucky for the Master, the First Doctor and Tegan that the Cybermen are also idiots, missing the Doctor and Tegan when they were right in front of them, and letting the Master trick them so easily.

 

22)One gets the feleing that the Doctor's real concern at the end is that he's afraid that the TIme Lords will make him get a job!

 

23)As for Rassilon - let's just say that it's been done better.

 

24)Some fun quotes:

  • "It's like Earth after a thunderstorm." That's because it is Earth after a thunderstorm.
  • "Mine was pretty unpromising, too."
  • "You've had this place redecorated, haven't you? Don't like it."
  • "May Week's in June." Oh, those wacky Brits!
  • "I'm being sucked into a time vortex." I'd just like to point out that this can be sung to the tune of "Moonshadow".
  • "I sometimes used to get a little tetchy. Fortunately, one mellows with age."
  • "No, not the mind probe!"
  • "Believe it or not, we were at the Academy together."
  • "I'm definitely not the man I was. Thank goodness."

 

25)Cliffhanger: The Doctor runs away from home! "After all, that's how it all started!"

 

Overall:

Terrance Dicks put it best: "It's a pantomime, but it's a good pantomime." Is it the best story ever? No, but it's enjoyable enough, and suitable for an "anniversary get-together".

 

[Part of list of Doctor Who episodes here.]

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"Nicholas Courtney claims to have been the only person from Doctor Who to have attended Anthony Ainley's funeral"

If true, a bit shocking. They only crossed paths once over the history of the show. I never did get to meet Nicholas Courtney, but I did sit across a table from Anthony Ainley at a luncheon once.

"Richard Hurndall did OK, I guess.� I suspect he probably worked better for 1983 auidences who wouldn't've seen much of the Hartnell stories for quite a while at that point."

Americans had not seen William Hartnell on the show AT ALL at that point. All we'd seen was Peter Cushing! "THE THREE DOCTORS" didn't even make it here until after shortly after "THE FIVE DOCTORS", when it was distributed as part of an incomplete Pertwee run (which started with "INFERNO" just to give you an idea).

The only other thing I've ever seen Hurndall in was an episode of Michael Palin's RIPPING YARNS. I wish I could reccomend the series, but like some of the lesser PYTHON skits he did, it has the bad tendency to stretch a 5-minute idea over 30 minutes, and most of Palin's stories follow the identical pattern of "starting out big and pretentious" and then getting completely bogged down in minutia so they go NOWHERE, painfully slowly.

I was surprised and a bit annoyed when I read, many years later, that Geoffrey Bayldon was considered for the Hartnell role. It seems he actually turned the part down in 1963 (!!!) and over a number of films where he's become a favorite of mine. I could see much more of "Hartnell" in him than in Hurndall.  But JNT vetoed the idea, because he felt UK audiences would too closely associate him with Jon Pertwee from another series the two had done together.  Stupid idea, really, as (as far as I know), nobody in America has ever seen that show. The only thing I've ever seen them in together was THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD.

"They introduced another new console in this - it's funny how "start-of-the-art" it looked back then and how outdated it looks now."

They'd have been better off going for "alien" rather than "80's Earth" tech.

"Philip Latham does fairly well as Borusa. He vaguely reminds me of John Carradine a bit."

I've seen him in a number of TV shows from the 60's, including THE SAINT, but the thing I've seen of his more than any other is DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS where he plays Christopher Lee's henchman "Klove". (It's funny, Patrick Troughton played another henchman with the exact same name in SCARS OF DRACULA.)

"I feel bad for Davison - he spent most of this either being "unwell" or "dominated"."

You have trouble remembering Davison's the star, when the other 3 Doctors ALL out-shine him. Not like "THE THREE DOCTORS" at all.  ("They reasoned your efficiency would be doubled." "Halved, more like it.")

"Also, a shame there couldn't have been more interaction between Davison and Ford."

Susan deserved a story all her own. Why bring her back, if they're not going to deal with her at all?

"Who dressed Lis Sladen in this?� A purple PVC raincoat?"

Oh yes, everybody's favorite WHO girl, and they find a way to make her look like a schlub.

"I seem to recall something of a push at the time to deny that the Doctor had ever had a family as such"

I recall the fandom sentiment. Absurd. I grew up watching the 2 movies, to me, OF COURSE Susan was his grand-daughter. Mind you, Roberta Tovey was a LOT cuter-- and SMARTER-- and BRAVER-- than Carole Ann Ford was.

"I think Ainley was quite good in this - he's actually trying to do the right thing in this for once (albeit for a selfish reason), and he just gets dumped on."

Ainley's acting is also much better, far more toned down and believable in this than in any story he appeared in until "SURVIVAL". There was some discussion and theorizing that his appearance in "THE FIVE DOCTORS" might have taken place after "PLANET OF FIRE", which would "explain" how he didn't get killed in there.

"Per Terrance Dicks, the scene where the Third Doctor is so muleheaded towards the Master is Dicks' own little private jab at Pertwee, which Pertwee apparently didn't pick up on."

So, did Terrence Dicks think Pertwee's Doctor was just too arrogant and obnoxious and full of himself for his or anyone else's good? (See THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD for more of the same.)

"Good to see Paul Jerricho again as the Castellan."

I can't remember how many times I've seen "ARC OF INFINITY", but it says something that I have absolutely NO memory of Paul Jericho as The Castellan in there.  Every time I'd see "THE FIVE DOCTORS", I wondered if Paul Jericho might be playing Colin Baker's character after he regenerated!

"If they can do this, why is Borusa so het up about immortality?"

Yes... I'm afraid the entire story makes NO SENSE AT ALL.  Oh well.

"No, not the mind probe!"

Doesn't that sound like a line swiped from some Irwin Allen show?

"Per Terrance Dicks, the scene where the Third Doctor is so muleheaded towards the Master is Dicks' own little private jab at Pertwee, which Pertwee apparently didn't pick up on."

So, did Terrence Dicks think Pertwee's Doctor was just too arrogant and obnoxious and full of himself for his or anyone else's good? (See THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD for more of the same.)

 

I gather in this particular case, it was more of a personal thing.  Dicks liked Pertwee personally, but found him hard to deal with sometimes - I get the impression that Pertwee could be a bit of a prima donna occasionally.

Back when there was allegedly a limit on the number (12) of regenerations a Time Lord could have, I thought either Borusa had gone through even the extension, or else the other Time Lords were lying to the Master to acquire his cooperation.

Either way, the subject was never brought up again and is probably a moot point now since the series revival. But we'll know for sure towards the end of the Thirteenth Doctor's tenure around 2020* or thereabouts.

<*Three seasons seems to be about the average tenure for a Doctor, although Matt Smith says he wants to stay in the role as long as the BBC will let him. But with the ultimate question of "Doctor WHO?" waiting to be asked and answered, only Steven Moffat knows for sure.>

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