Doctor Who: The Two Doctors

"I think your Doctor is worse than mine."

What a colossal mess of a story.

Robert Holmes was one of those writers who I always thought was at his best when he was left alone to do his thing. Unfortunately, John Nathan Turner was not the type of producer to leave people alone to do their own thing. So when he commissioned Holmes to write this story, he also gave him a shopping list that included the return of the Second Doctor and Jamie, the Sontarans, and a New Orleans setting which was switched for Seville when shooting in the U.S. proved too costly. For all his skill as a writer, Holmes struggles to make any of these various elements work together, in particular the returning Doctor and companion.

For a multi-Doctor story, this one seems to go out of its way to make sure the two Doctors are hardly ever in the same room together. They are kept apart for the majority of the story and when they finally do meet up, their scenes together are infuriatingly brief. The whole point of doing these types of stories is so that we can see the Doctor's different incarnations interacting with each other. If you're not even going to do that, why even bother bringing them together in the first place?

It was really a waste of Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines. Both actors slip effortless back into their old roles, reminding us of what it is like to have a Doctor and companion who actually get along with each other, but neither is really given much to do. Troughton spends much of the story either unconscious or tied to a table, while Hines simply takes turns with Peri asking the other Doctor to explain the obvious. All in all, it is something of a pointless encore for two of the show's most beloved characters. Maybe it would've been better if they'd been replaced with random Time Lord agents. At least then we'd be spared the continuity headache of working out exactly when in their timeline this story is supposed to take place.

Another thing they should've gotten rid of is the Sontarans. This story already has three useless villains, it really didn't need two more thrown in, especially when they look as terrible as Strike and Vral do. I know that the make up effects for the potatoheads has never exactly been Oscar worthy, but it used to be a lot better than this. These guys just look like they are wearing a pair of cheap Halloween masks that were rejected by the manufacturer for looking too naff for even cheap Halloween masks.

Aren't you a little tall for a Sontaran?
Notes and Quotes 

--The Doctor has business cards for Archimedes, Brunel, Christopher Columbus, Dante, Da Vinci, and others.

--The Sixth doctor continues to be more bloodthirsty than his predecessors. Shockeye may have been a truly loathsome creature, but it still feels wrong to have the Doctor kill him with his own bare hands. Oscar's sudden murder also feels unnecessary, violence simply for violence's sake

--As with 'Arc of Infinity' and 'Planet of Fire', I suspect this story was only set abroad so that John Nathan-Turner could get the BBC to pay for his holiday.

Jamie: "Look at the size of that thing, Doctor."
The Second Doctor: "Yes, Jamie, that is a big one."

The Sixth Doctor: "What's the use of a good quotation if you can't change it?"

Stike: "It is not easy being commander. The loneliness of supreme responsibility..."

Chessene: "Take care. Your purity could easily become insufferable."

One and a half out of four shopping lists.
--
Mark Greig is as shocked by the election results as you are More Mark Greig

No comments: