“ Genre: Television / Theatrical Release: 1975 / Universal, suitable for all / Actors: Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Patrick Troughton, William Hartnell ... / DVD released 2003-11-24 at 2 Entertain Video / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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This is the latest of the old Doctor Who DVDs I have seen which is worth doing a review on. It was first made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first time Doctor Who was shown on TV. It was first shown in 1972/73 over 4 30 min episodes. For me the separate episode idea was perhaps not the best idea and would possibly be better if it was shown as one single feature length episode but that is only a small problem.
The way this differed from all other episodes is that all three of the 'Doctors' appeared in this series. Whilst Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor) and Patrick Troughton (the second Doctor) made up most of the screen time for the Doctor, William Hartnell (the first Doctor) made short appearances (which had been recorded earlier than the rest of the series) throughout; this was due to Hartnell's poor health at the time.
The Time Lords have a problem. Something appears to be draining the Time lords energy sourse and there is no logical explination to it, it defies all the laws of physics and time.
The Doctor also has a bit of an issue, two people have inexplicably disappeared, and so has half his lab.
The Time Lords need the Doctor's help but he can not do it alone and they can spare no-one to help him. Well who best to help the Doctor than the Doctor himself....
As the previous two incarnations are sent to assist the truth behind what is happening to both the Time Lords and to Earth becomes clear but will the Doctor stop arguing with himself for long enough to come up with a solution?
What I thought of it?
When we compare these old series to the latest run it is frankly clear that the current holder of the role has little or no real acting ability. Now a days they are overly reliant on flash bang special effects in order to cover for this. In these older series the holders of the main role had far better acting ability and frankly the writing was also much better than the utter dross they gave for the 2010 Christmas special which was so awful it is unbelievable the BBC dared to show it.
The main plot in this series although perhaps quite basic is not overly contrived as a lot of the newer ones have been and is easy enough to follow. I just wish that when they produced the DVD of this they had converted it to a single feature length episode rather than leaving it in the four episodes it was originally broadcast in. Whilst some scenes have been obviously used as padding in order to get to the 30 min episode time they do give some of the lesser characters such as the Brigadier some air time away from the Doctor.
Ok so the special effects are a bit rubbish. The aliens look like they have been knocked up by a presenter of Blue Peter who has just returned from a liquid lunch, the 'anti-matter' organism looks a bit like a man wrapped in bubble wrap then filmed very out of focus through different coloured filters and some of the walls wobble not to mention the main door of Omega's base looking distinctly not to mention moving like cardboard it is this kind of low tech simple stuff which endeared the original run to many and is part of what has made it cult viewing. The atmosphere developed for Omega's base does work well and it matches well to the personality of its creator. Whilst not exactly creepy as some of the sets have been when they have used basements etc the way the walls have been done is slightly unsettling.
In general the acting is very good from the majority of the main cast even some of those who play the more minor roles put in a good performance. That being said I have never been that convinced by Katy Manning in the role of Jo Grant (the assistant to the third Doctor) as at times she does appear to be slightly wooden. The few extras which are used only play incidental roles such as the other members of U.N.I.T hence all they have to do is stand here then run to there. Most of them are able to carry this out with few problems. The lack of the extras may have freed up some of the budget for the use of the special effects they did have. Whilst it is obvious how they did them now, at the time of the original broadcast they were probably very good. Well very good for a low budget BBC science fiction series anyway.
In this series we can see the different personalities of the first three doctors from Pertwee's rather authoritative technically minded and won't suffer fools gladly stance to Troughton's more excited over grown child like portrayal who occasionally acts a bit daft to give his opponent a false sense of security. As for Hartnell his personality here appears to be that more of headmasterly role refereeing an argument between the two head of house prefects in a public school. The fact Hartnell was seriously ill at the time was overcome by having his Doctor trapped in a 'time eddy' and having him appear on the TARDIS monitor in order to speak to the other two.
A further introduction here is that the time lords can communicate telepathically with another time lord. The three Doctors do use this to communicate with each other. Just why they do it is not really explained but it was probably quicker than just talking or rather arguing with each other.
It is easy to tell that as far as the three Doctors go it is Pertwee who has the main roll. As he was the incumbent Doctor at the time this is perhaps not surprising. I did feel at times this was a mistake and the problems of having more than one doctor was handled much better in the 'five doctors' which was made later on.
Some of the main cast:
Patrick Troughton - The second Doctor:
Out of all the series I have seen I think Troughton is my second favourite in the role. Whilst still intelligent Troughton played the roll as a more quiet thinker and planner whilst able to hide his real abilities he could always stay a few moves ahead of his opponent. Troughton's acting of the roll is possibly one of the best in this series. He did play the part with a bit more comedy than Hartnell did and was a bit more like a Peter Pan gone a bit wrong - he grew older but never grew up.
Jon Pertwee - The Third Doctor:
Pertwee is not among my favourites in the roll. Whilst not badly acted there is just something I just don't get about his portrayal. I just can't put my finger on what it is. Pertwee plays the roll as a lover of anything technological and has a more authoritative personality which was much more like Hartnell's portrayal than Troughton's
William Hartnell - The first Doctor:
Hartnell's portrayal during his time as the Doctor was more that of a stuck in his ways grumpy but kindly elderly gentleman. In this special he was possibly the most intelligent of the three and is quick to point out flaws in he re-generated selves. (quote "so you're my replacements, a dandy and a clown"). Although the part in this series for Hartnell was small he still carried his lines off with a good sense of authority.
Katy Manning - Jo Grant:
Jo is probably one of my least favourite assistants the doctor as had. Whilst at times she is a help to the Doctor some of what she comes out with is well below her alleged intelligence. Unfortunately I also found Manning's acting a bit wooden at times.
Nicholas Courtney - Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Probably most peoples favourite ally to the doctor. He's a typical army man in some ways and appears totally confused when he sees both doctors at once. Whilst the Brigadier is not the sharpest tool in the box he is willing to trust the Doctor well in most things. Courtney is fantastic in this roll and it is a pity he did not appear in more series.
Stephen Thorne - Omega
Once a Time Lord Omega has now to be frank lost his marbles. It is obvious he is not completely all there - in more ways than one. Highly intelligent but with a short temper. Is the second Doctor really wise to provoke him? Thorne is excellent in this roll. His big booming voice works exceptionally well for this character as dose his ability to make the character sound as if he only has the one emotion - rage.
Interview on Pebble Mill at one:
Here we have an interview with the man who comes up with many of the monsters used in the first 10 years showing what some of the early costumes were made of. This extra also includes an interview with the second doctor Patrick Troughton. Patrick talks about how he plays the part and what happened after he left the series after his three year stint in the role.
Done before this programme jumped around from one thing to the next every five minutes. In this there is a brief appearance by Jon Pertwee. Unfortunately Jon seems rather uncomfortable in this and as if he is looking for the nearest door. The rest of the segment is looking back at the first 10 or so years of the programme showing bits of each of the first three doctors.
Behind the scenes of 'The three Doctors'
This is an interview shown on 'galaxy' which was on BSB (before sky took it over). This involved a number of the writers along with Nicholas Courtney.
Jon Pertwee appearing at a convention discussing doing the part of the Doctor on radio after it was first axed from TV. This is as well as some of his other roles on film on TV and some of the behind the scenes gossip from his time as the Doctor. He is later joined by Katy Manning (Jo Grant) for more of the same.
There is also a photo gallery of the series showing the cast and sets.
In all this was a good series and it works well as a stand alone story for which it was used. The final scene does help the flow of the rest of the time which Pertwee was part of. The majority of the minor characters add to the story rather than distracting from it. Also the lack of 'big names' used a special guests for this special meant that the story centred on the main characters rather than the 'special guest' which I feel has been where some of the more recent ones have fallen down.