|The five Doctors together on Bessie.|
‘The Five Doctors’ is the Doctor Who’s 20th anniversary special, and they don’t hold anything back going into one of the best stories to unite multiple Doctors.
An unseen adversary uses a device called a Time Scoop to capture previous incarnations of The Doctor, a number of his companions and even his enemies, including Daleks and Cybermen, and places them into the Death Zone on Gallifrey. Although they are able to capture the first three versions of The Doctor, the fourth Doctor and Romana become stuck within the time vortex. The three Doctors and recognise the Death Zone and lead their companions towards the tower in the centre.
Meanwhile the fifth Doctor his hit with pain as he feels the removal of his former selves from the timeline, forcing the fifth Doctor to travel to the Death Zone in the Tardis.
Discovering the reactivation of the Death Zone, and the resultant power drain that it has had on the Eye of Harmony, the Time Lord high council realise that multiple versions of The Doctor have been taken out of the time stream. Reluctantly they decide to send The Master into the Death Zone to assist The Doctor, agreeing to give him a full pardon for his crimes and a new set of regenerations if he does so.
|The fifth Doctor feels the loss of his other selves from the timeline.|
Inside the Death Zone the various versions of The Doctor, his companions and The Master must fight there way past Daleks, Cybermen and other threats to reach the tower at the centre of the Death Zone and solve the mystery of why they have been taken out of time.
‘The Five Doctors’ is a great episode for fans of the classic series, bringing together three Doctors and a handful of his best companions. Yes, only three Doctors are actually in the special. Unfortunately William Hartnell passed away before the special and as such was replaced with Richard Hurdall. Despite this he manages to portray the first Doctor well, and the inclusion of Susan as his companion helps to elevate him in that role.
Tom Baker is also absent from the episode, due to the fact that he believed it would be a mistake to return after only being away for two years. Baker would later go on to say that he regretted that decision. Instead his brief appearance was created using footage from the unused serial Shada, before his Doctor become trapped in the time vortex, effectively removing him from the rest of the story. Interestingly though a waxwork replica of Tom Baker was used in the publicity photos for the story, creating the perception that he would appear.
Seeing the return of both Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee is magnificent, and both appear to relish the return to the show and seem to have real fun in the story. They also bring back a lot of the chemistry that the two of them had in ‘The Three Doctors’ which, once again, is a joy to watch.
|The Master is forced to assist the Cybermen in their pursuit of the Doctors.|
Alongside the returning Doctors is also a number of returning companions, Sarah Jane for the third Doctor, the Brigadier for the second Doctor and Susan for the first Doctor. Sarah Jane is one of the all time greatest companions in the series and works so well with Pertwees Doctor, falling straight back into the relationship that the two of them had when she was his companion during Pertwee’s final series on the show. The Brigadier and the second Doctor work so well together that it is easy to see why the Brigadier is the Doctors best friend, with more bickering going on between them than any of the other characters. Finally we have the return of Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, The Doctors granddaughter and original companion, not seen since 1964’s ‘Dalek Invasion of Earth’. Fords return is probably the biggest treat as far as returning characters are concerned and detracts from the fact that the first Doctor she is with is not William Hartnell.
Alongside these returning heroes are a number of the shows most iconic villains. The Daleks make a brief appearance chasing the first Doctor and Susan whilst Cybermen prowl the vast plains of the Death Zone. The story also has the return of the Master in a role where he has to work along side The Doctor’s. As well as the return of these classic villains is the introduction of one of the shows most interesting and deadly creatures, on that is past due a return, The Raston Warrior.
|The Raston Warrior 'the most perfect killing machine ever devised'.|
The Raston Warrior is a Time Lord created robot that can move faster than the speed of light and kills a whole squad of Cybermen with little effort. Basic in design, just a man in a silver bodysuit, it is executed brilliantly in the way that it moves, leaping into the air before disappearing and reappearing elsewhere. Firing spears and cutting disks from its hands it kills a dozen Cybermen within minutes, without taking a single wound itself. Personally I would love to see more of this machine, I’d like to see what it would look like with today’s budget and technology, to find out if it was used as a weapon in the Time War.
With a story that contains almost a dozen central characters and introduces so many new things as well as re-using the old it is easy to imagine how ‘The Five Doctors’ could have gone wrong and felt clustered. Instead it spaces the action and character moments beautifully, giving everyone there own time to shine. The only real complaint that comes to mind, other than the fact that Tom Baker did not want to be included, is that the four Doctors spend the majority of their time apart, only appearing all together for the final ten minutes. Other than that, the 20th anniversary special is one of the best stories in the show. 9/10
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