Doctor Who #644: The Two Doctors Part 1

"Officially, I'm here quite unofficially."
TECHNICAL SPECS: This story is available on DVD. First aired Feb.16 1985.

IN THIS ONE... The 2nd and 6th Doctors visit a space station at different times. Androgums and Sontarans in Spain.

REVIEW: The Two Doctors starts, intriguingly, in black and white, around an old version of the TARDIS console. It's a real blast from the past. Of course then it confuses Doctor Who history with an obviously older 2nd Doctor and Jamie talking about returning to Victoria and bantering about the Time Lords, seeing as they're on a mission for them, something that feels very 3rd or 4th Doctor, but of course, the Doctor's people were never mentioned until the 2nd Doctor's very last story. This is the story that proves the existence of adventures between The War Games and Spearhead from Space (or does it? see Theories), and the production really goes for it, not bothering blacking up the Doctor's hair. Troughton is excellent, I dare say more like himself than in previous reunion stories. I do wonder if Hynes isn't a little old to be doing the "what's that, Doctor?" shtick. The program soon returns to color, and the TARDIS (does it look grayer to anyone else?) lands on a space station where a scientific think tank is fooling around with time travel, requiring Time Lord intervention. We never meet the time travel guys, only Dastari, the tank's Elton John-spectacled leader. Also on the station are Androgums, tribal cannibals, one of which has been enhanced to genius (and less hungry) level by Dastari. He seems to have given Chessene an ambitious streak that soon has her betray her master to the Sontarans, whose masks are getting worse and worse across the series. They soon fly to a villa close to Seville, Spain, which means it's the annual production holiday, and even Chessene says the location chosen doesn't really matter. She's right.

In comparison, the 6th Doctor's story moves like molasses in Nunavut. There's the fishing scene, the Doctor worrying about his mental health (again), an exploration of the now-abandoned station, followed by a trek through its infrastructure (between the sets and Peri's revealing costume and headband, it looks like an 80s music video), ending with the Doctor hung on wires and Peri dry humped by a hobo. The actors do try to inject some energy into the proceedings, but a lot of their dialog is bickering (or in Peri's case, complaining), and that only goes so far. Bottom line: Nothing much happens. Writer Robert Holmes seems to much prefer the other team.

I don't know what to make of Shockeye yet. The Scottish look is very odd, especially with a Scotsman among the heroes, and cannibals? Really? That is a strange subject for Bob Holmes to tackle, and if there's a theme about our exploitation of animals there, it's lost in the muddle. I mean, the Doctor brandishes a zucchini like a weapon and there's Oscar the butterfly catcher with the soul of a poet, but... The game of who's a primitive to whom takes second place to the creep factor of a humanish character talking about eating people. It's black comedy that falls flat. As for Oscar and the lovely Anita, well, what's two more characters taking us away from the nominal hero? If the goal is to feature two female characters stronger than Peri, then they succeeded. To end on a positive note, allow me to compliment the music in the Spanish sections, some nice guitar melodies - no synths! - that do a better job of evoking the location than the airy tunes of The Mark of the Rani recently did for England.

THEORIES: This story makes a pretty convincing case for adventures taking place after the 2nd Doctor's trial and before he is turned into Jon Pertwee, a theory known as Season 6B. From a pedantic point of view, it would explain why the Doctor looks older, why he can discuss his trial as a past event in The Five Doctors, and why he's working for the Time Lords and Jamie knows who they are. Robert Holmes confirmed 6B in an interview, and Terrence Dicks wrote 6B adventures for the BBC range of novels, while the TV Comic strips featured either adventures with Jamie alone or a 2nd Doctor in exile until the Time Lords go and grab him, obviously 6B stuff. It seems pretty clear from the "expanded universe", there really was such a "season". But it the onscreen evidence as conclusive? Consider: While the Doctor might have been put in the Time Lords' service after The War Games, why go through the trouble of returning Jamie to his own era with his memories wiped if you were just going to time-scoop him again for further missions (from the look of it, possibly years' worth)? And what's this about dropping Victoria off somewhere? Are they implying this is taking place during the Victoria episodes? Surely, Zoe would have been a better choice for a name-drop. There are several possible explanations. One is that the Time Lords who tried him aren't the ones who are sending him on missions. This would explain why the 6th Doctor suffers from the changes to his personal timeline, just like Doc5 did in The Five Doctors. Doc6 is in the Gallifreyan present, and it's the present-day CIA that has taken Doc2 and Jamie out of time to do their bidding. It's interference just like in the other reunion stories, something that will be wiped from the Doctor's memory later. It's even possible Jamie's memories have been tampered with and he only believes Victoria is waiting for them somewhere. Or go the opposite route, with the Doctor and Jamie taken out of time while Victoria follows her graphology course, and information dumped into their heads (and later removed) about a mission and so on. The characters look older because of the time differential established in Time Clash (when Doc10 meets Doc5), but what's been done to their minds prevents them from seeing it. Season 6B could represent a collection of Time Lord kidnappings at different points in his time line, from Season 5 (The Two Doctors) all the way to after his trial (The Five Doctors). It doesn't have to be a consecutive thing.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Great to see the Mighty Trout so soon after The Five Doctors, but a 3-parter in the 45-minute era invites major padding.



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