Doctor Who #1024: Doctors Assemble!

"Is there no end to this gibberish?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: Released on YouTube 23 May 2020..

IN THIS ONE... 14 Doctors have an emergency chat to save the Fourth Doctor from a collapsing TARDIS.

REVIEW: Released in conjunction with a global watch party for An Adventure in Space and Time, Doctors Assemble! now holds the record for most Doctors participating in an adventure together, albeit at a (social) distance, and yet interacting a lot more than any previous grouping did in whatever Anniversary program you'd care to name. But it does NOT hold the record for most Doctor Who ACTORS interacting in a story, because while David Bradley reprises his role as the First Doctor (and he counts as Hartnell's onscreen replacement), all the other Doctors are voiced by impressionists. Quite good ones too, for the most part (the last two Doctors are the least convincing, sadly)... Is Big Finish taking notes for when they can no longer get the real actors? (They must, because Jon Culshaw, here Docs 3-5, already plays the Brigadier in their audios. Might I suggest hiring Pete Walsh to voice the 9th, that's one of the most dead-on.)

James Goss' story plays with the COVID-19 crisis (as many of these Lockdown videos have) by having the Fourth Doctor unable to leave his TARDIS as it collapses in on itself, while something threatens the human race. He reaches out across time through the TARDIS' telepathic circuits to the 13 other Doctors, and they either concentrate to defeat the pan-dimensional entity attacking the TARDIS, or defeat the invasion of Earth, according to which team they're on, and don't ask me about the details because even after watching it a couple times, it's a bit of a muddle smothered in bafflegab. The sound quality varies depending on the actor's recording situation, and most annoyingly, the Sixth Doctor delivers the crucial info-dump required to understand the (anti)climax, and while he sounds fine at first, the quality if wretched by that point. I would have called back and made him repeat his lines more directly into the mike, personally. But it wouldn't have saved the plot, which is a slim excuse to involve every iteration and a delivery device for Easter Eggs and jokes. The plot itself then is by turns silly, boring and repetitive (as you fill in each successive Doctor on what's happening).

What we see is various CG TARDIS consoles/viewscreens with the Doctors' "profile pics" on them, even if the telepathic circuits are apparently communicating through Bunsen burners and hat stands. Can't really explain that, and some of the pics are rather odd. While the War Doctor next to empty rack of toilet paper graffitoed with "NO MORE" is a perfectly good (if already dated) joke, the fact they've photoshopped a young John Hurt into it is at odds with Doc5 calling him "Time Gramps". Doc13, in a cupboard, hiding from a Sontaran evokes her COVID message from a closet. Others reference episodes in various ways. Fine, but distracting on the first go-round.

Now I sound rather harsh for what is really a comedy skit, and I don't mean to. One thing they get absolutely right is the various personalities of the Doctors - Goss understands their voices - and with the general quality of the impressions, it really does feel like we have a good number of them in the room for real. You're quickly scrolling down to check the credits to see who REALLY DID participate. I do think it's a little cruel to have the First Doctor so confused, as it evokes Hartnell's sad appearance in The Three Doctors, there are some continuity flubs like Doc5 missing Tegan but still eating Adric's cooking, and frankly, since Lockdown gave us a beautiful funeral for Sarah Jane Smith, I do wish they hadn't mentioned her in this. But we also get a funny goodbye as the Doctors sign off ("Endless war" made me smile), the Doctor Who theme tune on spoons and recorder, and Doc3 reacting negatively to Doc13's "fam". There are jokes and references for fans of every era, and what, you don't have the 15 minutes to spare?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - In a way over-ambitious, but it's just a bit of fun, with some pretty great impressions.



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