Doctor Who #778: Time Crash

"Brave choice, celery. But fair play to you, not a lot of men can carry off a decorative vegetable."
TECHNICAL SPECS: Available as a special feature on the Series 4 DVD set. First aired Nov.16 2007 during the Children in Need telethon.

IN THIS ONE... The Tenth Doctor meets the Fifth in a short 8-minute episode.

A real treat for the fans, Time Crash, brief though it is, manages to elicit both laughs and tears from the reviewer, and I think works as well for new and classic fans alike. For the new fans who don't know anything about Peter Davison's former Doctor, there's Ten's mocking humor and timey-wimey plot convolutions. For classic fans, there's seeing Davison again, of course, and getting all the references, including a musical cue right out of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop when Five takes over, I just now noticed. And what works for both groups is the love letter to one's Doctor. It's definitely a piece of television that KNOWS it's television - something Moffat can be quite good at - so the Doctor as his own fan is metatextual to say the least. Is it the Doctor saying this? Moffat? Tennant himself? (Seeing as Davison would become his father-in-law, there's an added layer to the scene today that didn't exist back then.) Regardless, when the Doctor becomes a fan, he becomes us, and his sentiments, though specific to Doc5, can be applied to whichever Doctor is yours, up to and including Ten himself.

Obviously, which Doctor was willing and available played a role in the final result, but Ten and Five are perfectly matched for maximum comedy. Ten is a motormouth who, of course, gets on Five's nerves, his reputation as the exasperated Doctor well used. And yet they also have similarities, which Ten touches on, a play on how later actors are expected to craft the character from elements of past Doctors. I just can't see this scene working as well with Tom Baker (just sit down, Tennant, and wait it out), can you? According to the Doctor's own opinion of himself, Five is the first "adult" Doctor, more energetic than grumpy, a Doctor out of gloomy adolescence. That's as maybe. Five was really very grumpy, "his" Doctor obviously being Hartnell. By Ten's logic, McCoy was the first adult Doctor, which makes sense both in terms of numbers and performance.

Between the in-character exploration of the show's tropes and the really very sweet ending, what we have here is a companion piece to the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor. Not only do multiple Doctors team up, but they solve problems using timey-wimey memory. Both stories have Doctors comparing cosmetic spectacles as well. They're related to each other. Puzzle maker and puzzle solver, Moffat also uses this interlude to explain why RTD's naughty cliffhanger could happen (though clearly, the fifth Doctor's intervention changed history and the Titanic's design), AND solves the issue of why Doctors look older when met out of sequence - it's that darned time differential shorting out. Lovely stuff, I could watch these two crash into each other several times in a row. And in fact, I did. Amusingly, in the comments section, I refuse to ever do daily Who reviews. Well.

SECOND OPINIONS: My short original review, Your Were My Doctor, had me gushing as well.

REWATCHABILITY: High - A wonderful expression of fandom, both amusing and touching.


Madeley said...

Oh hey, it was me in the comments of the original who asked you whether you'd be doing daily Who!

SEVEN years ago!

A ha ha ha haaaaaarrrrgh

Siskoid said...

We were so young...

Jayunderscorezero said...

I love this minisode.

I'm not the biggest Who fan but I think being a comics fan definitely gives me an appreciation for the 'and here's several huge nods to things this same franchise was doing *several decades* ago, and how they've influenced what we're doing now' that a lot of TV shows don't get to go to. Well, apart from Star Trek.

Siskoid said...

The same feels as Trials and Tribble-ations, you might say.

Jayunderscorezero said...


Peder said...

I'm trying to figure out which other Doctor would pair well with Tom Baker. I want to say Christopher Eccleston but I'm not sure I can defend that. They'd be wildly frustrated with each other, I'm sure, but I think it would be entertaining.
Of course, as I'm writing this, I remember that I literally teared up during Day of the Doctor, but that little bit wasn't as much of a complete story as Time Crash...

Siskoid said...

If I could only pair each Doctor up once, and 10 and 5 already have...

2 and 11: So similar they'd be stealing each other's when I say run, run and be all resentful.

8 and 9: Probably end up kissing each other.

1 and 3: OPEN WAR!!!

7 and War Doc: SECRET WAR!!!

4 and 6: Pomposity overload.

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Great coverage!!

4 and 9 would be the war of the egos.

If you want 5 & 7, read "Cold Fusion"!

The Irredeemable Shag

Anonymous said...

I don't care which afterlife deities I have to transgress, I WILL see 1 vs. 3.

"So now the dandy takes refuge in the physical, the province of the weak of mind."

"Yes, well, there are some problems that can't be solved with a sneer and an insufferable attitude!"

Siskoid said...

Shag, 4 and 9 would be the one where neither actor shows up and we're treated to repurposed clips.

The Irredeemable Shag said...



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