Doctor Who

Doctor Who: The Two Doctors by Robert Holmes (DVD review).

  For those thinking that they’ve got their DVDs mixed up, this story begins with the Doctor (actor Patrick Troughton) and Jamie (actor Frazer Hines) moving from black and white into colour, having left Victoria to do some culture thing arrives on Space Station J7 to convince Dastari (actor Laurence Payne) to stop the gathering of scientists to stop tampering with time until the Time Lords have debated the problem. Destari has also been upping the intelligence levels of one of the primitive Androgums, Chessene (actress Jacqueline Pearce), and unwittingly created a potential tyrant. Unknown to any of them, she has just killed off one of the security people and allowed the station to be attacked by the Sontarans. Jamie evades capture but not the Doctor who is seen as precious material in their time travel experiments.


  From the start, even when I saw this originally back in 1985, I had problems with this. It messes up with continuity rotten because the Doctor was still fleeing from the Time Lords at the time and certainly hadn’t mentioned them to Jamie. Why choose Victoria and not Zoe? At least it would be nearer the time of his capture. Even more remarkable, Peri is able to recognise Jamie later on so obviously, off-screen, the Doctor must have talked about his other companions. One has to wonder if the second Doctor came from a different reality until his memories were incorporated into the sixth Doctor.

  In the future, the Doctor (actor Colin Baker), after an unsuccessful fishing trip, decides to seek better fishing grounds, despite Peri (actor Nicola Bryant)’s objectives and promptly faints in the TARDIS. Waking, he realises there is some problem with one of his earlier regenerations that will also kill him. As such, he takes the TARDIS to Space Station 7 to find everyone dead and the computer wanting to kill them both. Getting that sorted out, the Doctor makes a mistake and is gassed and Peri is attacked by a creature in the ducts.

  Meanwhile, Cheesen, the Androgum chef Shockeye (actor John Stratton) and Sontaran commander Stike (actor Clinton Greyn) are on Earth with the second Doctor prisoner and have taken over a Spanish villa. Have I pointed out that Shockeye will eat the flesh off of anything, raw first and then cook it if adequate and wants to eat human?

  On the space station, Peri succeeds in knocking out the creature and reviving the Doctor. They discover under the rags, the creature is a disorientated Jamie McCrimmon and by various means, the Doctor discovers what is going on and that his second regeneration is in Spain. Having convinced butterfly stalker and restaurant owner Oscar (actor John Saxon) and his wife, Anita (actress Carmen Gomez) that they are undercover policemen sorting out the villa, they go on and end up being captured. Peri nearly escapes but is caught by Shockeye, determined to cook and eat some human flesh at long last.

  The Doctor discovers that both sets of aliens want an aspect of his DNA that will enable controlled time travel so they are not lost in the time stream. He allows the Sontarans to do and steal part of the device. He also finds out that they are planning a double double cross against themselves.

  Meanwhile, Cheesen orders Dastari to use Shockeye’s DNA to turn the second Doctor into a hybrid Androgum before being called away to see what the Sontarans are up to and imprison the sixth Doctor.

 Shockeye is not happy, thinking Cheesen had betrayed him, but discovering the Doctor is now much like himself, they both go to the local town to eat. The sixth Doctor rescues Peri and together with Jamie, they hunt his early regeneration and Shockeye and avoid Cheesen and Dastardi who need the second Doctor to finalise the hybrid process. After a dispute with the bill and Shockeye killing Oscar about not accepting foreign currency, he leaves. The second Doctor reverts back to normal. Can they stop the dastardly aliens?

  John Stratton is a revelation as Shockeye, with a distinctively different take on aliens with unusual culinary habits. This is no mean feat considering that actors he’s working with. There are some aspects of this story that has a pantomime feel but it doesn’t matter because it is a really effective story.

  For odd fact fiends, actors John Stratton and Clinton Greyn appeared in different episodes of ‘UFO’, ‘ESP’ and ‘The Dalotek Affair’ respectively. Laurence Payne was also the TV detective ‘Sexton Blake. I don’t think I need to tell you which ‘Blake’s 7’ villainous Jacqueline Pearce played, although in the audio commentary admits to not knowing what she was talking about.

  The audio commentary is sometimes governed by director Peter Moffatt and musical chairs from actors Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Frazer Hines and Jacqueline Pearce. Revelations include the cat badge on the Doctor’s lapel representing Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Cat Who Walked Alone’, Spanish filming done before studio filming and Spanish-made wigs because the British wigs didn’t arrive and reminisces about the various actors. I didn’t realise Lawrence Payne had done so much stage work or his expertise in stage fencing (that with swords, not barriers). A lot of the comedy was improvised and Peter Moffatt’s admittance that he, like Pearce, didn’t understand the science stuff. Oh and the likes of Androgum and Dastari are anagrams. Of what, you’ll have to buy the DVD. There is a lot of respect given for Robert Holmes writing skills and the bloodthirstiness of this story is no worse than many fairy tales.

  As director Peter Moffatt is also an actor, he is the reason why Peter Davison had to choose a different surname. There was a second take of Peri getting a bigger drenching to wake her up on the kitchen table but as it isn’t on the extras DVD doesn’t sound like it was recorded. There was some discussion about the Doctor killing Shockeye and the fans not thinking it typical and yet everyone misses the fact that Cheesen suffered a similar fate.

  The second DVD is loaded with extras. ‘Behind The Sofa’ covers Robert Holmes career as both scriptwriter and script editor on ‘Doctor Who’, picking out the highlights, of which there were many.

  ‘Beneath The Lights’ makes you aware of several things. The Doctor and Peri weren’t actually on a space station but in a ‘Top Of The Pops’ set and they weren’t alone as a floor manager appeared from time to time. This 25 minute feature shows what goes on for each take. Much of the problems lies with technical problems around the actors than them fluffing lines. You have to admire the patience of the actors in maintaining their composure and getting the same inflections time after time. A lesson for anyone of you out there for what’s involved if you want to become a TV actor.

  As a contrast, ‘Beneath The Sun’ shows what happens recording on location. Oddly, it was quieter there than the studio, with only one dog disturbing recording that we’re shown. A lot of the footage shown was to get sufficient coverage of the performances from different angles, establishment shots and close-ups. Oddly, there is only one shot of Patrick Troughton and then, he was wearing sunglasses.

  If you’ve ever wanted to know what a location manager does, let alone doing it abroad, then Gary Downie explaining it in ‘Adventures In Time And Spain’ is a must. He’s essentially the director and producer’s right hand man in keeping everything going smoothly from accommodation, permission to chosen sites and not to mention a level of luck in finding haciendas.

  Probably the oddest extra I’ve come across so far is the first episode and radio broadcast of ‘Wavelength’, focusing on the ‘Doctor Who’ story at the time, talking to actors and production peoples. The show was targeted at school pupils to show what kind of jobs in TV there were. Although I doubt if there were any photographs taken when it was recorded, I did think it might have been useful had they showed photos of the various people on screen.

  Apart from the main story, there is a lot to learn from this DVD. When you consider that there has only ever been four stories where Doctors are gathered, this will always be one for any Who collector. The fact that ‘The Two Doctors still holds its magic speaks for itself.

GF Willmetts

January 2014

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC BBCDVD 1213. 2 DVDs 3 * 43 minute episode story plus extras. Price: £ 5.00 (UK) if you know where to look)

cast: Colin Baker, Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Nicola Bryant, John Stratton, Jacqueline Pearce, Laurence Payne and Clinton Greyn

check out website: www.bbcshop.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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