Doctor Doctor Who Guide

There are so many reasons why I love the Two Doctors I could chat about it ad nauseum. One of the best things about it is its utter uniqueness in Doctor Who history. There is quite literally no story like this one (whereas there are quite a few Caves of Androzani's and Talons of Weng Chiang's), a story which doesn't play by the rules of normal Doctor Who, that contains very little action and adventures but instead explores the plot ideas and characters so vividly. That abandons any sense of coherence for a slice of non stop indulgent fun. That uses dialogue so accurately that the script itself is worth gold. The Two Doctors doesn't want to be a safe runaround (but alas in places it touches upon this fabulous Doctor Who mini-genre), it wants to throw unpleasant images and concepts at you and expects you to accept them and move on.

One of the reasons I feel people moan about this story (and yet admittedly it had received critical acclaim in recent years) is the awkwardness behind some of the more 'adult' scenes on display. Shockeye's blatant cravings to eat a human is a uncomfortable reminder of our own obsessions and taking the metaphor one step further we see him lust after such a "fine, fleshy beast" laying her out on the kitchen table to have his wicked way. It becomes even more disturbing when we realise he craves a "jack" even more (and Jaime is then laid out on that exact same table whilst Shockeye tortures him horribly. This from the same man who bit into a live rat earlier in the show and held it up with a huge bite mark in it...very disturbing. The character of Shockeye is little more than a caricature but he is written (and played) with such utter conviction that the story takes on darker, less Doctor Who-ey shades than we are used to. 

Then there is the lack of plot. What? Lack of? I think not. It's actually a lovely plot and enjoyably complex. The only problem as far as I can see is the complete diverge from the plot as Doc 2 and Shockeye go into to town for some food. People bemoan that this story is too long but I must digress, yes it feels padded in places but if we started chopping unnecessary scenes we would be deprived of so many priceless scenes. I couldn't cut anything from this story justifiably. Doc 2 baiting Stike is totally pointless in the scheme of things but then we would miss Troughton's astonishing ability to switch from comedy to drama and back to comedy again in the blink of an eye. A few TARDIS scenes could be snipped but then we wouldn't be able to laugh as Colin abuses the machine in exactly the same way Troughton did earlier. And as for taking away the restaurant scenes....never! Some gorgeously placed black comedy in amongst the horror elsewhere and the death of Oscar, a scene I now celebrate because of its ability to get saddo fan boys so worked up. Even the obvious blood pouch in his shirt is just perfect. 

Bryant and Baker seem so much more comfortable with Homes' knowing hand to guide them. Those early TARDIS scenes are priceless with some the most rewarding dialogue they were ever given. I just love the Chris Columbus gag but the whole sequence about pin galaxies is also a treat. It's quite incredible how much Baker compares favourably to Troughton actually...all the tense scenes on the station are enhanced by his haunted reactions to everything. And all that talk about how brutal he is is just nonsense...look how he rushes to rescue Peri at the end of episode one or the scene that opens with him caressing her face to see if she's okay. Doctor nasty isn't making house calls today. 

Another thing this story manages that almost no other in the last four years has is its ability to have FUN. Its almost like a Doctor Who summer holiday with the amounts of running around in glorious Spain. With lots and lots of well scripted and acted comedy scenes and the gorgeous sun spilled landscape the fun just keeps coming. The last episode is a particular delight as things move back to the hacienda with lots of bluffs and double bluffs as characters are bumped off horribly (but memorably). The whole story is a bit of an indulgence in the end, not absolutely needed in the grand scale of Doctor Who but without it that infectious, enjoyable side to the show would be a sorrier place. The show is stuffed full of those little character bits, scenes like the celebrated one in Remembrance that 80's Who severely sacrificed in favour of action set pieces. Oscar's lovely speech about moths, the Doctor's reaction to the end of the universe, Jaime's attempt to get a kiss from anyone...lovely, lovely moments.

And lets not forget all the comedy that actually works. How funny is the scene where the Doctor keeps babbling and Peri is trying to listen to the horrible moanings that are echoing through the service duct. Scary but very funny. And only Robert Holmes could drive so much comedy from his own race, the Sontarans, they take themselves so bloody seriously (and nobody else does!!!) it makes Stike's eventual, horribly embarassing quadruple barreled death (stabbed, covered with acid, electrified by the time machine and blown up in his ship!) all the more wonderful. Shockeye's discovery of his bloody leg is the last straw, so funny it hurts. But the script is littered with well placed witty lines..."Centuries!!...if gonna take that long i'll see if Jaime's okay" is Peri's reaction to the end of the universe, Doc 2 and Shockeye discuss the delights of "Shepherd's Pie" apparently cannibal dish!, even better is how Troughton grates on about "monkeys" and later we see Peri chomping on a banana!!! Its long past time Doctor Who let its hair down after three years of serious (lets say dull) SF. 

This is probably the most entertaining story of Doctor Who's last ten years. Watching today we can critisize the amount of violence, the 45 minute episodes, the gratuitous location work but why bother. A story filled with so many rewarding moments, so much humour and horror, that deliberately flouts accepted Doctor Who law (continuity, realistic violence, genuine laughs!) to tell a great story should be celebrated. So I shall.

And I can't go without mentioning two of my favourite Who sequences...Cheseneye reverting back into an Androgum and lapping the Doctor's blood off the floor and the Doctor being chased through the hills of Seville by a knife weilding mainiac who uses the otherwise arbitary moth storyline to superb effect as he cyanides his victim to death. Doctor Who was never this totally brave again and thank god...the fans would probably have a heart attack.

Filters: Television Sixth Doctor Series 22