Doctor Doctor Who Guide

My interest in Doctor Who began after viewing the new series featuring Christopher Eccleston - and enjoying it I decided to look into the Classic Series and find out what the fuss was about - a year later and I'm a fan and have started collecting the BBC Worldwide DVD series, beginning with 'The Five Doctors' which I think - showing you Time Lord history, a look a the characters of the first five Doctors and many of the companions, as well as Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti and the Master - is possibly THE single best way to introduce a sprouting youngling Who fan to the world of classic Doctor Who - of course, like any Who story, it has flaws - but I think it works very well, as I will now demonstrate...

Like 'The Eight Doctors' Novel by Terrance Dicks, 'The Five Doctors' is a celebration of the years gone by, and you immediately sense that that is what you're about to be given when, before the titles roll, one of William Hartnell's most famous lines is given - 'One day I shall come back. Yes - I shall come back. Until then there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties - just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mind'...WEEEEWW-DIDDLY DUM, DIDDLE DUM...

First a look at the present TARDIS crew - the Fifth Doctor is my secondary favourite Doctor (Sylvester McCoy topping all others) and I was at first slightly sceptical of his boyish nature, and sometimes I even felt as though he sounded slightly camp, but as the story progressed I grew to admire him, until by the end I vowed to make sure that I would give him a fairly bulky slot in my Who DVD Collection (at the present he has the highest percentage). As companions go it was rather shaky - for some reason, try as I might, I can't seem to come to like Tegan at all, her loud mouth attitude putting me off from the word go. Turlough is a lot more calm and relaxed (maybe it was due to the Eye of Orion's positive bombardments, I don't know) and carried an air of respectability around with him.

The basic plot is very straightforward - a sinister looking figure made up of black gloves and arms which waves over Eighties futuristic equipment is using a shimmering triangle to carry the Doctor's incarnations and place them in the middle of a sinister arena known as the Death Zone on the Time Lord planet Gallifrey - in the heart is the legendary Dark Tower, tomb of Rassillon - "the greatest single figure in Time Lord history"[The Second Doctor]. Also the villain has placed many of the Doctor's past companions in there too, which leads me to something that has always got under my skin when it comes to the Five Doctors - the scene when Sarah Jane falls down a ledge and the Third Doctor rescues her by pulling her up with a rope and Bessie - can it be called a ledge? Ah yes, Pertwee rescued Sladen valiantly from the horizontal slope! Not only does she obviously force herself to role down the hill, but surely she could have climbed back up on foot without needing any help from a rope-pull! To be honest Sarah Jane has never been my favourite companion and I fail to see what the fans see in her so much. Anyway, a look at the past Doctors...

The First Doctor was a real let down. According to the inner leaflet of the DVD it states that Hurndall's interpretation of Hartnell's character is excellent - to be honest this grumpy old pensioner had cleanly cemented his place in 'my worst Doctor so far' category. But then I hear great praise of William Hartnell, and watch clips of his era, and find him to be a very likeable Doctor and he is slowly climbing up the ranks. The Second Doctor made a highly entertaining debut into my experience of him. Although he is, I have heard, very different in the multi-doctor stories to his own era, I still find him to be a very fun and amusing little man - particularly when he is reciting an old Gallifreyan poem to himself, [Brigadier] "Are you in pain, Doctor?" [Second Doctor] "Age has not mellowed you has it, Brigadier?" In fact the whole way through, the endless humour exchanged between both the Doctor and the Brigadier is priceless. Moving on to the Third Doctor, I've never been a fan of Pertwee to this day. Being one of the all-time great Doctors, I was very let down by his overall character. There's very little in the way of humour, so from my earliest memories of watching clips from the Pertwee era he didn't seem to lighten the mood and I always found his stories to be particularly chilling. However, 'The Five Doctors' is very much the three Doctors, with the Fifth Doctor working behind the scenes in the Capitol, because, expecting an epic with five Doctors all together in one big adventure, the Fourth Doctor merely gets a sluggish rowing scene with Romana in a boat and that's it - wasn't impressed.

As regards to the villains - the Dalek's appearance was far too short for my liking and didn't create the slightest feeling of tension of fear at all, as was the case with the Yeti. The Cybermen had a lot more to do, but even they didn't seem at all powerful or fearful although the scene with the Raston Warrior Robot [obviously a man in a suit] slaughtering them all was particularly good. Finally, the Master's little story here works well - for most of the story I was led to believe that he was the evil traitor, and his constant failings to be accepted by the Doctors brings him in the end to turn on them and try and gain immortality for himself.

But the highlight of 'The Five Doctors' for me is when that panel opens up revealing the dark room. The Fifth Doctor steps through, and after an adventure of Daleks, Cybermen and Doctors, you get reminded of that weird room with all those models of the Doctor and that eery music kicks in once again - brilliant.

Overall, I find 'The Five Doctors' to be an excellent celebration and introduction for Doctor Who and works very well.

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