FOR THE SECOND
DOCTOR, THIS STORY
EITHER 'THE TWO
DOCTORS' DVD (BBC
DVD1213) RELEASED IN
OR 'BRED FOR WAR' DVD
BOX SET (BBCDVD2617)
RELEASED IN MAY 2008.
experiments into time
travel aboard Space
Station Camera, the
second Doctor and
Jamie come under
attack from the war-
Elsewhere, the sixth
Doctor and Peri also
decide to pay a visit
to Camera. They find
discover Jamie, half-
crazed, hiding in the
ducting. And he tells
them that the Doctor
has been murdered...
The Two Doctors
16TH FEBRUARY 1985 - 2ND MARCH 1985
(3 45-MINUTE EPISODES)
The Two Doctors is a truly great selection for the sixth Doctor’s second DVD release. I’m a big fan of Colin Baker and in particular of the much maligned Season 22, and The Two Doctors is a real classic in every sense of the word. Robert Holmes provides a wonderful script that does not feel contrived like previous multi-Doctor adventures - the two Doctors simply bump into each other as it were, as one would assume is inevitable with time travel. Furthermore, the location is beautiful; the supporting cast are fantastic; and, best of all, Patrick Troughton, Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, and Frazer Hines all work so very well together that the story leaves you longing for more adventures with these two Doctors and their respective companions.
However, as was the case with much of the 1985 run, these three episodes do contain a lot of violence and a lot of death. The Doctor even kills Shockeye in cold-blood – an action which really enraged many viewers. I think what makes it so disturbing is that Shockeye is
an Androgum, which for all intents and purposes is a human with red eyebrows and rice crispies on the face. Whilst blowing up a Dalek or driving gold into the heart of a Cyberman is exactly the same in principle, on television the Doctor’s act in this story feels more like the murder of an actual person rather than the destruction of a ‘Doctor Who baddie’. Still, Shockeye had it coming, I reckon. Harsh but true.
Aside from a great, action-packed plot, the whole story is infused with individually brilliant moments. The affable café owner Oscar being killed by Shockeye in one touching scene stands out in particular, as does the Sontaran battle fleet approaching the space station with brilliantly evocative ‘battle music’ playing in the background. And on top of that, we have the second Doctor cursed by an Androgum Inheritance which causes him to become obsessed by food; Jamie desperately trying to get a kiss from practically every woman in the story; and, best of all, Baker’s Doctor considering the end of the universe (“…never more a butterfly…” ) which, especially when contrasted with his killing of Shockeye in the final episode, demonstrates what an intriguing, complicated, and profoundly alien character the Doctor is.
“Goodnight, sweet price...”
On the first disc this wonderful story is presented digitally remastered with a wonderful commentary featuring Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Frazer Hines, Jacqueline Pearce (Chessene), and director Peter Moffatt. Baker is very entertaining in particular, as is Hines (when he is involved, that is). The accompanying production subtitles are - as ever - superb, offering even the most jaded of viewers a lot of fresh information about the production of the story that is absolutely fascinating. The disc also includes an isolated soundtrack which, given the juxtaposition of traditional Spanish music and futuristic ‘Sontaran battle music’ is interesting, if nothing else; as well as an amusing little extra, A Fix with Sontarans, which is essentially a whimsical mini-episode of Doctor Who starring Colin Baker, Janet Fielding (Tegan) and a young Doctor Who fan by the name of Gareth Jenkins, lifted from a contemporaneous episode of Jim’ll Fix It.
Above: Disc two's flood of special features
The second disc contains the highly-regarded Robert Holmes documentary, Behind the Sofa - a programme crafted to the Restoration Team’s usual lofty standards and featuring contributions from Chris Boucher, Terrance Dicks, Philip Hinchcliffe, Barry Letts, and Eric Saward. The forty-five minute feature takes a look at each of the stories that Holmes wrote (or re-wrote, as was often the case) for the series, right from his debut script The Krotons
all the way up to his unfinished script for the final episode of The Trial of a Time Lord.
Curiously - and thankfully! - no mention is made of The Power of Kroll though...
The disc is then filled up with three other lengthy featurettes, Beneath the Lights, Beneath the Sun, and Adventures in Time and Spain, each of which chronicles the production of The Two Doctors. The first is the best of the bunch, containing out-takes and other footage from the studio recordings. The second is similar, though it instead focuses on the location shoot in Spain and the quality is not as good. The latter featurette focuses on Gary Downie (Production Manager) and his memories of recording the show, which I did not find all that gripping to honest. Also included is a photo gallery containing some previously unseen snaps, and a radio documentary concerning the making of the story, Wavelength, which actually features some rare interview segments with Patrick Troughton.
On a final note though, as much as I love The Two Doctors I really wish Holmes would have put more thought into how the continuity of the second Doctor fitted in with things – the production subtitles on this release give the distinct impression that Holmes deliberately contradicted the series continuity in order to portray the Time Lords as even more duplicitous than we had already seen them, actively using the Doctor to interfere on their behalf.
Dicks later rescued things somewhat with his novel Players, which posited that after the trial seen in The War Games, the Doctor was rescued by the Gallifreyan Celestial Intervention Agency who offered him limited freedom in exchange for carrying out certain tasks for them, such as putting the brakes on Dastari in this story. Although rather far-fetched, this does explain the apparent discontinuity here, as well as the second Doctor’s cryptic comment to the sixth at the end of the story: “some of us have earned these little privileges”. Even so though, the point still stands - you should not have to churn out a far-fetched spin-off novel for your television show to make sense!
Above: God bless DVD photo galleries...
And so if you can put up with some head-scratching continuity, The Two Doctors DVD is a real treat. Even if you are not a big fan of the Colin Baker era as I am, the DVD is worth purchasing for the excellent Robert Holmes documentary alone which focuses primarily on the almost universally popular Hinchcliffe / Holmes era of the series.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Terrance Dicks’ 2005 novel World Game crystallised the already-popular theory that following his trial at the end of The War Games, the second Doctor’s sentence was suspended whilst he carried out a number of top secret missions for Gallifrey’s Celestial Intervention Agency. Following World Game, the Doctor was reunited with Jamie – memories duly restored – who would aid him in his missions, including the one depicted in this story.
At some point thereafter, the Time Lords’ sentence was carried out: the Doctor was forcibly regenerated and then exiled to 20th century Earth, and Jamie was returned to his native time and place, his memories of his TARDIS travels erased. It has never been stated whether or not the Doctor remembered his post-War Games employment beyond his enforced regeneration, though this seems unlikely given the sixth Doctor’s ignorance of events demonstrated in this story and the agency’s need for the utmost discretion.
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