The Three Doctors

So, ten years. I’ve managed to watch nearly ten years’ worth of Doctor Who in under ten months. This calls for an anniversary special…

When the very universe itself is threatened by an antimatter-spewing blackhole controlled by an ancient ex-Time Lord called Omega, who can the council of Time Lords turn to to save the day (and every other day)? By breaking the laws of time itself, they pull the Doctors of the past into the present. When one Doctor isn’t enough, it’s time for the power of three!

Omega, the man with no face.

Omega, the man with no face.

This is a very silly premise, purely an excuse to get William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton back for a special event… but I can’t help finding it a lot of fun. Frankly, any excuse to get Patrick Troughton back is fine with me, and he’s absolutely the highlight of this particular serial. He plays it perhaps a tad more jovial than he used to, exaggerated for effect I suppose, but he’s superb.

The Doctor's recorder quite literally saves the universe.

The Doctor’s recorder quite literally saves the universe.

William Hartnell is another matter. In 1972/73, he was very ill, and whatever role they had planned for his character was downsized to some pre-recorded segments, the idea being that he was trapped outside in a vortex and couldn’t join the other two in person. But this does suit his character well enough, as he is able to offer his wisdom and advice from afar. His eccentricities are largely absent here, understandably so – he gives quite a sober performance. I was sad to learn that this was the last bit of acting he did, and he sadly passed away a couple of years later. Quite remarkable that he managed this role one last time.

Trapped outside while in transit, the first Doctor can only offer advice through the Tardis monitor.

Trapped outside while in transit, the first Doctor can only offer advice through the Tardis monitor.

Still, it’s Pertwee’s Doctor that does most of the heroics, but he plays off of Troughton well, and their little arguments are amusing to watch – Troughton obsessing over his lost recorder and Pertwee losing his temper, it really shows the difference between the two of them. Naturally, the Brigadier is mightily confused by the whole ordeal, refusing to believe to reality of the situation happening before his very eyes. But meeting the Doctor he recognises from years ago, and trying to explain to headquarters, is fun. I hadn’t realised, but none of the UNIT lot had been inside the Tardis before this… and presumably, this is the last time they will.

The Brigadier is confused, often. He's great, though.

The Brigadier is confused, often. He’s great, though.

Having put their collective heads together, Omega is tricked into releasing them all and destroying his blackhole. Having saved the Time Lords, they grant the Doctor his freedom, ending his exile, and the Doctors of the past are returned to their time zones. Omega is a tragic character, revered for his work in making time travel possible, but abandoned by the very people he helped, and trapped forever in a world he created but cannot leave. It’s the sad side to this rather fun coin.

And it was fun. I got a kick out seeing these three versions of the character together, as I’m sure fans did back in the day as well. For once, I would have actually liked the story to be longer!

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