Shows - Review
Doctor Who (1963-1989)
Episode: The Two Doctors (Part 1)
Review by: Michael Hickerson
Episode one of the Two Doctors is such a great set-up its hard to see how the story can possibly get any better from there. The banter between Troughton and Hines, the situation, the sixth Doctor's dilemma, the incidental music, the characters and their development. It's an almost perfect set up to a story that tries very hard to be a classic, but just barely misses the mark.
The second Doctor and Jamie are sent to a space station in the near future to try and stop the Third Zoners from developing the secrets of time travel. The Time Lords have decided that this cannot be allowed and we quickly get an interesting debate about the Time Lords and their policies and politics. Before you know, the station is attacked and the second Doctor is apparently killed, sending ripples out through the time stream that impact the sixth Doctor. The Doctor decides to see a doctor, leading him to the same station and he quickly finds that the Time Lords are being set up as the fall-guys to cause a war with the Third Zoners. Those behind this--the Sontarans who have taken refuge on Earth along with station personnel Chesini and Dastari, who have their own little plot to use the Sontarans and then betray them.
The Two Doctors is extremely heavy on plot, but it's also heavy on the character development. As is typical with any Robert Holmes storyline, the supporting characters are all given an interesting backstory and their little quirks and foibles come into play late in the story. It's clear that Two Doctors was made in a time when the production team knew that fans would tape and re-watch stories again and again because a LOT happens. That said, the pacing isn't nearly as crackling well done as the previous Holmes story of Caves of Androzani. There are moments when the story drags--most notably in the introduction and backstory of Oscar. Oscar serves as a bit of comic relief in an otherwise dark and morbid story and that makes his scenes all the more jarring and they just don't mesh well with the story.
It's nice to see Frazier Hines and Patrick Troughton back together. The two slip into their roles like an old shoe and do superbly. Colin Baker seems very assured here in his role as the sixth Doctor and even Nicola Bryant does well--though how much of that is her performance and how much of it is my fond memories of her in the halter top running down the rocky cliff face I will leave open to debate. Jacquelyn Pierce does a nice job of channeling Servalan for Doctor Who. But while the story is good and even borders on great, it's not a classic.
The subtext about the merits of a vegetrian diet and the raising of animals for slaughter is a bit heavy-handed at times--especially in the wrap-up. There's also the pacing, which lags at times. The entire chase through Sevilla goes on a bit too long for my liking. (Originally JNT and company were going to film this story in New
Orleans..but the funding feel through). And certainly this is one story that gave Michael Grade the ammo to shut down Who for the escalating violence. There are some rather graphic and disturbing images here--from the Sontarans death to the Doctor's kiling of Shockeye.
Overall, Two Doctors is a great set-up and not as great a follow-up. It has a lot of promise but it doesn't pay off in it storywise. But it's worth seeing just to see the great Patrick Troughton in his last performance as Doctor and to see Colin Baker really come into his own as the sixth Doctor.
Plus, there's always Peri...
Last Updated: 10/25/2006
Other Reviews by Michael Hickerson
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