The Five Doctors – 1983 – S20 – E7/7

imageNumber : Season 20, episode 7 of 7.

Which One : The 20th anniversary.

Cast : Doctor Who – William Hartnell (archive) Richard Hurndall, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker (archive) and Peter Davison.
Sarah Jane Smith : Elizabeth Sladen
Anthony Ainley : The Master
Tegan : Janet Fielding
Turlough : Mark Strickson
Brigadier : Nicholas Courtney
Susan : Carol Ann Ford
Zoe : Wendy Padbury
Jamie : Frazer Hines
Liz Shaw : Caroline John
Mike Yates : Richard Franklin
Romana : Lalla Ward (archive)
Borusa : Philip Latham
Flavia : Dinah Sheridan
Rassilon : Richard Mathews

Written By : Terrence Dicks, Terry Nation and Douglas Adams.

Produced By : JNT

First UK Broadcast : 25 November 1983

Length : 1:20 hour feature length special

Plot : The Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough are taking some much needed R&R, when the Doctor senses a disturbance in his own time continuum. Someone is literally stealing his previous incarnations from time and planting them within the deadly Games of Rassilon.

Whats good : A plausible enough setup reunites a huge mishmash of Doctor’s present and past, assistants and classic monsters.

Whats bad : Tom Baker didn’t want to be in it. Shame.

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Review With Spoilers : Five Doctor’s is the 7th episode 9 season 20 and features a veritable back catalogue, of the first 20 years of the show.

If you compare The Five Doctor’s to any of the other Anniversary Specials, then Five Doctor’s has to be the most ambitious in term of its scope; for attempting to reunite so many previous Doctors, companions and monsters – all under one roof.

It does suffer a bit though, for the sheer amount of characters jostling for position and some are relegated to disappointing cameos. But at least they are represented – even if it is just briefly.

Holding all of this together is Peter Davison, whose underrated turn as the 5th Doctor is usually unfairly overlooked (from a history perspective). He manages to underpin all of the elements of the story together and even manages to shine, alongside his acting heavyweight predecessors.

The 2nd and 3rd Doctors slip back into their Doctor characters, like a comfortable pair of old brogues. And the newly cast 1st Doctor manages to ‘Hartnell’ it up enough – to complement.

The 4th Doctor appears – briefly but only from previously unbroadcast footage from the unfinished Shada. His absence is explained, as the timescoop device failing and stranding the Fourth Doctor in a loop.

Out of the companions, Tegan and Sarah-Jane get the biggest shake here. The rest of them get no more than a look in, including; The Brigadier, Susan, and Turlough.

There’s a clever use of the dark ominous setting of Rassilon’s Tower to include clever cameos for Jamie, Zoe, Liz Shaw and Mike Yates as apparitions of the mind.

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“Like Alice – I try to believe two impossible things, before breakfast!” Fifth Doctor

Ainley’s usually overused Master character actually shines here, as the despicable turncoat who helps and hinders both the Doctor’s and the Cybermen, on their quest to claim the prize of immortality – from Rassilon.

The monsters get a fair crack of the whip here, too. The Cybermen and the Master, are the main villains of this piece but a Dalek, Yeti and a Rastan Warrior Robot also feature. Including the latters, impressive one-man demolition of an unlucky Cyberpatrol.

Five Doctor’s as an anniversary special is much better than its disappointing 50th Anniversary special – Day Of The Doctor; simply because it revels in attempting to shoehorn in as much Who history and cover all fan-bases.

In that regard, Five Doctor’s is flawed but still among the best episodes of Who – ever.

4.5/5

Old Doctor Who


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