Doctor Who: Revisitations 3: Part 2 (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros could pass up joining in with at this irrestistable threesome...
Doctor Who had been on the air for a decade, narrowly avoiding being canned at the start of the Jon Pertwee era simply because there wasn't anything else to replace it with. The show was still popular and the transition to colour and the Earth-bound stories that kicked off the 1970s were going down well. It was decided that the tenth anniversary of Doctor Who should be marked with a story that brought together all three actors who played The Doctor and have them all working equally to make a story that would go down well with the fans - well, that was the intention, anyway...
The Three Doctors sees the Time Lords' home world of Gallifrey under siege, facing one of the greatest threats to their civilisation and the only way to get them out of their sticky predicament is to break the First Rule of Time and allow The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) to meet up with his two previous incarnations (William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton) and hope that their combined talents will allow them to defeat one of the greatest minds that ever existed.
For this anniversary celebration, it was decided that The Bristol Boys, otherwise known as writing partners Bob Baker and Dave Martin, would pen the script. Martin and Baker's most significant contribution to the world of Doctor Who would come a few years later when they would create a character who would be loved and loathed in equal measure - K9, but their second biggest Doctor Who creation would have to be vengeful Time Lord, Omega. Omega was one of the archetypal villains who were originally heroic, but fell from grace and turned to evil; Omega is essentially Lucifer, but rather than performing an evil action and being reviled, Omega was lost to the Time Lords and revered as a hero, but Omega was not actually lost and the eons of time spent in his own private hell turned him into a hate-fuelled figure, hell-bent on wreaking revenge upon his people "I should have been a god!", he roars at one point. Actor Stephen Thorne really gives Omega and appropriate sense of grandeur, with his incredibly theatrical voice and powerful delivery, but where the really impressive work comes into its own is where Thorne is called upon to show Omega filled with rage and despair; never in the show's history had an adversary been depicted with such breathtaking fury, and we can't remember anyone else coming close to this level of intensity after this story, either.
The Three Doctors has many problems, but the main one for Doctor Who fans is that there is something decidedly "off" about the performances of the three leads; William Hartnell was not a well man at all and it was remarkable that they were able to coax the performance he ended up giving out of him considering the mental and physical toll that arteriosclerosis had taken; he really does look ill, to the point where sitting him in a draft might be enough to trigger a regeneration. Hartnell is all-too obviously reading from cue-cards and he is looking off-camera when he reads the lines, but there is still some of the irascible fire in him, even if he seems to be surrounded by a rather sad aura that is somewhat distracting; despite this, his First Doctor acts as a patriarchal figure, stopping his two subsequent incarnations from squabbling like children.
Patrick Troughton seems to be playing a slightly caracaturish version of the Second Doctor; Troughton was one of the quintessential jobbing character actors and had left the role four years before - in that time, it almost appears as though he had forgotten quite how he played the part, accentuating the impish and more childlike aspects of his Doctor and sacrificing other traits that made the character more balanced. It's almost certainly not entirely Troughton's fault that the Second Doctor is not quite the person he was, the chalk-and-cheese aspect of Troughton and Pertwee's Doctors were obviously accentuated in the script to provide a thread of comic relief. Troughton's Doctor was never really like his original portrayal in the multiple Doctor stories until his final appearance in the series, The Two Doctors.
It has been said that there are two types of actor - the character actor and the leading man; Trougton and Pertwee demonstrate this perfectly, as Troughton was the character actor and everything he did was performed with great skill and absolute integrity (sometimes despite the material he had to work with). Pertwee fell into the 'leading man' category, with a certain charm and star presence; this is not meant to damn Pertwee with faint praise, as he is quite frequently magnetic and his thespian talents were served well during his time on Doctor Who, it's just that when he is put alongside as accomplished an actor as Patrick Troughton, he always comes off second best. There are certainly times during this story when Troughton effortlessly - and intentionally - upstages Pertwee and you can actually see Pertwee physically bristle and his nose wrinkle with displeasure.
Over the years, there have been many rumours flying around about how Pertwee and Troughton got on (or didn't get on) during the filming of The Three Doctors; Pertwee supposedly only agreed to the idea as long as his Doctor was the main focus of the story; the approach to dialogue was also an issue, with Troughton attracting the displeasure of his successor by playing fast and loose with the dialogue, whereas Pertwee stuck to what was written on the page with an almost autistic sensibility; Nicholas Courtney has said that both actors were professional and got on with things after an initial moment of tension when they first met up for the story. Perhaps we will never get the full picture, but fans can pick and choose out of the many rumours to suit their own personal views.
The rest of the cast are fine, with Katy Manning acting as a sort of peacemaker between the feuding Doctors and reliably provides the necessary wide-eyed bewilderment required of an assistant - she also gets to furnish this story with the almost-contractual "flash of underkeks" in episode one. Nicholas Courtney is suitably blustery, doubly so with having more than one Doctor to deal with and gets to provide The Three Doctors with one of the show's most memorable lines at the end of the episode. It's always great to see loveable teddy bear Sergeant Benton, played with customary nonchalance by John Levine; the Second Doctor had never met Captain Yates, but you'd have thought that the Third Doctor would have asked where Yates had buggered off to during this particular crisis...
The Three Doctors is a curious beast, almost as though the idea of putting the three actors together was the primary concern, and the rest of the story an afterthought. You can imagine the cries of “Yes! Yes!! They’ve all agreed to do it! Shit… now what do we do?” The idea of having all of the incarnations of The Doctor had been kicking around, and it was decided to actually produce a story that had this concept as a way of celebrating Doctor Who on air for ten years (despite the fact that the first episode went out at the end of 1972 and that the tenth anniversary would have taken place in November 1973). Pertwee and Troughton agreed, and William Hartnell said yes, but this was during one of his more lucid periods and his health was worse than most people on the Doctor Who production team had realised. The idea of having all three Doctors uniting and using their collective intelligence to defeat Omega, one of the greatest Time Lords ever to exist, was suitably epic, but without Hartnell having any sort of active participation, the results - particularly during the climactic showdown - are disappointingly feeble. There is a moment just before the big confrontation where the Time Lords prepare to sent the First Doctor in to join his subsequent selves, but this doesn't happen and the audience feels cheated; no matter how many times we see this, and we know what's going to happen (or not going to happen), we still hope that Billy will appear and sort things out.
The Three Doctors could be viewed as being almost a prototype template for Pyramids of Mars, but without the decent writing, a threatening baddie, cool monsters and overall quality. A malevolent being of legendary destructive power is on the warpath, so after three episodes of working things out and economically fighting its minions at a place in the country on Earth, before the final part spent in the villains’ dimension before things are finally resolved.
The antimatter world that Omega is trapped in rather handliy looks like a quarry and provides many of the usual confrontations with monsters that involve smoke bombs going off and stunt performers like Stuart Fell and Derek Ware tumbling about all over the place. Omega’s palace is supposedly created from the vast depths of his own imagination and personality, and we have to say that the building suggests that this master-criminal has Netto firmly on his mind, by way of a couple of charity shops. The Gel-guards were also derived from the brain of Omega, and that most revered of Time Lords must have been thinking about bubble-wrap, weeping pustules and jelly when he summoned these ludicrous-looking beasties into existence. The designer of these prototype Mr Blobbys subsequently admitted that he was disappointed when he saw the final costumes - he probably considered them the Omega of his career. The Gel-guard costumes really ARE pathetic, looking like something that was borrowed from an [/i]It's a Knockout[/i] episode ( "...and here come the Gel-guards! What a game!"); you have to feel sorry for the poor extras inside them, as they totter along uneven ground, presumably not being to see a thing and at risk of not only toppling over like a bowling pin at the slightest bump, but also in severe danger of having their necks broken in the process.
Audiences enjoy seeing Doctors past and present getting together and the goodwill generated is usually enough to paper over some of the shortcomings; despite the insubstantial story, the parallel-universe-style incarnations of the Doctors and the ridiculous-looking gel guards, The Three Doctors still manages to entertain.
The Three Doctors never looked all that great on video or on the original DVD as far as the film elements are concerned - they always seemed a good generation or two down from the original elements. This new transfer improves matter a little, but the results are still far from perfect, with muddy grain and somewhat muted colours. The studio material shot on video is another matter entirely, as it looks wonderfully crisp and almost like it could have been shot yesterday.
Everything sounds fine here, with nothing to complain about; Stephen Thorne's voice booms wonderfully as Omega and Dudley Simpson's incidental music is distortion-free.
Note: As with the special edition of Tomb of the Cybermen, the extras included on the original release of The Three Doctors have been ported over to this edition, but with one exception - the highlights from the 1993 Panopticon have not been included.
Audio Commentary: We’ve all heard it before, but it’s certainly worth another listen, as Barry Letts, Katy Manning and Nicholas Courtney spend an afternoon watching The Three Doctors, with results a combination of the enlightening and the hilarious. With Manning on board, did you expect things to be anything approaching sedate?
Listening to the track again, it was quite shocking to us just how more sprightly and animated Letts is during this commentary, obviously recorded a good number of years before his ill-health. The former producer was a very intelligent guy, and really cared about the work he was doing, which makes is all the more painful when he sees things he doesn’t care for.
All of them chuckle at the one-liners from Pat Troughton, and who wouldn’t? Manning bursts into a gale of laugher at the point where Troughton solemnly notes to Courtney that the being whom sent the invading masses to Earth ”…is cleverer than we are. Unfortunately”. After normality has been restored, Letts chimes in with praise for Troughton. “He’s such a good actor, Patrick” he affirms. “I had to actually stop and watch that,” confesses Manning. Manning also induces chuckles when recounting the time she was given a young cat by costume designer Jim Acheson, and she “…had never seen one so ugly before, and it was named Grot.”
Letts is not shy of pointing out his own mistakes during the production, including the complete inaccuracy of The Three Doctor’s depiction of a black hole. He notes that: “…it’s a point, a point of singularity. Why didn’t I notice that at the time?” You almost feel his physical pain when the ridiculous Gell-guards appear “Look at that silly creature,“ he winces. “Oh God…” He emotes the same level of embarrassment and shame as a parent watching their child taking a piss off of a high diving-board. You feel for the guy, you really do.
He later goes on to express his dissatisfaction with numerous pieces of set design, almost as painful for him as the Gell-guards. When the area in which Jo Grant and Tyler find themselves closed in whilst trapped in Omega’s domain, Letts is almost militant about the results: “The extraordinary thing is that this is done by Roger Liminton, one of our best designers, and one the best designers the BBC had, but I honestly don’t think he did a very good job on this show. It’s very pantomimey. It [the walls of Omega‘s lair] looks like paint”. Savage, to be sure, but if only all producers were that honest.
Possibly adding fuel to the fire about the old Pertwee/Manning/late-night studio fan rumour which has been going around for years, when the climactic fight occurs at the end of episode three, there is debate as to which shots are actually Pertwee and that of his stunt-double Terry Walsh. On one shot from the back, Manning blunders into a situation when she notes: “…that’s Jon’s botty. Oh…no it’s not.” Quickly picking up on her little faux-pas, Courtney asks: “How do you know?” She tries to backtrack, but we’ll leave it you as to if it’s convincing or not.
As we said, we’ve all heard it before, but it’s still a riot, with the explosive personality of Manning, the dry wit of Courtney and the level-headed refereeing of Letts. The is much to enjoy, although once you stop chuckling along with it, you get hit by a wave of melancholy that both Mr Letts and Nick Courtney have gone off into the great beyond, without the saving grace of a regeneration. Giving this just over an hour and a half of your time is a good way to remember them.
Happy Birthday To Who: The original DVD release of The Three Doctors was lacking a much-needed look at the making of this particular story, and this matter is remedied with the inclusion of this 23 minute featurette. The problem of William Hartnell's ill-health is dealt with fairly early on and details it in a fairly respectful manner, even managing to elicit a little poignancy. Bob Baker reveals that he co-writer Dave Martin were taken to the BBC bar and plied with drinks as a way of initially asking them to write for Doctor Who, and given the problems caused by Hartnell's health concerns and other assorted headaches on The Three Doctors, it's no wonder that Barry Letts needed to get them shitfaced beforehand. Baker also explains that the classic "a dandy and a clown" line wasn't the one that he wrote, having been altered by Dicks - the original one being "a hairdresser and a clown", which is very funny (poking fun at Pertwee's bouffant hairdo), but could possibly have implied that Jon Pertwee's Doctor was somewhat light in the loafers.
Also tackled is Pertwee's attitude to his breakout dramatic role and the thorny issue of the semi-friendly professional rivalry (and not to mention contrasting acting styles) between Pertwee and Troughton, which script editor Terrence Dicks (along with an archive interview with late producer Barry Letts) spells out in his usual blunt and very amusing fashion. This documentary manages a difficult juggling act in it's depiction of Pertwee - as well as some of unflattering musings from Dicks, Katy Manning helps to put things in context by spelling out just how much playing The Doctor meant to him after spending so much time in radio comedy, so it's no wonder that Pertwee was distinctly proprietorial about the role (remember that this is the man who release the single I Am The Doctor). Actor Stephen Thorne describes Pertwee as "a control freak", but he is very entertaining and informative during his interview; Thorne reveals that he was asked to tone down Omega's scream of anguish when he discovers that he is no longer a man of substance - what was broadcast was pretty damn anguish-laden, so one can only wonder just what he originally came out with.
It's pleasing to see that a condensed version of the occasional Then and Now series has been incorporated into this making-of, showing how the locations have changed over the years (or not), and is the icing on the cake of this whistle-stop tour of the making of this anniversary story - the time just zips by and makes you wish that it could have been twice as long, but then again, the secret of anything in showbiz is to always leave an audience wanting more.
Was Doctor Who Rubbish?: We initially thought that this might be a companion-piece to The Cheating Memory documentary from a while back, but it is -in actuality - a deconstruction of Michael Grade’s very public loathing of Doctor Who. Grade has always struck us an a odious little shit, a man who got a foothold in the industry purely by virtue of his uncle’s reputation, and whom garnered kudos through taking pot-shots at “easy” targets. This featurette is a blow-by-blow deconstruction of Grade’s oft-quoted assassination of Doctor Who on Room 101, with each criticism addressed and countered by literate fans determined to fight back against cheap mud being thrown by both Grade and lazy journalist whom feed on negative gossip.
We’ve all heard accusations of “bad” or “dodgy” acting from the press and the ignorant, but there have been too many genuinely terrific thespians appear in it to give credence to these charges. A death scene is always difficult to do in science-fiction, as there is little an actor can use from real life to make it convincing that they are being killed by a murderous cabbage, but once you look to the work leading up that moment, there are more than respectable performances. Speaking of such monsters, whilst there is little arguing about the underpowered effects seen in the show, Sarah Jane Adventures scribe Joe Lidster mounts the defence that they were they “…to fire the imagination” and give the audience enough to fill in the blanks in their minds. The infamous use of bubble-wrap during The Ark in Space is rationalised rather than debunked, saying that it was a new invention at the time, and the general public hadn’t seen it, so spraying it green and calling it alien flesh was a credible option back then, whilst the legendary opening shot of from Trial of a Time Lord in cited as what Doctor Who was capable of, and we certainly agree with that one!
A real bugbear of ours towards Nu-Who is that emotion is used with all the restraint of a kid brandishing an automatic rifle with the safety off, where sentiment is deployed all too frequently to count as substance. Those who label the original Doctor Who as stoic and unemotional are too busy picking holes in the visual aspects, rather than focusing on the more balanced interplay between characters. It frequently showed The Doctor getting genuinely angry with some of the companions, whereas these days, any sniping will be for the purposes of bathos or comedy. As for the loss of companions, how many times has Nu-Who cheated audiences and wallowed in arm-waving “grief“ as Rose or anyone else “dies“ yet again? When someone was killed in the original series, they damn-well stayed dead - well, OK, apart from Peri‘s reprieve. It helps teach kids the realities of life, rather than filling them with false hope.
The departure of Sarah Jane Smith is noted as an example of quietly understated emotion between characters, and is a good choice, as is the choice of showing the departure of Zoe and Jamie at the end of The War Games. They could have expanded upon it further, and played the moment Jo Grant left, but it might have been egging the pudding in order to win an argument. The constant stream of companions coming and going through the doors of the TARDIS over the years mirrors real life, that although you lose one friend, you’ll going to gain another.
Our favourite interviewee has to be Karen Davies, a woman whom not only loves Doctor Who, but can rally to its defence with passion and conviction, and we’ll leave the last word on the subject to her. Grade is a man whom sees things purely in aesthetics, but Ms Davies is the perfect antidote to such shallowness, noting that the old shows are out there for recent converts to seek out and enjoy, accompanying the “all-singing, all-dancing” incarnation of the programme they love today, with quality stories bridging the gap between generations. As she says, back then “…we had Doctor Who made with love”. Could you put it any better? This is heartening stuff, and something to be used as weighty ammunition against the lazy criticisms which we’ve all had to listen to from arseholes over the years.
Girls, Girls, Girls - The 1970s: Katy Manning, Caroline John (Liz Shaw) and Louise Jameson (Leela) all gathered together to reflect upon what it was like to be companion in Doctor Who during The Decade That Taste Forgot. Understandably, Manning is the most loquacious out of the trio, with John coming in second and Jameson bringing up the rear; though Jameson is the least talkative out of the three, her wisdom-to-word ratio is substantially higher than that of Manning. Jameson also seems to be the outsider, as she didn't work with Jon Pertwee and is also the outsider because outside of the camera covering the group, Jameson is by herself in the close-ups, whereas Manning and John share a two-shot together. The subject of feminism is raised - which is to be expected, seeing as they were all in the show during the seventies - and all three actresses are feminists, but to varying degrees, with Jameson being the most militant, albeit in a passive manner. This format is the same one that was used for the eighties segment that appeared on the DVD release of Paradise Towers, with several actresses gathered together to talk and bounce opinions off each other and though some of the reactions are very interesting we preferred the original talking head format that was seen in the sixties segment with The Romans. This is still fascinating to watch and some interesting insight is given as to how the three former companions looked upon their time on the show and what happened to them once they left; Manning gets tearful when reminiscing about Pertwee, John weighs up whether work is more fulfilling than a blissfully happy relationship and Jameson hints at how much of a pain in the arse Tom Baker was to work with...
Pebble Mill At One: This is an interview with the second Doctor Patrick Troughton and visual effects wizard Bernard Wilkie. Pebble Mill At One was an afternoon chat show that was viewed by the unemployed, the undiscerning housewife or kids who were too ill to go to school and the quality of the guests on the generally matched the level of sophistication of its audience, but what is shown here is one of the brighter moments, as Troughton drops in and chats about Doctor Who. Starting off with a bunch of cold-looking extras dressed in Doctor Who monster costumes standing outside in the grounds of Pebble Mill studios (several of them can be seen waiting for their cues to do something other than shiver), terribly modest effects man Bernard Wilkie warms up the audience for the Mighty Trout by trying to explain how some of the monsters were created. The toe-curling factor is ramped up several notches when the son of singer Paul Young is almost dragged on-stage to talk about Doctor Who monsters - it's not his fault, he was coerced.
Things improve when Troughton comes on; sporting a wee moustachless goatee, he comes across as affable, but you can see that underneath his geniality he is very uncomfortable at having a camera trained on him when not in character. It's well known (and mentioned in this piece) that Troughton didn't like being interviewed, especially when talking about the craft of acting, it's understandable because Steven Spielberg doesn't like doing audio commentaries for the same reason - both Troughton and Spielberg thought that by talking about the nuts and bolts of their respective professions, it takes away the magic. Troughton recounts an amusing story about Robin Hood on television and is very modest about the roles he gets ( "I just take what part comes along", the hallmark of a jobbing actor).
After several minutes with a visibly nervous-looking Troughton, Bernard Wilkie is brought back on to smash several sugar-glass bottles and see several live effects going embarrassingly wrong, including an Invasion-era Cyberman attempting to walk through a pane of glass, but only knocks it over and stamps on it to break it. As we have said, much of this is toe-curling, peer-through-the-cracks-between-your-fingers stuff, but it's always good to see Patrick Troughton being interviewed and it's nice to see one of the backroom boffins getting a little time on the other side of the camera.
Blue Peter: The Third Doctor himself Jon Pertwee drops in on the Blue Peter studio to unveil his contribution to the Doctor Who universe, the Whomobile. Pertwee is in his element here - talking to former Doctor Who cast member Peter Purves - as it allows him to be his usual flamboyant self and talking about a subject dear to his heart: motorised methods of transport. Pertwee gives Purves and the viewers at home a detailed look at the Whomobile, both inside and out and is shown in much more detail here than its appearances in Doctor Who.
After Pertwee drives out of the studio, Purves presents a look at the history of Doctor Who, featuring several clips from the show (including a couple of clips that only survive because this episode of Blue Peter was retained in the archives), all leading up to a lengthy clip from The Three Doctors and Leslie Judd and Noaksie pop up at the end to wish Doctor Who a happy tenth birthday. This is pretty fun and only occasionally to toe start to curl and we'll gloss over the long-standing rumour that episode four of The Tenth Planet is missing because it was not returned to the archives after being taken out to show the regeneration scene on Blue Peter...
BSB Highlights - Cast and crew discuss The Three Doctors: This really gives the flavour of being at a Doctor Who convention, not just because there are interviews with numerous faces familiar to the circuit, but that it was also being seen by approximately 200 people. Smart-arse remarks aside, there is some pretty nifty material here, and it seems funny for a pre-DVD interview to concentrate on a singular story, as Flint’s discussion with Terence Dicks and Nick Courtney does. OK, the questions are not the deepest, but they fulfil what the uninitiated might have been wanting to ask, and the guys do a good job at answering them with a combination of information and humour. In a rare instance, Dicks refrains from the latter! David Martin and Bob Baker are probed by John Nathan-Turner, initially about the origins of K-9, but then about the business of The Three Doctors. Jon Pertwee is interviewed, and just does his usual spiel about how he got the show, but it’s nice to have such rare material available, as - ironically - most of the output from BSB has been wiped, so the recordings here are a real time-capsule.
We have to admit that we have lusted after Debbie Flint for the best part of a couple of decades. From when she started up with QVC, to her giving them the finger and setting up rival channel Ideal World, to the suspicious fire at their studio which saw her bail out of the enterprise. Her bogus “stalker” story in one of the Sunday tabloids (which was originally planned as a publicity stunt for Ideal World) by way of her rather brief career in America before finally crawling back to QVC, we’ve seen her gone from sex-pot to MILF, and we’d still happily queue up to enthusiastically gulp down her soiled bathwater.
It’s pretty good stuff, and nice to see a channel which really threw itself into playing the shows, and making new content to accompany such rare screenings. Would the BBC or UK Gold play singular, surviving episodes like The Web of Fear? Nope, and we salute the intentions of the channel for fighting the good fight against the lower-brow Sky for as long as they did. Just two things about JNT, though; Firstly, it must have been a weird experience for him to do Doctor Who stuff just weeks after officially resigning from the post of producer on it, and secondly: Mike Yates isn’t in The Three Doctors. Quibbling aside, it’s viewing which gives you a nice, warm feeling.
BBC1 Trailer: This short promo seems to be reconstructed from a fan-recorded audio matched up to the correct footage from the show. It's short and has poor sound quality (regardless of the dreaded Delaware version of the theme playing in the background), but it's still a pleasing little look at how the Beeb wanted to get fans geared up for this celebratory story.
40th Anniversary Trailer: Even though this is nearly ten years old, it's still fabulous to watch, as a rapid montage of scenes from all of the eras of Doctor Who appear, set to an arrangement of the Doctor Who theme by none other than The Orbital! It's wonderful stuff, with many clips from more obscure stories being shown and it's great fun to try and name the stories that the clips are from as they flash by on the screen - when this trailer was originally included on Doctor Who titles in 2003, our knowledge of the show wasn't nearly as expansive as it is now and we weren't able to name all that many of the stories shown here, but now, it's quite frightening as to how many we can identify...
The Five Faces of Doctor Who Trail: This four minute trailer advertises a season of Doctor Who stories that ran during the end of 1981, featuring clips from Logopolis, Carnival of Monsters, The Krotons, the very first adventure, An Unearthly Child and The Three Doctors. This is a fascinating insight into how repeats were advertised; young things will be astonished to see that a television trailers used to run longer than thirty seconds and weren't brisk-paced and didn't have manipulative music all over it.
Production Subtitles: The number of Doctor Who releases is now unquestionably finite, and every opportunity to sink your teeth into another exhaustively researched information-track is one which shouldn’t be sniffed at. Many others have tried and failed to match the perfect balance of minutia, engagement and humour, but none have even equalled what the 2-Entertain releases do on a regular basis, let alone surpass them. Sit back, pour a drink into your favourite Doctor Who mug and let your knowledge of The Three Doctors increase with this little beauty.
It’s an absolute treasure-trove for changes made right through production, from initial concept, various drafts, improvisation on set, and different edits of the final material. Of particular interest is a filmed-but-nixed sequence where Jo Grant explains that Bessie is fitted with invisible seatbelts, allowing for the “superdrive” feature to be used without killing everyone aboard. Every location and stage utilized is faithfully logged, including the dates when filming took place. In the case of the fight at the end of episode three, even how Pertwee was driven to the Ealing so as to get him there for a whole afternoon of shooting.
A prefect example of the warm humour infused into the exquisitely researched information comes during the scene where The Brigadier refuses to believe that Troughton’s Doctor is real, the track spills the beans that the used sequence was the second take, as the first one was ruined by the microphone boom dropping into shot. Whilst we know that this has always been commonplace in Doctor Who, in The Three Doctors, there seems to be more trouble than usual, as later on, a warning that “The invasion of the boom-shadows continues“ comes up on screen when the dastardly electronic menace returns to bugger up perfectly good material. Oh, and Tyler originally exclaimed something a little fruitier than “flamin’ eck” in the shooting script when taking a look at the rather intriguing x-rays.
Budget-saving initiative is also praised where warranted, including the way that in order to avoid reconstructing a set for one shot in the second episode, it was filmed during the shoot of the third. You know, the one where Omega is watching The Doctor and Jo Grant on his “magic mirror“ device, but this poetic way of describing the technology in the script didn‘t translate to the screen, and naturally, the track blows the gaff on this might apparatus being a barely-disguised 25” television.
We all know that the TARDIS and the things you could do and places possible to travel to are priceless, but just how much would it cost to build one of the things? Well, you can wonder no more, as the money spent to reconstruct the console room for The Three Doctors is dutifully listed here, and even with inflation, probably costs less than you would think. Although most couldn’t put a price on it, the whole shebang came to a mere £89 for the 125 hours of work to get the old girl up and running again. A snip at twice the price.
The little things don’t escape the grasp of the trivia-track, including how someone forgot to give the central column of the TARDIS consol a dust off after it came out of storage. Not minute enough? OK, what about noting the ignition cord for a pyrotechnic explosion is pointed out during the Gell Guard attack on UNIT HQ? OK, what about which particular retake of dialogue was used due to certain actors fluffing their lines. Right, that should be enough to prove how thorough things are!
This is certainly not a sycophantic track, one willing to gloss over any flaws in the writing, and for proof, we give you the systematic deconstruction of a particular way of padding out an under-running story, when The Doctor and Tyler are at odds whilst captured: “The imperative for these… scenes wasn’t just to extend the running time, but also to avoid moving the story along.” This leads onto another of Doctor Who’s version of the Hesitation Waltz: “Another tried and tested method of padding out the running time was to introduce and escape attempt, in which a character goes on the loose for some time, but is the recaptured. With that in mind, how do you rate Dr Tyler’s chances…”. Just terrific, dryly witty stuff.
This is, as usual, unmissable stuff, and designed to play alongside the story as it unfolds, furthering the enjoyment of the story rather than trampling all over it. We all know that The Three Doctors has more than its share of problems, but with this track engaged, the enjoyment factor shoots up through the roof. You really need to make time for this one, as it never fails to be more than excellent. Again.
Photo Gallery: A pleasing set of stills are presented when you access this feature, with pictures from the initial photo-call with Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee, along with several pictures of Pertwee and Troughton that must have had the Bouffanted One smiling through gritted teeth. There are also some nice behind-the-scenes images that show just how much work went into the production design of The Three Doctors – yes, even the silly-looking Gel-Guards.
Coming Soon Trailer: The end of Classic Who releases on DVD is nigh and the next story on the now very short list is the story that introduced Leela to the show and Doctor Who to dads across the land in the mid-seventies - The Face of Evil!
Radio Times listings: Pop disc one of The Three Doctors into you PC (or Mac, if you are so inclined) and you’ll be able to access the individual Radio Times listings for each story; cute, nostalgic fun.
Multiple Doctor stories are tricky things to get right, and with The Three Doctors being the first one, many of the inherent problems are on display for all to see. Despite the slightly distorted portrayals of The Doctors, Hartnell's ill-health and a some silly-looking monsters, The Three Doctors is still an entertaining romp that can be cut a bit of slack as it is effectively a birthday party for Doctor Who - just don't blow too hard when you go to extinguish the candles on the cake, as the story's so light that it'll be blown away with it.
Review by Wilson Bros
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 13th February 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Audio Commentary, Happy Birthday To Who, Was Doctor Who Rubbish?, Girls, Girls, Girls: The 1970s, Blue Peter, BSB Highlights, The Five Faces Of Doctor Who, 40th Anniversary Trailer, BBC1 Trailer, Production Subtitles, Phot Gallery, Coming Soon Trailer, PDF Materials
Easter Egg: No
Director: Lennie Mayne
Cast: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Nicholas Courtney, Katy Manning
Length: 100 minutes
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