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More about this serial
This is a four-part series, first broadcast between 30th December 1972 - 20th January 1973. It marked the 10th anniversary of Doctor Who, and both the first and the second Doctor made an appearance in it (hence the title).
A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot: a multi-coloured visual effect appears in the UNIT headquarters and wherever it goes, random people and objects start disappearing; the Doctor and the UNIT regulars are menaced by mobility-impaired over-decorated Christmas trees that shoot to kill; and somewhere, out there, there's a renegade Time Lord called Omega trapped in a black hole. The other Time Lords decide that only reuniting the Doctor with his two former selves will stop Omega from destroying the universe, though the reasoning behind this is never explained.
Even when the story was merely an excuse to bring back Hartnell and Troughton as the first and second Doctors, it still could have been a great deal better than it is.
The interaction between the three Doctors could have been entertaining, and could have given more depth to the character of the Doctor. Unfortunately, that isn't what we get. William Hartnell, who was already very ill when the serial was made and died not long afterward, did the best that he could here. The interaction between Troughton's second Doctor and Pertwee's third, however, is disappointing. Part of this is due to the script - the two characters have little meaningful interaction and spend most of their time competing for the same niche with in the story - and part is due to Jon Pertwee, who appears to be phoning in his performance.
Omega has the potential to be one of Doctor Who's better villains. He's a Prometeus-like figure who invented time travel only to be betrayed by the other Time Lords, eventually becoming a god in his self-created world. His betrayal by the other Time Lords might have given the Doctor a reason to re-examine his relationship with his kind, adding more depth to him as a character. What we get is a run-of-the-mill ranting Doctor Who monster in a mask who doesn't seem to inspire fear, or even much interest, in any of the other characters.
On the plus side, I liked the look and feel of Omega's world, even if the exterior was another quarry - though a rather nice one - and the interior sets were examples of Christmas Decorating Gone Overboard. The fight between the third Doctor and Omega's dark side makes little sense plot-wise, but is nicely done. And it's nice that this serial gave William Hartnell a chance to revisit the part one last time, something that apparently meant a great deal to him.
My verdict, nevertheless:
It's a mess, only of interest to hard-core fans.
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Doctor Who reviews: oh, dear...
More from the Jon Pertwee years:
Doctor Who reviews: 1970 - 1974
Doctor Who reviews: multiple-Doctor stories
Original version of this review:
Behind the sofa
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