on November 10, 2004
One nice quality about DVDs is one get to see the actors as people than characters which can help lighten one's perspective towards the character they played. I for one thought Colin Baker got a bad rap. The story itself was meant for New Orleans not Spain and the macrabe nature of the story fits New Orleans better than Spain. The aliens would be more recognized as a take on Zombies which is a wonderful concept of magnifying zombies as a new super race being a bad idea so a wonderful take on blind leadership. There are also some nice homages like the "Madeleine Cluster" which Madeleine was a character from Robert Holmes Second Doctor missing adventure "The Space Pirates" and the Spanish music a nice touch. The story would have been less offensive if the Zombie cannabalism was in the proper atmosphere but it sticks out as going too far as a form of gross out than homage to a culture where it was suppose to be shot so some of the bad taste comes from the homage being out of context. As to acting everyone is in top form and the acting is excellent. This story is better than it has been given credit for. Once one realizes why it seems in bad taste it becomes less offensive. It was also a nice bonus to see "A Fix With Sontarans" which although short was well done as were other bonus features but the ones on filming rushes are best left after watching the commentary which some not into filming sequences may want to give a pass on; best for those into that sort of thing. "The Two Doctors" is better than it is given credit for but the change in setting does make some of the story seem in bad taste and like all Zombie based ideas not for everyone's plate to feast apon. Bon appittete! Enjoy if you can.
on June 3, 2004
Like many Whovians, I've always harbored a dislike for Colin Baker's portrayal of the Doctor. Abrasive, argumentative, and rude, it seemed as if this Doctor was a throwback to his original incarnation. While being crotchety seemed to fit the elderly William Hartnell and added to his charm as Doctor Who, in the younger Colin Baker the effect was rather off-putting.
However, I have to say that in retrospect, the lad was actually pretty darned good. I've picked up a few of Colin's adventures on DVD, and have come away with a new appreciation of his take on the Doctor.
The Second Doctor and Jaime visit a space station on behalf of the Time Lords. Some scientists have been tinkering with a time machine, and the Time Lords are concerned. However, the Sontarans attack and capture the Doctor and the prototype machine with the help of the station's director. They plot to use the Doctor's DNA to enable them to complete the time machine and travel in time. Enter the Sixth Doctor and Peri, who try to recapture the Second Doctor and save Time itself from the Sontaran warlords.
The story is rather inventive in "The Two Doctors", although the Spanish locations are kind of a waste since the show could have been shot just as easily in the UK. The installment was somewhat disappointing in that the cannibalism angle was never fully explained or exploited, and the 45-minute episode length works against the best concepts of the show. There also seems to be a spot of meanness (so common to the Colin Baker era), as one of the minor characters gets murdered pointlessly. The Doctor himself steps way out of character and takes a life in a somewhat glib manner.
Still, we have Patrick Troughton, and even in the padded parts, he makes the show a joy to watch. The villains are somewhat entertaining, as well, and the locations are pretty.
As for extras, there are two segments of raw footage (one in the studio, one on location), that give the viewer an idea of how the show was put together. Another segment recounts the difficulties encountered in finding suitable locations not only for the story, but for those interested in the industry. There's also a nice retrospect of Robert Holmes' work on Doctor Who, which is a loving tribute to the late writer by his co-workers on the show.
The best part of this set is the segment where a young Who fan gets his wish and becomes part of a new, mini-Who adventure with Colin Baker, the Sontarans, and Teagan aboard the TARDIS, complete with impressive floor effects. I love this segment for three reasons; first, it was very, very well-done work. Second, the kid proved to me that Colin's Doctor had fans, as evidenced by his costume, patterned after Colin's, and made "by his Nan." Third, and best of all for me, was Colin's Doctor talking smack to Teagan and pointing out what a mouthy, sour, pain in the neck she was. Teagan is the one companion that grated on my nerves to the nth degree, and one which I've always heartily despised, so full marks to whoever wrote the segment, and for Colin, apparently acting "from the heart."
Oh, and if all of that were not enough, let's not forget Patrick Troughton's second Doctor (along with companion Jaime) making a triuphant return to the series. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Overall, this is a surprisingly well-packed DVD for the Sixth Doctor, generally known as being the least-loved. If, like me, you never really cared for Colin Baker as the Doctor, you may want to try this one out. You just might change your mind.
on July 16, 2004
"The Two Doctors" is the third and final multi-Doctor adventure, as Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor must travel to 20th Century Spain to save Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor from the hands of the Androgums, who want his symbiotic coding to give to the Sontarans so they can use their own time machine as a weapon against their mortal enemies, the Rutans.
The great plot of "The Two Doctors" is weakened by Robert Holmes' slightly rediculous script (A Surprise, since Holmes has been responsible for such greats as "The Krotons" and "The Talons of Weng-Chiang"). The story suffers from such ludicrous touches such as:
-Shockeye's obsession with wanting to taste the flesh of a human;
-The Doctor's killing of Shockeye (which is more like the Terminator than the Doctor), and;
-The numerous scenes of violence, including a number of stabbings, Sontaran blood, and Chessene licking the Doctor's blood off her hands.
However, the great talents of Baker, Troughton and Frazer Hines as Jamie, the Second Doctor's Scottish companion, make up for a lot, and this adventure is good on that strength alone!
The DVD is great as well, with a humorous commentary and a great documentary on Robert Holmes.
Despite it's flaws, "The Two Doctors" belongs in anyone's collection of "Doctor Who" adventures!
Program Grade: B (4 Stars)
DVD Grade: A- (5 Stars)
Overall Grade: B+ (4 Stars)
on June 7, 2004
BBC Video continues to turn out the quarterly releases of the Doctor Who back catalogue on DVD and the latest pairing brings two stories from the latter years of the series lengthy broadcast run. Although technically featuring stories from two different eras of Doctors (and featuring a third in a guest role) both The Two Doctors and The Curse of Fenric come from the very troubled final years of the show's 26 year run when even the fans found it hard to find favor with their hero's antics and the general viewing public made it clear that they could care less!
The Two Doctors was unfortunate enough to be on air when the show was famously cancelled by the BBC, albeit to return 18 months later in a revised and truncated format. Perhaps it is for this reason that this story is not that highly rated, but in all honesty it's more likely to be that the adventure was typically symptomatic of everything that seemed to be wrong with the production at this time.
The first six part adventure to be made and broadcast since 1978, this lengthy story was in fact broadcast in three double-length episodes at the beginning of 1985 in the first full season to feature the controversial sixth Doctor, played by Colin Baker. I've always believed that Colin had the personality and charisma to be a very, very fine Doctor indeed and had he followed Tom Baker and not Peter Davison, things could have been very different for him. As it is, his characterization was horribly misconceived, as was his truly appalling costume and he successfully alienated the very loyal and devoted fans of the show and the general public alike. By the time The Two Doctors was on air, one third of the audience had switched off from the start of the season and the BBC was naturally looking to see why. They blamed the violence enveloping the show and watching this story, they wouldn't be far wrong.
Written by probably the greatest writer ever associated with the show, the late, great former script editor Robert Holmes, this story had so many elements that could have made it a success, but was completely let down by some gratuitous violence, grisly, unnecessary deaths and far too complex a plot. Even the return of one of the show's most popular incumbents, second Doctor Patrick Troughton and his popular sidekick Jamie were unable to save the show. More's the pity since Troughton died the following year and this is hardly a fitting tribute to his contribution to the show.
When the program did make it back on to air in 1986 it was a shadow of its former greatness and although it staggered onwards for another four seasons, the death knell was never far away. The Curse of Fenric comes from the very end of the show's run and is possibly the greatest example of everything that was wrong with the production at the time. Essentially, from day one, the production team had always worked with their backs to the wall, with never enough time or budget to achieve what they were striving for, and yet, in 26 years, they'd always managed to find entertaining and popular stories that worked against all the odds. The Curse of Fenric was simply a mess. A good mess; a promising mess; but a mess nonetheless. It's staggering to think that a professional TV producer would pull together a script that was so incredibly complex and essentially unworkable under the show's format and then be surprised that the material couldn't be worked into the show's slot. It's only thanks to home video and DVD that we can now see the show how it was intended, which rather ignores the fact that it is a TV show intended for a much wider audience.
The DVD set contains the four episodes as they were transmitted (itself a first for home video) plus a (second) attempt to restore all the deleted material and re-order the scenes to make more sense. Certainly it does just that, but I'm still baffled 15 years after it was made and I doubt it will ever truly make sense! Thankfully the writer has recorded a long explanation of how his story was meant to be. Thanks, but that doesn't and didn't help the viewers of BBC1 back in 1989! But as always with the Doctor Who DVD's, it's the extras that make these releases so worthwhile, regardless of the quality of the stories themselves. With the Two Doctors there are all sorts of goodies, including a great commentary from the main cast and director and all sorts of out-takes, behind the scenes information and (perhaps unwisely) a lengthy piece by the producer's ex-partner explaining at length how they unnecessarily set the story in Spain so as to get some fabulous vacation time for themselves. Oops! The Curse of Fenric commentary from Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Nicholas Parsons is also highly entertaining and the extras on this two-disc set certainly prove most interesting, even it is all a bit long winded.
Doctor Who was never very good when it took itself too seriously. The fans love all the in-jokes and references to the past. But it hardly works for the general viewer who simply is baffled because they didn't see the story from last season that ties into this, or can't remember something from 10 years ago that drives the whole plot. Sadly, that's what Doctor Who in its final years was all about. At least these discs go someway to making it a little clearer!
on November 16, 2003
If memory serves me right, the TARDIS never materialized in Kitchen Stadium. However, by the time the 2nd Doctor rattles off a list of unusual Earth recipes in Part Three of "The Two Doctors", and mentions Brillat-Savarin, and when Shockeye wonders if shepherd's pie contains actual shepherds... then it's surely no coincidence that the story's villain, Chessene, is wearing a metallic silver gown of the type often worn by Chairman Kaga.
"The Two Doctors" is the best story of Colin Baker's abbreviated tenure as the Sixth Doctor. The episode was written by Robert Holmes, one of DW's top scribes, and therefore contains literally pages of quotable dialogue -- and that's just in Part One. The story contains the superfecta of "Doctor Who" tradition: the over-the-top villainness (Chessene), the quotable henchman (Shockeye), the duped human stooge (Dr. Dastari), and the prolonged gory death, complete with green ooze (Stike).
Not only that, but, being the longest "DW" story completed in the 1980s (not counting "The Trial of a Time Lord"), there's a multi-layered plot which improves with age. Consider that I'd always thought the reappearance of Holmes's own Sontaran enemies in "The Two Doctors" to be a bit of a time-waster. With this viewing, however, I realized that both Sontarans are well-acted, with witty dialogue -- and, more importantly, their shaky alliance with Chessene allows for, as the Doctor observes, "a double-double-cross". They don't waste time at all. Indeed, by story's end, of the seven major guest characters, all but one are dead. Similar to Holmes's previous script, "The Caves of Androzani", only a woman survives.
To call this the best Sixth Doctor TV story may come as faint praise, but it's impossible to overstate Patrick Troughton's importance to the affair, in his Second Doctor swan-song. Strapped to a table for most of Part Two, Troughton still gets about 9 memorable quotes off in the first 9 minutes of Part One, and has a terrific turn as an Androgum gourmand in Part Three. Also notable is that the story's climax is interrputed so that the 2nd Doctor and Shockeye can drive into Seville (Spain) for a lunch that costs, in 1984 terms, $233 US. No-one pays the tab.
Also welcome is the return of old companion Jamie (Fraser Hines), who picks up the part after 15 years as if he hadn't missed a day. Teamed up with the vintage cast, both the 6th Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant) are at their most appealling. The best facet of Baker's tenure as the Doctor was his line delivery, and Holmes feeds him several zingers which he reads with obvious relish (pardon the pun). Some great clowning, also, as the 2nd Doctor defends himself against Shockeye with a cucumber, and the 6th Doctor later brandishes a banana.
The addition to Time Lord mythology is interesting (and sets up the Time Lords as the selfish villains they'd become in later TV shows and books). Less welcome for me was the 6th Doctor's sudden embrace of the "healthy vegetarian diet", although this part of the character would thrive for another 15 years; and his unsubtle dig at Christopher Columbus (who, if memory serves me right, is interred in Seville). You can also tell that the Seville restaurant scenes were originally scripted for more food-friendly New Orleans, before budget concerns intervened -- witness how the 6th Doctor stages a mock arrest of his earlier self, by reading the Miranda warnings. To quote the 2nd Doctor in Part Three... "Oh, my giddy aunt. Oh, crumbs!"
on March 2, 2002
Pairing up two Doctors, one meeting his future, the other meeting his past, is an imaginative step. After all, there was already The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors. In that aspect, John Nathan-Turner must surely be commended.
The Second Doctor and Jamie try to convince Dastari, head of projects at a space station, to halt time experiments of a primitive time capsule, as the Time Lords are concerned about undue meddling in time. The Doctor and Dastari argue, and then, Sontarans attack the station.
The Sixth Doctor and Peri, have just finished fishing for gumbeljacks, when the Doctor feels the effects of his second self dying. He journeys to the space station, beholding the carnage wrought upon by the Sontarans. They rescue Jamie and via a telepathic link with his second self, the Doctor takes them to current-day Spain, near Seville. There, they have to contend with Sontarans and two Androgums (anagram of gourmand), the technically augmented Chessene and her cannibalistic counterpart, Shockeye. Chessene plans to use the Doctor's symbiotic nucleus to program the Kartz-Reimer time machine and thus gain the power of time travel.
Classic Colin Baker lines? "When you ask a question, you should listen to the answer, otherwise you'll gain absolutely no benefit from being in my company. It's in the province of knowledge to speak, and the privilege of wisdom to listen." To Peri: "Small though it is, the human brain can be quite effective when used properly." In response, Peri mouths some profanity behind him in addition to that classic dirty look she fires at him. In describing the aftermath of the Sontaran attack: "ancient must heavy in the air, fruit soft, flesh peeling from white bones, the unholy, unburiable smell of Armageddon." His showing Peri smoking laser holes is reminiscent of Ben Kenobi showing Luke the damage done to the Jawa sandcrawler. And his trying to use logic to figure things out: "But the there and then subsumes the here and now. So if I was killed then, I can only exist as some temporal tautology."
The Spanish location is a welcome change of pace. I can imagine how much of the BBC budget was used, but with the inclusion of Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines, it was well spent. Two years after this story, Patrick Troughton would become one with the Matrix.
The Sontarans are taller here and different from their other stories. They even have beards (!) and carry cool rifles. Clinton Greyn (Major Stike) was also Ivo in State Of Decay. As Shockeye says, "they always seem so tough and tasteless."
Jacqueline Pearce plays Chessene as a calculating mastermind rational, calm in mind and beauty. Carmen Gomez (Anita, that "dark-eyed naiad,") does wonders as a sweet and gentle human.
James Saxon (Oscar) has a wonderfully poetic line about moths: "moths are ladies of the night, painted beauties. They sleep all day and rise at the sunset, whisper through the roseate dusk on gossamer wings and damask silk." Wow! Upon seeing our heroes, whom he mistakes for police officers, he says, "I can see from your raiment that you're with the plainsclothes branch." Plain clothes--Jamie, Peri, and the Doctor? Yeah, right!
John Stratton enjoys himself as the twisted and hungry Shockeye, calling Peri a "fine fleshy beast," describing human meat as "so white and rancidly laird of the bone, a sure sign of a tasty animal." When Chessene tells him that Earth is overpopulated, he responds, "By the time I leave it, madam, that may not be a problem."
This is without a doubt Colin Baker's best story, aided by a great supporting cast, on-location shooting in Spain, set design, and a superb Robert Holmes writing.
on December 3, 2001
This episode proves, if nothing else, that Doctor Who definitely wasn't past it's prime at this point(that didn't happen until shortly afterwards, when Trial of a Time Lord was introduced.) Not only is this the best Colin Baker episode, it is a classic story that belongs in the top ten (or at least fifteen.) The story is very enjoyable, being set on location in Spain makes the atmosphere incredible. The Sontarans definitely aren't at their best here, but at least we get to see them. The music goes right along with the Spanish setting, and I just don't see the padding everyone seems to complain about, except maybe when the sixth Doctor and Peri are wandering around the space station, but this really isn't that irritating, or even noticable until about the 100th time you watch it. Shockeye is one of the best villians ever introduced to the show, and his presence alone makes the story worth watching. His insane desire to eat a human makes the story interesting to say the least, and even though there is a good amount of violence, just as Colin Baker himself pointed out in the Colin Baker years, many of Tom Baker's classic stories are just as violent, and no one seems to care about them. It is great to see the second Doctor and Jamie again, even if it is obvious it was originally supposed to be the third Doctor because the Time Lords are sending him on an errand and Jamie knows he's a Time Lord. This, aside from Patrick Troughton's gray hair that should have been colored, and he acts more like the irritable William Hartnell than the gentle second Doctor that we've all come to know and love, are the only irritating things about this episode. There are some enjoyable lusty undertones in Shockeye's desires, such as when he catches that "fine, fleshy beast" Peri, and the part when he and the second Doctor go to the restaurant in Seville is one of the highlights of the entire series. Aside from what many fans say, the interplay between the two Doctors is not that great, because they both act far too similar, and they don't have that many scenes together. However, this is easily overlooked because of how great the rest of the story is. Jamie easily slips back into his role, Peri has never looked better, and the plot is superb.
on October 23, 2001
Nobody liked Colin Baker when he was the Doctor, including me, but he grows on you. I now think he was one of the most interesting of the Doctors, and in this story he's joined by the most slapstick of the Doctors, Patrick Troughton. The two play off each other well, and this excuses the glaring continuity revisions and whimpy Sontarans. The plea for vegetarianism implicit (barely) here is juvenile and hackneyed, but the scenes of Shockeye (a specimen of the Androgums, who are known for their indiscriminate desire to turn all edible species, including humans, into gourmet meals) lusting obscenely after flesh of a human for his cooking pans, are at once hilarious and gruesome. "Pity it's not a jack," he says, carrying an unconscious Peri, and, "Oooooh, I can just taste that flesh!" to a retreating Jamie's back. Troughton excels, and this seems to drive Baker to great feats in competition.
on July 18, 2001
The Two Doctors is excellent. One of Colin Bakers finest performances as the Doctor. Deep down it has some flaws but is overall a great adventure. Those who are fans of the second doctor will like this although they will probably be a little saddened. Patrick Troughton died shortly after this and watching him we can see him grow old very fast. Although ill during the making of this, his old persona comes out time to time making a great performance. The scenery is exquisite. Colin Baker always reminded me of a bit of the first Doctor. So when hes paired with Patrick troughton we get a glimpse of the past it seems. This is a great story to see. Its a little sad to see Patrick Troughton not quite himself due to his health. BUt its very nostalgic and the performances by both Doctors is great.
on June 8, 2004
For quite some time I have been reluctant to watch any Doctor Who stories that featured any other Doctors after Tom Baker.I was not happy with what I had seen with the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison). I thought I would give this story a try since it featured Jamie and the 3rd Doctor. I was glad I did! I enjoyed this story so much! It was chocked full of Doctor Who's magic sense of humor. Humor is what I think sets this series apart from most Sci Fi shows. I discovered that I actually enjoyed Colin Baker's version of the Doctor. Give this DVD a try if you were skeptical about the value of watching any post Tom Baker Doctor Who stories