Although we are technically past the 40th anniversary of Doctor Who, the special DVD releases to mark the event are still trickling through to the Region 4 market. The latest is Doctor Who - The Two Doctors starring - you guessed it - two Doctors, being the Doctor Mk VI, Colin Baker (no, not the guy with the scarf and hat, that was Tom Baker), and Doctor Mk II, Patrick Troughton in his last appearance as the Doctor.
Although this was a story set in the time of the sixth Doctor (hereafter referred to as Doctor 6), the story opens with the second Doctor (Doctor 2) and Jamie (Frazer Hines), on behalf of the Time Lords, investigating a hiccup in the time continuum. This hiccup is caused by two scientists, Kartz and Reimer, in the employ of a scientist named Dastari (Laurence Payne), on space station Camera and, although we never meet the duo, we do learn that their work on building a time machine is well advanced. The Time Lords fear they will lose their grip on the time continuum and the universe will be in great danger if Kartz and Reimer succeed. Dastari’s work also involves the augmenting of a subservient race called the Androgums, a strong, clever, yet brutal race who have a strong culinary desire.
The Doctor 2 and Jamie have no success in getting Dastari to call off the work of Kartz and Reimer, and to make matters worse it seems the Doctor's old enemy, the Sontarans, are the ones behind it all. The Sontarans are a war-hungry race who have been fighting the Rutans for so long neither side knows why any more, but with the ability to time travel, victory will be theirs.
Meanwhile, Doctor 6 and Peri (Nicola Bryant) are relaxing with a spot of fishing, but once back in the TARDIS, Doctor 6 experiences a rather disturbing fainting spell, and surmises that there is a problem with one of his former selves. He decides to seek the help of his old friend, Dastari. Arriving at the space station, it is immediately evident that something violent has occurred. Exploring further, they find Jamie huddled in the infrastructure in an almost feral state, mumbling, “They killed The Doctor!”
Dastari, with two Androgums, Shockeye (John Stratton) and Chessene (Jacqueline Pearce), as well as two Sontarans in tow, Stike (Clinton Greyne) and Varl (Tim Raynham), arrive on Earth (Shockeye has a desire to try Tellurian flesh) and take up residence in an out of the way hacienda on the outskirts of Seville. They plan to extract the Rassilon Imprimature from Doctor 2 (or any other Time Lord), the symbiotic nuclei that is needed to stabilise the time machine that Kartz and Reimer have developed.
Doctor 6 however, with Jamie and Peri, arrives shortly after and sets about rescuing Doctor 2, thwarting the Sontarans, and destroying the Kartz and Reimer time machine. The trouble is, Dastari, Chessene, Shockeye, and the Sontarans are alerted to their arrival, and make plans of their own, including the serving of Peri or Jamie, for Sunday roast!
Again, this is a story that divides fans. There is no doubting that it is always a novelty to see the Doctor meet a former self, but some fans were wondering by this stage if the concept had not been overdone. The story was written by Doctor Who stalwart Robert Holmes, and while not up to his best, was better than many other scripts that were being developed at this time in the show’s history. The story is shown in 45-minute episodes as was the standard for much of Colin Baker’s time in the role, but this is a three-part story when most at this time were two parts totalling the standard 90 minutes. Purists will realise that this equates to what we once knew as a six-parter.
There is an obvious rapport between the two leads, even though their respective Doctors don’t meet until well into the episode. The supporting cast is again a mixed affair. The character of Jamie is largely superfluous, the characters of Chessene and Shockeye are good value, but Dastari seems a little weak and not as menacing as he could be.
The filming of much of the story in the hacienda and in Seville itself a nice change, and lends the story an air of reality. The Sontarans seem less threatening than in previous encounters, but the sets and costumes are all rather good with genuinely interesting production values. Intriguingly, this story was originally to be set on the banks of the Mississippi in New Orleans, and then in Venice, but these proved too costly. No matter, Seville works a treat.
The last DVD release was Doctor Who - The Three Doctors and we have long had Doctor Who - The Five Doctors, so it’s safe to say that we have been well served by all these Doctors and can look forward to no more crossing of paths for our favourite Time Lord(s).
Like most Doctor Who releases, work has gone into the restoration, but thankfully being one of the later stories (still 20 years old however), the source material was not in as bad a state as many of the previous releases.
The full frame presentation was shot on a mix of 1” studio videotape and 16mm location film, but sadly, the location film no longer exists (well done, BBC), so D3 digital videotape copies of the originals were used instead and, with restoration, scrub up reasonably well with decent colour continuity. Colours in general are good, with minimal interference and no bleeding. Grain is at a minimum, black levels are generally good and shadow detail is fair. Just be warned that the first few seconds are in black and white to lend an air of authenticity to Troughton's return as the Doctor.
There are very few glitches or marks such as dirt and scratches, but we have come to expect this of Doctor Who DVD releases. The layer change occurs between scenes in the second episode, and given that this is a double disc release, one could ask whether the layer change could not have been placed between episodes.