The Case for… The Two Doctors
Guest contributor Noah Fischel on 1985’s multi-Doctor special.
With Doctor Who’s big 5-0 under a year away now, most fans have all have been thinking one collective thought: GIVE US A GREAT MULTI DOCTOR STORY! When I think of multi-Doctor stories, my mind immediately goes toward The Five Doctors. Though it only really had 3 out of the original 5 Doctors, the plot was brilliant. It established itself as the epitome of multi-Doctor specials. It was a little over a year after it was broadcast that The Two Doctors graced our screens. It was a good romp, but a lot of fans have underrated it. Why?
With The Five Doctors getting such high praise, Nathan-Turner decided to do another multi-Doctor story. They secured Troughton as the returning incarnation and set out to film it. A little over a year after The Five Doctors played on TV, The Two Doctors was released. The ratings were quite high for the time, boasting and average of 6.7 million views for all 3 parts.
While ratings were decent, it was the subject of some controversy for the high amount of violence. It had one of, if not THE, highest mortality rate. One of the characters, Anita, was the only non-Doctor/non-companion character to survive to the conclusion of the serial.
Patrick Troughton came back better than ever and fell right back into his role as the Second Doctor. Robert Holmes did a fantastic job writing for both Doctors, unlike The Three Doctors, which, in my opinion, had both Pertwee and Troughton acting too similar. Don’t get me wrong, I actually liked how both Doctors had a weird dislike for the other incarnation, but the way it was presented wasn’t right.
The enemies were also pretty well thought out. The Sontarans could have had a bit more screen time or a bigger part, but the way they were presented and how they fit into the story was brilliantly done. Destari was a great villain too. A great 180 at the end too becoming a slight good guy once again. And then there’s Shockeye of the Quawncing Grig. In all honesty, I kind of felt bad for the guy. He didn’t truly know what he wanted to do was wrong. From where he’s from, all they know is how to hunt and eat. It’s in his DNA. Though, he did want to eat Jaime and Peri, so that’s sort of a downside.
There’s a reason for that though. Most of the classic episodes were written as allegories. Since Robert Holmes was a vegetarian, this episode was written as an allegory for the “evils” of hunting and eating meat. That was a bit much, considered the level of violence in this story. However, it still worked and was a great serial.
All in all, I really liked these episodes. If I had to rate it 1 to 10: 1 being Love and Monsters (no offence to fellow guest writer G. F. Roberts, just not my cup of tea) and 10 being Blink, I would give The Two Doctors about 7/10. Mainly for it overuse of the allegory and not much interaction between the Sixth and Second Doctors. Looking past my ranking of it, it still remains one of my Top 10 favourite Doctor Who stories.