Doctor Who: The Three Doctors – DVD Review

“A dandy and a clown!”

The Doctor is in dire need of help with some monsters as well as a way to celebrate his ten years on the air.  Both situations usually have you calling upon old friends for help.  What resulted is a cracking adventure that features the Doctor’s previous incarnations. 

A gel-like plasma creature arrives on Earth and hunts down the Doctor (Jon Pertwee).  As the creature cuts a close call, the Doctor, Jo (Katy Manning), and Sgt. Benton (John Levene) duck inside the TARDIS to escape.  The Doctor calls on the Time Lords for help. The Time Lords themselves are in crisis as their energy is being drawn off into a black hole. 

They send the Doctor’s earlier selves to join him and the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) pops up in the TARDIS.  The first Doctor (William Hartnell), caught in a time eddy and able only to advise, deduces that the creature is a time bridge. The third Doctor and Jo then give themselves up to it and are transported to a world of antimatter beyond the black hole. 

The second Doctor, Benton and the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) are trapped in the TARDIS and on the advice of the first Doctor they switch off the ship’s force field, and the whole UNIT building is transported through the black hole. 

Behind these events is Omega (Stephen Thorne), a figure from Time Lord history whose solar engineering provided the power for time travel. He has been trapped in the black hole ever since and now wants the Doctors to swap places with him.

1973 saw the tenth anniversary of Doctor Who and Terrence Dicks and Barry Letts thought a celebration was in order.  They decided to act on an idea that was always tossed about – the Doctor meeting himself.  Troughton was willing and Letts had called up Hartnell and he was interested as well.  Things seemed to be going swimmingly and equal parts were planned for all Doctors. 

However, a call from Hartnell’s wife revealed that he wasn’t in as good of health as was thought, so his part was drastically re-written and he only plays a cameo through the TARDIS monitor with his parts being filmed in one day and lines helped by cue cards.  It is still a delight to see him return to the role he originated, though he doesn’t look in good health. 

The interaction with Pertwee and Troughton is fantastic (and even caused some behind-the-scenes friction since both had very different working styles, though each would work that into some memorable convention appearances).  It’s wonderful how their Doctors rub each other the wrong way.  It’s certainly a celebration on all counts.  Not only that, but the revelation of more about Gallifrey is grand and even posits a new villain that will even pop up again.   

The Three Doctors is presented in fullscreen.  Disc one includes special features: a commentary with Manning, Courtney, and producer Barry Letts, a pop up trivia track, the 20 minute “Pebble Mill at One” show that has interviews with Troughton and Who visual effects wizard Bernard Wilkie, the 13 minute “Blue Peter” show where Pertwee shows off the Whomobile, the 10 minute “BSB Highlights” is from a 1990 Who convention and has interview footage with Courtney, Pertwee, and others, the 4 minute “Five Faces of Doctor Who trailer” was for a Doctor Who event on the BBC, the 1 minute “BBC 1 trailer” was for the first episode, the 3 minute “40th Anniversary promo,” and the Radio Times listings on DVD-ROM.  Disc two contains the 23 minute “Happy Birthday to Who” making of, the 14 minute “Was Doctor Who Rubbish?” which defends the old show, the 21 minute “Girls, Girls, Girls – 1970s” where Manning, Louise Jameson, and Caroline Johns sit down and talk about their times on the show, and a photo gallery. 

You may want to hold on to your old copy of Three Doctors as this new version is missing 30 minutes of convention footage, but this new edition is certainly a celebration.  Not only of a fantastic episode, has meeting of Doctors, but of one of the longest running showed on television. 

Visit the DVD database for more information.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.