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The Two Doctors

Reviewed by Rochelle Thickpenny


'Eternal blackness. No more sunsets. No more gumblejacks. Never more a butterfly.'

'Look at the size of that thing, Doctor.'
'Yes, Jamie, that is a big one.'

Coming from the pen of Robert Holmes, this 132 minute frolic is a gem amidst the not so highly respected era of the Sixth Doctor. The Two Doctors' recipe for success is its attractive location filming, memorable characters, returning favourites Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines, and Sontarans stirred in to add flavour. These ingredients all combine to create an appetising meal for the viewer. The main attraction of the story for fans is that Patrick Troughton and Colin Baker appear together, thus combining the two personalities of the Doctor. Sadly of course, this was Patrick's last Doctor Who role before his death. For the initial scenes of the first episode the story unfolds with the Second Doctor and Jamie effortlessly slipping into the genre of the colourful Sixth Doctor's era, although Jamie looks a little plump! There is however no doubt that the persona of the Second Doctor is still as strong as ever. For at least the first half of episode one, the viewer might be fooled into thinking that there have been no regenerations for the Doctor since the classic days of the black and white stories.

The story starts with the Second Doctor and Jamie on a mission on behalf of the Time Lords to halt some time travel experiments. The contradiction here is that I doubt the Second Doctor would have done anything like this willingly. It is always easier to find fault than to give credit where credit's due, however there are some criticisms that need addressing. Sometimes the story is too comical and flamboyant to be a credible and supposedly serious scenario, in particular part of the plot where we are witness to the antics of the Doctor as an Androgum and the humour of another scene only moments later when one of the main characters is about to be filleted. The original script called for the location to be New Orleans, USA with its integral influence being the restaurant atmosphere of that town, but as it was moved to Seville, Spain some elements of the story did not transfer at all well. The Sontarans are really just tacked on as a sub-plot. Their main influence is when they are on the space station and after this point they fade into the background and their involvement is never really satisfactorily resolved.

But the story has its sparkling gems. Jacqueline Pearce plays a fabulous villainess as the reengineered Androgum Chessene O' the Franzine Grig stealing many scenes with her cold persona, rejecting her heritage, manipulating everybody to her devilish whims, and her quest for power - which is at the heart of what the story is about. Another highlight is John Stratton's Shockeye O' the Quawncing Grig. He is such an overwhelming character, dominating every scene he's in. He has some great witticisms and razor-sharp humour. Stratton's portrayal is sadistic and hilarious at the same time. His most deliciously wicked scenes are those with Frazer Hines as Shockeye pursues his interest in sampling the taste of human flesh.

The Two Doctors works well because of its humour and light heartedness. It is great to watch if you take it at face value and don't concentrate on the plot.

This item appeared in TSV 49 (November 1996).

Index nodes: The Two Doctors