“The Two Doctors” is an adventure of the twentysecond season of “Doctor Who” classic series which aired in 1985. It follows “The Mark of the Rani” and it’s a three parts adventure written by Robert Holmes and directed by Peter Moffatt.
The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and Jamie (Frazer Hines) are investigating the experiments carried out on the space station Chimera on behalf of the Time Lords. Dastari, the head of the project, has no intention to stop, and the discussion with the Doctor is interrupted only by the attack of Sontaran starships.
The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) is enjoying a little peace fishing though Peri (Nicola Bryant) finds that activity boring. Suddenly, the Doctor feels very weak and realizes that something serious is happening to him in his past. The only way to save himself is to discover what happened to him.
This DVD is rich in extras. There are typical contents such as production subtitles and a gallery of pictures from this adventure.
There are comments in the adventure alternative audio track by protagonists Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant and actors Frazer Hines and Jacqueline Pearce and director Peter Moffatt.
Music-only Option. The option to include in this adventure a new music specially composed by Peter Howell.
A Fix with Sontarans. The TV show “Jim’ll Fix It” aired on February 23, 1985 which just followed the second episode of this adventure. It’s a sketch not considered canon in “Doctor Who”.
Behind the Sofa: Robert Holmes and Doctor Who. A 45-minute documentary that explores the contribution to “Doctor Who” by writer Robert Holmes. A great tribute to one of the most important authors in the show.
Beneath the Lights. 25 minutes of studio recording from this adventure. It’s a filler.
Beneath the Sun. A 35-minute documentary about the locations in Spain where this adventure was filmed.
Adventures in Time and Spain. Gary Downie, who worked as a production manager of this adventure, talks about his work in this 30-minute documentary.
Wavelength. A radio program aired on September 20, 1984 that talks about the production of this adventure.
There’s also an “Easter egg” with a version of the opening and ending themes.
After “The Five Doctors”, the special for the twentieth “Doctor Who” anniversary, producer John Nathan-Turner was interested in having more multi-Doctor adventures. Patrick Troughton liked to reprise the role of the Second Doctor and accepted the offer.
Even better, Frazier Hines, who had a small role in “The Five Doctors” because of his commitments in the soap opera “Emmerdale Farm”, had taken a long break from that work and was ready to resume his role as Jamie in another “Doctor Who” adventure.
Producer John Nathan-Turner wanted to film an adventure in the U.S.A. because “Doctor Who” had become a series of some success overseas but needed a partner that would cover the costs, excessive for the series budget. It seemed that Lionheart, the U.S.A. show’s distributor, could provide the financial support required so the veteran author Robert Holmes was commissioned to write a story set in New Orleans.
Unfortunately, the agreement needed to finance the production of the adventure in the U.S.A. wasn’t finalized so first of all producer John Nathan-Turner had to find an alternative setting. Eventually, thanks to the fact that the cast and crew accepted a cut to the standards regarding food and accommodations it was possible to film “The Two Doctors” in the area of Seville, Spain. Of course, the story had to be revised significantly.
In “The Two Doctors” there are several contradictions regarding the Second Doctor and Jamie. Beyond the fact that they’re both visibly older than the days when they were the protagonists of “Doctor Who”, the Doctor is on a mission on behalf of the Time Lords but until the adventure “The War Games” the Doctor has no contacts with his planet in the show. In some “Doctor Who” books the Doctor works for the Time Lords after that adventure together with Jamie and Victoria, who is mentioned in “The Two Doctors”.
“The Two Doctors” includes the Sontarans, invented by Robert Holmes a few years earlier, who appear for the last time in the classic “Doctor Who” series. However, they’re not the main villains of this adventure. Holmes created the Androgums, humanoids who have an insatiable hunger for meat, including human’s. The author was a vegetarian and the Androgums are a metaphor for the carnivores which is rather crude compared to the subtleties we can usually find in his stories.
The Sixth Doctor era has often been marked by controversy because of the violence contained in the adventures but all in all in “The Two Doctors” there’s a black humor that generally softens it. This makes Shockeye, one of Androgums, one of the strengths of this adventure together with Chessene, an Androgum genetically enhanced to control her pulses and increase her intelligence.
In fact, “The Two Doctors” follows Chessene’s plans between scheming and doublecrossings for a plot that in the end doesn’t seem entirely consistent. This adventure started with a lot of ambition but because of the great changes made when the production had to be downsized it ended up being too long. Ironically, one could say that this was the style of some adventures of the Second Doctor.
Robert Holmes had written a story set in New Orleans that emphasized the differences between Americans and Brits and this element got lost. There was no time to rewrite the script properly, also to take advantage of the new setting. Some scenes were shoot in the streets of Seville but in the other scenes shot in Spain, the setting isn’t very important.
Some elements of the plot could’ve been developed further. For example, in theory the Time Lords are not involved in what happes outside Gallifrey but in “The Two Doctors” they send the Second Doctor to stop experiments theyt don’t approve of. Their hypocrisy was already shown by Robert Holmes in some previous adventures and for this reason we could expect more in a story he wrote.
“The Two Doctors” is a story with ups and downs so it’s quite controversial among “Doctor Who” fans, however there are the Second Doctor and Jamie and Peri is sexier than ever. 😉 All in all, despite its slow pace, I found it fun and despite its flaws in my opinion it’s quite good. The many extras on the DVD seem more targeted to the show’s fans so I recommend buying it especially to them. In region 2 nations, “The Two Doctors” DVD was included in the “Bred For War” boxset available on Amazon UK, which contains the adventures of the original series where Sontarans appear. If you have none of those adventures my advice is to buy that boxset.