“The Three Doctors” is the first adventure of the tenth season of “Doctor Who” classic series, which aired between the end of 1972 and the beginning of 1973. It follows “The Time Monster” and it’s a four parts adventure written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin and directed by Lennie Mayne.
A strange signal apparently faster than light is just the beginning of an attack against the UNIT headquarters. The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning) escape one of these attacks, which become more and more massive. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) is in an impossible situation and the Doctor is forced to send a distress signal to the Time Lords.
Even Gallifrey is under attack and the planet’s energy is sucked by what appears to be a black hole. The Doctor is their only hope and the situation is so desperate that they decide to set aside the First Law of Time and send the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) to work together with the Third Doctor. The two Doctors discover a terrible danger, also thanks to the suggestions of the First Doctor (William Hartnell).
The original edition contains a good amount of extras while the Special Edition is rich in extras. In both editions there are typical contents such as production subtitles and a gallery of pictures from this adventure. The Special Edition also contains the Radio Times Listings and a promo of the “Doctor Who” DVDs soon to be published.
There are various comments in the adventure alternative audio track of both editions by protagonists Katy Manning and Nicholas Courtney and producer Barry Letts.
The original edition contains:
BBC1 trailer. A trailer of 1972 that promotes the first episode of this adventure.
Patrick Troughton Interview / Pebble Mill At One. An interview with Patrick Troughton and a look at various monsters and special effects.
Blue Peter. Jon Pertwee shows his Whomobile in the program “Blue Peter”, where some clips from old “Doctor Who” episodes are also shown.
BSB Highlights. A trailer and some interviews for a weekend dedicated to “Doctor Who” on the satellite channel BSB.
The Five Faces of Doctor Who. A trailer for the repeats of some of “Doctor Who” adventures in 1981.
40th Anniversary Celebration. A special editing of “Doctor Who” titles to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
The Special Edition also contains:
Happy Birthday Doctor Who. A documentary on the production of this adventure.
Was Doctor Who Rubbish? A defense of the classic “Doctor Who” series.
Girls, Girls, Girls – The 1970s. Actresses Caroline John, Louise Jameson and Katy Manning talk about what it meant to be a girl in “Doctor Who” in the ’70s.
For a long time “Doctor Who” fans had been asking for an adventure in which the various Doctors appeared together. This idea wasn’t taken into account until the monet arrived to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the show, when the production team decided that at least on this occasion it made sense.
Actors Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell agreed to reprise the role of the Doctor and writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin were commissioned to write the story. When the work seemed at a good point, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks discovered that William Hartnell’s health problems were serious and the actor had memory problems.
The role of the First Doctor had to be reduced and Terrance Dicks modified the script so that William Hartnell was just in a few scenes in which he was isolated from the other characters. In this way, it would be possible to record them separately allowing him to read his lines.
“The Three Doctors” is a celebration of “Doctor Who” so the Doctor, in his three incarnations, is more than ever at the center of the story. This basis is at the same time the strength but also the weakness of this adventure because allows to give much space at least to the Second and Third Doctor but reduces UNIT to a ather ridiculous role.
Despite the really dramatic story, with a threat so great that even the Time Lords have to struggle for their survival, the tone of “The Three Doctors” tends to be lighthearted. In many moments where there should be great tension, the Second and Third Doctor bicker among themselves. The First Doctor, despite having a limited role, makes his contribution to this comedy, especially with his joke about his replacements he defines a dandy and a clown.
The comedy works really well with the Doctors, also works with Sergeant Benton, much less with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, reduced to a caricature of himself. UNIT, introduced in “Doctor Who” as a military force ready to fight alien threats, in the course of time had become too often a comic relief.
Omega is also affected by the tone of “The Three Doctors”. His character is really tragic and actor Stephen Thorne is really good in his purely vocal performance. The problem is that his drama is a bit wasted, in part because of the tone not always serious enough of the story but also because the character isn’t sufficiently developed.
Omega deserved an appropriate depth because he’s an important figure in “Doctor Who” mythology. As he is, he tends to have too much ranting. On one hand, the viewers tend to sympathize with his situation but on the other they get tired of his constant lamentations.
In the end, “The Three Doctors” is a celebration of “Doctor Who” anniversary and from this point of view it works. Despite its flaws, I think it’s really enjoyable adventure which also has its importance in the show’s mythology.
The original edition of the DVD is a good product with many extra from that period. The Special Edition also contains other interesting extras, too bad “Jon Pertwee at Panopticon” isn’t included because it would make it really fantastic. However, it’s a must-have for anyone interested in “Doctor Who”.
In Region 2 nations, the Special Edition is part of the “Revisitations 3” box set – available on Amazon UK – so a global judgement of that box set must necessarily be given only at the end of the reviews of the adventures it contains.