Doctor Who [Enemy Within]
The Space Museum
Dimensions in Time
A Special for Children in Need
7 minutes each
|Dates||Nov. 26, 1993 -
Nov. 27, 1993
With Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker,
Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy,
a galore of companions, and the cast of Eastenders.
Produced by John Nathan-Turner.
|Synopsis: The Rani's collection of a universal menagerie needs all seven Doctors. With two collected, she sets a trap for the remaining five.|
Well, What Did You Expect? by Carl Malmstrom 25/5/98
As with Time and the Rani and Silver Nemesis, I'm going to take the opposite stance from everybody else with Dimensions in Time. Maybe it's because I never expected a full, complex story to be told in 15 minutes, or maybe it's because I loved seeing the five living Doctors together, but whatever the reason, I truly enjoyed Dimensions in Time.
If you expect me to defend the plot, the acting, or the directing you may be disappointed, because I see a distinct lack of all three in the story. However, that's not really what's important, is it? The main point here is that you get to see Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy (along with more companions than you can count) together just once. Even if Tom Baker's and Peter Davison's combined screen time is less than two minutes, at least Tom Baker shot fotage actually meant for the story it aired in. Besides, I think that if I tried hard, I could find one or two Hartnell or Colin Baker stories that had worse acting or flimsier plots than Dimensions in Time. And those stories weren't shot to raise money for charity.
So the bottom line is...? Try to sit back and watch it as one last chance to see a lot of Doctors and companions together one last time in a BBC-produced story. Don't watch it for the acting or the plot, just watch it for the Doctor Who-ness. Trust me, it's a lot more fun that way.
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 18/9/98
As the only new BBC produced, televised Doctor Who to celebrate the show`s thirtieth anniversary, it is debatable whether Dimensions In Time actually works. To have the Doctor turn up in Albert Square, home to the characters of BBC1`s EastEnders, seems a little far-fetched. But so was some Doctor Who and, after all, he did visit the Land Of Fiction, so there is no reason why he shouldn`t be there.
The plot itself is confused in its own simplicity; set over a thirty year time period, the Rani intends to trap the seven incarnations of the Doctor in a time loop. If this was all the plot were about then the episode length would be justified. But throwing in various monsters from the Doctors past, cloning companions, controlling evolution and capturing three incarnations of the Doctor is a lot to swallow (I`ve assumed the Fourth Doctor was trapped in his TARDIS.)
All the companions and the Doctors seem to be struggling for equal screen time, alongside the Albert Square residents themselves. The model heads of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton are hardly flattering representations either. It is passable at best really, with too many eggs in one basket,and two short episodes to match. What interaction there is between the stars from both shows is pleasing however, as is the introduction of a companion for the Rani. Its all good fun really, depending on your mood, but why wasn`t Dot Cotton featured?
A Review by Alan Thomas 18/4/01
One of the first Dr Who stories I saw was Dimensions In Time, and I am here to defend it. The story is much more enjoyable if seen as a 'side step' (a new theory that has been invented by the latest short stories collection) and it is excellent to watch if only for the sight of Pertwee, Baker I, Davison, Baker II, and McCoy all strumming their stuff on screen. An affectionate ode to all the fans of Doctor Who and EastEnders.
The 3D effect worked as well, and it's a shame that it isn't going to be released on video, as there is a great marketing opportunity here. If it was released in November, the proceeds from the sales could go to Children In Need, and a pair of 3D glasses could be included in the video package, as well as extra features such as documentaries and interviews. Excellent. This is a wonderful tribute to two series. If taken seriously, it falls flat on its face, but if it is taken as a bit of non-canonical fun, it's brilliant.
A Review by John Wilson 24/9/01
"It's as though someone is rooting through my personal time stream." "But what on Earth for?" "Earth…yes."
Weird, fun, and a little embarrassing to watch at the same time. The first three minutes alone feature more scene-chewing than a normal Doctor Who episode. In the first scene we see the evil Rani barking orders at her young assistant while clay heads of the late William Hartnell and the late Patrick Troughton spiral around her TARDIS console room. If that's not enough to make you think you're having the DTs, you're then presented with a scene of Tom Baker's Doctor in Tetris-land kicking the OTT - meter up a notch as he warns his other selves.
I still enjoyed this story, though, even if it didn't make a lick of sense. It was cool seeing all those Doctors and companions stirred together in one big mix (Seeing the 3rd Doctor paired with Melanie and the 6th Doctor paired with Ace was bizarre). Jon Pertwee (in his last appearance as the Doctor, sadly) and Colin Baker in particular seemed the most enthusiastic to be involved in the project.
It's enjoyable if you don't take it seriously.
"I should be taking it easy, not bounding around like some megaluthian slime skimmer" by Gareth McG 28/3/02
Dimensions in Time had exactly the right ingredients for a modern multi-Doctor adventure. While I was disappointed at the time, in retrospect I'm glad that The Dark Dimension never saw the light of day because, lets face it, by 1993 Tom Baker, who was to assume the lead role, looked old, faded and bereft of the dark curls, fine features and tall, lean figure that ultimately give him his Bohemian aura. Our memories of him may well have been tainted had he returned for a feature-length special. In contrast, Dimensions in Time reminds us of our heroes in action for a brief moment without taking itself too seriously. As John Wilson points out, it's almost like some sort of weird acid trip.
There are fleeting reminders of Baker's inimitable, authoritative voice and unmistakable wit, we get Pertwee at his snooty, intolerant best, Davison in a typical action sequence, a fumbling McCoy and even glimpses of Hartnell and Troughton. Only Colin Baker is slightly unlike how we remembered him but that's no bad thing because he's far friendlier. Both the TARDIS and Bessie are here alongside a new theme tune, while the lecherous Rani does her best wicked witch impression and many of the monsters fittingly appear in cheap skate costumes. By the Doctors side are a series of the most memorable companions, all baffling the life out of legendary stars of another English institution - EastEnders. When Romana mysteriously disappears through the doors of Albert Square's most famous watering hole, Mike Reid, in the guise of Frank Butcher, hilariously observes, "Well I've seen them thrown out of the Vic but, er, never dragged in." Everything was in aid of charity, fans were employed as extras and we watched all this in the space of just 13 minutes whilst wearing the most ridiculous 3-D specs. What great fun.
In summary, Dimensions in Time was a suitably cosy, camp and spirited celebration for one of British TV's finest. It may not be "real" Doctor Who but when it comes to the 90's you can give me this over The TV movie any day.
'Certainly I... I mean we... are difficult to get rid of!' by Tim Roll-Pickering 23/7/02
For me that last line is wonderful. It gives such a positive message about the fate of Doctor Who that no matter what might happen, no matter how old it may get it will always survive in some form or another. At the time of the series' thirtieth anniversary celebrations this was a wonderful message of hope for the future.
Dimensions in Time was bitterly panned when it was shown back in 1993 but with hindsight it is easy to see how much of this was fall out from those saddened by the failure of The Dark Dimension and did not feel that this was in any way a substitute. Had this come out in addition to The Dark Dimension then fans may have had a very different reaction. The other problem arises from the 3-D effect. Normally most 3D film and television is done using the 'two colours' system in order to generate the three dimensional effect, but not only is the resultant image monochrome, it is also hideous to watch for viewers who haven't got the glasses and thus useless for television. Dimensions in Time (and a number of other 3D items on the BBC around this time) instead uses a different system based on lighter and darker images taking longer to reach the brain and movement going in the correct direction. Whilst this can result in 3D images that are perfectly watchable in 2D without the glasses, the side effect is that the picture has to be constantly moving and the script has to be specifically written with the effect in mind. The result is a story that is exceptionally fast paced and rarely has time to pause and give explanations. Consequently there are some critical questions left unanswered in the story, the most obvious being whether or not the Doctor's companions are actually being sucked in or if somehow individual companions are changing their form but retaining their memories from one companion to the next. As a result it is difficult to keep track of things at time. Otherwise the story a straightforward tale of an old enemy of the Doctor seeking to imprison him but the Doctor finds a way to escape and consequently it is the old enemy who gets trapped.
There are tonnes of old appearances by past companions and monsters, but one of the absolute highlights is the encounter between the Brigadier and Colin Baker's Doctor, filling a gap left by the television series. The cameos by members of the EastEnders cast don't intrude much at all and succeed in giving a sense of a real world going on around the conflict between the Doctor and the Rani. As has often been noted there are some discrepancies with EastEnders continuity such as the Queen Vic being red in the 1973 sequences (it was brown in the 1980s) and characters such as Cathy appearing in the 2013 sequences when they have now left the show (although several cast members have returned after absences over the years). I also find it hard to belief that the tube trains will have been replaced by 2013 but that's a minor point!
With most of the cast only getting a minute at most on screen it's hard to spot the noteworthy performances, but all the Doctors give good performances and apart from Tom Baker, who is limited to a scene broadcasting a message for others, all slip effortlessly into their old roles. Kate O'Mara once more brings the Rani to life, though at times she seems motivated more by revenge than by the need to remove a consistent thorn in her experiments. The use of model heads to represent the Hartnell and Troughton Doctors is perhaps not the best move that could have been made but understandable given the complexities of the 3D process though nowadays an effect similar to the time scoop in The Five Doctors Special Edition could provide a suitable 3D image. Fundamentally Dimensions in Time is a quick skit designed to raise money for charity but it also provides a chance to see the Doctors come together once more to fight an adversary on their anniversary and shows that the series won't just fade away. For that it deserves to be thoroughly commended. 7/10