The Five Doctors
The Five Doctors
|Story No#||130 A|
video in 1996
With Peter Davison, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee,
Richard Hurndall, Tom Baker, and William Hartnell,
Carole Ann Ford, Nicolas Courtney, Elizabeth Sladen,
Lalla Ward, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson.
Written by Terrance Dicks. Script-edited by Eric Saward.
Directed by Peter Moffatt. Produced by John Nathan-Turner.
|Synopsis: The first five Doctors are taken out of time and thrust onto the Death Zone on Gallifrey to play the Game of Rassilon against enemies from the past and present.|
A Review by Matt Michael 22/4/98
The Five Doctors: Collector's Edition is ostensibly an updated, re-ordered version of the original movie. I must admit, however, that the only reason I bought it was because I'd missed out getting The Five Doctors the first (two) times around!
Obviously, the story remains unchanged, and it is difficult to see where the extra scenes have been inserted (probably they are in the Capitol), the only one which struck me was the use of different footage from Shada-- the fourth Doctor and Romana are returned to the punt at the same point as they were taken from it-- thus allowing Shada to be canonical.
The updated special effects are quite nice, but nothing to rave about. The best new effects are the vortices which capture the Doctors and companions, replacing the ugly black obelisks. The lightning on the chessboard has been redone, and overall the whole thing looks more polished.
However, I have to question the need for this update. I'm not sure how desirable it is to interfere with old stories-- The Five Doctors: Collector's Edition is hardly the intended end product of Peter Moffatt-- it's someone else's vision of what The Five Doctors should have been. This is faintly worrying-- can we expect the magma beast to be erased from The Caves of Androzani, or the giant fly to be replaced in The Green Death just because someone doesn't like those scenes? What about Season 23?! And how canonical are the new inserts anyway?
Overall, I don't mind The Five Doctors: Collector's Edition, I just don't think it was really necessary. A decent one-off, but a worrying precedent. For the original story I'll award 7/10, and for the Special Edition 7.5, just don't interefere in any more, lads. Please?
Original vs. Extended - The Technical Differences by Peter Niemeyer 18/8/00
After reading Matt Michael's review, I thought it would be interesting to document what was changed between the original and extended version of The Five Doctors, and comment on the extent to which it improves the episode. All of the time indices listed below are approximate, and assume that the "0:00:00" mark is the end of the opening credits.
1) Several scenes were added. For this list, I consider that a scene is denoted by a camera jump from one location to another, even if the jump is from one room to an adjacent room. (I did not consider changes in the camera's point of view as a change in scene, as there are often several points of view used in a single scene.)
|0:00:00||Opening interior shots of the Dark Tower|
|0:00:34||Turlough sits and starts to sketch|
|0:13:18||The 5th Doctor collapses|
|0:15:57||Borusa approaching the Council Room|
|0:26:24||The 5th Doctor attempts to send a signal to his other selves, but fails|
|0:30:52||The Master discovers the remains of one of the High Council*|
|0:49:34||The Brigadier complains he's "not built for this kind of thing anymore"|
|0:52:07||Turlough asks Susan if she can pilot the TARDIS|
|1:01:37||Sarah tries to hold of another Cybermen squad by throwing a rock|
|1:13:20||The Brigadier confesses he is feeling nauseau and fear|
|1:20:24||The Cybermen complete the bomb and back off|
2) Several lines of dialog were added to existing scenes.
|0:08:13||5th Doctor: "I'm fading"|
|0:11:20||K-9: "Danger. Doctor. Danger. Mistress!"*|
|0:29:26||1st Doctor: "And now, young fellow, tell me all about it."|
|0:30:36||Borusa: "I would prefer to wait alone."|
|0:43:00||Castellan's voice-over (and one quick cut to Castellan) was added to the 5th Doctor's escape from the Cybermen|
|0:45:25||1st Doctor: "Thank you, my dear."|
|1:08:53||Value of pi given by 1st Doctor is different than original version (and this time, the value he says is wrong)|
|1:17:50||Brigadier: "Don't ask me how we got here. It was like a cross between Guy Fawkes and Halloween."|
|1:18:24||Tegan: "My version isn't any better." Sarah: "Well which one is yours?"|
|1:21:30||Harp tune played by 5th Doctor is different than original version|
|1:22:34||Borusa: "Rassilon lives, Doctor. He cannot die. He is immortal."|
|1:26:20||Borusa: "It's time to go, Doctor. My immortality awaits."|
|1:35:32||5th Doctor: "Temporal fission. Old Rassilon is very clever."|
|1:36:52||Flavia: "This is a summons no Time Lord dare refuse. To disobey the will of the High Council will attract the severest of penalties."|
3) Several special effects were enhanced. These include:
a) The Time Scoop that captures the Doctors and his companions
b) The images of the 4th Doctor trapped in the vortex
c) The 5th Doctor as he fades away after his other selves are scooped)
d) The Dalek laser
e) The Death Zone thunderbolts
f) The firing of the Cybermens' guns
g) The lightning from the Checkerboard Floor in the Dark Tower
h) The way in which Yates, Liz, Jamie and Zoe disappear
i) Rassilon's voice and face
j) The departure of the Doctors and companions from the Tomb of Rassilon (Rassilon's "temporal fission")
4) There are numerous scenes where several seconds are added to the beginning and/or end of the scene, but nothing of consequence happens. For example, when the 2nd Doctor explains to the Brigadier that they are going to Rassilon's tomb, the extended version includes several additional seconds where we watch the 2nd Doctor and the Brigadier walk off, even though no dialog is spoken at this point and nothing new happens.
From a video production standpoint, I find the comparison of the extended and original version fascinating. It gives insight into the process of editing a television episode to reduce its length, and it's interesting to notice how some things in deleted scenes/dialog are referred to in surviving scenes/dialog, but I never really noticed something might be missing when first I saw the original version. For example, Flavia's line at 1:36:52 explains why the Doctor is in such a hurry to leave the Tomb of Rassilon. We can imagine why the Doctor is uninterested in staying on Gallifrey, but the original version, which lost the line about the severe penalities of disobeying the High Council, didn't so clearly convey why he was so anxious to leave immediately.
From a Doctor Who standpoint, the extended version has very little to offer. The scene where Sarah tries to hold off the Cybermen by throwing a rock at them made me laugh, and I'm sorry this bit got cut. But otherwise, the new material added nothing of real substance to the story. Furthermore, because the same amount of story is now being told in a geater span of time, the story seems to be a tad more plodding.
The bottom line: Unless you are a Doctor Who fan to the Nth degree, or a Doctor Who fan with an active interest in video production, then either version of The Five Doctors will suit you just fine, and there's certainly no reason to go out of your way to see both.
A Review by Finn Clark 30/1/01
I'd never seen the extended Five Doctors before. I don't buy videos. So when the DVD came, I eagerly bought it and... um, left it on the shelf for weeks. But at last I got around to watching it.
I think The Five Doctors is one of those stories that's almost impossible to assess objectively. Anyone can watch Talons of Weng-Chiang or The Twin Dilemma and produce an appropriate verdict, but getting a grip on the story behind The Five Doctors is like trying to juggle soap in the bathtub. The fanwank! The old faces! Uncle Terrance is prodding so many of our fannish buttons that it's hard to decide where our fanboy reactions stop and the objective quality of the story begins.
Think about it. All the other Doctor Who stories have a defined body of opinion. Everyone knows that Timelash is crap, or at least that lots of people think so. (Personally I rather enjoy Timelash, but that's another matter.) We have an established spectrum of points of view against which we can position our own viewpoints.
Not so with The Five Doctors. What's the consensus opinion? I don't think there is one. "Quite fun" or "personally I love it" is the nearest thing to an objective judgement I've ever seen.
So it is with pride and a certain sense of occasion that I'd like to say that in my opinion, The Five Doctors (special edition) is really good. Not just "vaguely amusing fanwank" but genuinely worth your time.
The plot is a simple quest, but there's nothing wrong with that. To keep things bubbling, there's also the Gallifrey subplot with treason and skulduggery in the High Council. This is great! Ainley and Davison are merry cats among the pigeons and never fail to keep things lively. This isn't just the best post-Deadly Assassin Gallifrey material, it's actually good too.
There are subtleties in Borusa. He's not Evil, or a cackling supervillain. There's something disturbed in that man; you can get a handle on where he's coming from psychologically. The whodunnit of Who's The Traitor is nicely done too, with the Castellan as fall guy and Flavia as the quiet one who keeps giving sinister looks and will surely turn out to have done it in the end. Except that she doesn't.
I never got a chance to appreciate the whodunnit aspect in the original, incidentally, because I received the Target novelisation on publication... several weeks before the TV story's broadcast. I didn't have the willpower to keep it on the shelf. For a completely different reason, modern fans are similarly deprived of the shock value of the original broadcast - but trust me on this. It's a good'un.
Basically The Five Doctors is good because of its characters. Yes, there are too many of them... but they make for a marvellous stew. Terrance never has to look far for a good scene; he just throws together another character combination and stands back to watch the sparks. Everyone here's a scene-stealer. Even Richard Hurndall is great! He's not William Hartnell, but there's a gloriously nasty edge to his performance. It's not often that TARDIS scenes are among a story's highlights, but that's the case here when the First Doctor's around.
Patrick Troughton is a delight. Anthony Ainley gets to have the time of his life, especially when winding up the Inner Council on Gallifrey. (Who else noticed the way the thunderbolts actively chase him and never appear in a non-Master scene?) Liz Sladen is oddly whiny and unsympathetic, but it's fun seeing a glimpse of her K9 and Company life.
Also, to my surprise, I really appreciated the difference with the Special Edition. The tone is set when we start with a montage of empty corridors and ghosts whispering in the Dark Tower. JNT complained that the extra footage turned an exciting story into a boring yarn, but the man was kidding himself. The Five Doctors was never exciting. A monster-fest, yes, but that's not the same thing. After its special editioning, The Five Doctors is spooky.
This is a place of ghosts and tombs, set in a nasty unsettling landscape that must be one of the best locations we've ever seen in Doctor Who. We have phantoms of all kinds, plus death and the living dead. The Doctor himself is in danger of leaving us, in more than one sense. Watch this as a ghost story and it's a whole new experience.
The new SFX are an improvement too. I wasn't so keen on the new timescoop, but had it been the original I'd have probably been unimpressed with the black triangle too. The biggest difference is in the chessboard scene, which at a stroke goes from "embarrassing lines drawn on a BBC micro" to "wow, cool!"
Even the continuity is spot-on (unlike with Terrance's later The Eight Doctors). You keep thinking you've found a slip, but you're always wrong. The Brigadier can remember Tegan because this is set after his memories returned in the 1983 segment of Mawdryn Undead. Jamie and Zoe would still have recognised Troughton after being returned to their own time... but they wouldn't have remembered the Brigadier. Troughton unfortunately remembers the events of The Three Doctors and The War Games, but there's not a lot we can do about that. While watching The Five Doctors I reluctantly believe in Season 6B, though I don't when watching The War Games. With such doublethink do fans stay sane. :-)
I was astonished by how much I rated The Five Doctors. This post could fit into radw's "stories you've changed your mind about" thread with no trouble at all. Of the two DVDs released so far, in my opinion this kicks the arse of Robots of Death - and I never expected to find myself saying that.
Bric-a-brac by Mike Morris 19/4/01
I did it. I got the DVD. I watched it. I've seen it. Finally, after a thoroughly ridiculous length of time, I've seen The Five Doctors. It's a hell of a weight off my mind. It felt silly, not having seen The Five Doctors. Most of my friends have seen it, even the ones that don't like Doctor Who. Even the ones without a television. Not having seen the original, this is a plain old review of the special edition, I'm afraid; although examining the list of "new" scenes that someone posted, I suspect that this version is probably better. Although if those horrible CGI cones are an improvement, god knows what the black triangles looked like.
I must say, I didn't know quite what to expect. As has been said, there doesn't seem to be a general consensus on this story. And, in a way, that's completely understandable, because The Five Doctors isn't really a story at all, more of a collection of "bits"... bits with the Third Doctor, and bits from Shada, the bit with William Hartnell... and of course an excuse for a whole host of name-checking (look, it's Mike Yates and Liz Shaw! No Jo Grant though). Formulating an opinion on the actual story itself is tricky, it's more a case of forming an opinion on each set-piece.
The one thing to get straight is that I found it immensely enjoyable. It's vastly different from watching most Doctor Who because of the way it's paced, as a ninety-minute film rather than four episodes. Because of all the necessary setting up with the time-scoop it takes a long time to get going, but because of that it feels like an actual epic, a factor added to by the way the story revolves around Borusa (one of the most successful recurring characters to appear in Doctor Who).
But the real reason for the success of The Five Doctors lies in... well... its tackiness. It really is a very, very tacky story indeed... lots of Doctors, lots of companions, and of course a host of familiar monsters. But The Five Doctors manages to be enjoyable by not holding back, by going for the tackiness with its teeth, by triumphantly parading it and turning it into an active virtue. And it really makes a virtue out of the real reason we like Doctor Who, the one we never admit; because its cosy and parochial, and ours. The Brigadier seems like anything but a military commander, Sarah Jane Smith does nothing but scream and whinge, the Third Doctor is incredibly patronising, nothing interesting is revealed about Susan Foreman, and the Second Doctor seems artificial and implausible; not to mention the silly Dalek at the start, or the mindless use of the Cybermen. And, although I tried very hard to dislike all this, I couldn't, because I secretly like all this stuff. And there's something rather wonderful about Uncle Terrance (Terrance Dicks! Even the writer is cosy!) writing a story that basically says, look, here's what your series was really about, it was nonsense, but that's okay. It's good to like this nonsense.
So, strangely, as a fan, watching The Five Doctors was rather wonderfully affirming for me.
And behind this is another factor; although most of The Five Doctors is fun-but-pants, occasionally a scene comes along which is genuinely excellent. The finale in particular is superb, but even the opening scenes on the Eye of Orion are just lovely. One of the great things about the Fifth Doctor's era was his friendship with his companions, and the naturalism of the early scenes are great. Davison's on-screen rapport with Janet Fielding is superbly established by this point, and after this story I finally realised that Tegan was probably the most convincing and plausible - and therefore the best - companion ever.
What's also astonishing is how, despite all our old favourites being back, Peter Davison completely, utterly outshines them. He's marvellous in this tale, completely at home in the role and producing some lovely moments of understated humour (the scene at the start where he faints is rather wonderful). This is partly due to the structure of the story (Only the Fifth Doctor really has any plot to engage with) and the way that the earlier Doctors are reduced to caricatures of themselves, but even so I was struck by just how believable the Fifth Doctor is; being confused but still bursting with energy, being ineffectual and then winning the day. No-one, I'm afraid, will ever be better than Tom (I'm a traditionalist that way), but the more Fifth Doctor stories I see the more firmly I'm installing him as out on his own in second.
Not the Mind Probe! Immmmmmmmmmmortality! Great Balls of Fire! Danger readings(?) now much higher, Mistress! A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about! Dialogue a tad on the corny side, and so quite marvellous.
Another point of interest is the Raston Warrior Robot. The "cyber-massacre" scenes are, I think, unique in Who history as the only action scenes that are genuinely quite superb. In some wonderfully directed scenes, the Robot is just great (another Who oddity; a killing machine that's actually dangerous). Who'd have thought it? Wanted; monster. Budget; low. Solution; hire a ballet dancer, dress him in an old spandex costume from Earthshock spray-painted silver, and get him to chuck paper plates about the place. Results; a positive triumph. And I love the noise the thing makes when it disappears.
Speaking of the direction, it's a classic mixture of Peter Moffat's strengths and weaknesses. Peerless when it comes to location work and action sequences, he's simply inept when we need some tension and drama. The shock-scenes with the Yeti and the Cyberman's hand coming through the wall are ponderous, and the later scenes in the Tower are nowhere near as scary as they should be. So while the on-location stuff in the Death Zone is flawlessly directed, the Tower scenes are a disappointment. I agree with Finn Clark; this is a ghost story (oddly, not a genre Doctor Who has done all that often), at least towards the end. But if it was a ghost story directed Douglas Camfield or Graeme Harper, well, it might have been as frightening as anything the show ever produced.
The other Doctors, back in their old roles, appear oddly dated. Jon Pertwee seems to be firmly in his most patronising mould and, although Patrick Troughton is as full of energy as ever, with some great moments ('I see you've had this place redecorated! Don't like it...'), I found his Doctor very hard to swallow this time around. Some of the scenes, for example when the Doctor wonders whether Rassilon himself has brought them to the Death Zone, just aren't believable. That said, I've never been the biggest fan of Troughton's Doctor (sorry, sorry, I know this is unheard of, but there's nothing I can do about it), so I'm not really a neutral observer.
Caught in amongst them is Richard Hurndall, who I found rather impressive. He isn't, of course, William Hartnell, but then I think that's a good thing (I'm glad he didn't say 'hmm', for example); rather than a Hartnell impression we have Hurndall playing his own interpretation of the first Doctor, and he plays him well, a spiky old man who the viewer doesn't quite trust. However, even if Carole Ann Ford was the greatest actress in the world she couldn't make a woefully under-scripted Susan Foreman interesting, which is a tad surprising given the pre-credit sequence. All that really happens with her is that she gets eyed up by Peter Davison. Hmm...
The Five Doctors is sometimes called a reunion, and that's vaguely what it feels like; a reassuring tour through the past, and through good-and-bad memories. It does this well, so well that I'd say that The Five Doctors is a marvellous tribute. It's not a tribute to Doctor Who at its best, but to Doctor Who as a whole. Warts-and-all, patchy, frequently-pretty-dodgy Doctor Who. It's cosy, of course, but as a celebration of a twenty-year old show I'd argue that it should be.
It's a party. I don't like thinking too much at parties. I mean... parties are just a bit of fun, right? And The Five Doctors is great, great fun.
In short, rather wonderful.
How good an alternative? by Tim Roll-Pickering 26/7/02
The original version of The Five Doctors is one of the strongest stories in the entire history of the series so an alternative version is a very dangerous move as it runs the risk of alienating the fans of the original whilst at the same time not satisfying those who found the original disappointing. Fortunately this is not the case with The Five Doctors Special Edition. The extended scenes, alternate order and occasional trims do significantly alter the tone at times - for instance the original opens with a TARDIS scene like many a Hartnell adventure but the new version now has a 'tease' of what lies ahead by starting with the Dark Tower. Throughout the story these additional little touches surprise and delight, offering an alternative take on events. It's clear that someone involved has read the novelisation for ideas - for example when the scene showing that Tom Baker's Doctor has been released is a return to the river Cam as in the novelisation rather than a scene of the Doctor lying by the TARDIS as in the original. It's been some years since I read the novelisation and haven't got it to hand so I can't tell if the scenes involving the various Doctors being timescooped, the Player putting pieces on the board and the Peter Davison Doctor reacting are now in the same order as in the book but this new order generally works better since we wonder what has happened to the earlier incarnations and then how long the current Doctor will survive before cutting to the next Doctor being captured. The extensions to scenes rarely feel like they are in any way dragging out the story or giving away key moments. Of special note is the shot of Peter Davison's Doctor smiling at Susan before Richard Hurndall's Doctor disapprovingly interrupts. It is easy to see how this shot has generated much speculation.
Peter Howell returns to the story to enhance the music and somehow manages to improve upon what was an already impressive score. The flute theme for Patrick Troughton's Doctor as he moves through the wilderness is especially memorable, whilst the extension of the music to accommodate extensions to scenes, such as the one where the Doctor uses the Master's transmat recall to escape the Cybermen, makes it seem as though the music was always written like that. The stereo version of the theme music is highly memorable, whilst the use of a piece of the opening music reversed to accompany the Special Edition credits is a clever move and creates a highly effective sound.
The story's video effects have also been updated, with the result that the thunderbolts and lightning on the chessboard now look a lot more realistic than the BBC Micro Computer efforts of the original. The new timescoop is especially effective, although why the original has been included at the start of the UK VHS release where the BBC logo is timescooped is beyond me. There are even some little additions such as the Cybermen firing their weapons in battle against the Raston Warrior Robot. Unfortunately there are a few lapses towards the end. It does indeed make sense for Rassilon to use the timescoop to send everyone home, so why the Master just fades away is a mystery. Also the recorded material of the various Doctors and companions trooping into the TARDIS makes little sense now that the timescoop is being used to get everyone home. And just what is the Doctor's line about 'temporal fission' supposed to mean?
Although there are a few points where the changes are questionable in general this updating works because it enhances the story no end and makes it highly viable for watching again and again. The more subtle work that has gone into improving the quality of the original film and videotape is generally unnoticeable - a sign of how effective it has been - and the result is a strong special that was a good choice to launch the DVD releases. 10/10
A Review by Terrence Keenan 26/8/02
It's an anniversary tale, based on the quest model and featuring 3 official Doctors, a replacement first, a pair of clips from Shada and a prologue bit from The Dalek invasion of Earth.
It's silly, but, that's the point. It's not supposed to take itself seriously. Crikey, if you can't have a bit of fun in an anniversary story, then when can you?
The performances vary. Peter is very good, as always. Janet Fielding works very well with Richard Hurndall, whose first Doc impersonation is well done. Jon Pertwee kinda coasts along. Lis Sladen is her usual fun self. And Nick Courtney and Patrick Troughton make a fine double act.
It's a shame that big Tommy B didn't partake in this, but scene from Shada is brilliant and so wonderfully season 17 it hurts. (C'mon, you love it, don?t you!) He mentions in the Tom Baker Years video that he wished he'd had done this story, but at the time, he felt the need to distance himself. So much for what could have been.
The DVD version keeps the movie format, which is the better way to see this story. I haven't seen the episodic version in ages, but I could imagine that the cliffhangers would have roughly cut into the natural flow of the story. The new effects look all right, and the intro corridor bit is a nice touch.
However, if you're in the US, the special fun in watching this story is the commentary track, featuring Terrance Dicks and Peter Davison. It's funny, as in pee your pants funny. Uncle Terrance is in his element, explaining story elements, ragging on the Cybermen, the explanation of the Raston Warrior Robot, and how he tries to put "No, Not the Mind Probe!" in his subsequent story efforts. The funniest moment is where Uncle Terrance describes the confrontation between Pertwee and Ainley as "The Writer's Revenge," due to Pertwee's stubbornness on the set about scripts. Davison has some fun things to say about his time on the show, the shooting of the story, and rags on the Cybermen as well.
I like The Five Doctors. It's a fun one that plays to my inner Anorak. Yes, there should have been more interaction between the Docs, but the few moments they are together are good fun. The real treat in the DVD is the commentary, which alone is worth the price.
A Review by Mark Potter 23/9/02
George Lucas has it, Red Dwarf has it and even Doctor Who suffers from it. What am I talking about? Well the curse of the special edition. Why do creators of sci-fi feel the need to go and tinker with things when they are fine (I could have used a cliche there so excuse me for not being too obvious).
When this foul piece of film first appeared on video it promised us stunning new effects and what did we get, a rubbish effect when the characters were teleported to the Death Zone. Yet Susan and Sarah's extreamly unconvincing falls remained, surely someone at the Beeb could have chopped those bits out.
The most heinous crime of all was the removal of the classic line from the Cyberman (you all know the one I mean), never has a more out of character moment provided so many laughs to the viewer. The DVD release stated that the (not so) Special Edition was not intended as a replacement for the origional, so why not give us both versions on the same disc, oh because it is BBC policy to suck as much money as they can from Doctor Who fans.
Thank goodness for e-bay where I managed to pick up the origional version for a bargain price. You're probably thinking this isn't really a review more of a rant, so here comes the analysis.
Four Doctor's and several companions team up to try and escape from the Death Zone where they have been plonked alongside a number of villains. Along the way many familiar faces turn up and everyone lives happily ever after. After a promising start - the clip of Hartnell before the opening credits is very good - everything goes a bit daft with as I mentioned previously Susan and Sarh's (unintentional) comedy pratfalls, they are both worse than anything Jar Jar Binks has ever done.
That's not to say it's all bad, the Cybermen being decimated by the Warrior robot is excellent and Pertwee and Troughton spark off each other as usual, it's just a shame that Tom Baker didn't want to play.
So a strange tale with moments to make you chuckle and some to make you cringe and even a few to remind you of why Doctor Who is/was one of the greatest TV series ever.
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 17/5/04
The Region 2 DVD release features the special edition of The Five Doctors, and while it doesn`t really matter which version you watch, what the end result leaves you with is basically extended scenes, and added special effects. These come notably from Shada to better illustrate the Fourth Doctor`s role and most notably on the chessboard, where lightening replaces the green bolts.
Of the special features there is a selection of music, nothing special but ok if you like it. As this was the first DVD release it ultimately shows too, some of the subtitles are terrible and a rerelease with the original story would be more than welcome.
A Review by Jamie Beckwith 6/12/11
I've seen The Five Doctors hundreds and hundreds of times. My VHS copy is all but worn out. However, I've never seen the special edition with rejigged scenes and SFX and never really saw the point. It's not that I think I'm a purist because I'm really not, it's just, whilst I freely admit the plot doesn't stand up to scrutiny and it's all a load of twaddle, it is tremendous fun and I'm not sure what changes would do to it.
I'll start with the special effects then. Hated them. I know the black triangle is feeble-looking, but actually it was a darn sight better than the swirly translucent cone. The thunderbolts are improved in the sense that they seem to actually hit the spot where a physical explosion happens, but other than that I didn't like them. The Dalek's extermination effect was lame, trying to emulate Remembrance of the Daleks but failing. Rassilon is made all but unintelligible. About the only decent tarted-up effect was the chess board of death, again mainly because the bolts of energy now matched the explosions.
Some of the rejigged scene work. There is more of an air of mystery by starting with omnious shot of the Tower of Rassilon before going on to the Eye of Harmony and even then letting that set the mood before going in to the way to bright TARDIS. Other bits dropped in to the piece don't necessarily detract but don't seem to overally add much either. I can't say my experience was greatly enriched by an extra three seconds of Patrick Troughton clambering over rocks, or of President Borusa striding through the Capitol.
I guess I'm probably too attached to the original but it's certainly the one I'm going to watch in the future. Give me black triangle, less Cybermen and the bonkers music any day.