Time Crash

Production Code 2007 Children in Need special You were my Doctor!
Dates November 16, 2007

With David Tennant, Peter Davison
Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Graeme Harper
Executive Producers: Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner.

Synopsis: The fifth Doctor is accidentally brought into the tenth's TARDIS.


A Review by Bradford Brown 28/5/08

Why don't they do a Children In Need special every year? Two done, two winners!

This one has two problems, I'll hit them first. First, Last of the Time Lords and Time Crash both use the same ending scene. But that's more a problem with Last than this- better planning should have gone into the conclusion of Last of the Time Lords.

Second, whereas the 2005 Children in Need special served a very important function - showing us Rose's process of accepting/reacting to the regeneration process - this one seems almost a throwaway idea, not really important to the larger plot threads.

That's all overshadowed by the good stuff! Tennant and Davison both shine brillantly here. And the interaction between them? Why couldn't The Five Doctors have been like this? These two play off each other wonderfully.

Notice the mention of LInDA? Who, exactly, were those people from Love & Monsters? Will we ever see how the Fifth Doctor knew them? If the Fifth Doctor knew them, why did they have so little information on the Doctor in Love & Monsters? Why weren't they the least bit surprised at the Tenth looking so different than the Fifth? It'll be interesting to see if this is ever explored.

Overall, a satisfying short for a dead time with only (the, IMO, inferior) Torchwood on air.

Grade: A-

A Review by Graham Pilato 17/6/08

A bit of brief fannish indulgence here. Anyone who was a big fan of the Fifth Doctor from 1981-84, especially if they have also fallen for the highly pop-friendly new series (especially the Tenth Doctor and all his own fannishness) will find this tiny episode entirely charming. And, as the case may be, that's me.

It couldn't be more of a cream puff, though.

"You were MY Doctor." Interesting statement, Mr. Tennant. I'm sure that was you talking and not the Tenth Doctor. But then, the new series has really existed so much on the giddy edge of the self-conscious fan revival that it is so often, that I really was pretty ready for that. And it does make sense a bit... we do that in our own lives, don't we? We go through our lives and find different periods in our own past that resonate with us more than others do from time to time. I can relate.

This was written by Steven Moffat, but it feels a lot like it was improvised on the spot with some preparation by the two Doctor Who actors. The comments on how Davison has aged particularly seem on the spot. But then, maybe they were... The justification for an old actor showing up for the anniversary or fan-indulgent return performance looking older has only happened once, with the Second Doctor's reappearances being justified by a new timeline for him in the novels (a "season 6b".) Otherwise, like here, the agedness of number Five just seems a little strange for number Ten to comment on, funny as it is. In fact, it comes off as a part of the superficial appreciation of the quirks of the older Davison's Doctor that goes on here.

But sometimes surface is all we can talk about. Especially in an eight-minute episode.

Some won't care for it at all - mostly because it's totally inconsequential and indulgent - but I was totally fanboyishly charmed. Which, of course, is the point.

But not everyone is really a fan yet... By that I mean: a Doctor Who fan that's worth his salt. Or her salt. And by that I mean: 1) a new fan that actually knows something about the whole of the 44 years of Who and can intelligently comment on why it was both good and bad that there was no TV Who for most of the 90s. Or 2) an old fan that actually picked up on Doctor Who in the 90s and has something to say about how McCoy both ruined the character and was also beloved for some pretty understandable reasons by a lot of us nutters because of all those books which were "too deep and broad for the small screen" or something. Or 3) an old fan that's really an old fan and actually watched the "classic" series and when it was on for the first time and really remembers how awful McCoy was at first and how in some ways it was a relief to get a new Doctor after that annoyingly loud guy with the ridiculous coat... Well, no one agrees on McCoy now, and really almost no one ever has, but at least some of us remember what an epic, dark, and clown-like character his Doctor was, there. (This is the kind of fan I am.) Or 4) an old fan of the old Doctor Who, who knows it, loves some part of it, and knows exactly why - because it's been around so long and been so present as part of the public British (and world) imagination for so many years. In any case, these new-series-only fans don't, can't know yet what it means for David Tennant (nee MacDonald) to be on the same stage with his honest to TARDIS hero, the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison (nee Moffat), his childhood icon.

These kids today... They're kids.

This new series has not even made its long-term fans quite yet too sure what the long term really means when it comes to this mysterious hero. Sure, we all know that this is a revival for television, but what many new series fans don't know much about - and in some ways none of us knows much about - is the kind of endgame that this all is leading to. We don't know the new Doctor too well when he's just the "new Doctor". Compare three years in with some semi-well-developed characteristics of the two new Doctor Whos to 26 years, or even 44 years in. We have seen so much variety in performance and adventures add up to quite a sum of a Time Lord, us worth-our-salt fans. What is it to be a diehard, totally enthralled fan of a three year phenomenon? Longer than Twin Peaks and shorter than Blake's 7. Those are some serious cult fandoms there, but do they really have anything to compare?

And - yet again with the uncertainty of three years ago - who knows what Russell T. Davies is going to do with this new show? One thing that we can all be sure of is that he cares about both long-term fans and new fans, but does he really have a vision for where this new show is going in the next few years? Should he?

Joyously, as is fit for a slaphappy Who Christmas special far more, perhaps, than the sinking of the Titanic a la Axons up next, the Fifth Doctor got to meet himself in his Tenth incarnation here, and a whole new generation got to experience that particularly sweet Whovian paradox for the first time. (Time Crash does sound better as a title from the early 80s than "The Paradox of Joy" doesn't it?)

And, in the end, the best part about Time Crash was just that, that this gave the long-term fans and the new fans something to wink about. It made the point that David Tennant's Doctor was the Fifth, while - you'll see it if you know to look for it - The Five Doctors certainly made the point (though nowhere near as cheekily) that Peter Davison's Doctor was the First.

Great this is for charming the fans, but probably not much else. Good thing it was only 8 minutes long, eh?