Friday, September 18, 2009

RRR4 - The Three Doctors 4

A great ending to what has been a rollicking four-parter, Episode Four features a couple genuinely moving moments - one intentional, and one circumstantial. Once the Second and Third Doctors agree to stay with Omega in his world of antimatter, Omega grants them their wish of letting their human friends go home. The episode makes a daring move in devoting over two minutes to what could have been a long, drawn out scene featuring five characters anxiously step through a column of smoke. It's the reactions, though, of Benton (who nobly offers to stay himself so that The Doctors can leave), Jo (who wants to stay with The Doctor), and, especially, the Brigadier (whose silent salute followed by a hurried exit shows more than any words could tell how the Brig feels about his scientific advisor) that make the scene poignant.

At the end of the episode, when the First and Second Doctors make their own farewells, it's even more sad, but only because we know now, in retrospect, what would become of both William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. Hartnell, who gamely fought through his illness to give us one last glimpse of the original Doctor, would die a little over two years after The Three Doctors went out, and his health would never improve from what we saw in this, his final screen appearance. And while we would see Troughton again in Doctor Who, he's much older in The Two Doctors, and he's hitting all the expected points of the character in The Five Doctors, but, because of the need to spread the lines and scenes around in the 20th anniversary special, he has no room to do anything more.

In The Three Doctors, Troughton proves to be perhaps the best companion the Third Doctor ever had, and the two of them form one of the best double acts in the programme's history that Robert Holmes never came up with. Troughton is still at the peak of his powers in this, and it has been such a delight to see him again.

What a marvelous story, and a fitting celebration of the programme's tenth anniversary. However, the poignant moments seen in this episode would not be the last as Doctor Who's tenth season would have to deal with a couple other emotional exits...


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