Thursday, March 25, 2010

6W1 - The Two Doctors 1

In a season that has a habit of keeping The Doctor and Peri on the sidelines while the story is set up in Episode One, perhaps the most devastating insult to the Sixth Doctor in The Two Doctors is that when The Doctor actually does become involved in the story straight off, it's not even his Doctor that does it! No, it's left to an aged Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines to carry the bulk of the story in the early going in an extended prologue before the main action of The Doctor and a nearly topless Peri fishing takes over.

It's great to see Troughton and Hines together again, although it's odd to see nothing done to disguised the actors' aged appearances, nor is much thought given to how the back story created for this episode would intersect with established events. Watching the first TARDIS scene in this episode practically begs someone to come up with the "Season 6B" theory.

The Two Doctors is, in essence, the first six-part story broadcast since 1979, and the last ever in the classic series. If you thought the pacing of Season 22 episodes seemed off in comparison to those containing the traditional 25-minute episodes, then the way the plot moves in this story will astound you. It's not so much that the story lags, but that this episode is populated with several incredibly long scenes and very few characters. Usually, the first episode of a story features the most characters, the bulk of which gradually get killed off over the rest of the story. Here, we meet eleven characters (including Doctors and companions) who will carry the events through until pretty much the end of Episode Three.

The results of all these factors makes this episode and enjoyable watch, but almost completely lacking in intensity. Part of this can also be attributed to director Peter Moffatt, surely the most laid back director Doctor Who ever had. The Sontarans make their return to the screen for the first time since 1978, but they're introduced as an afterthought, nameless extras in a scene on location at the hacienda. It's almost as if Moffatt had sun stroke while directing this. Maybe he actually did...


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