Thursday, November 14, 2013

Doctor Who's Past and Future Anniversaries

As Doctor Who's 50th anniversary gets closer, people are deciding whether to see "The Day of the Doctor" at home, at a pub, or in 3-D in selected theaters in the UK and America. Others are probably taking out their homemade DVDs or even old VHS cassettes, looking at really old Doctor Who episodes shown on PBS way back when. 

It's easy to forget that the BBC has honored the Doctor with big anniversary episodes in the 1970s and 80s. Never mind the dream matchup of David Tennant and Matt Smith, and their respective sonic screwdrivers, there was a time when three Doctors had to work together...and later four.

This is from "The Three Doctors", shown from late December 1972 to January 1973 in honor of the show's tenth anniversary. It was back in the days when stories lasted a month and were shown 30 minutes at a time.  An alien force kidnaps a scientist, while a black hole threatens the Doctor's home planet (which wasn't named Gallifrey until "The Time Warriror" a year later). It forces the Time Lords to have the Doctor get some unwelcome (he thinks) help from his second form. Between trying to explain this to Jo Grant and the rest of UNIT, and clashing personalities, they have to figure out who is responsible. The original Doctor was supposed to be in the TARDIS as well, but William Hartnell's health limited him to extended cameos in this story. Still, it's a hoot seeing Jon Pertwee as Three literally beside himself with his previous self, played by Patrick Troughton. It's also responsible for the classic line "You've redecorated, haven't you? Don't like it." It'll be said again next weekend, according to the trailer.

The Doctors and their friends find out they were kidnapped by Omega, who worked with Rassilon to develop time travel. Omega was thought to be dead, but he was alive, and demanding revenge upon his fellow Time Lords. This episode was important not only for having more than one Doctor, and getting a look at his planet, but it also freed him from his exile on Earth. The Time Lords admitted that having someone helping them out in the universe would be a good idea. Besides, the Master was still out there somewhere. 

Ten years later, the BBC made "The Five Doctors," a one-off story that also had what most would call an all-star cast.

Instead of all the Doctors working together from start to finish, they're kidnapped individually. First, the original Doctor (Richard Hurndall) is grabbed by something, then Two and Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, Three while driving Bessie, and then Five (Peter Davison) with Tegan and Turlough. It would have gotten Four, and to some people the real Doctor, but Tom Baker balked at the project. The special used clips from the unseen story Shada to "include" him. His decision also affected the story, although that works out in the end.

What makes this special is that we see someone who makes an unexpected return after 18 years...Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter played Carole Ann Ford. After escaping a Dalek, they're the first ones to figure out they're in Gallifrey. Sarah Jane Smith is also back, but she is paired with Three. The Master 2.0 (Anthony Ainley) is also involved, to rescue Five of all things. The Cybermen also show up, and a Yeti, apparently kidnapped as well. 

It winds up as a menacing version of The Wizard of Oz, as everyone has to approach a Tower, where it's revealed someone on Gallifrey wants immortality. 
We also get surprise appearanes by some of the Doctor's old aquaintances, like Liz Shaw, Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Herriot. That may not mean much to those who discovered the show in 2005, but look them up. 

From what has been revealed, we know we'll get at least two Doctors in "The Day of the Doctor" on November 23rd. However, this webisode released by the BBC suggests two things: Eight (Paul McGann) should have had a longer run (thanks loads, Fox) ,and the final shot from "The Impossible Girl" didn't lie. 

By the way, the Doctor was on Karn. and it wasn't his idea. Stephen Moffat has more on the web prequel in this BBC blog.
If we got this, what else, or who else, will we get?

Amazon, of course, has The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors for sale, plus the time he was on Karn.

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