Feb. 15th, 2018

purplecat: The Sixth Doctor (Who:Six)
The Two Doctors is a rather depressing viewing experience. There is so much there which one feels could have worked really well but somehow doesn't.

B. mostly complained about how long it took the two Doctors to meet up. What was the point, he wanted to know, of a multi-Doctor story where you don't really get to see them interact (though one could argue that this is precisely what The Five Doctors does).

The strongest part of the story is probably Jacqueline Pearce's Chessene - and I think it says something about the rest of the performances that I'm inclined to label hers as pleasantly restrained. She manages to give us a moderately complex villain with a clear plan and agenda. Dastari, on the other hand, seems somewhat character free beyond being a bit of a patsy and apparently devoid of any real capacity for empathy (he certainly seems to quite happily collude in the deaths of his colleagues) - moreover a great deal of the first half of the story makes little sense following the reveal that Dastari was complicit in the attack on the space station all along. Shockeye, for all he is pantomimicly over-the-top at least has a clear personality. The Sontarans are also bland. Arguably four antagonists is too many anyway, even for a six-parter length story, but also arguably in a story this length a diverse selection of villains with competing agendas is precisely what you want to keep things moving along.

Roughly a normal episode length is spent on a not-chase around Seville. While the production team may have wished to show-case their location filming one can't help feeling that endless shots of various characters checking out Seville's restaurants is not the most gripping thing ever.

Oscar Botcherby's death oddly doesn't work either and I'm not sure why. Doctor Who has shown us the deaths of sympathetic incidental characters many times in the past. I'm not sure if the problem is that Botcherby is a little too much of a caricature to be actually sympathetic or perhaps for us to genuinely anticipate his story may end in tragedy, or that the death itself is over-played, or the Doctor, Peri and Jamie's reaction to it is underplayed or what but it feels jarring to the flow of the story. Maybe its because his relationship with Anita never really convinces and so her grief feels misplaced.

Where some of Colin Baker's better stories, such as Vengeance on Varos, have a strong underpinning theme or message that can convert the larger-than-life style of the era into something approaching satire or allegory, the closest The Two Doctors comes to this is its portrayal of a species that views humans as food animals. I'd argue this is actually the strongest part of the story's plot, but it is essentially a distraction - a B plot that has little bearing on the main story about the attempt to steal the secret of time travel which is mostly just a bit dull and technobabbly.

There was the potential for something good here. But the tendency for Colin Baker stories to be over-the-top and bombastic has been dialled up and it lacks the substance that his better stories could use to support the bright colours and larger than life performances. An interesting failure, perhaps, but a failure none-the-less and at over two hours running time, one that outstays its welcome.

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