If I was an unscrupulous Time Lord with the ability to travel through the fourth dimension and to try to affect changes that I thought would make things better, there’s probably a bunch of stuff I’d do with my favorite TV series, Doctor Who. Like many-a-fan (I assume), I’ve thought of these things from time to time, and I now I’m going to list them over a series of posts.
(Daily Doctor Who #141)
Some ground rules are that I cannot introduce any temporal anomalies in my adjustments to the show—I need to keep my manipulations subtle, for fear of alerting some higher power or meddling do-gooder to my activities. So I won’t be mixing up actors from different time periods, or bringing in futuristic special effects technology, or doing a bunch of stuff in one era that has massive implications on future eras.
But I didn’t deal with the 20th Anniversary special, The Five Doctors. It’s a fun story, but could certainly benefit from a bit of time meddling. So welcome to this special post to address the changes for this special. And because one feels so strongly about it, I’m upping the limit this time around from five to ten changes.
What are they?
Make it a two-parter
The real-life version of The Five Doctors aired on the actual 20th anniversary of the program, November 23, 1983. I’m going to bump this up to a two-part story, each as long as the original (about 90 minutes), and have it air on successive nights. This is going to give a lot more room for all the things I want to do. Does this seem needlessly self-indulgent? Maybe, but you only turn 20 once.
Susan’s “normal life”
The Five Doctors begins with short scenes of most of the characters being “scooped up” by an unseen enemy out of their normal situations, and brought to the Death Zone on Gallifrey. However, conspicuously absent from this series of scene is Susan, who is simply found by the First Doctor (Richard Hurndall, filling in for a long-deceased William Hartnell) shortly after arriving on Gallifrey. I’ve never heard an official explanation for this, although actress Carole Ann Ford (who played Susan) speculated that it was because it might have been too complicated to try to show what Susan’s life was like—she’d left the Doctor to get married and help rebuild earth in the future after an invasion.
Well, I say it’s not too complicated, and indeed would have been great to see. Maybe there even could have been a cameo by Peter Fraser as her husband David Campbell.
Instead of the Brigadier, I’d love to see the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) accompanied by his old companion Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling). I’d treat it like the two were not “currently” traveling together, but rather ended up reunited in the Death Zone like most of the other characters. I’ve always liked Victoria, even though she was one of the “screamiest” of the Doctor’s female companions.
A stronger UNIT presence
Spreading out our story over two episodes means there’s room for more plot points, and one of them that I’d include is more going on with UNIT. The way I’d facilitate that is by having the scene where the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) is “scooped”, but he is able to do something to get away, and winds up transported to the UNIT reunion that we saw in the real episode, where the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) is attending. The Time Scoop keeps coming for him so the Doctor uses some of his old and abandoned equipment that is stored in UNIT headquarters to try to evade it—but then this results in an old enemy being brought to earth instead—maybe the Ogrons. UNIT soldiers old and new must work together to stop them. Playing a prominent role in all this would be the former Sergeant Benton (John Levene) who would be great to see again.
After it’s all over, the Doctor decides to let the Time Scoop take him, but while using some sort of “temporal tether” device that he’s cobbled together. The Brigadier ends up with him as well, and they find themselves on Gallifrey.
(See the next entry for the continuation)
The Third Doctor is partnered with the Brigadier and Sarah Jane Smith
Shortly after arriving on Gallifrey, the Third Doctor and the Brigadier find Sarah Jane Smith, who has also been brought there, as she was on the show, and they end up working together as a trio for part of the story.
Obviously, all this crowds the story more than it already was, but hopefully with the increased length there is time for it all to be done justice.
Tom Baker has a starring role!
This is probably the most obvious change that many of us would like to see in The Five Doctors. In real life, Tom Baker declined to appear, meaning that the Fourth Doctor was included in the special only by using footage from Shada, and incomplete and untransmitted story.
However, in our time-meddled universe, Shada was complete (see my entry about the Fourth Doctor’s era), so that’s not a good option.
So, instead, we’re going to have Tom Baker appear (possibly seen to be traveling with either Lalla Ward or Mary Tamm’s version of Romana in a brief cameo) and get kidnapped by the Time Scoop, but have the process malfunction just like in the TV episode. So for the beginning of the story, he’s “trapped” in a Time Eddy or Vortex Blip or whatever it was.
But then as the story continues, the Third Doctor attempts to use his “temporal tether” (as mentioned two items above) and it ends up loosening the Fourth Doctor from his trap. The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) is already in the Capitol at this point, and he is able to use the local equipment to then bring the Fourth Doctor to him.
In the team up that maybe I’d most like to have seen, the Fourth and Fifth Doctors work together to uncover the plot on Gallifrey.
The First Doctor’s hallucinations
Additional cameos were worked into The Five Doctors in the form of deceptive hallucinations who tried to deter the Doctors from their tasks. The Second Doctor met Jamie and Zoe, while the Third saw Mike Yates and Liz Shaw. The First Doctor didn’t have any such encounters written in…until now!
Since we’ve already had Ian and Barbara appear this year (see my Time Meddling for the Fifth Doctor), we’ll bring back Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves as Vicki and Steven Taylor—two companions who were actually both quite good, but who never got a lot of love from the show after they left.
Eventually, the Fifth Doctor has to return to the Death Zone, leaving the Fourth to confront Borusa, the mastermind behind the plot. He is aided by his old companion Leela (Louise Jameson) who left the Doctor to stay on Gallifrey (although in a better sequence than we had in real life—see the Fourth Doctor’s entry again). Leela gets some super-cool moments fighting off some Gallifreyan guards who are serving as Borusa’s lackeys. And maybe, even we are being really bold, she even gets to die a hero’s death, fully completing her story.
The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane
The Fourth and Fifth Doctors together are the new team up I’d most like to have seen, but the Fourth with Sarah Jane Smith is the reunion that would have made me the most excited. After Leela either dies (see above) or is left behind in the Capitol to defeat some villainous mooks, the Fourth Doctor is brought to the Death Zone under Borusa’s mental thrall. Sarah Jane Smith is there, along with all the other Doctors, to help set him free. In an extended action packed finale (not sure what is going on here but we’d come up with something), the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane get some satisfying running around together to do.
Season 6b Confirmed!
“Season 6b” is a fan theory which has nearly graduated to official canon (and just might, depending on how the current series explains Jo Martin’s Doctor). Basically the idea is that when the Second Doctor was put on trial by the Time Lords at the end of Patrick Troughton’s run, he wasn’t forcibly regenerated and sent to earth immediately, as it seemed. Instead, he was co-opted by a faction of Time Lords who forced him to travel around and go on missions for them.
The Five Doctors is one of the main reasons for this theory—in it, the Doctor is fully aware of what happened to Jamie and Zoe when they left him, even though that occurred immediately before his own sentencing. I say let’s just go whole hog and be done with it.
So my idea is that when the Second Doctor, now accompanied by Victoria (see above), sees the visions of Jamie and Zoe, he realizes they are not real in the same way he did on TV—he know that there memories of their time with him was erased before they were sent home. But then Victoria reacts—she realizes that this means that Jamie has forgotten completely about her! The Doctor regretfully admits that this is true. Victoria is upset as she was always extremely “fond” of Jamie (and vice versa), and she always held out hope that someday she’d see him again.
At the end of the story, when it’s all resolved, the Doctor suggests that Victoria come with him again, and that they go seek out Jamie. It’s not right, he agrees, that Jamie has been made to forget her or his time on the TARDIS. Victoria wonders how the Time Lords will react, but the Doctor says that he and the Time Lords have come to a bit of an arrangement—he does some missions for them, and they give him some freedom. He’s pretty sure this will work out.
This not only confirms Season 6b, but it also sets up the Second Doctor’s later reappearance in The Two Doctors, when a clearly older Second Doctor is traveling with a clearly older Jamie, and they refer to having temporarily dropped off Victoria so that she can study graphology.
And that concludes my temporal meddling this time around! What mischief will I get up to next??