TIMECRASH (CHILDREN IN NEED SPECIAL 2007)
“It really would help if there wasn’t some skinny idiot ranting in my face about every single thing that happens to be in front of him.”
You can go two ways with charity specials. One, the most common, is the lighthearted come-on-laugh-it’s-for-charity way. And the other is the all guns blazing full-sincerity mini-episode. Either can work. But you can’t do both at once.
We suppose we’re spoiled. We weren’t expecting much more from the 2006 Children In Need special than a quick runaround. Instead, we got character development that was a small but perfectly formed chunk of sheer brilliance.
So when we heard the Fifth Doctor was coming back for the next charity special, we had high hopes. Let’s face it, Classic Doctor Meets New Doctor’s not exactly a trivial occasion. And hey, it was going to be written by Steven Moffat, who penned the superlative Blink. Looking good, yes?
Pretty much. Pity they wrecked it.
It’s not that it’s not good seeing the Fifth Doctor again. As we’ve maintained with tiresome regularity (and as he’s said himself), Peter Davison would have been a much more effective Doctor had the part come along a bit later in his career. Here we get to test the theory, and guess what? We (and Peter) were right all along.
The essential Doctorliness is magnified and the boyishness is gone: he’s utterly believable as a Time Lord in a way he never was back in the day. Damn, he’s good. This Doctor would never have been at the bottom of our list where his previous self currently skulks.
And David Tennant has his moments too. A lot of it’s irritatingly over the top, but as usual, when he reins it back it’s pure class. The remark about the celery. The “OK. Doctor.” The “Take a look”.
Let’s face it, multiple Doctor episodes mostly promise much but sadly underdeliver. In the main, Timecrash qualifies as one of the better ones. It’s absolutely amazing seeing the Fifth Doctor again, the two Doctors work well together, and Moffat even manages to build in one of those brain-bending time conundrums multiple Doctor eps usually ignore.
So what’s wrong with it, then? Easy. It’s the wank. Rips you right out of the TARDIS and squashes the magic flat. “You’ve changed the desktop theme”? Argh. “No beard this time. Well, a wife”? Wince.
And worse – much worse, the truly unforgivable bit – is the metawank. All the stuff about the fans is just horrible. And worst of all? “You were my Doctor”. Noooo! That’s wrong on so many levels we don’t even know where to start. We felt actual pain.
If only Moffat had resisted the urge to be clever, this would have been a flawless little gem. As it is? Industrial grade only.
MORAL: Don't forget: the fourth wall is structural.
DING DONG MERRILY ON HIGH
The cloister bell again. Is this going to be a Children In Need tradition?