28 Stupid Things about
“The Three Doctors”
(And 22 Cool Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Fiona Moore and Alan Stevens
Previously published in Celestial Toyroom issue 521
1. The first scene features a cameo from Rover, of "The Prisoner" fame, just to get us in the 1960s mood.
2. Between this story, "Spearhead from Space", "Doctor Who and The Silurians", "The Claws of Axos", and "The Time Monster", country folk seem to have a bad time of it in Pertwee-era Doctor Who.
3. Why is the warden of a wildlife sanctuary carrying a double-barrelled shotgun? Is he poaching the swans on the quiet?
4. "So there you are. Mrs Ollis says her husband's down there, I see him wave, get there and there he is, gone. So I got in touch with you lot." Most people usually look around for a missing person and maybe call the police, rather than going straight to UNIT.
5. "We're only supposed to be a top secret security establishment." With their names on the signage and everything.
6. "When I tell you to run, you run. Right, run!" As the Third Doctor channels the Second.
7. Why does the creature attack Ollis? He's got no connection with the Doctor, he's some distance away from UNIT Headquarters, and he doesn't try to open Doctor Tyler's Cosmic Ray Research payload.
8. UNIT personnel are told to guard the drains, but given absolutely no explanation as to why, or what they should be looking for.
9. So the Doctor's been on Earth and hanging around UNIT for at least three years, yet in all that time he apparently hasn't invited either Benton or, as we discover later, the Brigadier, into the Tardis.
10. The logic behind the Doctor trying to dematerialise the Tardis to lure the antimatter creature away from Earth, recalls the denouement of an earlier Baker and Martin tale, "The Claws of Axos", in which the Doctor strikes a deal with Axos to link its drive system to his before materialising in deep space and trapping the entity within a time loop.
11. You can spot the black hole on the Time Lords' scanners because it's black, and the rest of space is grey.
12. The Time Lords, the most advanced species in the universe, are monitoring events in black-and-white on an Eidophone projection screen. The Doctor, in this adventure at least, appears to have a colour TV set in his Tardis, even if it is a rather pedestrian cathode ray tube.
13. Continuing the theme of underwhelming viewing devices, Omega, who can call anything into being with the power of his mind, has a small colour monitor built into a rock wall.
14. The Time Lords appear to have explained the situation to the Second Doctor, but not the Third. And the First Doctor's dialogue indicates he knows more about it than the Second Doctor. Quite why the Second and Third Doctors don't recall everything their previous incarnations know won't be explained until "The Day of the Doctor", forty years later.
15. There's this slightly odd bit where Benton at first struggles to recognise the Second Doctor. Presumably this rather awkward introduction is down to the script rewrite that changed the male companion character from Jamie to Benton.
16. UNIT generally seems to have taken a brain check for this adventure with both the Brigadier and Benton thinking bullets and bombs are the answer to everything.
17. It's particularly surprising in the case of the Brigadier, when you consider in his very first story, "The Web of Fear", he had no problem accepting strange things like time travel, Yeti-shaped robots, and disembodied alien intelligences.
18. Interestingly, the Brigadier's initial reaction on seeing the Second Doctor is to assume the Third Doctor has changed back.
19. The Doctor explains there are two versions of himself walking around and Benton backs this up, so why does the Brigadier flatly refuses to believe them?
20. ="It's not much like Heaven, is it?" Oh, come on; once you get out of the quarry at Harefield Lime Works, you'll find the rest of Middlesex is very nice.
21. "Keep it confused. Feed it with useless information. I wonder if I have a television set handy?" A metatextual zing from the Second Doctor.
22. Somehow Jo doesn't recognise the Brigadier's computer, despite having, presumably, seen it every day.
23. The UNIT HQ office doors are shut and locked on Omega's world, and yet, just prior to the antimatter creature consuming them, the Brigadier walks out and leaves one open.
24. The Time Lord many presume is the Lord President of Gallifrey, is credited as "President of the Council", which is not the same thing at all, and explains why he doesn't appear to outrank the Chancellor.
25. The Brigadier's first assumption on seeing the dimensionally-transcendental inside of the Tardis, is that the Doctor's built the whole thing himself using UNIT funds. When you consider the expense of such an impressive feat, this would suggest the Doctor has screwed quite a lot of money out of the organisation.
26. The corridors of Omega's palace seem to be decorated with Gel Guard flesh, which is pretty gross when you think about it.
27. "Superior intelligence and senseless cruelty just do not go together." And yet, the Doctor has, thus far, spent two whole seasons mostly fighting the Master-- the embodiment of superior intelligence and senseless cruelty.
28. So, the Doctor's been wandering around for hours with a bunch of fake flowers up his sleeve and a pencil on an elastic band, just in case he gets the opportunity to demonstrate some magic?
29. The alternative explanation is provided by the scene from "The Ambassadors of Death" where the Doctor makes a large reel of magnetic tape disappear, and explains it to Liz as "transmigration of object."
30. When the UNIT HQ building vanishes, it turns out there was grass growing underneath it.
31.All Omega's banal creations make sense if you take as a subtext he's bored and can't be arsed imagining anything better than a quarry pit and a bunch of studio flats because he's lived in the antimatter universe for thousands of years.
32. It's never explained in the serial how Omega knows who the Doctor is, but it makes sense in light of the future revelation that the Doctor is the Timeless Child and the source of Time Lord regeneration.
33. A revelation which, retrospectively, makes the Brigadier's line, "Three of them! I didn't know when I was well off", rather ironic.
34. However, when the President of the Council says, "Show me the earliest Doctor", we see William Hartnell, not Jo Martin (who is the earliest incarnation we know of to use the name), or indeed any previous versions.
35. Omega is clearly in massive conflict, simultaneously wanting absolute power, and yet also feeling the need for someone, like the Doctor, to challenge him.
36. . "I'm fairly sure that's Cromer-Key."
37. The antimatter organism was programmed, by an infinitely powerful and supremely intelligent stellar engineer, to seek out a Time Lord. And yet, it hoovers up a wildlife sanctuary warden, a scientist, a canary-yellow vintage car, a water cooler, some random bits of lab equipment and scenery, two soldiers, a woman, and eventually the whole of UNIT HQ. But only two Time Lords.
38. The use of a yellow background for the CSO sequences means everyone has a gloriously radiant halo.
39. Why are the Gel Guards constantly wandering around the palace? Presumably, as creatures of Omega's will, they should only exist when he has a purpose for them?
40. Since speaking with Ollis, the Brigadier has suspected the Third Doctor to be in the antimatter universe with Jo. Nonetheless, later, when he asks Jo, "Was the Doctor with you when you came here", and she says, "Yes, of course", he replies, "Well he can't have been. He was with me." Why even ask the question?
41. Both this tale and "The Brain of Morbius" feature Time Lord (mental) wrestling, but the former's a bit more literal.
42. The Second Doctor's obsession with his recorder, while it may be a test of Omega, is also in keeping with Patrick Troughton's general characterisation of his fixating on seemingly random things.
43. "I am the Atlas of my world!" Omega: He's a legend and he's a useful book of maps!
44. How does Omega know who a Greek mythological figure is, anyway?
45. The stripes on the Second Doctor's recorder in this adventure, are narrower than they are in the rest of the Troughton Era.
46. If the Doctor loses his recorder in "The Three Doctors" and yet has it in "The War Games" (as indeed he does, we checked) this story lends support to the 'Season 6b' hypothesis.
47. Even though UNIT HQ has been transported to Omega's barren, anti-matter world, the backcloth behind the window blinds remains the same.
48. "If anything is missing, where do we say it's gone?" Considering the many fantastical ways UNIT personnel and equipment have gone missing over the years, "disappeared into an anti-matter universe" is not too crazy an explanation.
49. "The Time Lords! Look, they've sent me a new dematerialisation circuit. And my knowledge of time travel law and all the dematerialisation codes, they've all come back. They've forgiven me. They've given me back my freedom." And he'll return straight away to interfering in the affairs of other planets -- the very thing they grounded him for.
50. Omega has infinite power in his own universe, but what he desires most is to go into our universe and torture his fellow Time Lords. Making him psychologically, one of the very few genuine monsters in Doctor Who.