The Doctor solemnly gets the TARDIS underway after he bids farewell to Martha Jones and leaves her with her family on Earth, but the quiet is shattered as his timeship lurches uncontrollably – and suddenly has another occupant, a man in full Edwardian cricket regalia. A very familiar man, as it turns out: the Doctor is at a loss to explain why his fifth incarnation is suddenly sharing his TARDIS with him, but both know instantly that it’s not good news. Much like the Doctor, the TARDIS has collided with its earlier self, and it’ll take more than an exchange of insurance information to prevent space and time from collapsing as a result…
written by Steven Moffatt
directed by Graeme Harper
music by Murray Gold
Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Peter Davison (The Doctor)
Appearing in footage from Last Of The Time Lords: Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones)
Notes: Time Crash was a 7-minute scene written for the BBC’s 2007 Children In Need telethon, with the actors, directors, and crew donating their time and talent; technically, it takes place during the final moments of Last Of The Time Lords, between Martha’s departure and the TARDIS’ collision with the Titanic. Director Graeme Harper also directed Peter Davison’s final adventure as the incumbent Doctor, Caves Of Androzani, in 1984 – so he remains Davison’s last director as the Doctor on TV. Davison is now tied with Tennant for appearing in the most in-character Doctor Who Children In Need specials, having also appeared in 1993’s Dimensions In Time; technically, The Five Doctors was originally shown as part of the Children In Need telethon in 1983, but unlike Time Crash and the 2005 Children In Need special, it was not specially made just for the event. Davison has, of course, been reprising the role of the Doctor’s fifth incarnation for Big Finish’s audio dramas since 1999. There were numerous in-jokes on past Doctor Who adventures, including a mention of zeiton ore (something the sixth Doctor ran out of in Vengeance On Varos). If you’re interested in making a donation to Children In Need, please click here to find out more about the charity, where the money goes, what’s up with the little yellow bear, and how you can help.
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: A fun little piece for the Children In Need charity event, Time Crash is one of the new series’ most overt valentines to the original series. In the season that ended earlier this year, we heard mentions of Sea Devils and Axons, saw Time Lords in full ceremonial garb, heard Professor Yana having hallucinations that included the voices of Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley, saw the Macra for the first time in 40 years, and saw the faces of all nine of David Tennant’s predecessors sketched in John Smith’s Journal of Impossible Things. 2007 was a year of crystal clear homages to classic Who, and Time Crash is the icing on the cake.
Peter Davison was one of my two favorite original series Doctors, next only to Sylvester McCoy, so that alone wins points. That he looks remarkably like he did in the early 1980s, give or take some very graceful aging, just makes his appearance that much more impressive. Davison is now only a year younger than William Hartnell was when Hartnell first took the role of the Doctor, and yet all he has to show for that is a slightly fuller face, thinning hair and a little bit of a paunch. I’d say I want to age that gracefully when I right my 50s, except that I’m sure I already look worse in my 30s. Which brings me to one of my very few Time Crash complaints – Davison didn’t look so different that we needed the “time differential” explanation for his apparent aging. If anything, he looked great, and I dare say that an audience that’s prepared to suspend its disbelief for a time-traveling police box can probably overlook one actor’s very minimal signs of age – it’s not something that needed attention drawn to it. If anything was distractingly different about his appearance, it was the abnormally huge stalk of celery (maybe he’s just happy to see his future self).
There was something remarkably old-school about the technobabble crisis that the two Doctors needed to solve – something warm and comfortably Bidmead-esque about it. I suppose there’s a potential can of worms opened by nailing down that the tenth Doctor saves the day simply by doing what his fifth incarnation remembers seeing him do, as this would seem to make a hash of every multi-Doctor story before it, but I’ll suffer that just for the opportunity to see Davison on the screen again. We’ll just file that one away with the multiple explanations for the fate of Atlantis – the Master destroyed it by unleashing Kronos, the Fish People destroyed it, Torri Higginson and Paul McGillion were sacked, take your pick. Speaking of the Master, I got a bit of a chuckle about the line about the “rubbish beard”, but also felt a little twinge of indignation since the actor who wore it in Davison’s era, Anthony Ainley, is no longer with us.
Speaking of technobabble, one thing I wish they would’ve left out was the “desktop theme” gag, explaining away the current interior appearance of the TARDIS as nothing more than user’s choice. I found that to be a hugely disappointing development, especially when it’s dropped in our laps as nothing more than a cheap gag. Since the new series started, I had interpreted the TARDIS’ appearance as the result of massive damage from the Time War, with the Doctor being forced to strip the ship down to its organic heart (i.e. the many mentions that TARDISes are grown rather than built) and jerry-rigging stuff like the laptop screen and various dangling wires to the console to keep her flying. The notion that the Doctor has chosen for the TARDIS to look this dilapidated is a bit ridiculous. (Then again, perhaps the fifth Doctor was guessing wildly as to why the ship looks as it does, and the tenth simply said nothing to avoid contaminating his own foreknowledge of the future.) Perhaps I need to tell myself it’s just a show and I should really just relax when I’m doing all of this analysis on an eight minute charity skit.
The whole thing almost turns into wink-at-the-camera meta-commentary when Tennant waxes rhapsodical about how Davison was “my Doctor,” but it tugs at a heartstring for me, so I can’t be too critical. They were all my Doctor, at whatever point in my life I began watching them. Time Crash proves that they’re still splendid chaps – all of them.