After: Prematurely introduced to Melanie during the course of his trial, the Doctor returns her to Pease Pottage. He hasn’t met her or begun his travels with her yet, and keeping her around is begging for a paradox to be created.
Before: The Doctor has parted ways with Evelyn Smythe, and resigns himself to the future that he already knows is coming: traveling with Melanie toward the end of his sixth incarnation. He sets the TARDIS on a course for Pease Pottage, and meets Mel right on schedule. But there’s one than one Mel there at the same time, and it’s not because the TARDIS has come to the right place at the wrong time. Someone else is tinkering with time, and it will take two Doctors and two Melanies to stop them.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Tony Gardner (Stapleton Petherbridge), James Joyce (Jedediah Thurwell), Patricia Leventon (Mrs. Wilberforce), Beth Chalmers (Vaneesh), John Banks (Ksllak)
Notes: This story attempts to resolve one of Doctor Who’s longest-standing paradoxes: how the sixth Doctor, on trial, could present a future adventure with Melanie (whom he has yet to meet) as evidence, only to have a future Melanie brought to the trial by the Time Lords to testify, and then leave with her at the end of the story. Even the Target novelization of that story strongly implied that the Doctor drops Melanie off in her timeline and then goes about his business, not meeting her “properly” until later. Another chronicle of Melanie’s first meeting with the sixth Doctor – from her perspective – occurs in Gary Russell’s novel Business Unusual, which this story does not necessarily contradict.
Timeline: For the sixth Doctor and Melanie, after part 14 of Trial Of A Time Lord. For the sixth Doctor and Melanie, on the other hand, before part 9 of Trial Of A Time Lord.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: I don’t know if I needed something stronger than Dr. Pepper on standby for this one, or if I needed to be keeping a flowchart. The Other Doctors undermines expectations of a multi-Doctor story going into Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary year by giving us a story with two Doctors working together to resolve a potentially catastrophic paradox, except that both Doctors are the sixth Doctor.
But what if another time traveler tripped over the tangle of timelines involving the Doctor and Melanie and tried to use the potential paradox to his advantage? What if the wrong Doctor ran into the wrong Melanie? You begin to see where things get complicated. Fortunately, the cast is on top form here, with Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford getting plenty of the action, and a truly nasty villain pulling the strings in the background. Colin Baker, in particular, has the challenge of recreating both the brasher, bolder sixth Doctor and the older, more circumspect sixth Doctor who exists in the audio realm. If nothing else, it’s easy to gain an appreciation of what Big Finish has done for one of the most unfairly criticized incarnations of the Time Lord.
Whether The Wrong Doctors actually resolves one of the show’s longest standing mysteries, or boosts ibuprofen futures by making it even more convoluted, hardly matters when it’s as much fun to listen to as it is. Just go easy on me next month, that’s all I ask.