The Three Doctors – reloaded!


Actually, I couldn’t think of a better title to say “The Three Doctors, but not those three…”.  As I’ve recently been turning some of my CD collection into iPod tracks and having stumbled across a couple of audio Doctor Who‘s that I bought some years ago but didn’t listen to, I figured it’s time to do so.

After finishing The Highlanders, I listened to The Sirens of Time – starring the 5th, 6th, and 7th Doctors.  You wait all week for a Doctor, then three come along at the same time.

This was recorded in 1999 by Big Finish and was written and directed by “Mr Dalek Voice” himself Nicholas Briggs.

It’s a two-hour adventure split into four half-hour episodes.  The first three episodes are each dedicated to one Doctor before they meet up in the final episode.

The story, to be honest, isn’t up to much and the resolution is all convoluted waffle and no sense.  But the adventure as a whole works quite well, for reasons I’ll touch on below –

Episode 1

The 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) lands on a planet and hears a girl calling for help, trapped in quicksand.  He rescues her but then can’t get back into the TARDIS.  They find a building which acts as a prison for one old man and his “nurse”.  The “nurse” isn’t acting in the prisoner’s best interest and allows a bio-engineered lifeform to land and attack (revenge from the prisoner’s victims).  The Doctor tries to intervene as the attack starts.  Cue cliffhanger.

Episode 2

The 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) lands on a ship during World War 1 and notices an odd time distortion.  A message from the Time Lords comes through, but it’s in pieces.  He gets the sense of a warning to return to the TARDIS but he can’t open the doors (Tegan & Turlough are locked inside – which makes up for not having Janet Fielding or Mark Strickson available).  The ship is torpedoed by a German U-Boat, the captain of which allows the survivors to abandon the ship before blowing it up.  The Doctor, however, determined to get back into the TARDIS ends up in the water, separated from the TARDIS, and with just a woman from the ship as company.

They are picked up by the U-boat and discover that certain crewmembers are being controlled by an outside force and that the Time Lords are trying to kill the Doctor.  Through fair means and foul, the Doctor gets the captain to turn around and return him to the TARDIS but, afloat in the water on the TARDIS, he still can’t get inside and the U-Boat launches an attack on a nearby passenger ship.

Episode 3

The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) is on a starcruiser which is touring a gaseous anomaly.  The anomaly spews out time distortions, leaving hundreds of people dead and the only survivors are the Doctor, a waitress, and the android pilot.  Through the distortions and using the android, the Timelords try to communicate with the Doctor but the message doesn’t get through.

The Doctor discovers that the gaseous anomaly is actually a time beast trapped in a prison and in eternal torture.  He finds himself back in the TARDIS and in the anomaly.  He knows how he can save the beast and he does so, only for it to try and kill him inside the TARDIS.

Episode 4

During the three episodes, we become aware that Gallifrey is under attack by an overwhelming force.  As the episodes progress, the Time Lords lose the battle and become subjugated.  The three Doctors find themselves strangely rescued from their predicaments and now on Gallifrey where the leader of the attack, the Knight Commander of the Knights of Velyshaa, looks very familiar to all three of them.

It turns out that they’ve each been manipulated by the poorly-explained “Sirens of Time” and each of their actions (leading into each cliffhanger) resulted in a change of historic events that allowed the Knights of Velyshaa to invade and conquer Gallifrey.

I shan’t reveal all the details and resolutions, because I’m not sure I got them all myself but, whereas the individual episodes work well as individual-Doctor short stories, the last episode works because of the moments of silliness between the three Doctors.

It’s not a bad audio adventure but it’s not one you could really get your teeth into either. There’s not likely to be much chance of getting multiple-Doctors together properly on-screen and so, for that, it deserves a couple of extra plus-points. The audio-nature of the adventure often leaves you with moments of strange noises during which you’ve no idea what’s going on.  A bit more work on that would have been welcome.

Bottom Line

Enjoyable enough, add a few stars if you like these three Doctors, enough of an effort made to make the story hang together but a little confusing when the finale arrives.