Day 363 — December 29th 2021

Dimensions in Time

Ooh, not a lot makes Doctor Who fans cross like Dimensions in Time. I have to admit I’ve always had a soft spot for it, but then I suppose for me it’s never been anything all that important. On broadcast it had been almost four years since the last ‘new’ episode of the series, which ends up giving this one a bit of status. Something to anticipate! And it comes ten years after The Five Doctors, which was so well loved. I can see how, perhaps, on broadcast this might have been a disappointment. But I don’t think I’d heard of it until after Doctor Who had come back to telly properly, by which point I was able to enjoy this for what it is; a bit of pantomime fun for charity.

In all honesty I think I’ve probably seen this more than any other episode of the show, and it’s telling that I was able to quote it almost line-for-line while watching today. And that’s the best way! It’s a bit like going to an interactive screening of Rocky Horror, where half the fun is quoting along with the story and shouting back at the screen.

The Rani: ‘Say goodbye, Doctors! You’re all going on a long journey.’
Will: ‘How long?’
The Rani: ‘A very long journey.’

I also think you’re better off just going along with it, because the plot doesn’t make much sense in the slightest. I can buy the idea that Doctor Who might regenerate back and forth through their own personal time stream, but how do the companions change along with him? Why are some companions (Ace and Susan) confused by it not being ‘their’ Doctor Who, but Mel just goes along with Jon Pertwee rocking up out of nowhere? Try to make any sense of it and you’ll drive yourself insane.

Which, come to think of it, is exactly what the Rani promises!

Since I last saw this one I’ve become more of a fan of EastEnders. While I’d previously only seen a handful of episodes here and there, over the last couple of years I’ve watched right the way through from 1987 to 1993, and I’ve been dipping into 1998 the last couple of weeks having taken some time away from it all. I’d been planning to watch Dimensions in Time in the right spot during that marathon, but best laid plans and all that. It means I’ve gotten so much more enjoyment out of it this time, because I know who all the EastEnders cast are as well as the Doctor Who ones. I cheered as much for Pat and Frank as I did for the likes of Debbie Watling.

And yes, obviously I watched the Big Ron version of the story, because he’s my absolute favourite, and I couldn’t stand Mandy.

So, let’s do a couple of quick-fire observations, as I don’t plan on delving too deeply into this one;

  • I’m surprised by how much Colin Baker seems to have aged in the relatively short time since leaving the series. When he was originally cast he was pretty vocal about wanting to break Tom Baker’s record as the longest-serving Doctor Who. If we assume to do that he’d need to do eight series, then this is a pretty good indication of how he might have looked in a regeneration story in some parallel universe.
  • While I’m on the subject of Colin Baker, this is worth it for seeing him paired up with the Brigadier if nothing else. It gives my fanboy heart an odd thrill to see!
  • Sylvester McCoy suits the longer hair he’s sporting in this adventure, and you might notice that I tend to give him a version of this style whenever I photoshop him into cover art.
  • Tom Baker is so obviously reading from cue cards that it’s actually funny.
  • Also hilarious is how much Peter Davison looks like he’d rather be anywhere else but taking part in this. It’s even more obvious in the behind the scenes footage.
  • ‘Who was that terrible woman?!’ might actually be my favourite moment in all Doctor Who. I love it so much.
  • The decapitated head of Tony Blair is an odd inclusion to the early sequences.

It’s all a bit of inconsequential fluff but it’s great fun.

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Will Brooks

English Boy in Wales. Freelance Writer and Designer. Doctor Who Art for Big Finish, Titan Comics, Cubicle 7. TARDIS Fan. Pinstripe Counter.