RIFFTRAX LIVE: DOCTOR WHO – THE FIVE DOCTORS [Review]: Doctor Who…the Hell Cares?
The Rifftrax Live: Doctor Who – The Five Doctors was broadcast live on Thursday, August 17th, with an encore on Thursday, August 24th, broadcast live from Nashville, Tennessee.
Welcome to the end of summer, geeks and geekettes! What better way to take in the last of the summer weather than by settling in with Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, and Michael Nelson for some good ol’, riffs, this time poking fun at the 1983 TV special, Doctor Who: The Five Doctors. After getting appropriately prepared for the show (i.e. hitting up a bar), my girlfriend and I made our way to the 42nd Street AMC Theater in New York City, and settled in to the mostly full theater. As is common with the Rifftrax Live events, song parodies, and parody trivia cards played onscreen before the show started, and the trio made their way to the stage, telecast live from Nashville, Tennessee. They wasted no time in this, their second summer special following their Shorts Spectacular back in June, and opened up with a short, British PSA.
Apparently power lines and relay stations are a major source of attraction for British kids, as a 15-minute long short film went into the (gruesome) dangers presented by relay stations. An animated bird and owl go through each and every possible death or danger a British child can (and, apparently, inevitably will) encounter. One child burns out a relay station with a chain, causing his sister to later be killed by being hit by a car later that night since the traffic lights didn’t work. Apparently British children love kits almost as much as relay stations, and they especially love kites made out of metal and aluminum, which can (and almost always will) KILL. And, of course, British children apparently lack any sort of playground or common sense, nor can any of them read warning signs, as they can’t help but climb relay stations and power lines (at which point we watch a child BURST INTO FLAMES. HOLY SHIT! I TOTALLY WASN’T EXPECTING THAT AT ALL!!!) Every terror and horror escalated, all the while narrated by a dead-eyed, cartoon bird. Dear God.
But then onto the show! This was maybe my third or fourth full exposure to our favorite British sci-fi television import…and this was one of the most bizarre things I’d ever seen. A 1983 TV special featuring four of the five Doctors Who (yes, yes, it says The Five Doctors, but fan favorite Tom Baker couldn’t bother to get involved, so stock footage of an un-aired special was utilized instead, and his version of Doctor Who was relegated to being “trapped in a time void” after getting caught in a Time Scoop?) getting kidnapped one by one, along with their closest compatriots, with only the fifth doctor (Peter Davison, who was the current Doctor by the time this was produced) coming to figure out how to return each to their appropriate realities. Or some shit. Oh, and the first doctor (William Hartnell) was too dead in 1983 to reprise his role, so actor Richard Hurndall played him instead, and then was too dead a few months after the special aired to get paid.
There’s maybe two Daleks who appear, a whole buttload of Cybermen, repeated shouting of “The Tomb of Rassilon!”, and a series of misadventures as the three oldest Doctors Who stumble about, and second Doctor Patrick Troughton being a lovably grumpy son-of-a-bitch. Recurring villain The Master appears as well to track his former nemesis, and double-crosses the Cybermen in the most easily avoided trap of all time…while also failing to hear the Cybermen’s own planned trapped…despite standing three feet away from them, and them talking as if their volume was set to 11. If there were any sense of pacing, action, or clarity as to what the hell was going on, this would have been a great special…I think? But, as it was, this was the perfect fodder for RiffTrax.
After a slight equipment hiccup wherein we clearly hear Kevin Murphy ask for the hosts’ monitors to show picture, the riffers were in fine form. The best riffs came any time the Cybermen were onscreen, as well as a scene featuring the Ultimate Killing Machine (who hopped, pranced, and occasionally teleported…and threw some spears. Yeah. As Kevin Murphy put it: “He may be the ultimate killing machine, but at least he makes sure to hang his spears on hooks in a cave.”)
As is nearly always the case, this RiffTrax live event was a great reason to head out after work. It was a surreal special, to say the least, and although their encore performance has already passed, their RiffTrax Live events are eventually made available for download via the official RiffTrax website, and tickets are available for their next theatrical special event, an encore broadcast of the RiffTrax Live special for the late George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead, on Wednesday, October 25th. Tickets can be purchased here.
3.5/5 Talking Robot K9 Friends!