In 2007, for that year’s Children In Need telethon, we were treated to a Doctor Who mini-episode. What we got was something that sits in-between the ending to Last Of The Time Lords and the opening of Voyage Of The Damned. Taking place in that final scene just before the Titanic crashes through the wall of the TARDIS, the minisode consists entirely of just the Doctor talking to himself for a bit and has virtually no plot.
However, what at first glance may seem like a fluffy filler piece actually turns out to be a must-see for fans. And that’s all because of one thing: The Fifth Doctor.
What’s that? You’re asking why the Fifth Doctor is what makes this essential viewing? Fair enough, after all Mr Bland Cricketer With Celery is hardly a fan-favourite incarnation of the Doctor, but let me remind you that he’s appearing in so-called NewWho and interacting with the Tenth Doctor.
Now do you accept that Time Crash is a must-see?
David Tennant and Peter Davison have great chemistry between them. That’s not a surprise, considering that they’re two of the best actors in the history of anything ever, but here it’s clear that they’re not acting, they’re just genuinely pleased to be working with each other. Tennant himself had gone on record that Davison’s Doctor was his favourite, and the big grin on his face the entire time is enough to melt the heart of anyone watching.
In theory Time Crash is just an excuse to bring back a classic Doctor and see him interact with one of his modern successors. But in practise it’s so much more than just that. It’s all about the character work. 10 gets to deliver the mockery first as 5 fails to recognise him as who he is (even mistaking 10 for a fan at one point, in a nice inside joke). Such things as the celery, brainy specs and lack of sonic screwdriver get targeted.
“Not many men can carry off a decorative vegetable.”Of course 5 gives as good as he gets and berates 10 for his constant babbling and his mouth that won’t stop. That’s always been a staple of the 10th Doctor since his debut, it’s one of the things that make him different so it makes total sense that the oft-silent 5 would be critical of it. 5 is also swift to criticise him for choosing the TARDIS’s current desktop theme (apparently known as “coral”) in a subtle nod to the “architectural configuration system” that was referenced in Davison’s first couple of stories.
Balancing all of that, we get a genuine appreciation of each other. It's a new dynamic that previous multi-Doctor stories hadn’t done before – showing the Doctors involved have a mutual respect for each other allows for all the bickering to be good natured. We’re a long way from rude comments to the other incarnations now while still maintaining that same banter we’ve come to expect. You can clearly see the influence in how 10 and 5 interact on how War, 10 and 11 would do so in The Day of the Doctor.
In this fact we can see what Time Crash is really all about: It’s Steven Moffat and David Tennant's love letter to the show’s past. Connecting that long gone era to its present in an unmissable experience for fans of the series. For the first time ever we get direct confirmation that the Classic and Modern iterations of the show are one and the same, and that’s a good thing.
One can only hope that fans of NewWho saw this and decided to check out ClassicWho as a result of liking Davison – this minisode was the reason I started my first steps into watching the classic era, it was with a Davison story, and I doubt I’m alone on this.
So while there’s virtually no plot and the resolution to what little there is doesn’t really hold up, we can look past that because Time Crash is not about the plot but about the two characters (or one character) involved in it.
FIFTH DOCTOR: To days to come.And then the Titanic comes crashing through the wall. Because of course it does!
TENTH DOCTOR: All my love to long ago.
When he's not obsessing about Doctor Who whilst having I Am The Doctor play in his head, Dr. Moo can usually be found reading up on the latest in Quantum Physics. As you do when you're a physicist.