fter a few years of no new Doctor Who, fans of
the show would have been tickled to watch Tom Baker read from the
Gallifrey dictionary for 2 hours. Instead, they got a 15-minute crossover
with the "Eastenders"
as part of the Children in Need charity telethon. While quite flawed and
illogical, the short is still fun to watch.
The plot, overly complicated for a 15-minute short,
involves a renegade Time Lord known as the Rani, who plots to control
galactic evolution by collecting a specimen of every known creature and
sending them on a time stream through the Greenwich Prime Meridian.
Because only the Doctor can stop her, the Rani traps him in a 20-year time
loop at Prince Albert Square, where the Doctor's previous incarnations
interact with various "Eastenders" characters, all the while
trying to thwart the Rani's plan and get back to the Tardis.
Although flawed, there's a lot about the short that
does work. The performances of Jon Pertwee, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy,
Peter Davison and the various companions are terrific in what amounts to
their series swan song. It's even nice to see the Cybermen and K-9,
although they haven't much to do here. A nice touch is the crossover with
another beloved British show, "Eastenders". Even though the
characters mostly seem to just appear to pose with the Doctor, its
nevertheless neat to see them appear in the same scene.
Then again, there's also plenty that went wrong. Tom
Baker's appearance, although fantastic, is a completely wasted effort. He
gives a desperate and heartfelt warning to the other doctors, but they
don't seem to get the message since it takes them half the show to figure
out what's going on. Why waste a Dr. Who legend on what amounts to a
pointless scene that has no bearing on what follows?
Speaking of pointless, what was writer David Rodan on
when he penned this? Sadly, the short makes little, if any, sense. How is
the Rani going to control the evolution of the universe with a sample of
every species sent specifically through the Greenwich Meridian? And what
could she do if she succeeded? Why does she use her precious samples to
attack the Doctor if they're so vital to her plan? Why exactly does she
need a hunky assistant when she can clearly do the work herself? The title
itself doesn't make much sense; although it sounds great, what does
"Dimensions in Time" actually mean?
Another problem is Stuart McDonald's direction, which
tends to whiz by so fast you'll need repeated viewings to catch important
plot points. While he never allows the short to sport a single dull
moment, the pace is such that viewers can miss some vital details. A
slower pace would have made the show a lot more coherent, not to mention
more enjoyable, to fans.
"Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time" is flawed
but still enjoyable. It's like an old friend -- you're happy to see them
despite all the faults they've acquired since you last met. While the plot
and direction are a mess, it's a joy to see Dr. Who's of years past in one
last spin in the roles that brought them fame. "Doctor Who" and
"Eastenders" fans will undoubtedly want to check this one out,
and forgiving viewers will probably want to join them.