Sun, 25 November 2007
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"Time Crash" is a "mini-episode" of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One as part of the 2007 appeal for the children's charity Children in Need on 16 November. It was written by Steven Moffat and starred David Tennant and Peter Davison as the Doctor.
The episode depicts an encounter between the Doctor's fifth and tenth incarnations, played by Davison and Tennant respectively. "Time Crash" was a ratings success, with a viewership of 10.9 million and a 45% share of the total television audience that night, making it both the most watched portion of the 2007 Children in Need special and the most watched Doctor Who episode since the show's 2005 revival.
After saying farewell to Martha, the Doctor sets off on his travels when the TARDIS encounters a problem, the result of which involves the Fifth Doctor appearing in the console room. The Tenth Doctor is gleeful at the meeting, but the Fifth Doctor is initially baffled, assuming his future incarnation is a deranged fan, possibly from LINDA.
The Tenth Doctor explains that he forgot to put up the shields after rebuilding the TARDIS and it collided with the Fifth Doctor's TARDIS (its earlier self) in the timestream. This is generating a paradox at the heart of the ship powerful enough to rip a hole in the universe the (exact) size of Belgium. The Cloister Bell signals the impending end.
However, without a thought, the Tenth Doctor manipulates the TARDIS controls to manipulate a supernova into exact counterbalance; it cancels out the black hole caused by the paradox, so that all matter remains constant. This amazes the Fifth Doctor, but he quickly realises that the Tenth Doctor 'came up with' the solution only because he remembered this encounter. The Fifth Doctor says his farewells, and the Tenth Doctor tells the Fifth of the personality traits that he retained from his fifth self, also telling him he loved being him and that he was "his" Doctor.
As he departs, the Fifth Doctor reminds the Tenth to raise his shields again, but too late; as he is doing so, the hull of the RMS Titanic crashes through one of the TARDIS walls, as originally seen at the end of the last series.
Both the Fifth Doctor and the Tenth Doctor make references to each other's respective storylines throughout the episode. The Tenth Doctor mentions Nyssa and Tegan, the Mara, Time Lords wearing silly hats, as well as commenting at length on the Fifth Doctor's clothing. The Fifth Doctor asks the Tenth Doctor if he's connected with LINDA and uses the phrase "Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey" first heard in "Blink", also by Steven Moffat. Other elements from the series such as Zeiton crystals, the helmic regulator and the thermobuffer are also mentioned.
Both Doctors refer to common elements throughout the series such as the Cybermen and the Master. The Fifth asks if the Master still has "that rubbish beard" (referencing the fact that actors Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley portrayed the character with a beard), and the Tenth replies "No, no beard this time... well, a wife" (referring to Lucy Saxon). The Fifth Doctor also notes that the TARDIS's "desktop theme" has been changed, accounting for its radically different appearances throughout the series.
The Tenth Doctor offers to help the Fifth Doctor fix the problem caused by the TARDIS merge through his sonic screwdriver, which the Fifth Doctor declines. The latter's own sonic screwdriver was destroyed in the serial The Visitation, as then-producer John Nathan-Turner saw it as an "easy way out" for writers to resolve any difficult situation the Doctor faced. The sonic screwdriver would never appear in the show again until the TV movie in 1996.
During the original run of Doctor Who, the Doctor met different incarnations of "himself" in three stories: The Three Doctors (1973), The Five Doctors (1983) and The Two Doctors (1985). The Children in Need special Dimensions in Time (1993) also featured all the five surviving Doctors at the time, with specially made busts standing in for the remaining two. In the Comic Relief sketch Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death (1999), also written by Moffat, the Doctor regenerated four times, resulting in five different actors playing the role. Multi-Doctor stories have also appeared in Doctor Who spin-off media.
There were also several instances of the incidental music changing to a style more heavily favoured during the time that Peter Davison's episodes were produced. This differed greatly from the orchestral style of music now favoured by the programme.
It is never explicitly stated where the Fifth Doctor's segment fits into his own continuity. From the Tenth Doctor's perspective, the special takes place at the very end of "Last of the Time Lords", immediately prior to the RMS Titanic crashing into the TARDIS.
The episode was directed by Graeme Harper on October 7, 2007, who twenty-three years previously had directed Peter Davison's last regular appearance in Doctor Who in the serial The Caves of Androzani. It was officially announced by the BBC on October 21.
According to the Doctor Who Confidential episode featuring behind-the-scenes footage, the Fifth Doctor's coat and trousers are originals taken from the Blackpool Doctor Who exhibition. The trousers had been previously altered in order to fit Colin Baker for the regeneration scene in The Caves of Androzani (and the opening of The Twin Dilemma). The jumper was knitted especially for this episode, and the hat was a new roll-up panama hat with an original band added on.
David Tennant mentioned in an interview the morning after airing that the Tenth Doctor's speech complimenting the Fifth Doctor's sense of style and personality was written by himself, and that the Fifth was his favourite Doctor.
Previous Doctor Who charity specials transmitted over the years include the aforementioned Dimensions in Time, Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death and "Doctor Who: Children in Need". The first two are generally not regarded as canonical by Doctor Who fans, but the last one is, directly connecting "The Parting of the Ways" with "The Christmas Invasion". The anniversary special The Five Doctors was broadcast on Children in Need night for its United Kingdom premier broadcast.
Broadcast, reception and release
Children in Need was the most-watched television programme of the night, with an overnight rating of 9.4 million viewers, and figures peaked between 8:15pm and 8:30pm, when "Time Crash" was aired, with a total of 10.9 million viewers. The episode is therefore the most-viewed since the show's revival in 2005, surpassing the revival's premiere, "Rose", which achieved a rating of 10.8 million viewers. Calls also peaked during the episode's airing. When the episode was replayed later that night it garnered an audience of 2.5 million viewers.
Critical reaction was positive, with reviewers calling it the highlight of the Children in Need special. Steven Moffat was praised for his writing of the episode, which was characterized as witty and clever. The performances of both Peter Davison and David Tennant were also well-received.