Amid all the 50th anniversary Doctor Who hoopla this weekend, there was released a half-hour production that got much less attention than other most other events. It didn’t even make it on air in the United States. For any fans of the classic show, or the genre of comedy in general, The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot is must-see.
Written and directed by Peter Davison, The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot finds Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy anxiously awaiting news about whether they will be included in The Day of the Doctor. Months pass and the phone doesn’t ring. The BBC offices and Steven Moffat begin avoiding their calls.
These are sad, old men, past their prime, and wanted by no one, including their families. They are obsessed with their glory days, unable to let that defining role of Doctor Who go, and desperate for attention that doesn’t come.
This may sound depressing, but it’s not because the half hour is absolutely hysterical. It’s pretty apparent that this is a campy romp, not a biographical story. The actors are game to make fun of themselves in a public forum, and these parts really work because they cut close enough to home to be relatable. Like Matt LeBlanc in Episodes are James Van Der Beek in Don’t Trust The B—- in Apartment 23, the characters are almost parodies of themselves, not their actual personalities.
We know this because of how pathetic they become. No self-respecting men of notoriety would hold picket signs championing themselves, all alone, in front of a TV studio. Or bum a ride from John Barrowman, who forces them to listen to his singing. Or lock their wife and daughters into their house in order to relive old episodes. Or constantly remind everyone that they are in The Hobbit. Or steal Dalek costumes in the hope they can sneak on set and make it on screen. Or call one’s daughter, Georgia Moffett, in the hospital room where she is giving birth and ask a favor of her husband, David Tennant. It’s absurd, in the best of ways.
Other familiar faces, including Russell T. Davies, Paul McGann, Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Peter Jackson, Olivia Coleman, and Ian McKellen gamely participate, each poking fun at themselves as much as at the old men. If you’re eagled-eyed, you might spy offspring of two of the older, departed Doctors, really making this a full tribute, with more of the cast returning than in the official episode. Each of these are wonderful scenes, a nod to all the Doctor Who fans watching. But the stars of the show was Davison, Baker, and McCoy, and they are spectacular to watch, even without the slew of terrific cameos.
In the end, the guys get their wish. I wouldn’t reveal the exact circumstances, but there is a sweet twist which proves once and for all that they were able to gain access to the set, and surely are not loathed by the production staff. This capper is necessary because, even though I enjoy watching them bumble and suffer, the tone is a light one, and no one wants to see these guys we love fail. It just wouldn’t be right.
Perhaps The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot is not an official part of the anniversary, and maybe it won’t be remembered as fondly as the actual special. But it’s not something I’m likely to forget, and by posting it on the BBC’s website, the network seems to give it their blessing. I definitely recommend checking it out: