Picture: Jon Pertwee (left) and Patrick Troughton (from the bbc.co.uk website).
This story aired from the 30th December 1972 - 20th January 1973 and was a celebration of ten years of the show. (November 1973 would have been more fitting, of course, but the show had a run/TV schedule from - roughly - January to April during the Pertwee era.)
And what a way to celebrate - have all the Doctors in an episode: tetchy, elderly statesman Hartnell; clown and quicksilver Troughton; tall, dandy Pertwee. Sadly, William Hartnell was seriously ill by this time and, even sadder, he died a couple of years later. His small, pre-recorded, scenes were nonetheless true to his characterisation of the Doctor.
A piece of equipment, studying cosmic rays, has landed on farmland; Dr.Tyler drives down to retrieve it. A game warden, Ollis, touches the machine and vanishes. Tyler contacts UNIT about the warden's mysterious disappearance and because he has been getting strange readings and images. Tyler develops an image, which shows the face of Ollis; he is touched by some crackling substance and vanishes too. The Doctor investigates the place where Ollis vanished; the area crackles with radiation. The blob thing crawls out of a pipe back at UNIT and the Doctor and Jo see Bessie vanish. The Doctor sees the image developed by Tyler and checks the cosmic ray machine, which crackles with radiation. The Doctor is convinced that something alien is searching for him and that the beam on Tyler's images is the means it has used to reach Earth. UNIT HQ is then attacked by blob like creatures, which suddenly appear. UNIT engage in their usual pointless fire fight (bullets never work against aliens!) with heavy casualties. Benton, Jo and the Doctor are forced into the TARDIS as the original blob enters the Doctor's lab. ("Well Sergeant; aren't you going to say it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside? Everyone else does," "Pretty obvious, isn't it!") The Doctor sends an SOS/report to the Time Lords. The Time Lords are being drained of energy; the source of the lightbeam is a black hole. The cosmos is in danger, so the Time Lords send the Doctor help - they send the Doctor! (Patrick Troughton. From now on, I'll say Pat, Jon and Bill for clarity.) A recorder materialises in the TARDIS and then Pat. Jo is confused; Benton recognises Pat and asks where he came from; Jon is infuriated by the scruff. Jo tries to get an explanation. Pat says they are the same time lord, whilst Jon says
Jon: I am he and he is me
Jo: and we are all together, goo-goo keechoo
Jo: it's a song by the Beatles
Pat: oh? How does it go? [puts recorder to lips]
Jon: please do be quiet!
Pat explains the situation - he has been sent so the Doctor's effectiveness will be doubled. ("Halved!" says Jon.) Pat and Jon have a telepathic conference, where they exchange information on the situation. The Time Lords look on in dismay as Pat and Jon argue because Pat started playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little star on his recorder", much to the annoyance of Jon. They decide to get Bill too, as a means of holding the other Doctors in order. Bill appears on the TARDIS monitor.
Bill: You're my replacements? A dandy and a clown! Have you done anything?
Pat: We've assessed the situation.
Bill: Just as I thought - nothing!
Bill tells Pat and Jon that the blobs are a time bridge and that they should cross that bridge. Pat tosses a coin and puts it away before the result can be seen, saying hard luck to Jon. Jon leaves the TARDIS, Jo runs out after him and both vanish.
Benton and Pat examine the blob; the Brig goes to the lab and stares in disbelief at the figure he met in the London Underground, during the Yeti business, and again with the Cybermen. the Brig thinks the TARDIS has changed the Doctor's appearance again. Jo and Jon have travelled into the black hole, where they find themselves on a desolated landscape. (Otherwise known as a trusty quarry, used by the BBC for alien worlds.) They see part of the lab and find Bessie. Pat sets up a mechanism in order to hold the blob subdued; however, it reacts to the machine and forces the Big, Benton and Pat into the TARDIS. (The Brig looks at the TARDIS interior and doesn't believe it; Pat offers him a jelly baby. Tom wasn't the first!) Jon and Jo meet Tyler. A figure watches them and is pleased he has a time lord in his power. Pat wants to find his recorder; he has lost it. Jo, Jon and Tyler are taken to the figure's citadel. Bill (trapped in a time eddy) instructs Pat to turn the TARDIS force field off. The TARDIS and "Liberty Hall" (aka UNIT HQ) vanish.
Jo, Jon and Tyler are led into a hall, where they meet a Time Lord, Omega. Jo and Tyler are put in a cell whilst jon talks with Omega. Omega made time travel possible for the Time Lords; he was a solar engineer who created the energy which made the Time Lords who they are. Jon says he respects Omega; Omega says he was abandoned and should be worshipped as a god. The world of Omega is a world of anti-matter. He has brought Jon because he needs his help. The Brig is in for a shock; he thinks UNIT HQ and they have been brought to Cromer in Norfolk. The Brig has a look round and finds Ollis; they watch as blobs take Pat and Benton away. They follow. Omega wants revenge. Omega understands that Pat and Jon are the Doctor; thunder peels and they are led away to the cell as Omega is angry. Jo reckons Omega cannot be as all powerful as that, otherwise why bring the Doctor(s) to the black hole? She also says the Doctors can summon up a door to the cell; they use their telepathic abilities to make a door to the cell. They head back to Omega and the Doctors will use their will against him. (Jo, Benton and Tyler escape and meet up with Ollis and the Brig.) Omega sets Jon up in a fight against a projection of the dark side of his mind.
Jon is released when Pat says Omega will lose his one chance of freedom if he destroys Jon. Pat wants Omega to summon up a recorder. Omega is angry; Jon is too, until Pat says he is testing Omega, because he has noticed this anti-matter world has quakes when Omega is angry. Omega explains that this anti-matter domain of his exists because of his will; he cannot escape it because it would collapse the moment he relinquished his will. That is why he has the Doctors; they will take over his place, letting him escape. Pat and Jon remove Omega's mask - they see there is nothing corporeal left of him; only his will exists now. Omega, upon seeing this, wants to destroy everything. Pat and Jon run during Omega's anger. Jon, Pat, Jo, the Brig and co. run into the TARDIS. Pat and Jon remove the force field generator and discover Pat's recorder - it has fallen into it and is still matter, not anti-matter. They land the TARDIS at Omega's citadel. Jo and co. return to Earth via the singularity,and the Doctors escape in the TARDIS, just as Omerga reaches for the recorder. There is a massive explosion and the Time Lords have a new source of power. Bill and Pat return to their time streams. Jon looks gloomy; Jo asks what's up a, and he tells her he feels sorry for Omega. The Time Lords finally lift their exile on the Doctor and he is free to move through time and space again.
The Three Doctors is a lovely story. Troughton and Pertwee played off each other well; it was a fun idea to have them bickering half the time. Pat looked like he hadn't left the show at all - he fell right back into his loveable clown role. I liked Omega, as he is such a tragic villain and the BBC's costume dept. came up trumps with his mask. The blobs aren't all that fantastic to look at but they are fun though, making a sort of upset stomach noise! I suppose some of the weakness of this story is that the supporting cast get very little to do but any and all weaknesses pale because of the Doctors, together!
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