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Recap / The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot

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In which we get a high-def look at Colin's coat.

The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot is a half-hour Web Original comedy short film written and directed by former Doctor Who star Peter Davison for the 50th anniversary of the show. It stars Davison and fellow former Doctors Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy (with a brief appearance by Paul McGann) and revolves around the build-up to the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor", and features over 60 Who-related cameos. It was initially made available on the BBC Red Button service after the broadcast of the main special, and subsequently released on DVD as part of a 50th anniversary box set. It was made with the full cooperation of the Doctor Who production office, and features showrunner Steven Moffat in numerous scenes. John Barrowman, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Russell T Davies also appear (among about a dozen other Who alumni in cameos).

Down-on-his-luck '80s actor Peter Davison comes to the grim realization that the fiendish and ruthless Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat is not going to invite him to appear on "The Day of the Doctor". The fact that his two young sons are actually happy to hear this only intensifies an obsessive desire to relive his Glory Days one last time. He rounds up his old acting buddies Baker and McCoy, and the three retired Doctors set forth on a zany adventure: getting to the BBC studios in Cardiff and crashing the filming of "The Day of the Doctor" by any means necessary. Hilarity ensues.

Can be viewed for UK viewers on the BBC website. Americans and Australians (and the rest of the world, maybe — apparently it is blocked on certain ISPs and/or at certain times of the day) can view it elsewhere. So far its only North American DVD release has been as part of a box set collecting the Matt Smith era of the series; in the UK it was included in a special set related to the 50th anniversary.

The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: As a nod to Doctor Who Magazine issue 61, which infamously misspelled his name on the cover when it reported his casting as the Doctor, when Davison is checking into a hotel, the receptionist clearly pronounces his surname "Davidson".
  • Acrofatic: Colin, despite being the most portly of the group, is the only one not winded after chasing John to his car. He even looks confused as to why the other two are.
  • Action Figure Speech: The three do this to each other when they're in the Daleks, having successfully snuck into the filming.
  • Adam Westing:
    • Of the three actors themselves. All three are depicted as needy and desperate to appear on the show again, but on top of that it's implied that Davison has a tendency to mooch off and annoy his famous son-in-law, Baker insistently subjects his family to watching his old Doctor Who episodes ad nauseam, and McCoy won't stop gloating about the fact that he appears in The Hobbit movies. Paul McGann, who appears briefly, appears cool and professional (but in fact comes off as just as needy and desperate to be involved in the anniversary as the others. In his case, Real Life Writes the Plot ...)
    • Davison in particular depicts himself as a washed-up old has-been who's practically been forgotten by the world at large and for whom Doctor Who is pretty much his only meaningful accomplishment. In actuality, while it would be a stretch to suggest that Doctor Who isn't at least a prominent career highlight if not the thing he's most known for, he's had a consistently busy and successful career both before and since leaving the show.
    • David Tennant, Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat also play deprecatory versions of themselves, revealing that they have no life outside of Doctor Who. Tennant even forgets the birth of his own child because he is so focused on filming for "The Day of the Doctor" (don't worry, the real David is not that callous).
    • John Barrowman turns out to be straight with children and is only pretending to be homosexual because it got him famous. He sings his own songs all the way from London to Cardiff before dropping off the Doctors with his own albums as gifts (and it's implied he's charging a fortune for his work, since the Doctors use them to buy three tickets).
    • Everyone is playing a deprecatory version of themselves. Ian McKellen can't even remember his co-star's name and conspires to steal scenes from him (note that in Real Life, Ian and Sylvester have known each other for years and done theatre work together i.e. King Lear and his Fool, respectively — knowing this, of course, only makes the back-biting more hilarious). Even Olivia Colman — in the episode for barely a minute at the beginning — spoofs her incredibly prolific career by griping that she should be in the special because "I'm in everything!"
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the show both past and present.
  • And Then What?: Apparently, Davison didn't expect his plan to succeed.
  • Antenna Adjusting: In order to get a mobile phone signal, Colin has to stand on top of his ride-on lawnmower at the bottom of the garden.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Inverted. John Barrowman's awful Dark Secret is revealed to be that he's actually straight and has a wife and two kidsnote ! After begging the trio to keep his secret, he decides to give them a lift to Cardiff, if only to get away from his family's nagging.
  • As Himself: Exaggerated for comic effect.
  • Big Bad: Adam Westing Steven Moffat.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Colin, Peter and Sylvester, respectively.
  • Call-Back:
    • Davison thinks the TARDIS prop at the Doctor Who Experience exhibition is a working TARDIS. In a previous comedy video of his, it was.
    • Davison's tendency to mooch off/irritate David Tennant, as seen in these videos, continues as well.
    • Janet Fielding also makes a cameo similar to the one she had in the earlier video.
  • The Cameo:
    • Lots of former and current Doctor Who cast, crew members, guest stars, Fandom VIPs and cast family members pop up along the way.
    • And Peter Jackson.
    • Ian McKellen has done voicework in "The Snowmen", but this is probably the closest you're ever going to get to seeing Gandalf on the show.
    • Sean Pertwee shows up in the beginning, serving as a proxy to his father, Jon Pertwee.
      • Olivia Colman appears opposite Sean in this scene, noting how weird it is that she hasn't been asked to do anything for the 50th anniversary, given how she's "usually in everything".
    • Patrick Troughton's son David Troughton (who previously appeared in four different episodes) also appears, albeit as a Dalek Operator, not (presumably) as himself. And Frank Skinner is the third operator.
    • Davison's At Home with the Braithwaites co-star Sarah Churm plays John Barrowman's secret wife.
    • Dead Ringers actor Jon Culshaw is briefly heard as the voice of Tom Baker when the trio decides to phone Tom.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Sylvester McCoy points out that he usually sits in his trailer on the set of The Hobbit for weeks with nothing to do. When he tries to take advantage of this, he is of course instantly needed on set. He later notes how he is in breach of contract, when asking why they're going through all this trouble.
  • Catchphrase: Russell T Davies proposes "Quel dommagenote !"
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Davison, apparently. Realizing he'd planned to actually use a TARDIS to get onto the show, Baker remarks, "You really are from another planet." A Shout-Out to a short video he produced for an appearance at the Gallifrey One fan convention where it actually works.
    • Steven Moffat's scripting procedure seems to be acting it out with action figures.
  • Comic Trio: Peter is the leader, Sylvester is mostly content to follow along, and Colin is the skeptic.
  • Crashing Dreams: At the end of Peter's dream of being invited on to the anniversary special, Janet Fielding starts telling him he needs to walk the dog, and then he wakes up to find his wife telling him he needs to walk the dog. (This is a reprise of something she does in the video Davison made for Gallifrey One.
  • Darkest Hour: Once they've all crowded into the normal, mundane TARDIS prop, they realize Peter's plan hinged on it being an actual working TARDIS, which is unfortunately not the basis of any sound real-world plan. Sylvester pipes up unhappily that he'd like to go home.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Colin Baker.
    Colin Baker: You're appearing in The Hobbit? I had no idea!
  • Deleted Scene: invoked An unusual case where a deleted scene from another work appears. At the very end, we see part of the undergallery scene from "Day of the Doctor" in which the Eleventh Doctor is asked why he's tasting the stone dust, to which he replies "I'm just feeling a bit peckish." This line of dialogue is not actually in the broadcast version of the special.
  • Dog Walks You: Davison ends up being dragged along behind his rather small dog.
  • Dream Sue: Davison has a cheery-looking dream sequence in which he's welcomed back onto the show and everyone likes him and respects him and actually recognizes him... until Janet Fielding appears in his dream and brusquely informs him he's dreaming and tells him to go walk the dog.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Our three heroes are more likely to be regarded with exasperated impatience and disdain or blank indifference by the people around them than anything else. Justified, since they (or at least their fictional depictions here) are pretty annoying to the people around them.
  • Eye Beams: One of RTD's ideas is that he becomes the Doctor and instead of a sonic screwdriver shoots sonic beams from his eyes.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The security guard that is looking for three intruders sees Peter, Colin and Sylvester and asks them for their autographs. Only after they're gone and his colleague says "Three guys!?" does it click.
  • Fake Shemp: Tom Baker's "appearance" is the same footage re-used from the unfinished episode "Shada" that was repurposed for "The Five Doctors". His voice message after that scene is actually voiced by Jon Culshaw, who's known for his uncanny Tom Baker impersonation on Dead Ringers (and had previously briefly played the Fourth Doctor in another Davison story, the Big Finish Doctor Who play "The Kingmaker").
  • Full-Name Basis: Peter's sons refer to "David Tennant" rather than just "David" despite the fact he's married to their sister, making him family. Presumably to clarify who they meant to the audience as David is a common first name.
  • Glory Days: Davison, Baker, and McCoy spend the film trying to get back on the show one more time.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • At one point Colin Baker is seen reading The Hobbit, adding a little subtext to Sylvester McCoy's bragging about being in The Hobbit.
    • Davison, Baker and McCoy enviously watch Paul McGann read scripts and call his agent, the implication being that his career is a lot more productive than theirs. Cut to McGann badgering his agent about whether he's been invited to the Doctor Who anniversary special just as desperately as they have been.
  • Heel Realization: Not in the story, but while filming the ending, light dawned on Steven Moffat:
    Steven Moffat: Hang on! I'm the evil one in this thing!
    Peter Davison: Have you only just realised that???
  • Hope Spot: After the Downer Ending where the editor cuts off scene 19 (the Daleks scene) implying that everything the three ex-Doctors did was for naught, the credits roll, then a stinger plays where Moffat leaves for a minute, the editor queues up the next scene and it shows the three ex-Doctors being ushered under canvas as extras to play the hiding Zygons in the gallery scene. The editor grins and clicks on something, and tries to hide it when Moffat returns. This implies that the three ex-Doctors did make a cameo in the special — albeit as extras hidden under canvas in the gallery scene, making it unlikely for fans to recognize them. Then again, being the Dalek operators was no better.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Colin chides Sylvester for quoting his "sugar" speech from "Remembrance of the Daleks". Seconds later, after Sylvester admits he's misquoted it a bit, Colin chimes in with his "what's the use of a good quotation if you can't change it?" quote from "The Two Doctors".
    • At the end of the special, Russell T "The" Davies calls Peter Davison to ask if he can be in the special and leaves a 27-minute-long message on his cell phone. After Peter listens to the first few seconds of it, he deletes it just as casually as Steven Moffat deleted his own messages.
  • Indy Ploy: The former Doctors all seem to have a rather Doctorish philosophy on planning things out.
  • In-Joke: The background music switching from the mysterious synthesizer doodles of '80s-era Classic Who to the current triumphant orchestral fanfares as the old Doctors sneak onto the set of new Who.
    • There are far too many other visual and dialogue in-jokes to list here.
  • Logo Joke: The jingle of the 1997-2009 BBC Video Vanity Plate is heard when Colin Baker pops in his "Vengeance on Varos" DVD. (As an aside, this causes a discrepancy with real life: the plate would peg down his copy as the 2001 standard edition... except that the disc he puts in the player is clearly the Special Edition DVD, released in 2012, which instead uses this more recent BBC Worldwide logo.)
  • The Magazine Rule: The three Dalek operators are reading Dalek Operator's Gazette.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Georgia Moffett/Tennant is listed by her maiden name in the cast list but is credited as a producer under her married name.
  • Medium Awareness:
    • The trio react to the dramatic change in the background music that occurs when they enter the BBC studio.
    • At the end, Peter Davison points out the existence of the camera that has been following them around the whole time. Cut to a long shot showing them surrounded by a camera crew... and then Sylvester McCoy points out the existence of the camera filming the long shot, which Colin explains is filming for the behind-the-scenes special.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Moffat's nightmare is a spoof of the Fifth Doctor's dying hallucination in "The Caves of Androzani". Additionally, during the sequence Matthew Waterhouse says, "Now I'll never know if I was right!", which were Adric's last words in "Earthshock".
    • The reason for Tom Baker not being in this is the same reason why he wasn't in "The Five Doctors".
      Tom Baker: Well, I seem to be stuck in the sodding time vortex... Again!
    • His message also includes him calling the other performers "My dears," a reference to (of all things) "Dimensions in Time", the black sheep anniversary special.
    • A radio host says that his favorite Doctor is Peter Cushing.
    • More "Davison family mythology" than "Doctor Who mythology", strictly speaking, but Peter's sons being dismissive of their father's time as the Doctor is a reference to this video, in which his grandson Tyler innocently expresses similarly tactless disinterest in the Fifth Doctor.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: All three are terrified about the prospect of calling up Tom Baker to see if he wants to take part in their protest. Colin Baker eventually rationalizes that it can't be any worse than the time he had to eat possums anus on TV.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues:note  How the three eventually get on the show according to The Stinger.
  • No Hero to His Valet: Or family, in the case of Davison and Baker; Davison's sons don't seem as broken up by the possibility of Davison not appearing in the 50th anniversary special as he'd like them to be, while his daughter regards him as a nuisance and avoids his calls where she can. Baker's wife and daughters are similarly driven up the wall by his constantly playing them his old Doctor Who episodes, which have the odd tendency to get "mysteriously" broken and force him to order new ones, which also get "lost" in the mail.
  • Not So Above It All: McGann is the only one depicted as a professional with a steady career, but when the camera focuses on him, he is asking his agent if there has been any news at all about the Doctor Who anniversary special, clearly disappointed not to be asked back.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Davison seems to be one to Tennant.
  • Official Parody: At first, the plan was for it to be a mere fan film, but when Steven Moffat heard about it from Peter, he loved the idea and gave them a camera crew and a budget, hence his credit as an executive producer (with Brian Minchin, who is also an executive producer for the series proper). Its availability on BBC Red Button and iPlayer are proof of its authenticity, not to mention its use of the Doctor Who theme music and opening credits, and footage (even including part of a deleted scene) from "Day of the Doctor".
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Colin Baker's family collectively has this reaction when they realize he's ordered a special edition DVD set of his run as the Doctor, locked all the doors and windows, and is going to force them to sit down and watch the entire set from start to finish.
    • Sylvester McCoy mumbles a forlorn "Oh, no" when he picks up his ringing phone and sees that it is Peter Jackson who is trying to call him.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Steven Moffat.
  • Reality Subtext:invoked While it's obviously being played for laughs here, all three starring classic Doctors publicly expressed disappointment that they weren't more involved in the BBC's official 50th anniversary celebrations. In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine (#503) Davison himself states that while he would have liked to have been more involved, he at least understood and accepted the reasons why it wasn't possible; however, he claims that the others (Colin Baker in particular) really did take it a bit more personally.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Paul McGann appears in only one scene before disappearing from the narrative, with the others mentioning filming commitments. This is because, unlike the other three, he actually was booked to appear in a project related to the 50th anniversary special, "The Night of the Doctor".
    • Reportedly, Davison tried to get Tom Baker to appear or at least provide his voice, but never heard back from him. The fact Baker was booked to actually make a cameo appearance in the 50th anniversary special itself may have had something to do with it.
  • Recognition Failure:
    • Almost no-one remembers the poor old guys, except a security guard. See also Failed a Spot Check.
    • The editor of the show recognizes the ex-Doctors as well, and humors their desire to be in the special in The Stinger by not telling Moffat when the ex-Doctors were draped in canvas and ushered off to play the hiding Zygons in the gallery scene of the special.
  • Recycled In Space: It's Last of the Summer Wine meets Extras WITH THREE CLASSIC DOCTORS!
  • Running Gag:
    • Sylvester mentions about eight times that he's in The Hobbit, and wants you to know it's a big blockbuster movie with Peter Jackson and it's much better than TV.
    • Steven Moffat being pestered by phone calls from former Doctors wanting to be in the 50th anniversary special.
    • No one recognizing Peter Davison.
    • John Barrowman singing "I Am What I Am".
  • Self-Deprecation: Peter Davison hasn't exactly written himself (or his two colleagues) in the most flattering light.
  • Serious Business: Getting onto "The Day of the Doctor". It's more important than being in some blockbuster seasonal movie like The Hobbit or being there for your wife giving birth.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The trio tries their damnedest to be in the 50th, give up close to their goal because they think they'll muck things up, disguise themselves as Daleks in order to be in it anyway... and their scene gets cut because it took the show 10 minutes over air time. Then subverted by The Stinger.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • This line:
      Davison: Oh, get your priorities right, Sylvester! This is not some flash-in-the-pan $500 million picture! This is important!
    • Then there's David phoning his wife, (Peter's daughter), and after he hangs up, he mumbles as he goes back to the set: "...Something else I meant to ask her about?" Cue a scene with her being heavily pregnant and in labour.
  • Sleep Cute: McCoy and Baker have a bit of a cuddle on the bus home.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Sylvester might be a big name amongst Whovians, but in general he's not. But he just can't not mention he's in The Hobbit.
  • Something We Forgot: After being on the phone with his wife, David Tennant hangs up and mumbles absent-minded to himself that he has a feeling he has forgotten something. It's that his wife is giving birth.
  • Special Effects Failure: Invoked and discussed; when they finally get onto the TARDIS set, the three ex-Doctors start complaining that it isn't practically falling apart like it used to be back in their day:
    Davison: [discussing a side console] Here, look at this, look — you lean on it, nothing happens! It doesn't wobble at all! I used to love the old wobble.
  • Stripping the Scarecrow: Peter, Colin and Sylvester steal their old costume coats off the display dummies at the Doctor Who Experience.
  • Take That!: The last face Steven Moffat sees in his nightmares is Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) up close and inexplicably exploding for no reason. Davison made his real-life disdain of Waterhouse quite clear in DVD commentaries. This is an in-joke referencing Adric's death in "Earthshock" — hence Waterhouse repeating Adric's final words. It's worth noting that in 2013 Waterhouse and Davison began acting together again for Big Finish audio dramas, suggesting a burying of the hatchet.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Invoked when the trio venture onto the modern TARDIS set and proceed to complain about every major design change, including the lack of Stylistic Suck that they loved about the old sets.
  • Truth in Television: Although it's parodied here, the four classic-era Doctors actually have formed something of a close brotherhood after more than 20 years working together for Big Finish Productions and attending conventions.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Davison, Baker, and McCoy.
  • Wacky Cravings: A very pregnant Georgia Tennant/Moffett is seen using a tremendous celery stalknote  to scoop up an equally-large glob of ice cream (or worse, possibly frosting).
  • Waving Signs Around: The boys attempt a protest rally... but it's just the three of them standing outside the Beeb with signs reading, 'NO CLASSICS? NO 50TH!' To make matters worse, they're protesting outside of the old BBC Television Centre in London when (a) the show is now filmed in Cardiff and (b) the old centre wasn't used by the BBC for TV production by the time the special was made anyway.
  • Weird Currency: Apparently the Doctor Who Experience exhibition in Cardiff accepts copies of John Barrowman CDs and DVDs as legal tender to let people in, although they're clearly not happy about it.