If you asked me what my dream multi-Doctor story was, I’d always say “10th and 4th Doctors in a Two Doctors style crossover”. Well, earlier in the year this story was announced and I was thrilled! Finally something great came out of the currently not-at-all-great situation the world finds itself in as it allowed this apparently long-gestating story to finally be made due to Mr. Tennant’s TV schedule rather predictably being dramatically reduced. Does it live up to the hype? Does the addition of the Daleks add or take away from the experience? Let’s find out!
The Cathedral of Contemplation is an enigma, existing outside time. It turns through history, opening its doors across the universe to offer solace to those in need.
Occasionally, the Doctor drops in – when he’s avoiding his destiny, it’s an ideal place to get some perspective. Only this time he’s already there from several lives earlier, so when dimension barriers break down, his past and present collide.
And when the Daleks invade and commandeer the Cathedral, two Doctors must unite to stop them – or face extermination twice over!
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
What did I want from this story? I wanted some fun scenes and banter between Tom Baker’s Doctor and David Tennant’s, and that’s exactly what I got! At two very different points in their life The Doctor arrives at “The Cathedral of Contemplation”, a large church-like building (or… you know, a cathedral) outside of space and time that can give time travellers a place to relax with no interference from the time stream itself. The Tenth Doctor decides to have a bit of a mess around and ends up walking through a door he wasn’t supposed to and meeting his Fourth self. He initially plays the “funny tourist” trick and leaves, but when they meet back up again the penny drops and the Fourth Doctor figures it out. There’s a really fun idea where the Tenth remembers what he did as the Fourth after each event happens, so he still doesn’t know the outcome of the crisis ahead of time, but remembers after each passing moment. He acts confused but then remarks “maybe that’s what happens every time I meet my other selves and I just don’t remember”. Maybe! Though I’d think it would’ve come up at the some point…
As the Daleks start pouring in through a time corridor, wishing to use the travelling cathedral as a launching pad to invade anywhere they wish, the two Doctors start to come in conflict with each other, the Fourth shocked at his future self’s hero complex and apparent ego that he doesn’t want his younger self to be put in danger because it might mean he doesn’t exist, while the Tenth is annoyed at how flippant his previous self is and his lack of conviction, “You’re the one who wonders if he has the right, I’m the one who knows he does and crosses the wires”, or something to that effect was said. It was great, the two even reminisce about Sarah Jane, the Fourth having only just left her behind, the Tenth having recently attended her sort-of wedding. Despite clashing the two unite to thwart the Daleks’ plans, the Fourth stopping the Tenth from sending a super-nova to Skaro’s surface as he deemed it going too far. It’s a great pairing, and the Fourth even offers his future self a slot as his companion in a clear effort to rehabilitate his future self, even knowing the answer would be no (for paradoxical reasons, if nothing else!).
Great cover to go along with the story. Really makes me re-appreciate the wider layout, the sidebar would’ve been a pain for this one, I’m sure!
The rest of the story is backdrop, but it’s good backdrop. I like the idea of a mystical cathedral outside of time, and how the Daleks would only see it as a means to invade rather than anything else. The Fourth Doctor befriends a female soldier named Jora (Kathryn Drysdale) who escaped a Dalek war to hide out in the cathedral, the Tenth remembering the reason she did before his earlier self figured it out. Her militaristic father arrives to take her home, but it turns out to be a Dalek duplicate, something the Tenth remembers soon after his past self finds out, having to break it to Jora in a bizarre “only in Doctor Who” situation.
Really though, it was an hour of Fourth-Tenth team up, and a damn good time was had.
Nothing. It exists to be a fun time with the Fourth and Tenth Doctors and that’s exactly what it is. They didn’t need to put in the character examination of the Tenth through his earlier self’s eyes, but they did, and it added an extra dramatic layer, making it even better than just a “fun team up romp”.
For the Fourth Doctor, this is happening just after “The Deadly Assassin”, the TV story after he left Sarah behind and the story he ends up as President, something the Tenth remarks about. The Tenth Doctor is on his “I’ve been told I’m about to die so I think I’ll take the long way round to my inevitable fate” tour, set in between “The Waters of Mars” and “The End of Time”.
The supernova the Tenth nearly sends all the way to Skaro is the flare from Earth’s sun he personally saw in his Ninth incarnation in the TV story “The End of the World”. He even lists the date correctly as “5.5/Apple/26”. There are also passing mentions of future (to the Fourth) events and the episode of “The Sarah Jane Adventures” that the Tenth appeared in (“The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith”).
All “Out of Time” had to do was give me the Fourth and Tenth Doctors meeting and have an adventure while playing off each other. It managed to not only give me that, but far exceed my expectations, with a deep look at how The Doctor has changed in the many, many years in between them, and even chip away at the Tenth’s current ego trip. Can’t recommend this story enough, no matter if you love classic, new or just Who in general.