Review: “The Five Doctors” Get Rifftrax Treatment

As I have said many times, no one is safe from Rifftrax. Not The Avengers, Jaws, Star Wars, the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones or even Casablanca.

It has mocked two unofficial Doctor Who movies, and somehow got permission to riff on the 20th anniversary episode, “The Five Doctors.”

It was a pretty good riff, but it didn’t take on the original 90-minute version from 1983. It got the re-dubbed and extended version made in 1995 with extra scenes, changes to the soundtrack, and Rassilon with a much deeper voice. To some fans, that is the version that should be mocked. I had no idea  Flavia more or less told Five (Peter Davison) to become president or else at the end. Of course, he turned the job down.

The gang pointed out how it was a little to easy to kill Cybermen, how Sarah Jane and Susan “fell” on slight inclines (blame that on how Companions were written back then) and the weird costumes the Time Lords and their guards had. They also didn’t know why Turlough (Mark Strickson) was there except as the “beta version of Eddie Redmayne”. No wonder they had to get two British guys from the Rifftrax staff to explain it before they had the show.

In the end, though, the Rifftrax gang had fun with this history-making episode, and proved it really hasn’t aged well. Sure, it was great to see Time Lords most modern Who fans may not know about, along with classic Companions, but looking at the style of the story compared to how it’s done now proves the show really has changed. The Time Scoop looked like a transparent Sorting Hat from Harry Potter. The computer graphics on the Doctor’s TARDIS control panel were really out of date. Even the Raston Warrior Robot, called the ultimate killing machine, was dismissed as a Cirque du Soleil reject.

Again, this was the “extended” version, which has extra scenes. Actually, some of them could have been added to the original, like the one where the Brigadier, Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and Tegan (Janet Fielding) compare Doctors. Could you imagine Rose, Amy and Clara doing that?

The plot: someone is grabbing the Doctors out of their time streams causing Five to almost fade away. They all head to Gallifrey to the Dark Tower (not the Stephen King version) to the tomb of Rassilon. When this was planned, the Master (Anthony Ainley) was supposed to be behind all this, but that changed when Tom Baker (Doctor Technically Appears In This Film) decided not to be in it. Actually, that turned out to be a good thing.

The best part was Two (Patrick Troughton) being with the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney). The RT crew commented that a Yeti was chasing them because Two was “wearing his father” as a coat.
Of course, there was a joke about the Doctor becoming a woman next year. I came up with a better riff with this picture…

How else did they mock this episode? They had some pretty good riffs, but here are five of them

“According to the instruments, we’re nowhere in no time”
It’s called Nebraska (and people who saw this show from there agreed)

The First Doctor (Richard Hurndall) is running around being chased by a Dalek
It’s like Martin Van Buren on the set of a Japanese game show

“No, not the Mind Probe” (really asking for a riff)
As probes go, could be worse

The Doctors overcome Borussa’s mind control
So, vague staring worked somehow?

“This is the game of Rassilon”
Please insert the second CD-ROM (since this is the 80s)

There were also riffs on Barbara Bush, EuroDisney, Back to the Future, Neville Chamberlain, the Cleveland Browns, Bugle Boy and Genghis Khan. They also connected “to lose is to win and he who wins shall lose” with last year’s election.

Before that, there was a short called “Play Safe” where British kids are warned to keep away from power lines and substations thanks to two talking birds. In a couple of cases, kids seem to explode when they touch power lines. In one case, some dumb kid tosses a chain at a substation, causing several fatal accidents. It says that electricity can be a servant and a dangerous master (“just like Siri”).  There was also riffs on Herman’s Hermits and Time Chasers.

By the way, one of the birds is voiced by Bernard Cribbins, who is the grandfather of Donna on Who. The crew also had problems with their monitors twice, but still riffed smoothly.

I saw the show at the Century Summit Sierra at the southern edge of Reno. The place has reclining chairs and was actually a sell-out of more than a hundred people, a mix of Whovians and MSTies. It’s too bad it wasn’t at the Cinemark in downtown Reno, but it was worth the extra miles to see it.

Let’s hope the Rifftrax gang can offer “The Five Doctors” as a “just the jokes” title, which means hearing the riffs through the app. If they can make this a VOD, it will be a bigger miracle than the show itself.

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008