Out of Time 1 is the first in a special series of multi-Doctor encounters. On this occasion, it brings together the Fourth and Tenth Doctors, grappling with the perennial threat of the Daleks.
The tale begins with both Doctors taking some time out at the ‘Cathedral of Contemplation’. Built by a time-sensitive race and existing outside the regular flow of time, it offers solitude for those in need. In this case, the Fourth is taking a pause, while the Tenth is avoiding ‘The End of Time’.
Ordinarily, the cathedral would ensure that the pair could never meet, thanks to some clever temporal engineering. However, a curious Tenth Doctor and his sonic screwdriver soon put paid to that restriction.
Writer Matt Fitton’s central concept of the Cathedral is a clever one; just as complex as it needs to be, it provides the Daleks a dangerously powerful objective. We also follow a personal story – that of a runaway soldier, Jora (Kathryn Drysdale), who interacts with both incarnations in a companion-like role.
The Doctors themselves are on buoyant form, with plenty of fun mined from their interactions. Initially, the Tenth conceals his identity, narrowly avoiding calling himself John Smith. Once the reveal is made, we loved the Fourth Doctor preferring to be known as a “classic” and expressing some concern over his later self’s choice of footwear. There is also a terrific joke made at the expense of the Dalek Supreme, with some fan-worthy probing at Dalek nomenclature.
Matt Fitton doesn’t deploy every element from the Terrance Dicks playbook, but there are some pleasing moments such as telepathic ‘contact’ and a bit of synchronised speech. We loved his approach on the Doctor’s memory too; the Tenth remembering events from the Fourth’s perspective just after they happen. We also enjoyed his amused perspective as his former self stepped up to take charge of the crisis.
It is not all badinage though, with the story well-rooted in the Tenth Doctor’s timeline. There is surprise as the Fourth sees how differently his later self-acts and this carries though into a coda which probes the Tenth’s choice to travel alone.
In the wider cast, Nicholas Briggs gives a booming, resonant performance as the Dalek Supreme, with able support from both Claire Ashbrook and Nicholas Asbury, both in dual roles.
Meetings between Doctors were once a rare event, to be anticipated and treasured. We still vividly remember the build-up to The Five Doctors and buying the Radio Times Anniversary Special. Then endlessly re-watching it on a friend’s Betamax. Despite various combinations in various mediums, the excitement of a multi-Doctor story has lost none of its thrill here. Much like Time Crash, there is an additional dimension at play here too; David Tennant’s joy at working with a childhood hero bleeds though into his performance in quite the loveliest way.
All in all, Out of Time 1 is terrific fun. A solid story with plenty of sparkling interaction between its two stars; a romp in best sense of the word.
With this release, details have also emerged of second and third volumes, both to also feature David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor: Out of Time 2 promises a Parisian Cyber encounter with the Fifth Doctor, while he will team with the Sixth against the Weeping Angels for Out of Time 3. Those encounters are scheduled for 2021 and 2022 respectively, but on the strength of this tale, they will doubtless be worth the wait!