As part of the countdown to the rebooted and (better-budgeted) Doctor Who series, I’m reviewing this little-seen (outside of the UK) 1993 3-D special that features five versions of the Doctor and several series characters rubbing shoulders with characters from The Eastenders. This most bizarre of Brit crossovers was made as part of a Children in Need charity special.

Title: The Dimensions in Time

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Stuart McDonald.

Writers:John Nathan-Turner,, David Roden

Features:

Sylvester McCoy as The Doctor
Colin Baker as The Doctor
Peter Davidson as The Doctor

Tom Baker as The Doctor
Jon Pertwee as The Doctor
Kate O’Mara as The Rani
Sam West as Cyrian
Sophie Aldred as Ace
Deeak Verma as Sanjay Kapoor
Shobu Kapoor as Vita Kapoor
Bonnie Langford as Melanie Bush
Wendy Richard as Pauline Fowler
Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale
Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman
Letitia Dean as Sharon Mitchell
Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith
Nicola Bryant as Peri Brown
Sarah Sutton as Nyssa
Pam St. Clement as Pat Butcher
Mike Reid as Frank Butcher
Caroline John as Liz Shaw
Nicola Stapleton as Mandy Salter
Lalla Ward as Romana
Louise Jameson as Leela
Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale
Richard Franklin as Mike Yates
John Leeson as the Voice of K-9
Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier

Premise:

The Rami, a renegade Time Lady, has an Evil Plot which she fears the Doctor can stop. She traps various incarnations of the character and several of his companions in a time-loop that will keep them trapped forever in a “dingy backwater.” Specifically, the Gallifreygian do-gooder and an assortment of sidekicks find themselves bouncing among 1973, 1993, and 2013– on the set of British soap The Eastenders. While freeing themselves and saving the world, they casually interact with numerous characters from that show.

High Points:

Uh… A few of the brief encounters actually generate a laugh.

Low Point:

1. The really bad effects on board the Rani’s TARDIS, created to take advantage of the 3-D.

2. If you value your sanity, make no attempt to make logical sense of the plot.

The Scores:

Originality: 5/6 In principal, the premise makes for an original and interesting way to combine two disparate shows without really disrupting the reality of either. In practice, the Dr. Who story is overly silly in ways that it needn’t have been. The Eastenders, meanwhile, have to worry about the Cyberman, the Ogron, and other creatures the Rani sends to stomp around the region in Part 2. Still, the concept, like Archie Meets the Punisher, is simultaneously hilarious yet perfectly sound. I found myself wishing they would have tweaked this just a little bit more in the direction of a serious Dr. Who script. Instead of a goofball curiousity, they could’ve had a genuine comic gem.

Effects: 2/6. Bloody awful! The 3-D, however, is occasionally interesting.

Story: 1/6 Even given the circumstances under which it was made, the story proves stupid. I could nitpick the notion that the Rani’s acquisition of the genetic code of all creatures would allow her to “control evolution,” but really, why? They’ve crammed enough plot for a six-episode arc– albeit, not a great one– into 15 minutes.

Acting: 3/6: The Eastenders actually do a good job of playing ordinary characters experiencing a brush with extra-terrestrials. The Rani chews scenery shamelessly. Favourite Doctor Tom Baker only makes a cameo, which it looks like he performed from the edge of a hospital bed.

Production: 3/6 They obviously rushed this thing into production.

Emotional Response: 2/6 The special is too short to grow tedious, and much happens, even if little of it makes sense. A few of the brief encounters are actually pretty funny.

Overall: 3/6. This gets points for sheer oddness, and fans of both series will want to check it out– possibly after a few pints.

In total, Dimensions in Time receives 19/42.