Time Crash

Region 1
box set

Region 2
box set
(Doctor Who Season 30 prequel scene starring David Tennant and Peter Davison)
  • written by Steven Moffat
  • directed by Graeme Harper
  • produced by Phil Collinson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 scene, 8 minutes
Story: When the unshielded TARDIS crashes into a prior version of itself, it brings the tenth Doctor (David Tennant) face to face with the fifth (Peter Davison).

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.

I went through all of Season 30 half-hoping and half-expecting to see my favourite Doctor - Peter Davison - somehow crop up in one of the adventures and team up with David Tennant's excellence in the multi-Doctor fashion of some of the more popular classic stories of the past. And I can trace that expectation back to Julie Gardner dropping a needless spoiler into the booklet included with the Season 29 box set, upon which I immediately stopped reading it. This habit of Julie's is becoming predictable.

Only after that particular multi-Doctor hope had been dashed did I find this little gem buried as an extra on the first disc of the Season 30 box set.... It should really come first in the "Play All" or "Episode Selection" sequences, or perhaps better yet have been included on the previous year's box set as an extra, since the narrative clearly squeezes the entire thing into the last few moments of episode two of "The Sound of Drums" (story no. 192).

Although not as involved as the full-length stories "The Three Doctors" (story no. 65), "The Five Doctors" (story no. 130), or "The Two Doctors" (story no. 141), "Time Crash" does bring about a scene of the kind of fun and humorous banter usually witnessed whenever the Doctor meets up with previous versions of himself. If anything, it's a pity it's so short, and feels a bit rushed in places.

Steven Moffat's writing for the tale rests on sound story structure, but there isn't enough scope here to allow for his usual complex intellectual puzzles. A simple one will have to do.

The story is really about character at its heart, which turns out a bit hit and miss at first, but ends better and satisfies before the end. Peter Davison only seems to display his better characteristics about 50% of the time. Humour is attempted as he fails to grasp who David Tennant is, and I don't think it works well enough to justify the amount of screen time given to it. Mention of the "Linda" group or anything to do with the story it came from isn't a good idea at all. Davison's Doctor also takes more than his share of flak from Tennant, but nicely gets to hit home with some of his own comments about Tennant's babbling. And the banter is on and underway.... enjoy. Particularly good is the reduction of the new TARDIS interior's design to a "desktop theme", finally giving a nod to the computer-generated "architectural reconfiguration system" that Christopher H. Bidmead came up with to control such things story-wise in "Logopolis" (story no. 116) and "Castrovalva" (story no. 117). And Davison's comments are suitably critical of the latest "desktop" choice.

The characters balance their shenanigans with much genuine appreciation of each other as well - something perhaps no other multi-Doctor story has previously achieved. Nice one.

Music by Murray Gold
"Martha Triumphant", and
an alternate version of: "The Doctor Forever"
are available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
Original Music from "Series 3"

More info & buying options

"Clockwork TARDIS" is available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who by Murray Gold
Silva Screen SILCD1224

More info & buying options


What plot there is, is resolved with a loop of memory that challenges traditional time travel theory. Moffat glosses over any decent discussion of this with a throwback to one of his favourite phrases from "Blink" (Doctor Who story no. 190). Not so funny. Or credible. Or understandable. Exactly when does the Doctor ever come up with this incredible solution to the problem at hand? Davison is clueless, while Tennant remembers it only because Davison saw it. Thus the original idea chases its tail until it disappears up its own rear-end like the oozalum bird and ceases to exist..... if we only look at time traditionally.

If, on the other hand, we remember that "Every single decision we make creates a parallel existence, a different dimension", and factor in the principles of Heisenberg and modern quantum physics to know that even being present to perceive something or making a judgment as to what it is you're looking at is itself enough to change the outcome, it becomes very difficult to relive a history that you're familiar with and make all the "correct" decisions to have it turn out in exactly the way you remember it.... Instead you end up reliving a PARALLEL version of it.

So the chain of this idea probably started out with an experienced ALTERNATE Tennant Doctor coming up with it, witnessed by an alternate Davison Doctor, who later remembered it as Tennant and passed it on to yet another Davison Doctor. Somewhere along the line OUR canon Davison Doctor learned it from a parallel Tennant, and now in this story, we watch our canon Tennant Doctor pass it on to an ALTERNATE Davison Doctor. So in effect, the idea isn't just looping in time, it's also sliding sideways into alternate parallel universes through the minds of both Doctors' many doubles. Heavy.

But Moffat doesn't seem capable of expressing this yet, if he's even aware of it. Pity, as it's the most fascinating concept the story would have to offer.

In the end, this is a fun little piece, and very enjoyable for fans of the classic show. Here's to more involved multi-Doctor collisions in the future. Cheers!

This story has become available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
14-episode boxed set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
14-episode boxed set
for the U.K.

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "Voyage of the Damned"

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