The Three Doctors is the first of several stories in which one Doctor meets one or more regenerations of himself. This one was the Tenth Anniversary Special, during the third Doctor’s tenure. John Pertwee stars with Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell. Later, in 1983’s 25th Anniversary Special—The Five Doctors—current Doctor Peter Davison meets Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, plus Richard Hurndall playing the first Doctor because William Hartnell had passed away. The fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, was trapped in an Ego-Loop—sorry, I mean a Time-Loop—and could not join in with the others, but his predicament was explained in otherwise-unused footage. In 1985, in the 30th Anniversary Special, sixth Doctor Colin Baker met with Patrick Troughton, who appeared not to have changed at all, in The Two Doctors. On the 50th Anniversary, Tenth Doctor David Tennant and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith met each other and got along about as well as all the others had. Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi twice met David Bradley playing the first Doctor, after the latter’s success at playing William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time.
Solar Engineer Omega (Stephen Thorne) the creator of the experiments that gave the Time-Lords the power to travel in time, is seeking his revenge on them after he was left to die in a universe of antimatter. A superluminal signal is sent to Earth, carrying an energy blob to capture the Doctor. The Time-Lords’ planet, still not named, is also attacked, and the Time-Lords’ power is being drained away through a black hole. Desperate, the Time-Lords try to recruit the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) to help the third (John Pertwee), despite this being a bad idea, timewise. As these two cannot abide each other, they attempt to retrieve the First Doctor (William Hartnell) from his timeline to keep them in order, but he is caught in a time-eddy and can only communicate through a viewscreen.
While the Doctor’s argue and investigate, UNIT faces attack by shapeless blob-like creatures. The Doctors allow the TARDIS to be snatched up by the Black Hole and end up in the antimatter universe created by the Great Time-Lord Omega, who created the supernova that powers the Time-Lords’ civilization. He is trapped in this universe, maintained only by his powerful will. He wants revenge on the Time-Lords who left him stranded there and wishes to escape while trapping the Doctors there. But Omega’s body has been destroyed and he cannot leave. He destroys the force-field generator they offer him, annihilating everything in a flash, sending the Doctors back to our universe. The first two doctors are returned to their time and the Third Doctor is given the freedom of the universe as a reward for saving the Time Lords’ bacon once again.
It is a shame that William Hartnell was so frail and unwell that he could not appear with the other two Doctors, except in pre-recorded sequences seen on a screen. The best part of the entire production was the bickering between Pertwee and Troughton, and a vigorous Hartnell could have put them both firmly in their place. He still had the best lines. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) is not bad as he tries desperately to keep his upper lip stiff, entering the TARDIS for the first time, and learning that three different people are the same Doctor. Stephen Thorne does what he can, trapped behind Omega’s impressive but impenetrable mask and largely unable to do much more than scream with rage. As usual, the blob-creatures are forgettable.