In 1996 Doctor Who fans were given the TV made film “Doctor Who” which was used as a backdoor pilot for a FOX produced series. Unfortunately the film didn’t do as well as FOX hoped so the plan series for the 8th Doctor was shelved until BBC brought the show back with the 9th Doctor. However looking back how does the film hold up?
The film shows the starts with 7th Doctor being given the task to move the remains of The Master. We soon find that The Master is alive and causes the 7th Doctor to land in 1999 San Francisco only be shot rather quickly by gangsters. Then later being killed while in surgery. Now I can understand why they kill off the 7th Doctor quickly in order to give more screen time with the 8th to have him grow and become The Doctor we knew and love. But I felt that he deserved a much more proper death to retire Sylvester McCoy from the role. During his screen time, McCoy was able to bring back the classic feel of the show and made us believe we were watching Doctor Who. One of the few improvement the film had was the scale of the TARDIS it is still has the biggest internal setting.
However I did enjoy the regeneration scene between 7 and 8th Doctor. Im very happy that they showed us a face to to face regeneration to help keep continuity. While we see a snake like form of the Master and later to be played by Eric Robert. Now this isn’t the first time we seen The Master take someone else’s body which we seen in classic Doctor Who. This “American” Master was imposing and intimidating but at time he did seem like more of a terminator type monster than a rival Time Lord. However I did find myself enjoying The Master campy over the top moments and his body language.
Now for the 8th Doctor. I ended up really enjoying Paul McGann performance of the new Doctor. I thought he gave us a sense of childlike curiously and youthfulness. It seem that the 8th Doctor was a cocktail of the past Doctors and their character traits. I also found Paul McGann performance very likable and did a fine job in the title role. Now another element of the 8th Doctor which I didn’t mind was the infamous kiss. I grew up with the new Who so I’m used to seeing the Doctor giving a kiss here and there so I didn’t mind the kiss in the film.
I thought the 8th Doctor’s companions were a bit weak for the most part. It wasn’t till the third act of the film I started to like Grace Holloway and Chang Lee.
This is film isn’t with it problems. I didn’t see the reason to make The Doctor half human and his loss of memory. I also felt that overall plot was rather weak with the basic plot of evil vs good. I would have like to see The Master plan go somewhere new and refreshing rather him just trying to steal his life as we seen many times. Which gave us a some what anti-climactic showdown between The Master and The Doctor. The ending seem to go all too well for the heroes and I really wish they did more with the Eye of Harmony rather than as a way to kill The Master.
But over the years this film has grown on me and I appreciate Paul McGann performance with what he was given a the time. I kind of appreciate many factors of this film with each reviewing. I end up liking Grace and felt she would have made a great companion if the film gain a series. This is a great top story for The Doctor, no but it’s one worth checking out and its has a fair amount of Easter eggs. The soundtrack is another gem in this film. Its one of the best Doctor Who soundtrack I’ve heard.Its a very rich and diverse soundtrack which has been very unfairly unappreciated.
In recent years this film has been rediscovered by the new fan based started by the rebirth of Doctor Who. It has seem to gain cult status among Whovians today. If your in the mood for something out of the usual Doctor who,give this film a good watch.