Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Doctor Who: The Movie (1996)

Doctor: Paul McGann (8th Doctor)
Companion: Dr. Grace Holloway

Written by: Matthew Jacobs
Directed by: Gregory Sax

Background & Significance: By 1990, Doctor Who was no more. McCoy's tenure ended and the BBC canceled the show. The fanbase, like Trekkies and Browncoats, turned inward to fill the void left by their favorite show. Zines, fanfiction, fan communities, conventions, radio plays... all of "the usual" cropped up to keep the show alive.

Needless to say, after its cancellation, Doctor Who proved itself a viable property, one with amazing staying power. It had all the cultural impact of Star Trek, and if Kirk and Spock et. al. managed to create a giant franchise empire, Doctor Who certainly could as well.

So in the mid '90's, they tried to revive it.

The BBC joined with American studios (attempting to bring in a U.S. viewership) to fund a single, made-for-TV movie with an American broadcaster that would function as a backdoor pilot to an ongoing series. It would be done on the relative cheap and filmed in Vancouver, and if the movie did well enough they would move it to series with this movie serving as the show's first episode.

They also decided that the movie would continue The Doctor's story where it had [essentially] left off in 1989. Certain changes would be enacted as it had to be new-viewer friendly. Other than that, it was essentially the same thing. The movie would introduce key elements. The Time Lords, The Master, Daleks, The TARDIS, and almost all of the original mythology would stay in place. The Doctor would regenerate, making a new incarnation in Paul McGann, giving a new generation a new Doctor to grow to love.

All that? Ridiculously logical. That all makes sense (for the most part). So what could go wrong?

Ohhhhhhhhh so much. As is probably clear, the movie failed to spark any backing or interest in continuing further, specifically from broadcast network Fox. The BBC couldn't move forward without an American network, despite the fact that the movie aired to eight million in Britain (about as large as Doctor Who was back at the end of its run... Which, considering that the show had been off the air for seven years at that point, isn't that bad).

And really, all of the problems everyone has comes from odd choices and lack of good, thrilling story that's--I hate to say worthy, but--worthy of the greatness of Doctor Who.

Personally? I came to this with much excitement. I had been looking forward to Paul McGann since I had first heard about him. And the movie itself didn't sound so awful (some of the complaints from the fanbase are things I was expecting and could just write off or around).

We can discuss all of its failings as we go through it, but just to be clear at the outset: I was excited for Paul McGann going into this, and he did not disappoint. More than anything, he really does a great Doctor. All the problems fall on the story and the writing and the direction and some really strange choices. So let's keep that in mind and separate the movie from The Doctor himself.

So let's get to it!


We start on Skaro. In a nice voice-over from Paul McGann giving us some backstory. We learn that the Master has been executed by Daleks (who don't sound like real Daleks, more like Dalek Chipmunks). The Master, reaching out with his last thought, calls on The Doctor to go to Skaro and bring his remains back to Gallifrey for a proper burial.

And ummmmm... That's kinda bizarre. I mean... I guess The Master wants to be buried on Gallifrey, and I guess The Doctor would help him fulfill that request (despite all the nonsense that The Master did to him over the course of the past..... what? Several decades?)... But would The Daleks really allow The Master, who is being tried (do the Daleks do that? It's like Dalek court or something. I would watch that. Dalek Law & Order) and executed, a last request? And for that last request to allow The Doctor, one of if not the sworn enemy of the Daleks, to go to Skaro, pick up The Master's remains, and take them back to his home planet?


And then we have some delightful opening credits, that are a time tunnel and space and asteroids and giant text FLYING THROUGH SPACE like some cosmic billboard, yelling "Doctor Who!" like some annoying telemarketer....

We then move to the TARDIS, where The Doctor puts the Master's remains into a locked chest, kept safe for the journey. Here, we open on the 7th Doctor, sitting back in his TARDIS, on a ride back to Gallifrey. He puts the TARDIS on cruise control so he can sit in his richly designed TARDIS (which is somewhere between studio apartment, Catholic Cathedral, and something out of those Mortal Kombat live-action movies), which is FILLED with ticking clocks (do we understand the symbolism yet?) and read H.G. Wells' The Time Machine.

And uhhhhhhh..... Not to sound like a spoil sport, and this is cute and all... But... come on, now. I know you have to get us introduced to this main character really quickly, but this lacks all sorts of subtlety (that's a problem that starts here and doesn't ever really end) about introducing a character.

And all of this is a problem: less than two and a half minutes in we've unnecessarily talked about Daleks, introduced The Master, regenerations (and that he's on his seventh life), multiple lives, and a main character who isn't really our main character (Paul McGann is our main character, not Sylvester McCoy), AND there was an opening titles sequence.

"I'm gonna eat you. Yes I am."

Anyways, The Doctor sits in his comfy armchair, listening to some classic vinyl easy listening, eating his jelly babies, reading The Time Machine, when all of a sudden... The Master's lunch-box-sized casket starts to shake. And then things randomly start LEAPING! The record skips on the word "Time" (OH COME ON. That's so stupid.) and The Doctor's cup of tea shatters and flies randomly into the air and the arm of the record player...

And that's when a creepy goo thing cracks open the box, drips out, and slides under the TARDIS. The TARDIS starts going crazy! There's a "Critical Timing Malfunction" (which I don't know what that is) and forces The TARDIS to make an emergency landing.

The Doctor enters his candle honor place where The Master's lunch box has broken. He sees The Master has gone, and freaks out with his eyes.

We cut to San Francisco, 1999. How do we know it's San Francisco in 1999?

Oh, that's easy.

We follow some Asian gangsters, one Asian gangster in particular: Chang Lee (really, now? That's his name? Come on...) who's running through the streets, chased down alleys and over fences, but he gets a drop on the car chasing him and his buddies and they fire some guns.

Chang Lee: A name so good, you want to slap people when you hear it.

Contented, they walk away, when all of a sudden, THERE'S MORE GANG MEMBERS, THIS TIME WITH SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPONS.

Welcome to Doctor Who in the 90's, kids.

Chang Lee tries to run for it (his friends are gunned down with little to no reaction on Chang Lee's part) but gets caught in the open while the others are re-loading. (Which is hilarious. The gang members just stand there like some bloody English Red Coats or something. Don't even try for cover or nothing.)

Lucky for him, The TARDIS shows up, saving his life with it's anti-bullet forcefields. The Gang Members reload, and as they do, The Doctor emerges from his TARDIS.


What? I mean, really. I'm all for giving someone a shocking and sudden death... But The Doctor? Really? Getting gunned down in the crossfire of some Asian street toughs in San Francisco? Come on. That's not even.... That's... what?

The gangsters run away, plot devices never to be seen again, and Chang Lee comes to help out The Doctor, who stares in horror as he sees some clear goo stuff creep out of the TARDIS' keyhole. He warns Chang Lee to stop it, but Chang Lee is being a responsible guy by talking about himself in the third person ("Chang Lee will help you out") and getting an ambulance.

Inside the ambulance, Chang Lee signs some paperwork, calling The Doctor (John Smith) and introducing Kind Paramedic Bruce. There's also some clumsy exposition about it being December 30, 1999 (Can we see where this is going yet?) and Chang Lee having some REALLY nice handwriting.

Kind Paramedic Bruce is kind.

They bring the Doctor into the hospital, while in the paramedic van (where Kind Paramedic Bruce forgot to shut his driver door), a clear snake (which I guess we're supposed to realize is The Master) slithers around ominously. The Doctor gets some X-rays, and one of the nurses notes that it looks like he has two hearts.

The other nurse notes that one of the bullets went through his shoulder, no damage, and the other two are in his leg. (That's important). They remove the bullets, but his heartbeat is still going crazy, so they decided to bring in cardiology. And who is on call tonight?

One Dr. Grace Holloway. This is the first time we see her. She's at an opera. And this is literally the second shot. It makes me laugh because it's so f*cking awful.

Yes. That is a solitary tear running down her face.

Her pager goes off in the middle of the opera, and she has to go run in to save The Doctor from his own beating hearts.

Imagine this in slow motion and just opera playing in the background.

Dr. Grace scrubs in, and goes in to operate on The Doctor. And here's our first Youtube: the death of the 7th Doctor. It's terribly tragic, terribly sad, terribly unnecessary, and watch how he dies not from bullet wounds, but from the fact that these people (specifically Dr. Grace Holloway) don't know that they're operating on a Time Lord, and kill him because they're stupid. Also, opera.

I love that he has X-rays and she went into surgery before seeing them. This is some crazy ridiculous hospitalling going on in here. Did you see how many times they de-fibbed him? You're not supposed to de-fib someone more than like... three times. That nurse just LOVES electrocuting people, apparently.

Dr. Grace (STILL IN HER RIDICULOUS OPERA OUTFIT) brings in Chang Lee to try to find out more about this guy who has two hearts. She questions him, but he grabs The Doctor's stuff and runs for it! She chases after him (still in ridiculous cleavagey opera gown) and gets thwarted by a convenient gurney and no one stopping the crazy Asian gangbanger who's running through a hospital all conspicuous like.

So he gets away. Grace gets angry.

"This is my Grrr Face!"

A bit later, in Kind Paramedic Bruce's home, Kind Paramedic Bruce is not very kind because he snores until all hours of the night, keeping his poor wife awake. She's really upset at him, but what can she do?

And that's when The Master appears. How does he appear? He was in Kind Paramedic Bruce's ambulance, and snuck into Kind Paramedic Bruce's coat. Now, finally, under cover of darkness he can take over the world. Also, he looks like this!

If this was The Doctor, it would be a manatee.

The Master-Snake thing (which I have no idea what this is, I'm just apparently supposed to go with it) wriggles along in the room and then slithers into Kind Paramedic Bruce's mouth. Kind Paramedic Bruce stops snoring, and finally his wife can get a good night's sleep.

The Snake-Form-Master violates Kind Paramedic Bruce.

Meanwhile, The toe-tagged Doctor is carted to the morgue and placed in cold storage, awaiting his autopsy in the morning. One of the orderlies puts on classic Frankenstein from the black and white times, and we get The Doctor's regeneration (which, by itself is well-handled), played against this REALLY subtle connection of Frankenstein bringing his monster back to life.

Sylvester McCoy: Finally offered the opportunity to do really funny faces.

The Doctor regenerates and gets up. He pounds on the Morgue door, causing the Frankenstein-watching orderly to see what the fuss is about. With a final SLAM, he SMASHES open the door, and we get to see a SUPER Doctor. Super strong. Super invulnerable. Super dressed-in-white.

Confused and disoriented, The Doctor begins to wander around the hospital at one in the morning, dressed in the white sheet. He finds a mirror and sees himself, but gets even more confused cuz he doesn't recognize anything. FINALLY he gets so fed up with it he extends his arms and shouts as loudly as he can--


Aaaaaaaaand this is a problem. At this point, we're just over twenty minutes into this, and we're just NOW meeting guy-who-is-the-main-character? That's a problem. We just spent a while showing you guy you're supposed to care about, and then changed our minds and shows you same guy, just played by a completely different actor but the same character.

I'm sorry, because I'm all for not treating audiences like they're idiots, but that's pretty bad. This is overly confusing when it doesn't need to be. This is one of those things the 2005 revival got right. We meet The Doctor right away and it's clear we're supposed to care about him. The Doctor is him the entire time, and we stay with this version of him for a season. And even then, we're in Rose's story. There's no sweeping mythology and information dumpage. Just character-driven plotting. Which is as it should be.

And that is one huge reason why this fails.

Moving on.

Kind Paramedic Bruce starts foaming at the mouth.

Several hours later, Kind Paramedic Bruce wakes up, speaking very measuredly and not so very fine. His wife tries to hit on him (mainly because he is "now funny and does not snore"), but he just turns around, revealing he is no longer Kind Paramedic Bruce, but--

Evil Green-Eyed Master Bruce (or just The Master, for short)

The next morning (several hours later), Dr. Grace is asleep in her office and The Doctor is trolling around the hospital (after... what? five hours? That's hilarious. I love the idea that The Doctor is just wandering aimlessly around the hospital clothed in little besides his white sheet. Ha.) when he comes across some lockers. He rummages through them, finding a token Tom Baker scarf (which he doesn't select), settling instead on something... a bit different.

In an alley somewhere, little Chang Lee opens the bag of The Doctor's personal belongings (this, also, took several hours... he had to find the perfect place, remove the staples...), pulling out the sonic screwdriver and a fob-looking watch (which can explain away a plot-point that comes up later), among other things.

We cut back to The Hospital, where Grace passes by a dude with a toe tag on his foot.

It's The Doctor, which is hilarious, because that means not only has he been trolling around the hospital for five hours, but he's been doing it while wearing a toe tag. He recognizes Grace, but he can't remember where from. He has amnesia, but the word "Time" triggers something in his brain that he can't exactly pinpoint.

Dr. Grace meets with some pompous suit guy, who burns the Doctor's x-rays and says that, because there's no body there's no proof that they ever did anything wrong. Dr. Grace gets angry and quits because it's unethical.

She leaves, taking her stuff with her. She heads for the elevator, (telling someone to hold it for her even though there's no one there...) and as the doors are closing, The Doctor steps in and invades her personal space for the whole ride down.

The Doctor starts talking to her, saying he remembers her, and that she was playing Puccini. Dr. Grace tries to get away, heading for her car, but he bounces after her, trying to convince her she knows him. She tells him to pop off and shoves her stuff in the back of her car. He goes away, like a ninja. Doctor Ninja. Oh yeah.

She gets in her car, but as she does, something yelps! She screams! The Doctor SOMEHOW MANAGED TO GET IN THE BACK SEAT (Doctor Ninja. Oh yeah.). She yells at him to get out, but he's in pain, because--


He tells her that he has two hearts and she has to help him or they'll kill him again (although how does he know he died and has two hearts if he has amnesia?). Panicking, she drives away, with random stalker pull-tube-out-of-abdomen guy still in her back seat.

Master Bruce (we'll just call him The Master at this point because that's what he is, also, Master Bruce is too much like Batman, so...) shows up at the hospital. He has a Terminator-like exchange with some nurse, who tells him the body's gone.

She also tells him that his things were stolen by the kid who brought him in. The Master responds by calling the kid "The Asian Child" (hilarious) and sets off to go find him.

Dr. Grace and The Doctor arrive at Grace's home, where she remarks that her recently-ex-boyfriend (apparently he left her because she had to leave the opera they were at and go to the hospital.... What a douche. She's better than him...) took all his stuff back. (Can you imagine being Dr. Grace at this point? Patient died on the operating table, boyfriend broke up with you, you quit your job, and now there's guy who says he has two hearts... poor her).

She asks to hear his heartsbeat, and as she does, The Doctor talks about things in the past (Da Vinci had a cold when he painted that painting, he was with Puccini when Puccini died...). Dr. Grace realizes that he has two hearts, and asks him who he is. The Doctor says he was dead too long and that the anesthetic from the surgery nearly killed him for good and destroyed the regenerative process.

He knows a lot about her, a scary much, like he's some stalker guy (really, this is the writers taking liberty with The Doctor's character as we'll also see a bit later, but knowing him for reals, he just seems like a stalker...) who knows her childhood hopes and dreams that that she will be great one day.

And then there's a thing where Chang Lee breaks into the TARDIS.

I call this the Mortal Kombat shot.

Confused at this strange new world, he breaks inside and sees that The Master has already beaten him to it. How? I don't know? How could The Master have honestly gotten inside the locked TARDIS if Chang Lee had the key?


Chang Lee recognizes The Master as Bruce and asks him what's going on. The Master says that The TARDIS likes Chang Lee (because.... it does?) and reveals himself as The Master. He seduces Chang Lee with his eyes (his sexy, sexy green eyes) and forces Chang Lee to turn over the bag of The Doctor's stuff. He explains that he is possessing Bruce's body because The Doctor stole his, so he wants Chang Lee to help him reclaim what's been taken from him.

While we do this, we show The Master and Chang Lee hanging out in the TARDIS. The Master lies a lot about how The TARDIS used to be his and how The Doctor's been stealing his lives and using them for evil (including a great line about how The Doctor was Genghis Kahn, which I would guess is really The Master, cuz that would be awesome), and he bribes Chang Lee with gold dust if Chang Lee helps him. He agrees, and they head for...

The Cloister room (home of the cloister bell, some random bats, and the Eye of Harmony...)

They enter and The Master tells Chang Lee to King Arthur a staff from the Eye of Harmony's mooring, making Chang Lee look into the light, which opens the Eye.

And here's the second youtube. It's pretty concurrent with the opening of the Eye of Harmony (that's the point when The Doctor gets his memory back), but really it's the first opportunity to see McGann come out in this thing. He's bouncing, energetic, passionate, all the things I love about The Doctor, and he nails it here. Also, this happens to be the part of the movie that most people scream about. It's about five and a half minutes. It's worth seeing.

I find it strange that the molecular destabilization works pretty much only here and now and pretty much never again. If Dr. Grace's house, which is plenty distant from the TARDIS can do THIS, then the world in the TARDIS's immediate proximity must be soup.

Now, there's a little thing we should probably talk about from that youtube (besides the suck face section which is... whatever. The Doctor's still coming off his botched regeneration, so crazy things happen). And that's this bit.

"The Doctor is half human!"

Yeah, okay, let's talk about this.

First off, I knew this was coming. This moment. The moment. The moment everyone points to when they say why The Doctor Who Movie is bad. It's because the writer randomly decides to retcon Doctor Who's entire history just to make The Doctor more relateable (because no one can relate to an alien protagonist was probably the network note). But really, this is just bogus crap is what this is. I knew this was coming, and I could retroactively hear every single Doctor Who fan SCREAMING in protest as he said this. If I had been drinking something, I woulda spit it out.

This retcon makes no sense. Zero. They just arbitrarily say The Doctor's ALWAYS been human and they don't give any sort of reason or method to it.

There have been theories, though, theories like The Doctor Chameleon-Arched himself to trick The Master, which kinda works, but really. The sound you heard is the sound of every Doctor Who fan ever just turning off their television.

But back to the story!

With three hours before the end of the world, Dr. Grace, panicking, turns on the TV, where they're talking about all the strange strange things that are happening in the world. They also happen to conveniently mention an atomic clock that's set to start ticking at midnight, and it just so happens to be in San Francisco. And it just so happens to be exactly what The Doctor is looking for.

The doorbell rings. It's the ambulance. Grace answers the door, only to see that it's--

The Classiest Paramedic I've Ever Seen

The Doctor shares a moment with The Master, tense, as we try to figure out if The Doctor recognizes his old foe. Apparently, he doesn't, as he asks The Master to take them to the Institute where there be the clock.

And I'll youtube this next bit because it's really good. Great character interplay, great Doctor bits, and you get to see The Master randomly spit acid, which is an odd power. Also, great use of fire extinguisher and motorcycle.

I love how there are a bunch of cops around and this motorcycle jacking still happens. Also, Dr. Grace calling The Doctor "the right guy" just makes my eyes roll.

So they've arrived at the place. They rush inside even though they know The Master and Chang Lee are already there.

They head inside, but can't get close to the clock, so they idle around, making small talk and stuff. Really riveting... Dr. Grace meets up with a Professor Wag (who is the only person who can get near the clock) and tells him that The Doctor has a secret to tell (which is really presumptuous of her). The Doctor takes Professor Wag aside and whispers that he's half-human on his mother's side.

But this? This could be a joke. In fact, I assume it is because it just sounds like it, the delivery makes me go "haha. You so funny Doctor." It also gives The Doctor an opportunity to lift the Professor's I.D. card off of his personage so they can get to the clock.

Which they do. They steal the small component they need, but get confronted by a security guy. The Doctor gives him a portent of thing to come (which is really weird) and when the security guy demands to see what's in The Doctor's hand, he produces...

A Jelly Baby

Which Gareth the security guy eats. I dunno. I wouldn't eat that.

The Doctor and Dr. Grace are about to leave when they come across Chang Lee and The Master on the floor below. They run for it, only to come across some Gooey Security Guards who have been incapacitated by The Master.

The Doctor pulls the fire alarm, and in the resulting commotion, escapes from the gallery museum place with Dr. Grace. How does he do that. By using a conveniently place wall-mounted fire hose, unwheeling it and leading the length of the hose up to the roof, and then (because it's mounted on the wall) safely riding it to the ground by basically rappelling off the roof. Which no one sees. And is kinda wonky in terms of mechanics.

They motorcycle back to the TARDIS, and there's this REALLY weird gag where a police motorcycle shows up, drives into the TARDIS, and drives away. It's... yeah. Odd choices.

Inside the TARDIS, the cloister bell is ringing and the TARDIS is dying. The Doctor quickly installs the obtained clock piece and the Eye of Harmony begins to close. Randomly, Dr. Grace points out that it's 11:48 and they have twelve minutes.

Based on time scale, that means The Doctor walked through the glass of her house almost three hours ago. That's.... that's a little shaky. Re-write woulda fixed that.

The Doctor reveals that the Eye of Harmony has been open too long and has drained The TARDIS of its power supply, meaning he can't go back and stop the Eye from opening (which he couldn't anyways because he can't cross his own time stream) nor can he jump into the future to get the Eye away from now.

He figures out a way to jump start the TARDIS, but Dr. Grace decides to go rogue and hit him. Apparently when she got juiced by The Master, it allowed The Master access to her brain or something so she could get possessed and look all black eyed.

Or something.

The Master and Chang Lee arrive and the two humans wheel The Doctor into the Cloister room. The Doctor awakens and tries to convince Chang Lee that he's doing wrong, but Chang Lee is still firmly on The Master's side, thinking it's the side of good and The Doctor is the side of evil (which is funny, because he even acknowledges that Grace is possessed. Do good guys do that? I guess Chang Lee doesn't watch any movies).

And that's when The Master arrives in what is easily one of the most God awful costumes this show has ever produced. He also makes sure to make a comment of "I always dress for the occasion", which is just filthy.

This is so amazingly fancy.

The Master calls Chang Lee the son he has always yearned for. Which is really funny and really creepy, especially when The Master kisses Chang Lee (not joking). He has Dr. Grace affix a something-whatsy on The Doctor's head.

Then there's a really, really, really random interlude where they show a random New Year's Party. Which is.... not there for any reason except to show us that there's only five minutes left until midnight. And then they have another random thing where we see Professor Wag practice Zen Buddhism in preparation of the clock, his life's work, going live. He holds a press conference and is then informed that his clock won't start.

And then Dramatic Asian shrugs dramatically.

What were these guys thinking? This is just.... really weird choices.

Back in The TARDIS, The Master is still dressed inappropriately.

And he has bondaged up The Doctor in some weird Time Lord S&M sh*t.

The Doctor throws out all the truth behind The Master's lives (The Master used up his lives and now he wants The Doctor's, etc. etc.) and now Chang Lee knows the truth.

And so The Master breaks his neck.

'das racissst.

The Doctor screams. The Master sucks his possession out of Dr. Grace's mouth (through some sucking of face. Oh yeah...) and makes her look into the eye, forcing it open. He casts her aside, and runs to one of the viewing platforms, and looks into the eye.

The Master, now involved in transferring his life force to The Doctor (which, now I think of it, is a really silly reason to keep these focusing reflector staffs around The Eye around. Very dangerous) leaves Dr. Grace alone long enough for her to run back to the TARDIS control room and reset the TARDIS's power.

The world outside starts going crazy. Lightning crashes, clouds move fast, electricity zaps...

In the TARDIS, Dr. Grace starts stripping wires out, not really knowing what she's doing... Or maybe she does, but if she does, I really don't believe that. She's been in the TARDIS for about tenish minutes, and she was possessed for most of that time. So... I really hope this re-wiring the TARDIS works out for you. You can join Adric in the pantheon of Companions who do ridiculously impossible things that make no sense.

Elsewhere, at New Years parties, drunk people start counting down. This is for tension.

Dr. Grace SOMEHOW manages to re-route the entire power workings and jump start the TARDIS in thirty seconds (bullshit), sending the TARDIS into a "temporal orbit" and stopping the Eye of Harmony from finishing its transferrance thing. She runs back into the Cloister Room and disrupts the beam, managing to set The Doctor free.

Then the Master shows up and throws her.

The Doctor and The Master fight it out. It's brawly, and then The Master gets sucked into the Eye of Harmony. And.... time stops? And then gets reversed? And then..... The Eye of Harmony brings Chang Lee and Dr. Grace back to life?

And so.... yeah... that happened? And then there's some hugging and they head back to the main control room where The Doctor's flying the TARDIS. Chang Lee asks where The Master went, and The Doctor references a sound the TARDIS makes, a gurgling sound.

That's right. The TARDIS ate The Master.

(That's possibly the best sentence I've ever typed).

The Doctor reveals that it's currently December 29. There's some hokey 90's dialogue ("I don't think I could live through that again." "I definitely wouldn't live through that again.") and The Doctor rotates the really easy to use time travel controls on this new TARDIS. It's almost like cheating it feels like.

Then we go back to these various parties and watch all the drunk people count down again for a new millenium even though we're watching this in 1996. So.... It's good that Doctor Who gets to count you down as you head into the year 2000. And it's good that they ring it in twice (if it's a crappy new year, you can watch the one where the world is ending, if it's a good one you can watch the one where The Doctor saves the day). And then there's some post-ball-dropped festivities that are also ridiculously gratuitous, and I'm done talking about that.

The Doctor, Chang Lee, and Dr. Grace all land in San Fran and walk outside. Chang Lee gives The Doctor back his belongings, and for his trouble, The Doctor lets him keep the two bags of gold dust. The Doctor also gives Chang Lee advice to not be in San Fran for next Christmas (my eyes rolled at this because it was cute the first time but now it's just lame).

The Doctor asks Grace to go with him but she declines (for no real reason). They decide to explore each others mouths again, and there are fireworks (what, really?) and then they awkwardly separate and, without trying to ask her again, The Doctor pimps out of there.

Good on you, man. Good on you.

He takes the TARDIS away, makes some last minute repairs, and then settles back in with a nice cup of tea and The Time Machine, back where he started.

But what about The Doctor?: I know I'm loath to say it, because I say it every time, but I really, really enjoyed Paul McGann. He has a very exuberant, compassionate take on The Doctor that's wonderfully, wonderfully charming. The problem comes from the really weak weak odd story and the at-times awful dialogue.

But if you get right down to it, his interpretation of The Doctor has a ton of potential. I say has because he's returned to the role in a mess load of audio plays that give him the opportunity to expand his role and to explore the character a little more, which can only be a good thing. I know I'm planning on reviewing the incomplete Tom Baker serial "Shada" (that they readapted to an audioplay starring McGann) sometime in the future, but for now, I'm really glad I got to experience his Doctor, despite the fact that this story was really very poorly handled.

I don't think he's my favorite, though, nor do I think he'll ever be, but it's a solid, memorable performance, one of the few good things to come out of this story. It's just a shame that we haven't really seen him since, especially considering that his Doctor was the Doctor of the Time War, the Soldier, the one who was the General, the leader, and the sealer of the Time Lock.

(That said, the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who is coming up in just three years, which is ripe time to see a good ol' fashioned Doctor team-up. Eight, Nine, Ten, and Eleven, anybody?)

Next time!: 4th Doctor! A Rotting Version of The Master! Time Lords! Pre-Cyberpunk Cyberpunk! and No Companions! It's a Proper Gallifreyan Sausage Fest! The Deadly Assassin! Coming Next Tuesday!


  1. Mostly agreement (I just came off watching the Movie again after hardlining the entire audio-series - that was Odd), although I love the Frankenstein/ Regeneration scene. Personally, i think the 'half-human' thing (not the joke at the party, it's totally a joke) is probably his stressed cells replicating any, and all, DNA they can find - including human from the less than sterile operating room (hello? phone?!) and morgue. The Grace-Stalker thing I always assumed was a very good guess on his behalf, and he happened to know Poetry-Guard in (his) future.
    Also, your last two paragraphs really made me want to cry. it's so damned unfair!

  2. In all honesty the TV Movie, coupled with all the "Doctor as God" bollocks Cartmel thought up, pretty much laid the groundwork for all the garbage the New Series would and still does give us years later.

  3. This article made me laugh so much! You write so comedically, loved it