|Sylvester McCoy returns for the first 15 minutes.|
1996 saw the relaunch which failed of Doctor Who. Aiming primarily at the American market, the ‘TV Movie’ as it’s known in fan circles attempted to bridge the gap between the British and the American set in San Francisco but filmed in Vancouver, Canada. Philip Seagal was the driving force by this bid which went no further than the movie, and he cast Paul McGann in the lead role as the Doctor in what is so far his only TV appearance as the Doctor.
|Daphne Ashbrook as the 'sort-of' companion, Dr Grace Holloway.|
Let’s start there because it’s good to start at something they got right. Paul McGann effortlessly steps into the role of the Doctor. I have heard criticism that he was a bit ‘generic’, but in my mind that’s a tad unfair because the guy only had 90 minutes to prove himself really. He is certainly charming and fits into the Doctor’s shoes with ease.
If you want to ask the logical questions, why did this not result in a full series (which was the aim) there are a lot of reasons like publicity and timeslot, but let’s concentrate on the storyline which quite frankly is nearly as baffling as Season 26 and makes less sense.
|Sax delivered some great visuals in the movie.|
Launching in the States, they would have wanted to capture a new market, so they needed to start off somewhat from scratch. You can’t imply any sort of knowledge from the viewers, and hence it is an interesting decision to bring McCoy back for the first ten minutes and do a regeneration story. Not only are the audience dealing with ideas such as the TARDIS and who the Doctor is, they have to get their heads around a regeneration 15 minutes into the story. It was really nice for continuity to have McCoy come over the Vancouver to be involved, but we could have been spending time discovering the character rather than having him pronounced dead and the pointless exposition that went along with. The TARDIS however looked magnificent, I really took to the new design. It’s a pity that so much of the explanation for things was done at breakneck speed. I think it was hard to follow.
|The new Doctor, Paul McGann, up close and personal in a lift. Wait, no, elevator.|
The Eye of Harmony, last seen on Gallifrey in ‘The Deadly Assassin’ if my memory serves me correctly, is now in the TARDIS. That didn’t really make sense to me. But the real issue is the resolution. By going back to before he arrived, the Doctor saved the day. At no point did he undo anything. What about the two TARDISes being in the same place? How was everything undone? He didn’t turn back time, as far as I could see. It really made no sense at all I’m afraid.
|Eric Roberts as the Master|
It’s very American, it’s odd it feels like a different show with various Doctor Who elements included. I didn’t mind it, but obviously it was full of stuff which made me raise an eyebrow or three. The ‘half-human’ thing for instance. Dear oh dear!
However there’s a great motorbike chase, it looks great, and I think Geoffrey Sax’s direction is very good, his shot selection is top notch. I liked the referencing of ‘Frankenstein’ as the Doctor regenerates that was a very nice touch. Eric Roberts as the Master was… actually not that different to the previous guys, camp, silly andover the top. But American, there’s the difference.
McGann has several nice moments, especially when he gets happy about the shoes fitting perfectly. Grace Holloway played by Daphne Ashbrook would have made a somewhat different companion I suspect, I’m not sure the character would have worked long term, I think they would have brought in a romantic angle with her and the Doctor and that would have been very strange. The begins of it are there in the movie.
|OH NO! I LOOK RIDICULOUS!|
All in all, I didn’t hate it at all.