If you were a fan of Doctor Who during the 1990s, chances are you’ve heard about Doctor Who: The Television Movie. Originally co-produced by Fox and the BBC, it was Paul McGann’s only on-screen outing as the Eighth Doctor. This 1996 film was a unique mix of reboot and Classic Who continuity. Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor regenerates into McGann’s Eighth, while the Master (Eric Roberts) returns as an arch-nemesis.
Despite this, the film is still quite a bit different from the original series and feels like it was produced with an American audience in mind. It’s a little more talky than the usual Doctor Who episodes, with not a lot happening on screen, and it’s also incredibly hesitant to acknowledge much of the wider canon. It’s also very dated, with the special effects reusing footage from stories in the series’ first five years that had been cut for television. It’s a film that really isn’t all that interesting. There’s a lot of back and forth between characters, which can be tedious to watch. It’s also quite a long film, so it’s easy to get bored with.
But what’s not all that boring is the story itself, which is pretty well-written. It’s a decent enough action-packed romp, with some nice character moments between the Doctor and Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook), but it’s not quite as involving as the more recent stories in the series.
The story starts out in San Francisco, where the Doctor, suffering from a bout of amnesia, is accidentally shot by a gang. He escapes from the TARDIS, meets Lee, a Chinese-American man who steals some of his possessions, and ends up being taken to hospital. As the ooze from the TARDIS begins to take over his body, he meets cardiologist Grace Holloway. She attempts to stabilize his unusual heartbeat, but she ends up confused by the double-heart anatomy of his chest.
Actors Have Done a Great Job
While the story itself doesn’t have a whole lot of substance, the actors do a great job of playing up the nerdiness and fun of the show. It’s a little cheesy, but it’s also very enjoyable, and you won’t be disappointed. As a bonus, Solarmovie123 and m4uFree have the entire series. While it’s a minor detail in the show’s more classic versions, it’s actually pretty chill here.
Thankfully, the ostracized writer Matthew Jacobs has an opportunity to come to terms with his contribution to the infamous movie in this new documentary. The pair chat up a variety of fans, including those who hated it and those who loved it, and Jacobs gets a chance to share his feelings about being part of the Whoniverse.
What is more, this surprisingly uplifting documentary is a beautiful depiction of the bond between fandom and its creators. It’s a reminder that even if you make one single sizable contribution to a franchise – as the writers did with the Doctor Who movie in the 90s – it’s only the beginning of an amazing journey.