Doctor Who: The Movie (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros examine the only time Paul McGann played The Doctor on TV
Ah yes, we remember it well. May, 1996. Science-fiction was enjoying a boom in the visual media, with Star Trek: The Next Generation in production on their second film, The X-Files was causing a Hell of a stir on TV, and every man and his dog found themselves awaiting the release of Independence Day - after seeing trailers promising the Earth. But across Britain, we were bracing ourselves for a hallowed resurrection. You might even call it the Eighth Coming. Doctor Who was back, and the fans couldn’t wait.
We were all waiting for the VHS release, waiting for the golden day where our favourite Timelord was back and armed with a budget to blow open the doors of the imagination. The place was here. The time was now... but then the bastards at the BBFC delayed the release date by a week in order to cut the guts out of it. The official reason was that “irrelevant violence” was “unacceptable” for anything under a 15-certificate, but everyone with a brain their head knew that this all came about because of the Dunblane Massacre only a matter of days before. Seven days agonising waiting later, we had our Doctor back, but would he be back for good?
After the Daleks’ trial and subsequent execution of arch-nemesis The Master, his remains are ordered to be returned to Gallifrey. Taking him back in the TARDIS, a mysterious fault develops and the ship hurtles towards Earth on the eve of the new millennium, where a gun-toting gang shoot The Doctor dead. Both Timelords gain new bodies, and The Master triggers off a series of events which threaten to destroy the world at the stroke of midnight. Will he be able to stop the catastrophic events from happening? Will he be able to resist the comely charms of his new companion Dr Grace Holloway? Will he still have his inexhaustible supply of Jelly Babies? As the clock ticks down to disaster, there can only be one Master...
Let’s get certain things out of the way to start with. There are hoards of fervent fans who despise the Paul McGann TV movie, and there are numerous credible reasons for them to do so. There are certain elements of the script which fly in the face of both the original show and logic, promptly cutting the wires on your suspension of disbelief. These will be addressed later on, but production-wise, it broke new ground in just about every way possible, giving it a slick look which was needed to drag it into the arena of American television. Many of the fans hated the latter as much as the former, but we felt that it was necessary to have a 30 year old British show become relevant for the audience intended, and have no problem with it.
While it fared better over here, the viewing figures of the BBC1 screening being hit by a combination of apathy (due to its American leanings and bad word-of-mouth) and the fact that it was having a near-simultaneous release on video, which would be the preferred medium for the fans, so they get to keep it rather than letting it disappear into the ether - like so many Patrick Troughton stories we could mention. Success in the UK alone was not going to save it.
Opening the story with Sylvester McCoy (Sylv) in possibly the best rendering of the console rooms was a very smart move, bringing the familiar to those who craved continuity. Resplendent in gothic, Jules Verne-inspired technology and wooden panelling, the footing was just right. But then Slyv stepped out and was promptly shot in the middle of the shortest turf-war ever to grace the screen. They could have started out like the première Nu-Who episode Rose, with the new Doctor merely appearing without any direct continuity, serving both Masters. Those in the know putting two-and-two together and assuming that McGann had just regenerated into Ecclestone, but they chose to have more respect than that.
A scientist of appropriate stature once wrote that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and for every birth, some say there has to be a death. Sure enough, Doctor Who: The Movie saw the demise of not one, or two but three Timelords. Aside from the ones written into the screenplay, Jon Pertwee died a week before it was broadcast in the UK, leading to a dedication to him.
Time has been kind to Doctor Who: The Movie, and much of its new found acceptance comes from Nu-Who, which has given audiences the same characters and stories presented in a nice, slick package, which is precisely what Paul McGann’s sole outing intended to deliver fourteen years ago. Sure, the San Francisco 1999 setting doesn’t entirely convince, but this is nothing to do with the concept, just another victim like many other movies where they try to substitute Canada for America. There are exciting chases, moments of tremendous peril, the odd shot of religious symbolism and some very appealing performances, all filmed with an eye for detail and a firm grasp on aesthetics. Even to this day, Doctor Who: The Movie might not have been bettered in the production stakes.
Despite numerous failed attempts by the Daleks, the Cybermen and various incarnations of The Master, it was a huge, fat disgusting amorphous blob which managed to kill The Doctor this time around: Roseanne. Yep, when Doctor Who: The Movie went out in America, it was unwisely screened during the crucial, ruthless May sweep-weeks, the time when every show on the air wheels out the most extreme, audience-grabbing stories and/or cliff-hangers to boost ratings to keep them on the air. It was playing directly against the pivotal Heart and Soul episode where John Goodman’s Dan Connor has a heart attack, keeping fans guessing if the bitter feud between the show's two stars had resulted in one being permanently written out. Consequently, Doctor Who: The Movie didn’t really stand a chance in the US, where it only managed about half of the audience-share needed for the project to be commissioned for a series. By the time it was finally aired in the UK, word had (accurately) gotten out that there was going to be no further trans-Atlantic adventures for the Timelord.
There is little point doing a blow-by-blow dissection of McGann‘s singular outing, as most reading this will have seen it some time ago, and will have their own unshakable opinion one way or another. It’s probably more productive to take a look at what went right and what didn’t quite hit the mark - or failed miserably, depending who you ask. Suffice to say, that for those who bemoan that Steven Spielberg dropping out of the project, doomed it to underfunded mediocrity, just remember that his name plastered all over SeaQuest DSV didn’t save it from drowning a humiliating death.
There has been so much coverage of the torturous writing and production processes, which are also detailed in one of the superb featurettes included herein, that you could spend far too much time chasing your own tail examining it. Suffice to say that for all those concerned with the elements of the things which got up their nose, they pale next to the travesty it could have been. Phil Leekley’s original script saw The Doctor looking for his father (Ulysses!?!) and was so close to ripping off the Indiana Jones series that it caused the much-touted co-producer Steven Spielberg to pull out, concerned that they were merely exploiting his name on the project. Gene Roddenberry always joked that he was keeping a puppy in reserve to appease execs if they wanted Star Trek to broaden its appeal, and it’s with horror that you discover that The Doctor came very close to having a canine companion in the form of a bulldog named Winston. This might be one of the few times the constant redrafting of an original script performed the final film a service.
What is there to say about Paul McGann which hasn’t been voiced in either print or various internet forums over the years? Here has never been a more out-of-the-box perfect incarnation of the character. All of the others took (and continue to take) a period of time before finding their optimum performance, but McGann was note-perfect from the very beginning. Granted, he only had about 90 minutes to make his mark in a manner which keep him on for the prospective series, but he is wonderfully charming and charismatic that his departure remains one of the biggest shames in the whole history of the Whoniverse. We might even venture that his take on the role is the most immediately accessible, with an almost naïve quality that even smoothes over some of the more noticeable problems in the script.
When it comes to companions, we get a two-for-one sale, by way of Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook) and Chang Lee (Yee Jee Tso), with the latter taking on the tricky task of the male assistant - one which usually ends in the character being either utterly hated or merely tolerable. Grace is used as the way-in for the prospective audience of newcomers, filling both the traditional role of asking questions on behalf of the befuddled, and being the everyman (or woman) with a wacky edge to make her the right balance of charming and desirable. OK, the romantic aspect really didn’t go down too well, but they only kissed; it wasn't as though The Doctor waved his nob around in front of her - in the hope of polishing her tonsils, now was it? Even Bill Hartnell still had enough lead in his pencil when he found himself the object of female attraction in The Aztecs, and Timelords musts propagate somehow.
Chang Lee, on the other hand, seems to have come about purely for the sake of furthering the story. Given the way The Master is able to manipulate him with little use of his legendary powers of mind-control, he’s a pretty gullible kid. Whenever The Master is able to get a major part of his plan into action, Chang Lee is usually the key - literally. Sure, he’s a nice enough guy and as loyal as a puppy, but all he really gets to do aside from dodging bullets is to get around holes in the story or expedite plot points when incidents need to be resolved. In the end, trans-Atlantic TV demands that ethnic actors get fair representation, and having an Asian teenager for a secondary companion was one of the easiest ways to fulfil the quota. We’d have liked to have seen Grace Holloway played by a black actress, rather than going for the more obvious, caucasian choice.
Eric Roberts copped a lot of flack at the time, and continues to do so for his portrayal of The Master, but this really needs putting into context. There is nothing actually wrong with how he plays it, it is merely case that Roberts was the wrong choice in almost every other respect. Given appropriate material, he is sensational, really coming to life when playing low-life scumbags (did you ever see Star 80? Just brilliant!) but he didn’t fit the bill with this one. He brought an ego the size of an aircraft hanger to the project, and threw his weight around in every key area, rejecting the planned costume in favour of donning a tiresome leather jacket, and is fair to say that his attitude to the project won him few friends on the set. Once Anthony Ainley took over from Rodger Delgardo, The Master was more a panto villain anyway, and John Simm brought an unwelcome air of smugness to the character, but we have to say that Roberts didn’t do too badly. It’s just a pity about the accent...
There was much gnashing of teeth when it came to The Doctor being involved in a motorcycle chase, which was deemed frightfully out of character for the programme. Such comments were either made by “media commentators” whose job it is to make uninformed statements to fill column-inches, or by ardent fans who seemed to conveniently forget the past. OK, that sequence in particular is shot a little more slickly than the UK is used to, aping American productions, but had Whovians simply forgotten that it was fellow Doctor Who: The Movie actor Sylvester McCoy went on a mad dash through the countryside on a motorbike in Delta and the Bannermen? Well, a lot of folks had tried to blot that story out, which is another matter entirely, but in the years since, David Tennant wheeled around on a moped at the start of The Idiots’ Lantern and Pertwee rode or drove almost anything he could get his mitts on during Planet of the Spiders, so it might be time to close the lid on this gripe.
A mixture of good and bad was the regeneration, using morphing technology to give us a new doctor in modern fashion. While McGann is spectacular wandering the corridors of the hospital in utter confusion, screaming: “Who am I???" at the top of his lungs, it’s Sylv who muddies the water of this one. He was obviously told to make faces for the transitional shot, aiding the merge between the two actors, but McCoy goes overboard, to the point of absurdity. He looks rather like the character Faceache from popular UK comic Buster, and former readers can’t help but think of the appropriate “scrunge” sound effect when watching Sylv do his stuff.
Speaking of early on in the movie, there are conflicting reports as to why the voices of the Daleks sound rather odd, and we are at a loss as to which one is right. Numerous sources say that the original recording was a dead-on recreation of the metallic tone from the original series, but were altered through a fear that viewers would not be able to understand them. The ironic thing is that it isn’t easy to hear what they are saying in the finished film, but this information is agreed by a number of reliable people. What we heard - and this was at the time - was in an interview with someone working at the editing/mixing stage, and admitted that his approximation of a Dalek voice was wrong, leaving it far too late to do anything about.
Aside from the most obvious of things, that being The Doctor becoming romantically involved with an assistant, there are other bits of blatant discontinuity which can’t be mere swept under the carpet. Rather niggling is that the all important Eye of Harmony, the primary power-source of the planet Gallifrey, is located inside the TARDIS, rather than on the planet itself, contradicting the original series by changing its location. This relocation was made purely for convenience in the writing, allowing The Master to try and cheat death one more time whilst keeping the action in a familiar environment, and one assumes that it helped keep the budget down by not having to go off-world. We’re just about OK with this, as you can look at the one onboard the TARDIS as either an intergalactic extension cable or a form of wireless router to power the ship, although Nu-Who’s destruction of the Timelords’ home world damages that theory, aside from Boom Town, anyway. There are numerous fan-theories out there, with one of the weakest being that The Doctor happened to be transporting the Eye of Harmony at that time. Yeah, OK. In the end, it really doesn’t harm the movie that much.
Which is more than can be said for the major sticking-point. Well, we know that The Doctor likes an “’orrible brew” like tea, isn’t averse to a game of cricket, and partakes in numerous other British activities, but to have the revelation that he is half human almost spits in the face of the fans. It doesn’t matter if you sweeten the pill with a humorous delivery (“on my mothers’ side“) the effect is just the same. Once again, this is strictly for convenience in writing a secular story, allowing both The Doctor and Chang Lee to open the Eye of Harmony whilst keeping The Master out, and in a position where he has to gain control of a minion to gain access. If you read through the reams of changes made to the script on the run up to production, you can really appreciate writer Mathew Jacobs’ efforts to keep as many ties to the show as possible, with some really dumb elements wisely discarded, but the half-human plot-strand was one which proved to be insurmountable. Books and other spin-offs have either chosen to explore this area, building on the mythos whilst embracing it as more colour to the character, but numerous PR offensives have been launched to explain it, with the most palatable being that The Doctor used the Chameleon Arch, altering his cells to keep The Master off his trail. Regardless, it still sticks in our collective craw.
Another of the compromises made to allow the show to be picked up across the Atlantic was peopling it with various kinds of American stereotypes, with some more obvious than others. The one which grates the most has to be that of the rotund hospital worker who loads his pants when the freshly regenerated Doctor rises from the slab in front of him. It’s as though the “funny, fat nerd” box was ticked when writing and subsequently casting the role; you can bet that if it were shot today, he would come complete with an underachieving, slovenly demeanour, elevating him to God-like status to certain viewers.
Finally in the bashing-stakes (we promise) is that the grim fate of two certain characters is altered by The Doctor, not just as it is about to happen, but he alters the flow of time to prevent it from occurring in the first place. We all remember as Nyssa begged him to go back and stop Adric from dying aboard the Freighter, where the angry and heartbroken Doctor plainly told her that it can’t be done. This was always an absolute in the Whoniverse, otherwise they could have brought back any character who happened to come a cropper. This is seen as the beginning of what rankles a lot of fans about Nu-Who, where death is almost an obstacle which gets in the way - one which provides exciting, dramatic spectacle but can be cured quite easily. This was the one problem we had with The Doctor Dances, The Long Game and more annoyingly in Planet of the Dead. Remember the good old days when dead was dead?
OK, so we’ve taken a look at what really penetrated the nasal cavities of the hardcore fans, but how does it look? How does it sound? Are the new set of extras worth shelling out on the TV Movie for a second time? Well, the third, if you bought the VHS tape back in the day! Now read on...
Well, the bad news is that this is the same transfer from 2001 release, meaning we get a full-frame presentation. This isn’t a bad thing per se, as it was intended to be broadcast in this manner, and given all of the efforts the restoration guys put in to make the movie look as good as it does, it still looks acceptably clean. Our problem is that they could have cropped it into 1.78:1 in the interests of freshening up the image and consequently making more accessible for kids raised on the widescreen Nu-Who. They did it on clips for the documentaries, so why not on the feature - as an extra incentive to buy it again?
Once you have gotten over abject disappointment that they haven’t mixed it into a discrete 5.1 digital soundtrack, you’ll be able to enjoy the generally strong 2.0 version included here. It decodes into surround rather well, with the sound of the needle of The Doctor’s gramophone getting stuck bouncing into the rear speakers - just as we remember it doing so 14 years ago. It’s a good enough experience, if a little bit of a bummer that they didn’t lavish a bit more time on it.
Audio Commentary - Geoffrey Sax: This is the same as was found on the original DVD release, but it is certainly worthy enough for re-inclusion on what is to be the last word on Doctor Who: The Movie. There are more instances of dead-air than there should have been. This is a more technically-driven track rather than reminiscing, but gives you insight into the nuts-and-bolts of the shoot. Certainly worth a listen for enquiring minds.
Audio Commentary - Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy: That they were able to get not one but both of the Doctors together is fantastic, and they work together very well, balancing out each other, with just as valuable contributions made by mediator Nicholas Briggs. This is a very lively, humours commentary, and makes for a really enjoyable way to spend and hour and a half. Roberts’ dismissing anything “effeminate” in his costumes is mentioned, and one of our favourite excerpts comes when Sylv described his time manning the controls of his beautiful new TARDIS: “I flicked a switch (on the console) and it came off in my hand, and I felt quite at home.” McGann postulates that the mistake in the dialogue which gives the Doctor another incarnation was because of Peter Cushing - we’d love to think so!
The Seven Year Hitch: The torturous period during which producer Phillip Segal went through Hell on Earth to bring back everyone’s favourite Timelord is detailed in this compelling documentary. Thoroughness is the order of the day, with the trials and tribulations faced by Peter Segal in trying to get it made; the BBC spending years not even wanting to talking about bringing it back, let alone struggling to keep the integrity of the show in the face of American money. Folks like Victor Lewis-Smith might have put the boot into Alan Yentob, but he turned out to be one of the greatest allies of both Doctor Who and Sci-Fi in general. We get new interviews with all involved about their part in the resurrection, including the Leonard Nimoy gambit, the killing of the anniversary Dark Dimension project and the numerous scripts, which could have destroyed the beloved character entirely. There are heroes and villains, and anyone who has ever bashed Segal will come away with a renewed opinion of him at his achievements in the face or tougher opposition than the end of The Pandorica Opens.
The Doctor’s Strange Love: Time has a funny way of mellowing people, and there are a good deal of folk who really hated the movie upon initial exposure, but have since managed to find a place in their hearts for the only real Doctor Who made in the 90s. The general tone is that of a bunch of fans sitting round the TV on a Saturday night watching it - dissecting it as they go, with Josie Long on hand to counter the sometimes sour comments brought up. You really have to take issue with a sweeping comment about the 900 year diary not being what Doctor Who is about; such whimsy and continuity is exactly what has kept it going all this time. It’s an interesting addition, and hopefully will help lift the gloom from those who still hold it on contempt. Oh, and you have to doff your Stovepipe hat to whoever thought of this featurette's full title - The Doctor's Strange Love: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The TV Movie...
Photo Gallery: Once again, 2Enterain come up trumps by raiding the publicity department’s archives and presenting a series of images which capture the time Doctor Who went trans-Atlantic. There is every photo you have ever seen of McGann as the title character - most of which have been used on T-shirts in the past decade, along with numerous production photos that have turned out new to us. It’s slickly packaged to John Debney’s rather nice music score. Speaking of which...
Isolated Score: There always was some nice music composed for this project, and hopefully the option to play it with the distraction of dialogue and foley will bring greater appreciation to Mr Debney’s efforts. Those familiar with his previous work will recognise some similarities to his SeaQuest score, and that isn’t a bad thing, as the music might just be the best element of Spielberg’s underwater dud.
Music Tracks: As well as the above score, you get the chance to hear the complete, unmolested versions In A Dream, All Dressed Up, Ride into the Moonlight and Auld Lang Syne. Want to bet that the final track will be used by many a Whovian this coming New Year's? A nice touch.
Coming Soon: In spite of it being loved by many, we really can’t stand The Seeds of Doom. Oh, Christ, we have that one to review next. Change the last word in the title to “Death” and we’re happier.
PDF Material: The 16 page Radio Times “Return of the Timelord” brochure is lovingly reproduced for your reading pleasure, and it holds up very well as a potted examination of the Doctor Who phenomenon. Read the interview with Eric Roberts’ opinion of the original show and it’ll just cement your opinion of him either way. Accompanying it is a scan of the front cover of that particular issue, as are the two panel listings for the broadcast. This is one of the best PFD extras released yet from 2Enterain.
Subtitle Production Notes: A carry-over from the previous disc, but Richard Molesworth’s efforts are as exhaustive as ever, the factoids just keep coming at you. Packed with so much intriguing information, you’ll gladly sit though it for a second time just to take it all in, and you’ll never have to be left wondering: “wasn’t that guy in The X-Files” with this little beauty at your disposal.
Paul McGann Audition: Whilst there is an onscreen apology for the quality of the audio, the value of the material makes up for any shortcomings in the sound department. Even though is has all the visual style of a bunch of kids making their own Doctor Who show at a local youth club in the 80s, McGann’s suitability for the role is undeniable, and watching his initial stab at The Doctor really lets you appreciate how prepared he was from the outset. On another level, the screen-test is fascinating because you get to see him performing from at least one of the (numerous) earlier drafts, including that which was set during the Second World War. Audio be buggered, this is a lovely addition.
VFX Tests - June 1994: When Amblin was involved, they were really making use of their facilities, and bringing the Daleks into the movie/series was very much desired. In what form, they weren’t sure, but they just wanted them as a “brand” to be exploited. To that end, Amblin Imaging commissioned CGI tests for their Spider-Dalek, which was the subject of many column-inches in the tabloids. In truth, the results were OK, but any fan could tell the big-wigs that the way to proceed was to alter the barking pepper-pots as little as possible, and time has proved every voice of dissent correct.
VFX Tests - March 1996: Again, more CGI work, but this time on imagery, which made it into the final film. Various pieces are tried out, most relating directly to The Master's villainy, be it in gelatinous ooze-form of the havoc he wreaks on News Year's Eve. Timecodes are abound, but it’s nice that this footage was archived, bringing the effort which went in more tangible.
EPK: Yes, we’ve all seen this kind of thing so many times before, and the days of the dull electronic press kits are just about over, but we are given the one for Doctor Who: The Movie as a time-capsule. It’s a welcome inclusion, as it lets you see how the show was marketed on the run-up to release, with contributions from those who are probably more tight-lipped about it these days. It’s rather disconcerting that for the first chunk, it looks like any other American TV show, but then Slyv appears and his Scots' tones shatters any illusions as to you are watching. Eric Roberts comes across as big a dick as he seems, relaying that he’s playing The Master as if he’s an eight-year-old again. That answers a lot, doesn’t it? “Cool, huh?” R-i-i-i-i-i-g-h-t. Geoffrey Sax and Phillip Segal inject some sincerity into the proceedings, which they needed to after the double-whammy of Roberts’ ego and Daphne Ashbrook’s discomfort. Slyv and McGann are so damn personable that it makes you wish that their interviews could have gotten more exposure, and possibly got the project seen by a bigger audience.
Behind The Scenes: This is essentially an assembly of footage shot in hopes of being included in the above EPK. We see the filming of Sylv’s fatal gun-battle, the big police sequence, Roberts having his contacts put in and subsequent shooting of the scene in “Bruce’s” bedroom. The shot of Sylv drinking coffee as he’s being told of his impending demise is rather melancholy, and it’s worth noting that the description he’s given is as flat and matter-of-fact as the way it comes out in the movie.
Philip Segals’ Tour of the TARDIS Set: There was no way that all of the detail in the console room was ever going to be showcased in a satisfactory way in the film, so to have a guided tour by our fusion-accented producer is not only gives us fans a look at it, but give proper appreciation of the efforts of the craftsmen who worked on it, just to see it flash by in a second.
Alternate Takes: Nothing earth-shattering to be found here, but it’s nice that you get to see a little more of McGann as the Doctor. It’s amazing what a sound mix will do for some footage which isn’t working, as the crowd shouting: “Give him the keys!” has all the energy and enthusiasm of a class of kids greeting a teacher in unison.
BBC Trails: Ah yes, we remember these well. The level of excitement was really building when the Beeb were running these, and did a good job at doing just that. It seems funny how all that effort was being put into a show - the BBC pissed all over only a few short years before. You have to admit that the Beeb sticking on the Daleks (the original ones!) barking “Exterminate” was a real cheat! We got a rush of nostalgia out if it, and as for finally releasing these bumpers, it’s about time, indeed!
Who Peter 1989-2009: With all the Blue Peter footage used for the Who DVDs over the years, this just about brings it Full Circle. Previously, it was taken from the time the classic series was in production, effectively serving as paid advertising for upcoming stories, but here we spend a lot of it during the time when the programme wasn’t even being made. Essentially this is a look a dedicated Doctor Who fan Richard Marson, also having the fortuitous position of producer and editor of Blue Peter, who was essentially the keeper of the flame during the wilderness years. All concerned admit that when running articles at the midway stage between the death and resurrection of the show, it was pitched as “history” rather than something which belonged the their young viewers. Granted, there are times when all seemed rather desperate, having articles and references to a show, which the kids watching either hadn’t heard of or were too young to remember, but Marson’s enthusiasm carried it through unscathed. At the very least he was at able to discover a very credible Doctor in Mark Curry, playing him in the 1998 Christmas Special. It gives you a very secure feeling to see that that symbiotic relationship between the two shows is a trans-generational one, and brings families together to this day. Oh, and having the Blue Peter logo flying through the time vortex is pretty damn funny.
The Wilderness Years: There are many whom don’t delve into the books of Doctor Who, for the same reason Gene Roddenberry hated the novels of Star Trek, being that it only skirts canon and distorts the purity of the original material. It’s their loss, as it was a breeding ground for some of the most prominent writers of Nu-Who, and this intriguing piece looks at the lifelines afforded toward the show after it went off-air. The comics are given a good look at, but most captivating is the look at the many and varied filmed spin-offs which flooded the 90s. The Airzone Solution? Check! 30 Years in the TARDIS? Of course! Myth Makers? Certainly!! And who hasn’t enjoyed the best of the, and hated the worst of the Audio Adventures? While the time devoted to them is brief, it isn’t become any less welcome, uncovering the origins of Big Finish and their rise to the top the “extended universe” of Doctor Who. One or two aspects are glossed over - there is only a passing mention to The Curse of Fatal Death and only a brief visual reference that Dimensions in Time ever existed. The only sour taste in the mouth comes from the way the BBC ditched the contract for the books when the Paul McGann movie came along, seeking to keep control to themselves. Such ingratitude for almost a decade of keeping the show alive...
Stripped for Action: Bringing the Eighth Doctor to the pages of a comic book proved to be a revelation for fans of the show, with a new, more hip dimension brought to the format. McGann’s controversial sensuality was played up, but any chance of getting his intergalactic freak-on was torpedoed when joined by the very popular Izzy. Appealing to the nerd in its readership, she brought Doctor Who into the world of pop-culture, a girl who knew Sci-Fi movies inside out, but would be more interested in Romana in the Timelord stakes: Izzy was revealed to be the first lesbian companion. The controversial return of comic-only characters John and Gillian for the anniversary edition is covered, and everything is told with real affection. There is little better compliment for such an enterprise when it makes you want to rush out and experience everything you have just been watching, and this really tripped the old trigger.
Tomorrows’ Times: Any chance to get Nick Courtney in front of a camera is an opportunity welcomed by us, and here he hosts this look at the press coverage surrounding Paul McGann's all-too-brief tenure in the TARDIS. This time, the clippings are mostly negative, with many merely swiping at the Americanisation of a beloved British show, and the expected digs at the production of the original series. There are due plaudits for McGann, but one element really annoys, and it was the amount of forced praise by The Sun. From Garry Bushell, who encourages readers to forget the past in favour of the new, not to mention another piece from the self-same tabloid, which is an unabashed love-fest. Hmm. Let’s see: The Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox, which made Doctor Who: The Movie. Yes, well. Time travel is the name of the game, as this featurette functions - once again - as another welcome voyage into the past.
Well, there we have it. This DVD release is probably the last word on Doctor Who: The Movie, and we hope that a combination of both time and Nu-Who will breed more acceptance to this bouncing puppy of a film. Rarely has Doctor Who had a demeanour which just wants to please, concentrating on giving viewers an entertaining romp for the sake of it. We won’t (and haven’t) denied that there are serious problems in the writing, and plot-holes you could drive an Earth-bound freighter though, but McGann’s wonderful performance cuts it a considerable amount of slack. It’s the red-haired stepchild in the canon, but it’s still got the ability to bring a smile to your face, and nostalgia has a funny way of diminishing resentment. We had a fun time revisiting 1996 again, and with a superb selection of new extras to throw light on this curious entry into the series, you’ll have a blast with it, too.
Review by Wilson Bros
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 4th October 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Subtitles: English, Production Subtitles
Extras: 2 x Audio Commentaries, The Seven Year Hitch, The Doctor's Strange Love, Photo Gallery, Isolated Music Score, Music Tracks, Coming Soon Trailer, PDF Materials, Paul McGann Audition, VFX Tests, EPK, Behind-the-Scenes, Tour of TARDIS Set, Alternate Takes, BBC Trails, Who Peter: 1989-2009, The Wilderness Years, Stripped For Action, Tomorrow's Times
Easter Egg: No
Director: Geoffrey Sax
Cast: Paul McGann, Eric Roberts, Sylvester McCoy, Daphne Ashbrook
Length: 85 minutes
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