...with a look at DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE, a long-developed 1996 telefilm which once involved Steven Spielberg (who ultimately disassociated himself from the project). After being re-shaped several times, this particular iteration of the TV movie was positioned as a “backdoor pilot” - relaunching / re-introducing the DOCTOR WHO universe in a more-or-less standalone tale which could later be followed-up with a proper series if well received.
DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE ended up being the only new full-length DOCTOR WHO produced for television during a 16 year drought - it was the sole proper WHO produced since the show’s cancellation 7 years earlier, and Russell T. Davies’ Christopher Eccleston-starring revamp wouldn’t his screens until 9 years later.
THE MOVIE stars Paul McGann as the Doctor - his only actual appearance in the role to date, although his Doctor’s saga was extensively chronicled in various ancillary media (comics, novels, audios). Thus, McGann’s limited on-screen tenure as the Doctor does not make him “the George Lazenby of DOCTOR WHO” as some have asserted. Instead, his Doctor is more or less acknowledged in ongoing series continuity, and exists in a broad range of his own adventures - with McGann’s likeness being used across multiple platforms (novel covers, comics), and as well as voicing the role a number of audio stories.
YOU CHOOSE AN UPCOMING DOCBACK EPISODE!!
Within the next few weeks I'd love to discuss a "Docbacker Favorite" DOCTOR WHO story. Regular Docbackers, lurkers, occasional contributors, EVERYONE: register your story preference in the Docbacks below, and we'll make it happen. I'll make a final assessment of the most-requested story and announce the final result on Monday June 11, and will announce the title next week. Discuss and mull as much as you'd like, but please label your actual vote post with the subject line "EPISODE!" to make it easier for me to keep track. Enjoy!
A NEW PUBLICITY SHOT FROM SEASON/SERIES 7
Matt Smith with fresh duds and new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman (via ScreenCrush and BBC). Image is EMBIGGENABLE!
DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE
“Life is wasted on the living” - the Master, DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE
The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) is charged with transporting the remains of the Master back to Gallifrey. En route, we learn that the Master’s remains aren’t so dead...a revelation which interrupts the TARDIS’ transit to the Doctor’s homeworld. The vehicle arrives on Earth (San Francisco, 1999) instead - materializing in the middle of a an Asian gang shootout, where the Doctor is critically (and somewhat unceremoniously) shot down. Well intentioned efforts to save the Doctor prompt his regeneration into Paul McGann’s “Doctor” - a new iteration of the character who quickly sets out to thwart the Master’s dastardly scheme before Earth is more or less melted on New Years Eve, 1999. Welcome to the new Millennium!
Before I set out on my epic undertaking to behold every DOCTOR WHO ever made (in whatever form they exist), I’d seen a few episodes from time to time. Never enough to snag me...never enough to convince me to stick around for more. How I ultimately became hooked on the show as a whole is well-chronicled HERE - but I do recall that one of my earlier DOCTOR WHO exposures was, actually, this TV movie. And it did nothing for me. Which may be a significant reason a possible follow-up series never got the “go” - THE MOVIE does little to seduce the uncertain. This does NOT, however, render the undertaking meaningless or insignificant. THE MOVIE is merely an awkward artifact of an imbalanced era in the show’s very long history.
The Powers That Be on DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE deserve unending kudos for their painstaking efforts towards NOT alienating existing DOCTOR WHO fans, and their approach here is, when all is said and done, not terribly dissimilar to Russell T. Davies’ run on the show years later (more on this below). But if Davies’ WHO worked, and might feasibly have been influenced by this production, why didn’t this version catch people’s attention?
In a wonderful moment of irony and symbolism, McGann's Doctor draws his first breath of life within the chilled darkness of a morgue's refrigerated storage compartment.
Several reasons, I think. Chiefly, as charming, compelling, agreeable, and utterly promising as McGann is in the role - the characters around him rarely interlock in terms of chemistry (an issue decidedly not evident in the Davies era). Part of this is tonal - the companions here (Grace - Daphne Ashbrook and kinda/sorta Chang Lee - Yee Jee Tso) often play their parts too broadly, or too over-the-top, to feel natural. Thus, the “everyman connection” which has been the life-blood of the series since its opening story back in 1963...and is enormously critical in the 2005 + iterations of DW...is never fully established. Leaving McGann’s excellently defined and performed Doctor to more or less shoulder the burden solo throughout much of his appearance. Even when companions are at his side, there’s not enough charisma and energy between him and them to forge a dynamic which is interesting to viewers. There’s little here to make us care.
Compounding such derailment is Eric Roberts’ roundly misguided appearance as Bruce - a hapless EMT who ends up becoming the unwitting host to the Master, presented here as either a puddle of highly functional goop, or a spectral slime serpent which forces itself down people’s throats (in one of DW’s most inadvertently(?) porny gags). The Master taking such forms? Is a new conceit to me - although maybe I’m missing some context at this early juncture of my viewing efforts. Perhaps this decision would’ve been explained in the proposed series’ “bigger picture” - a great deal of development work had been done on an Eight Doctor reboot show, and the Master’s form (or lack there of) may well have been part of these discussions.
Whatever the case, Roberts spins his human(ish) Master not as a deviant schemer or highly intelligent “Moriarty” to the Doctor’s “Holmes.” Instead, Roberts imbues his role with a FLASH GORDONy, mustache twirling obviousness which affords the character no hint of charisma, no amount of charm or subtlety whatsoever, and feels painfully obvious and simple minded in its approach and interpretation.
His Master is ripped from the pages of a comic book, and feels at odds with the tone writer Matthew Jacobs and director Geoffrey Sax were working to achieve around him.
“Tone.” There's that word again. In the same way many DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE cast members never find their footing, the energy of the show itself feels a tad disheveled. It’s never clear if it wants to be a melodrama, or a comedy, or an action piece. And, to be fair, the best DOCTOR WHOs often embody all of these traits. The principal issue in this instance is gear shifting - how smoothly THE MOVIE flows from one sensibility to another. Here, the show lurches between over-the-top humor and melodrama (the newly regenerated Doctor extending his arms in a lighting storm and shouting to the sky “Who am I?!?!”), juggles a vacant on-again, off-again romance, inserts a plus-sized INDIANA JONES-esque finale, etc. The whole of THE MOVIE never feels organic - it’s comprised of different vibes which don’t connect. It’s a grab-bag of touchstones and elements that are generally reasonable unto themselves, but are never formed into a smooth or functional pathway.
As such, watching DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE might be a bit confounding to many viewers. It sports a tremendous number of DOCTOR WHO elements, but is never comfortable in its own skin. The reverse of this is: at the time of its broadcast, THE MOVIE may well have been too DOCTOR WHOy for its own good in the eyes of casual observers...and not terribly well formed DOCTOR WHO at that. DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE is a noble, and often extremely legitimate effort suffering from a whopping personality crisis.
I’ve spent the last few paragraphs more or less disintegrating this production. The truth of the matter is, I don’t hate it. I just don’t think it works on the whole. I’d argue that...if it did...we might’ve had many seasons of McGann-era DOCTOR WHO to make our way through here in these Docbacks.
What a McGann-era Dalek could well have looked like if his series had progressed.
An effects test from Amblin Imaging.
For all the pistons which don’t fire correctly here, there’s also some lovely work to be found throughout, which nicely teases the promise of what might have been. THE MOVIE features a vast, complex, ornate TARDIS unlike any we’ve seen before or since in the DW mythos - carefully decorated with various objects and trinkets from throughout the Doctor’s adventures in time and space. It’s an impressively sprawling complex evoking everything from a Victorian era study, to some sort of medieval castle, all accented with numerous Steampunk trappings. Odd, unexpected, perhaps not entirely logical, but visually impressive.
John Debney’s opening and closing theme music highlights the wondrous and, for my money, extremely underutilized “middle eight measures” of the original DOCTOR WHO theme.
Very surprised Murray Gold hasn’t more fully incorporated this heroic movement into his scoring score for current WHO.
There’s a casual and unexpected moment in which the Master corrects Grace’s grammar - one of Roberts' only moments of subtlety in the entire picture. If he’d been encouraged to follow this approach throughout, his appearance...and this tale as a whole...might’ve fared far better. In a similar vein, a provocative sequence in which Grace realizes the full extent of the Doctor’s uniqueness (shortly after they visit her home for the first time) clearly illustrates the potential chemistry between actress Ashbrook and McGann, as well as highlighting the dramatic truth the duo may’ve found if the impact of this moment had be sustained or replicated more frequently.
Alas, there are many anomalies and logic gaffs afoot here...perhaps some were intended to be answered in the largely developed but abandoned TV series follow-up, perhaps some represent perplexing meddling for the sake of meddling. For example, the Doctor is half-human here, on his mother’s side? Spock? Furthermore, he now seems to possess a sort of perceptual screen - “I know you” he’ll insist to other people, before looking into their souls to share with them their innermost yearnings and fears. If the TARDIS cooperates with folks based on whether it “likes” someone, as the Master suggests here, why is it showing bad guys the way to the Doctor? UNLESS, one might argue, it’s trying to facilitate a chain of events it perceives must unfold? Strange moves all. Some promising (I don’t find the Doctor's ability to read people particularly irrational, as it would make sense for someone who is so much a product of time and space to be “plugged in” to some greater temporal/metaphysical awareness), all...a tad disoreinting.
Longtime fans of DOCTOR WHO might also note flourishes and touches which may well have informed (even if subtly) the WHO of later years. The Vortex featured in this movie, while not exactly similar to the Vortex featured in RTD’s subsequent iteration, begins to feel recognizable as “modern” WHO. At one point, a yellow/orange regenerative energy heals characters in an aesthetic pointedly recalling the regeneration effects featured in current WHO. Happenstance? Perhaps...but present none the less. The notion of a mammoth TARDIS control area is introduced here and carried through both the Davies and Moffat eras, as is the vehicle's Steampunk-flavored control island. There’s a “real world” approach to settings here, applied in ways not frequently utilized in previous WHO (hospitals, back alleys, etc) - which strongly portends the Davies/Moffat era sensibility of tremendous, galaxy-changing adventures happening right under out noses and in the most unlikely, or least suspicious, of places.
The score by John Debney, John Sponsler, and Louis Serbe introduces soaring orchestral motifs into the WHOverse - utterly abandoning the original show’s previously clunky, plinky scoring approach in favor of big, broad, boldness. In a very real sense, it is in this movie, and through this score, that DOCTOR WHO first asserts itself as the sprawling, rambunctious, and passionate adventure ultimately advanced in its 2005 + iterations. While THE MOVIE doesn’t seem as widely known as it probably should be, and is certainly not roundly appreciated by those who are aware of it, it’s difficult to escape the sense that this story very much represents a metamorphosis...or coming of age transition...of the show into the DOCTOR WHO we know today.
For all its quirky qualities and aggravating missteps, DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE...matters. What would RTD’s show have been like had this movie not shifted certain conceits and templates into place? Would it have been the same show? Or quite different? Would RTD’s iteration have moved forward at all? Or, was it always, and simply, fated to do so? How would the slightest shift in the chain reaction caused by this picture impact 2005 + WHO? THE MOVIE was far from a failure when transmitted...although it was not the rousing success some of corporate entities were hoping for. Had it not been made...if it hadn’t kept ‘the home fires burning’ so to speak...what might’ve become of DW? Would the franchise be where it is today? Or, might the television component of the franchise have slipped into oblivion...never again to be formally revisited? It’s impossible to know such answers, but these are fun and interesting notions to ponder all the same.
Differences can be made, even by something imperfect...especially by something imperfect. When all is said and done, truisms don’t get any more DOCTOR WHOish than that...
DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE is available via THIS two disc set here in the U.S., and THIS offering in the U.K.
1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)...
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And, above all...
3) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way. Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning. Lack of courtesy may receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated. Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning. One word posts intended to bump-up any Docback's figures on AICN's "Top Talkbacks" sidebar will be considered actionable Spam - they not only complicate efforts to access Docback from mobile devices, but impede readers' abilities to follow or engage in flowing conversation.
In short, it's easy. Be excellent to each other. Now party on...
The story of the movie sucks. There are _elements_ which work, but the story itself sucks.
Paul is wonderful as the Doctor, and he gets better when one listens to the audios (try to get to them; they really do go with the promise he brought out). I really think a way to do an 8th Doctor Story is to do a two-Doctors story with the 8th Doctor mostly dominant in it (instead of having some outsider in the vacation episode, have the 8th Doctor take the Sally Sparrow role!). That, and a 50th anniversary multi-Doctor story should be in his future (and have the two related: maybe the 8th Doctor messes it up at the end, and the 11th Doctor has to guide his earlier self to fix things in the second story).
Nonetheless, I really like the 8th Doctor. It is a shame the story wasn't so good.
It's really tough to decide what one story you need to see which you have not seen. I'm thinking the best one is Power of the Daleks. Yes, I know, it's not available except as a recon. But it is the ultimate representation of regeneration in the show. Really worth touching upon.
Oh, I have to say I got his Master and like it a great deal. Again, with the Doctor, the problem is not the characterization but the story. This is the Master right before the Time War, the Master deciding to go fully into his dark side, embrace it, smile with it, laugh with it.
In some way, I think it is this Master which caused the Time War itself. A little theory of mine. Something with those Daleks...
Fox put it up against Roseanne, Home Improvement, and Frasier. All top 5 shows at the time and the rest on those networks were top 10. I find it amusing how people pick apart story/plot reasons why fans didn't watch or tuned out, but truth is, no one was watching to begin with because of what was on the other 3 channels (it even lost to some animals special on CBS that night). I didn't like the half human thing and I think new-who has pretty much ignored it as has Big Finish who has produced the audio adventures McGann has been doing since 2001. Very much hoping Paul gets to play the role on screen again someday.
Seeing as their not on the list:
Pyramids Of Mars
Genesis Of The Daleks
The Deadly Assassin
Ahh the movie... I don't think I've ever read anywhere what they had planned if it ever made it to series, but I think it's one of those "What If's" that somewhere in a parallel universe was answered...
It wasn't terrible, it wasn't even bad, and considering what we had been reduced to in the mid to late 80s it looked fantastic.
I do think that it didn't help itself within the first minute by talking about things that took the original series years to elaborate upon...
And yes half human on my mother's side still jars after all these years...
Having grown up with the original incarnation of the Master played by the excellent Roger Delgado, the Master sans the goatee is not the Master.
I pity all you young Whovians who have John Simms as your Master. A truly disappointing portrayal of the Master and I was really looking forward to his return to the new series.
I'd say City of Death for a serious choice, though if not picking that one I'd probably go with The Deadly Assassin or Pyramids of Death.
Of course, for a completely different result for the Docback, we may want to consider a turkey like Timelash....
....no, probably best to stick with a good one. I'd say City of Death.
"Half human on my mothers side"?
Rule no. 1: The doctor lies.
Anyhoo, i'd like to see the last Tom Baker story, where he regenerated into Peter Davidson, i couldnt tell you what happened in the story, but one of my earliest childhood memories is watching Tom Baker fall to his death, and man......i was GUTTED.
LOGOPOLIS was the story i believe. Well according to tardis.wikia.com it is anyway.....
It don't think that Robert's did any research for the role. Regardless, even if he had I don't believe that he would have been able to pull it off. He just cannot portray a genius criminal mind. That said, I blame the casting director, the writers, producers and director more than I blame Roberts for this bastardized Americanization of one of the Doctor's greatest archenemies.
Seriously, for all the bad that movie brought, it could've been so much worse. How much? Try a total reboot ripped off from Thor, with The Doctor and his mischievous brother, The Master, vying for the affections of their father, Rassilon. Or a reset back to the Fourth Doctor, with McGann regenerating from Tom Baker. Both were pushed for by the various studios involved.
For all the pulling going on, I give Phil Segal a world of credit for producing a film as good as this was and keeping it in continuity at all.
He was at the Chicago Tardis convention several years back and talked about his research and mentioned he was a fan before he got the role. Very nice guy! I was pleasantly surprised at how nice and giving to the fans he and his wife were. Fantastic people!
I got a press screener for it. On VHS. In a tin TARDIS. With a small bag of Jelly Babies. Still have the tin with tape on my shelf.
Years later I found a CD of the score. All-in-all, pretty fantastic.
Back then we were starved for anything regarding the Doctor.
I love the Paul McGann audio adventures. I'd love for a film to cover the Time Wars. Do a trilogy. Starring Paul McGann. The end of the second movie could be his regeneration into Chris E (throw a huge ton of cash at him?). It would bridge the gap between Classic Who and New Who, and give McGann a real moment to shine!
There is no way that after researching the Master, this is what you would come up with.
Maybe, he looked at the last incarnation. But, Merrick is right. His portrayal more resembles Ming the Merciless than it does the Master.
Ainley's Master also had quite a bit of the mustache-twirling. For my money, no one's come close to Delgado.
1. Roger Delgado
2. Derek Jacobi
3. Peter Pratt/Geoffrey Beevers
4. Anthony Ainley
5. Eric Roberts
6. John Simm
Oh, and the reason Roberts was cast was to put a marquee name on the TV Movie. It was an attempt to bring in new fans.
Don't remember the green-serpent-Master bit in the movie, but it seems to me it might just be a way of visually representing something that HAD already been established: That the Master survived on past his "last" regeneration by becoming a sort of "body-snatcher" and taking over other peoples' bodies.
The ep was "The Keeper of Traken." It was only a couple eps away from the end of the Baker era, and also intoduced Nyssa.
So many wanted it all rebooted horribly, the Doctor was going to be in his first regeneration searching the universe for his father, producers lied to Lenord Nimoy & had him making a fake Who movie, the Beeb made McCoy the goat and blamed him for the series demise (cuz he picked the scripts & the budget).
Yes this was far from perfect but after watching its evoloution (and that nasty bitch from the BBC who craps on McCoy) I respect it & Phil Segal a lot.
I always thought that if they ever make a big budget Doctor Who movie it should be based on Genesis of the Daleks.
They actually wouldn't have to change much. It's still pretty damn great. Cast Benedict Cumberbatch as the Doctor and Felicity Jones as Sarah Jane. Sir Ben Kingsley as Devros.
No matter how brilliant the 50th anniversary special is, if it isn't a multi-Doctor story it will be a missed opportunity.
And a McGann appearance is the last box that New-Who needs to tick for me, purely to properly tie together the old series, the movie and the new series.
Which would put Eric Roberts right on par with Anthony Ainley.
Let's face facts here people, they haven't gotten the Master right since Deadly Assassin. Ever since then he's been played pretty much OTT panto-mime.
The current Doctor is the 11th, but the number of lives is already being adjusted in the show. In The Sarah Jane Adventures, The 11th Doctor throws out the number 507, but it's not been revisited, so who knows if that's actual or just an aside. But he won't run out of regenerations as long as the show is popular.
And I can't remember if it was McCoy or Baker who said it, but they were asked about the movie, and a good point was made. The movie should've been McGann's own adventure, and then if it went to series, then they could've done this as an episode so people would know what happened to McCoy's doctor. Probably would've worked out better.
Actually, two entire seasons. Anything from the 13th/14th Seasons - all killer, no filler.
But if I had to choose one story: "The Brain of Morbius".
Some great horror elements, interspersed with some strange, never-returned-to hints about the Doctor's (possibly) pre-Hartnell existence.
Besides, any episode that features more than one Time Lord is always good value.
RE: McGann - An absolute must if a multi-Doctor story is under consideration. The film itself was a very mixed bag for me, but his performance (and the Tardis) made the vast gulf between Old Who/New Who that little bit more bearable.
I like a lot of the picks so far but I'm particularly thinking of ones I'd enjoy reading in a Merrick voice. Fantastic job on the Who Movie review, by the way - note perfect. I just wanted to reach into the screen and strangle Eric Roberts. And I hadn't seen that Dalek model before ... if they brought that one back for the "All the Daleks" episode I think it would win.
Anyway the ones I'd like to see Merrick hit are:
Seeds of Doom
Planet of the Spiders
The Girl Who Waited
On TGWW ... after all you didn't say it has to be a classic Who episode ... and TGWW in freeze frame reveals the most extraordinary shenanigans on the part of the Doctor. If you can come up with an alternative interpretation to my great big HAT on this one, I'd be fascinated.
Planet of tbe Spiders has an utterly regrettable interlude involving Pertwee playing with action toys. And an utterly regrettable performance in Neska. But if you forget those things it is absolutely the most fascinating, endearing and revealing episode of DW ever.
And Seeds of Doom is the perfect illustration of the fundamental DW premise: if you do not chew scenery, scenery chews you!
Remember how you felt when you first watched it, and then remember that the movie had to appeal to the majority of the US who had never heard of Doctor Who before. It loses you in the very beginning, doesn't it? The steampunk it interesting, but then there's this quirky little guy with bushy Larry hair (why did they feel it necessary to change his hair?), and very shortly he does something extraordinarily stupid and is shot almost dead. As he's dying, in a slow, gruesome, and sad fashion, he's totally hapless. Remember, you know nothing about the Doctor and never seen McCoy playing him before. The result: You don't like him. He's not a hero, he's stupid, and what's happening to him isn't very appetizing.
In other words: the movie was stupidly made. It's only possible appeal was to Brits and US PBS watchers, and that was ruined by all the slow pacing, the annoying Master, and the general "Americanization" that was better never attempted.
Admit it. It looks like it was made by a bunch of high schoolers with no idea of what would appeal to the audience.
I remember being so stoked for the movie when it came out, and being utterly conflicted with the result. I loved the fact that it started with McCoy, made it canon from the off. Plus it gave the great manipulator a truly random and pointless death scene, a very ironic and poignant end. I loved McGann, thought he was a perfect Doctor; an opinion backed up by the excellent Big Finish audios. Loved the gothic design of tge tardis, and I even liked Eric Roberts, who at least felt like the real Master, not some gurning clown...
The major detractor was the plot. What the hell is it actually about? It meanders, makes random plot-jumps, and pulls a ridiculous deus ex machina cop-out ending.
In short, it was great when it stuck to being old Who, but woeful at adding anything new. The motorbike chase in particular just reeked of "throw in a car chase, that'll get the Americans liking it". A peculiar hybrid, not successful by any standards, but definitely a necessary forerunner for the 2005 reboot. RTD learned all the right lessons from it, thankfully...
Oh, and the Episodes to watch are Inferno and The Visitation. Winners! :-)
It looks like they're determined to just ignore it, and that has me pissed. They've had Smith's Doctor state that he can go on regenerating forever, the Master just goes ahead and regenerates like the Doctor despite being well over 13 already, and there have apparently been interview comments made suggesting its just going to be ignored. The only reason its in the prolog in the movie is that it is a story point several times in the series. 13 is supposed to be the end, ... except that the Master finds a way around that at least three times now.
Wouldn't it be a hell of alot more satisfying if they just had a story about how the Doctor works out additional regenerations?
Ideally, it'd be nice if the reference was gone altogether, but it's there, and I don't buy the attempts that have been made do write it off as the Doctor tricking the Master, because that's pure ret-con with no supporting evidence in the movie itself (much like the line itself SEEMS to be pure ret-con that contradicts decades of established history/lore). HOWEVER, let's look at the context, and what can be salvaged from it.
The Doctor's regeneration here occurs, for the first time, after he's been operated on by human doctors trying to save his life.
Shortly prior to the half-human line, Grace asks the Doctor if he can change species, and he suggests that he CAN do so during regeneration.
"Half human, on my mother's side" is accompanied by a knowing/telling glance at Grace.
Conclusion: During this particular regeneration, as a direct result of Grace's contact with the Doctor, he becomes half human, a state which does not carry on into further regenerations.
To my mind, this is the explanation which makes the most sense within the context of the movie without wildly contradicting previously existing material.
There is more depth to his performance than people realize. He is, like the Doctor, coming back from the dead, but unlike the Doctor, he has been fighting his death and corruption leading to the heightening of and acceptance of his "essence." He laughs at it -- he enjoys it, enjoys being free to be himself -- possessing the changes which happened to him since his last encounter with the Doctor (Survival). Think of the combination of Keeper and Survival, and that is the essence which he took on and became. Roberts does it well, and if he had another shot (make it happen!) I expect one will see the ramifications of this.
I find that what I look at the first season of the rivival, you can see a lot of "ok, we know what went wrong in the movie".
By making the first story a regeneration story, as wonderful as it was to give McCoy a proper heartbreaking sendoff (and he did a wonderful job with it), it just got everything off to confusing start as to who's narrative we are actually following. The best way to introduce the Doctor is through human eyes.
Making it an archvillian fight from the beginning again confuse the issue - it wierdly bounces back and forth between feeling like a pilot and feeling like a grand finale. And when I watched it with a room of non-fans who were curious, everyone was screaming at the tv that the millenium doesn't simultaneously change in every time zone. Such internal logic gaffs with time are hard to forgive in a franchise trumpting a 30 year legacy of time travel.
Still, there were many admirable qualities - that main theme is actually a pretty well-thought-out feat of reconcilling different different styles of opening credits from over the years. The cavernous Tardis interior was absolutely beautiful (almost too beautiful - if it had been picked up, they would have had to set much of the series action inside the Tardis just to justify it). McGann's performance, once he finished chewing the scenery during his regeneration, was wonderful. Here and there, the movie had hints of greatness, but overall it felt like it aimed too high and fell short.
the major problem being the story falling apart in the last act (basically when everybody got onto the TARDIS) and became nonsense. Still, it seems that these problems were caused by trying to satisfy both the BBC and Fox, so I won't blame Matthew Jacobs too much (a lot of the things that people complain about were things we was told to include). Segal did his best in a trying position. I love what he did with the TARDIS interior.
This movie was vital not only in what to do, but where there were missteps, what not to do. As much as I liked Sylvester McCoy, I can see where American viewers who had never seen Doctor Who before would get completely confused with seeing him die and turn into someone else. I think there were several people who thought that the Master was the main character.
The Curse of Fenric all the way, one of the best stories.
So many things intertwined, built over preceding stories, not unlike today's DW series.
Great ending too, utilising the Doctor's relationship with his companion well.
Murray Gold has made it known that he dislikes the middle eight, that's why it didn't make it's reappearance until Tennant's first season.
I don't think the regeneration limit will be ignored. But, I think possibly River's gift in 'Lets Kill Hitler' will give the opportunity to not have to delve to deep looking for an explanation.
The Master's original life cycle came to an end fairly early on, he's prolonged his life by possessing other bodies, just like in the movie. Presumably when he was resurrected during the Time War, he was also given a full cycle. Of course, what he does now since End of Time is anyone's guess. I don't see how his regenerations would carried over after his resurrection in the prison, but then again, now he's back on Gallifrey.
But let's face it, it was one step away from a giant
MUAHhahahahahHA!!! Muah muah muah....
And that's his fault, not ours.
There are things to love about the movie though. We get to see McCoy again... we get a gorgeous TARDIS. And we get McGann.
WTF people. I swear, most of the online hate for Eric Roberts stems from UK fans who are still butthurt 16 years later that the role went to an American actor which still surprises me since Americans seemed to make great villains/cannon fodder in RTDWho. Moustache twirling? Have you not seen any of Anthony Ainley's performances prior to that? And how about John Simm's performances which can be described as channeling the ghost of Cesar Romero as The Joker? FFS!
The Doctor Who Movie didn't "work" because Fox televised it against the cliffhanger last episode of Roseanne, against baseball, against basketball in some markets, and a lot of Fox affiliates pre-empted it and televised later in the week on Saturday. It was televised during the most competitive week of the "May Sweeps" ratings period of May 1996. If you check the Nielsens, it was the most time-shifted program of the week. So a lot of people did watch it time shifted, and it received between 4-8 million viewers live in the US. It got nearly 10 million viewers in the UK so it was not a ratings failure. The problem was Fox didn't acknowledge their frak up and didn't re-air it. Had it been televised the week before when Fox chose to televise the krap film "Tornando" starring Bruce Campbell and Ernie Hudson, which did receive monster ratings because it was against hardly any competition, Doctor Who would've received those monster ratings instead. As it stands, Fox looked at the ratings and had a choice between going ahead and greenlighting it for a series [or for a few more tv movies like they were doing with "Alien Nation" at that point] or they could choose to greenlight "Sliders" instead. They chose the "instead" mainly because they had less studios to deal with whereas Doctor Who was a headache to produce because it involved MCA Universal Television [now (Comcast) NBC Universal, owners of SyFy], the BBC, BBC Worldwide [and there's enough rivalry between both BBCs not counting anyone else] and then finally Fox. Then when Fox pulled out, MCA Universal halfazzed an attempt to syndicate and failed there on offers so then they sat on their hands for a bit, then the BBC got the rights back and decided they were too lazy to proceed on their own with it until about 2003. That's why the show "failed", not because of the writing [which I feel was better than just about all of RTD's later scripts that he wrote], not because of the acting, and not because of Phil Segal and his production team.
There were plenty of us back then in online fandom that wrote letters to try to get the show back on following the ratings results that were published the week after the show aired but they didn't work.
So, back to The Master. Eric Roberts was a fan of the original show back during the Jon Pertwee Era when Roberts was studying drama in the UK. Fact. His version of The Master is the most menacing and the most desperate to extend his lifespan since The Master portrayed in the late Tom Baker era in "The Deadly Assassin" and "The Keeper of Traken". Lots of casual fans who claim they know everything about Who complain about the line in the film between Grace and The Doctor where The Doctor states at the end of his lifecycle he could "change species". They claim that never was the case in the original series yet The Master stole/possessed the Trakenite body of Tremas at the end of "The Keeper of Traken" so he did change species then and thus it jived with the Classic Series.
I could go on and on debunking almost every complaint about the TVM violating canon of the original series but I don't have time. I will debunk one more irksome complaint that was even said out loud to Phil Segal at GallifreyOne this year. This classic complaint goes like this... "since when do Daleks put their enemies on trial?" These "fans" nitpick the intro to the TV Movie over this yet in the Classic Series, the Daleks threaten to place Davros on trial as they begin to take him back to Skaro. So again, know-it-all fans nitpick the TVM when it actually honors the existing canon.
Merrick, here's another thing you should've mentioned in your review...Paul McGann created the characterization of the 9th Doctor 9 years before his debut. If you search Youtube - or actually buy a VHS copy from Sylvester McCoy - you'll see the interview McCoy conducted McGann onset in their trailer. In it, Paul McGann mentions how he'd like to portray The Doctor if the show went to series. He mentions in it he'd like to play the character dark because he has to have tons of baggage. He mentions how he'd like to wear contemporary clothing [and if I recall, I believe he mentions leather]. And if you look, McGann's hair is buzzed just as Eccleston later wore it. As big of a Who fan RTD is, there's no way the guy didn't watch that video back when it was released. Food for thought.
And here's another little fact...Grace Holloway is a better companion than Rose Tyler later was. Why? They are mirror opposites yet Grace is superior. Think about it. Both of them have come from tragic backgrounds. Grace lost her mother [it's in the novelization] as a child and that made it her life's goal to go into medicine to prevent death [or "to hold it back"]. Rose lost her father as a child and that propelled her into, uhm, dating a loser and working in a shop. As many fans said online back in 2005, Rose was a "chav". Grace was not only a medical surgeon but she was also a scientist. She could keep up with scientific theory and understood how the TARDIS worked. She even piloted the TARDIS herself [not even River Song could pilot the TARDIS without learning how from The Doctor] - hotwiring it without instruction from The Doctor. Rose never figured out how to do anything with the TARDIS except become possessed by the Time Vortex which caused her to become Dark Phoenix Rose and stared into the Heart of the TARDIS which caused it to fly itself. Point is, Grace was into helping others and self-improvement, bettering her station in life from what was given - or taken away from her - whereas Rose never did. Had The Doctor never popped up into Rose's life, she never would've grown as a person. What The Doctor did for Grace was gave her a reminder of why she did what she did; he validated her life choices. She also chose not to join him in his adventures at the end of the movie [although she would've returned had the show gone to series]. Rose on the other hand jumped at joining The Doctor once she was told the TARDIS was a time machine so she could selfishly exploit The Doctor into saving her father's life. Grace was the smartest human female companion since Liz Shaw; Rose was only a "great" companion because the head writer wrote her getting it lucky in her episodes and made her more important than the show's title character. So yeah, I'd say with all of that written, Grace was a better character than Rose and certainly a much more positive role model for impressionable female viewers. She was a strong character and thank goodness she broke the stupid "romance taboo" too.
I'd also like to point out that Paul McGann, Daphne Ashbrook, Yee Tso, and Eric Roberts have all said they'd like to return to the show. They all said that at this year's GallifreyOne convention. However, there's a licensing issue between NBC Universal and the BBC over the use of Grace Holloway and Chang-Lee which is why they haven't appeared in spin-off material like the audios [Grace has appeared twice in comics but it was apparently a Herculean effort]. There's also concern that the Eric Roberts Master's appearance's "intellectual property" is also owned by NBC Universal and not the BBC so that could also be a challenge. Daphne Ashbrook is probably the most gung-ho of the bunch about returning even though she's had a steady career of guest starring roles in other high profile shows since the TVM. Eric Roberts also stays rather busy playing villains in practically everything. As for Paul McGann, he wants to return but he seems to think the BBC needs to telephone him personally before he'll accept such an invite.
One final point. Just for fun, fans should try to watch the TV Movie and then watch "The Eleventh Hour" back-to-back. Then get back to me after you notice how similar both stories are, especially visually. You'll find several homages in TEH to the TV Movie. Food for thought...
First of all, there was an American Doctor Who. That blows my mind.
I even had a viewing party for it on my college dorm floor, snuck booze in, and had my friends show their video projects beforehand as "trailers".
Paul McGann was a fantastic Doctor, Eric Roberts was over the top, Grace looked like she belonged on DS9, the direction was almost Raimi-esque in its use of dutch angles, the half-human thing was completely unnecessary, the TARDIS was awesome, and the Sylvester McCoy cameo was cool for us old-schoolers but misadvised for a pilot. Too many cooks spoiled the broth on this one because Phil Segal was trying to serve too many masters. It turned out to be a slightly above average 90's sci-fi telemovie (better than direct-to-video), but in order for it to take off, it needed to be awesome. It wasn't.
RTD did it his way, with his vision of the continuity, his vision of the companions. That's why it connected with people. It allowed for the history of the show to shine through the cracks, while Segal's version dipped too far into it.
I wrote into FOX hoping it would go to series. I thought if it had a chance to develop, it could be what we were all hoping for in an American Doctor Who show. Something with the wit of the best of UK TV with the production values of US TV.
The reboot didn't knock it out of the park until The Empty Child either (although Dalek came close for marvelous Christopher Eccleston performance, but the villain was such a cartoon.) But it had a chance to develop and they presented it as something new and different, without kowtowing to the old fans - and it worked.
McGann deserved a better shot, but he's remembered by fans fondly for giving it his best and for continuing to deliver in audios.
That reminds me...another whining criticism of the TV Movie - and again, mainly from UK Fandom - is the "car chase" scene in the TV Movie. Yet had they watched "Planet of the Spiders" from the Pertwee era, they would've seen a long car/gyrocopter/hovercraft chase scene. Plus, car chases are no more annoying than "run down stupid and pointless corridor" scenes that were the standard filler material of ClassicWho. FFS, Tegan wastes half of "Logopolis" getting lost in the very same TARDIS corridor.
GENESIS OF THE DALEKS - a great story and the direct bridge to the post Time War era.
CITY OF DEATH - 4 and Romana II in present day Paris facing an ancient baddie who looks alternately like Julian Glover and a plate of worms. Throw in a twisty centuries spanning art scam worthy of Moffet and a witty Douglas Adams script, and oh yeah - John Cleese and Eleanor Bron bump into the Doctor at an art gallery.
First Doctor allowed his sole surviving family member, his biological granddaughter Susan, to become romantically involved/pair bonded with a human male.
Third Doctor states the TARDIS brought him "home" [to UNIT HQ on Earth] to die/regenerate.
Leela the Savage - who is human - becomes involved with Time Lord/Gallifreyan Andred, and The Doctor isn't bothered nor is the rest of Gallifrey apparently.
When the Kaleds scan Harry Sullivan and the 4th Doctor on Skaro in "Genesis of the Daleks", they only marvel at how different both of their physiology is to Kaled physiology, not how different Time Lord physiology is to human physiology.
The 7th Doctor warns of the pain of interspecies relationships are for their offspring - as if from personal experience - in "Delta and the Bannermen".
And all throughout Classic Who, The Doctor acts differently [much more "human" how shall we say?] than the other Time Lords. There's something personal about his connection to Earth. He also has bad eye sight which the TV Movie explained about his retinas being human [not counting Moffat's retcon from "Time Crash" later on].
There's also plenty more examples that I've forgotten to mention that support the theory and gave credence to Phil Segal himself deciding The Doctor has always been half human. And while RTD hates the idea, it should be noted that Moffat isn't against it and thinks it may be true. [there's an interview online where he states this].
The Doctor Who TV Movie is very similar to the failed CBS pilot from 1995 that had Sherlock Holmes wake up [from cryogenic sleep] in modern day San Francisco, and teams up with a hot smart lady to defeat the grandson of Moriarity from taking over the Earth.
The snake creature/morphant/Prisoner Zero creature The Master's consciousness inhabited can also be attributed to the body hopping snake creature Jason's soul inhabited in the "Jason Goes to Hell" film from circa 1993.
But hey, shall I lay out a list of everything RTD ripped off during his reign of NewWho?
Other things Merrick didn't touch upon:
*The Spider Daleks had been discussed behind the scenes during Classic Who. The video shown was from the Amblin Who plans to reboot the whole series which Phil Segal abandoned. It wouldn't have carried through to a new series.
*The Spider Dalek plans at Amblin did get "borrowed" by another Hollywood production/screenplay. They were used in the "Lost in Space" reboot film with Dr. Smith becoming a spider creature - with the very same abdominal reveal which was fleshed out in an abandoned Doctor Who film script - and allying himself with mechanical spider creatures.
*The third act of the TV Movie is ripped off by the third act of "Galaxy Quest". Both involve time traveling within the ship to prevent main characters from dying. Just substitute the Eye of Harmony in the TV Movie for "Omega 13" in "Galaxy Quest".
*I haven't read it but there might be some rough outlines of ponderings of Phil Segal for a later series in his book. He did mention at GallifreyOne that Grace would've definitely returned in a series which contradicts some allegedly "reported" [previously] information on Wikipedia that there was never a plan for her character to return.
Actually, that wasn't being pushed for by the American studios...that was what the BBC was pushing for. The powers that be even say this point blank in the documentary that comes with the Doctor Who TV Movie DVD. It was Phil Segal who insisted on bringing back McCoy.
He doesn't resemble Ming. I can't understand how "fans" get this mixed up so much. The cloak/robe The Master is wearing is a stylized update to the Time Lord robes [it is a mix of the standard old Time Lord robes and the attire the Time Lords were shown wearing in "The Three Doctors"]. It's just the first time on-screen the robes didn't look like they were purchased from a Methodist Church yard sale.
There was a female fan who had made her own version of the robe at GallifreyOne this year. She was also wearing the reptilian contact lenses. It was quite a trip.
Had the TV Movie not had McCoy in it, there would've been even more blood being demanded by fans claiming it was a reboot based upon his absence. Phil Segal couldn't win either way.
Phil Segal saved Doctor Who; not Russell T Davies. It's about time fandom acknowledged that.
You may well be right - my recollection is that it was Fox network pushing for Tom Baker, with the idea that he was the Doctor most Americans knew, and that BBC didn't care what happened so long as they got paid. But I haven't read my copy of Regenerations in a while, so you probably have it right.
You're spot on about Eric and Eliza. Very lovely people. Eric put my son on his lap and made him feel like a million bucks.
Funny you should mention that...Daphne Ashbrook portrayed "Melora" on DS9. She got rooked out of being a continuing character because CGI wasn't around then cheaply to show her character flying.
That's 2 scifi franchises she got hosed out of.
But I'd say the Grace Holloway character was an even smarter and more action oriented version of Sculley from "The X-Files". [and sexier. Definitely not biotchy either]. Same tv network too.
I've spent a lot of years arguing with the "know it alls" online over at GallifreyBase/Outpost Gallifrey/Doctor Who Forum over the TV Movie and how wrong they are [in my opinion] about it.
I was really disappointed by NewWho in comparison [especially the Jon Simm Master and digging up Rassilon, and other inconsistencies the "apologists" overlook]. I thought RTD's version of the TARDIS Console Room was massively inferior to the TVM and a let down in so many other ways as well. I feel the other writers on the show are responsible for its success. However, I love Moffat's version. The BBC better pay him well because I want the guy to be the producer for the next decade...
Of course, they improved much (the Moff more than RTD), but I saw much of RTD's first season a lengthening rehash of the TVM.
I'm just not much of a fan of the story itself. The characters, the characterizations, I thought were good. No problems. Just the story was what we would normally get for a filler episode, not the A game.
Despite that, no one in advance would have known this. The idea that "it was bad, so it got low ratings" is insane. People would have to be psychic for that. The reason is as you and others have pointed out: the competition was bad, and FOX did not do a good job promoting this. In all respects, Doctor Who got the Serenity treatment.
And yes, I really like the Roberts Master. I like all of the onscreen Masters to date, and I am glad each are different. And as you said, and I as I said, I fully understood his motivation - his desperation. It was obvious. And even some of the humor seems to be in the original Delgado Master (come on, The Daemons shows the Master's dark sense of humor).
Agreed. I felt RTD's first series was a 13 episode rehash of the TVM, and in terms of RTD's own penned episodes, an inferior version. [not counting The End of the World, which was good].
It should be pointed out that most regeneration episodes from Classic Who, well, suck(ed). In that context, the TV Movie should be compared to. Hell, "Rose" is an inferior rehash of "Spearhead from Space", imho.
I'd say out of the entire history of Doctor Who, the only first Doc episode [not counting "An Unearthly Child"]/regeneration story that does actually hit the ball out of the park is "The Eleventh Hour". If you watch that episode and it doesn't move you,
you might be a Walker.
The "Serenity" treatment. Nice parallel, and also involving some of the major players like the TV Movie [Fox, for "Firefly"] and NBC Universal.
The TV Movie isn't the first example of Fox screwing over Paul McGann's career either. The first honor would go to "Alien 3" when they cut most of his performance from the final product... As such, "getting McGann'ed" should be a more popular term...although "getting Brosnan'ed" also works.
Food for thought? No, my friend. You gave us a full meal, with multivitamin. :)
Great, great post.
And I'll agree that upon re-watching, Simm is JUST AS if not more over the top. I think that Roberts has rubbed me the wrong way in other roles and I may be taking that out on his performance in this. Probably not fair at all.
And I have seen interview footage with McGann in almost bald, shaved head, talking about how they forced the wig on him.
I'm afraid of what some of the alternative timelines would look like, many of which would probably still have us with no new Doctor Who, even today. I'm happy with the way things have gone, but still wonder what a full McGann series would have looked like. Even if it most likely could have only survived on US TV for 2 seasons, tops.
Anyway, lovely post and I hope we see more of you around here. Cheers.
Power of the Daleks hits it out for me. It's my favorite Who story (on most days).
But, I understood the TVM was also something else: a pilot. Pilots often are not as good as the series when it gets going.
none of the people complaining about it want to admit that the Master had to have obtained the robe from the Doctor's wardrobe closet in the Doctor's TARDIS. So, that's the Doctor's robe that he's running around in. I like to think that Colin Baker wore it for a while in unseen stories between Trial of a Timelord and Time and the Rani.
Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Tso had mentioned back at GallifreyOne a few months ago that perhaps a Facebook campaign could convince NBC Universal to play ball with the BBC and finally get the Dr. Grace Holloway and Chang-Lee characters rescued from their current state of purgatory. Anyone else up for such a campaign on Facebook?
Regardless of how you might feel about the characters were in the TV Movie, every fan can probably agree that all Doctor Who related characters should be made available for use for the 50th Anniversary if Steve Moffat & Co. wishes to use them... Personally, I find it rather dumb that both Ashbrook and Tso have to portray different characters in the audio adventures than what we know them for simply because of a petty licensing issue between Universal and the BBC.
One common complaint with the TV movie is that it breaks the rules and violates its own internal logic by having time travel result in Grace and Change Lee's deaths being reversed. This would be a wholly valid complaint IF that were what happened. But it's not.
The Eye of Harmony revives Grace and Chang Lee. Both deaths still occurred, those characters' personal timelines have not been altered, they ahve simply been brougth back to life.
It's still a cheat, but it's a magic cheat, not a time travel cheat.
I've mentioned this in another docback, but I'm not a fan of John Simm's master either - and for basically the same reasons. When I look at the character, there's nothing I recognize as "The Master". If the story didn't tell me who he was, there is nothing in the portrayal that I would recognize in him as being the same character. It's a silly conceit, but some visual or behavioural queues, even a goatee, would have made a difference in how I perceived him.
The Doctor can get away with being very different in each incarnation because we have time to explore him, to rediscover him. The Master just drops out of the blue - he has to hit the ground running with the weight of all that history. You need to give the audience a little nudge in the right direction. For some people, perhaps a name and the Doctor's testimony is all they need to accept who he is. For me, my imagination needs a little more confirmation.
Pratt/Beevers really had nothing to do character-wise, Ainley was consistently awful (though this can be attributed to the writing/direction/general Nathan-Turner-ness of his whole run), Roberts was blah, and Jacobi and simm do a great job of playing what is really a completely different character.
It was cool to see McCoy back, even if was a sad and pathetic death for a Doctor (like Star Trek Generations all over, just quicker). And McGann dressed like a riverboat gambler was a great casting and costume pick (I'm sorry but I couldn't take Colin Baker seriously in that Technicolor dreamcoat costume). But it was painfully obvious to me that it was filmed in Vancouver (Vancouver locations, Vancouver actors) and that's when it pulled me out of the story. I actually liked Eric Roberts as The Master. He was completely wrong for the role but it was kind of fun to see him play it anyway - he can play evil slimeball quite well.
A new regeneration but still... identifiable. Ainley was a fine actor. Loved his delivery. Much less charming than the great Delgado. Much more sinister. <p>
But I don't care how good of an actor one is...the production value of those last shows (Colin Baker/Sly McCoy era) were so bad they made everybody look silly.<p>
And if were going to play the Master as a "completely different character" ...than let's just not call him the Master.
He is the same person, regenerated, and fighting against death. People, even without regeneration, develop. But the essence is the same. And this is shown quite well with the Master's last story (to date). The episode has him doing what was planned in the Pertwee era -- to sacrifice himself for the Doctor, as a kind of redemption.
One might as well say Romana I and II aren't the same... because of how different they were.
Keeping in mind I've only watched all of the 4th Doctor, the first series/season of the 5th Doctor, and scatterings of all the others, here are three I'd pick (in order) that haven't been featured yet or indicated that they will be featured soon (because otherwise I'd name Kinda in this too):
1. The Seeds of Doom
2. The Deadly Assassin
3. City of Death
The Romana's were very different. But certainly within the realm of acceptability. What if Romana would have stuck with the Amazononian regeneration she was "trying on for size? That's how drastic they treated the Master's return.
I'm riffing on what kanekofan rightly said "Jacobi and simm do a great job of playing what is really a completely different character."<p>
The Master was reinvented into a wise-cracking, song and dance man with super powers. They didn't just alter him a bit as they do with the Doctors many varied regenerations...they squandered a good foundation to build upon. I think it was a total misfire. Why not completely redesign the Daleks look and sound too? I so looked forward to the reintroduction of the Master when the new show kicked off. What a let down that was.
Me at 13, a geeky, lonely kid driving his friends away by forcing them to act in home-made Godzilla movies using Bandai action figures shot in terrible stop motion eventually became me at 33, a (relatively) mature adult who is respected at work, able to maintain a genuine relationship with a fiancee, and applying his love of movies to telling (relatively) sophisticated original stories. The same character? From the perspective of someone who's seen the whole evolution, yes. From the perspective of two snap-shots? No. Hire twodifferent actors to play the two parts, and they might be playing the same person, but they're not playing the same character.
There was an episode during the Tom Baker era called Shada that was never completed. They used footage for the five doctors.
Might be interesting to have Docback about it.
Not bad - It fleshes out the full story, and gives McGann some decent space to stretch his Timelegs...
Nice bits from Leeson's K-9 & Lalla Ward returning as Romana v2.0
Watch again, The Doctor resets the TARDIS time settings on the Console before taking the bodies of Grace and Chang-Lee to the Eye of Harmony. It is only then when the Eye releases what we now know to be nanites/Time Vortex energy which revives both Grace and Chang-Lee. The inference is internal time travel inside the TARDIS.
I didn't like the "Simm" version of The Master at all. For me, I'm very willing to declare that that Master was a corrupted version which was actually a "back up" copy within the Time Lord Matrix that they "revived" for the Time War. Basically their version of what Norton GoBack does - or Apple's appropriately named "Time Machine" [which has the time vortex in its graphics] - but corrupted by a partition sector error. And as such, the "real" Master, the "Eric Roberts Master" is either still stuck inside the TARDIS or in the Time Vortex.
Bring him back but with unlimited regenerations which was his original goal from "The Deadly Assassin". Have him do something that allows the TARDIS to free him finally. Make him completely a villain but without the desperation or psychosis since he no longer has to worry about a limited lifespan. And if anyone doesn't believe the Academy Award nominated Roberts couldn't top the late Roger Delgado's take - so long as the writing or doesn't get in his way - I'd have to conclude you are smoking some seriously strong industrial strength crack because Roberts can do full blown evil easily. He was probably the most memorable villain from CSI Miami and he wasn't even trying in that. And FFS, go watch the guy in the film "The Nature of the Beast" if you want a psychologically scary performance on his part [Lance Henricksen is also great in it].
So no, Roberts wasn't miscast...just under utilized. Granted, he was probably a pain on-set due to personal issues back then - and there still seems to be some bad blood between him and Phil Segal - but he's head and shoulders above the stunt casting that almost happened... Christopher Lloyd as The Master.
Of course, I'm still a little partial to that rumor circa 1995 that Fox was going to cast Sting as The Doctor and David Bowie as The Master. Good gawd, that would've kicked major azz as a motion picture version... But with that having been said, Paul McGann is the once past and future Doctor for me. Tennant and Eccleston don't hold a candle to him in my book.
Random thought of the moment...Daphne Ashbrook looks as if she was the model that was used for the basis of the character Anastasia from the animated film "Anastasia" of 1997.
Day of the Daleks. There's no way Terry Gilliam didn't use that as an influence for 12 Monkeys...he just didn't understand the concept of a time loop/predestination paradox. Shame...he should've watched that story much closer.
I hated the ending - the Eye, WTF? McGann seemed fine in the role, but the story.... the beginning was unnecessarily confusing, and at the end the writers were just pulling random ludicrous ideas out of their asses. I had that horrible realization that I wanted my 90 minutes back.
I am interested in the McGann audios, though, and I would really like to see the 8th Doctor fight the Time War.
Interestingly enough, Colin Baker states he's not interested in being part of an onscreen 50th anniversary interview:
Maybe Eccleston was part of the reshoots to the GI Joe sequel at the time...just kidding.
One. After looking at the DVD extra...the Producer actually saved Dr. Who from disastrous first attempt on American TV.
At the same time, he wanted The Doctor to be looking for his missing father-Ulysses. In that generation of creators, felt the need to "explain" why the Doctor hung around earth and like earthlings so much.
Apparently, the show was a big hit in England. But since FOX was co-producing, it was shelved. It's actually a good thing, BBC not having complete control was a worrisome thing.
Eric Roberts was put in at Foxes request as the "Star"power. Colin Baker (the Sixth) Doctor said that the big problem with the Master was that the character was always tied to Roger Delgado personality. Anthony Ainley usually was forced into being that Master rather than making the character his own. In his mind, Eric Roberts broke the mold and allowed the Master to have his own personality.
Sadly, John Simm. and RDT decided to go full Joker on us...
But over all, Paul McGann had a wonderful quality, and I would have loved him to further develop. Both MgGann and his companions would have loved to continue on the adventures, and were sorry when they were denied.
Together again for the first time ....
CUTS IN THE FOLLOWING INVOLVE FADE TO AND FROM BLACK TO THE RHYTHM OF THE CLOISTER BELL GONGING:
SCENE ?, 8'S TARDIS CONSOLE, ECCLESTON LOOKING DOWN AT MCGANN COLLAPSED ON THE DAIS. A PIPE WRENCH IN ECCLESTON'S HANDS.
SCENE ?, CLOSE UP ON ROSE WITH BAD WOLF EYES
SCENE ?, CLOSE UP ON GRACE WITH REPTILE-MASTER EYES
SCENE ?, DAVROS AT THE TARDIS CONSOLE, MCGANN ERA DALEKS STREAMING THROUGH ITS OPEN DOORS
SCENE ?, CAPTAIN JACK HARKNESS AND CHANG LESS BACK TO BACK, MOUNDS OF DEAD SILENTS AT THEIR FEET, RINGED WITH MCGANN DALEKS.
SIMM'S MASTER THROTTLING DALTON'S RASSILON. RASSILON THROWS A LEVER ... AND TURNS INTO A STONE STATUE.
DAVID TENNANT WITH BAD WOLF EYES
FADE TO BLACK
The Sqrt(2) Doctors. Coming To The Docback ... Soon.
MCGANN AT THE DAIS OF 9'S CONSOLE, ECCLESTON COLLAPSED AT HIS FEET. MCGANN HAS A PIPE WRENCH IN HIS HANDS.
FADE TO BLACK.
I'd been watching Doctor Who at least from the mid-70s, and was sad after it went off the air in '89. The Virgin New Adventures showed up starting in 1990, and kept Doctor Who alive in the fanbase. They introduced us to new writers like Paul Cornell, Mark Gatiss, and Russell T. Davies. No DW on TV? At least we had the books. Then news of the TV movie arrived.
Seeing new DW on TV, even if just for one movie, was incredible. Did it have problems? Of course. But I'd been excited when I'd first heard about the movie, and my excitement never wavered. Paul McGann did an amazing job in his one TV outing, and has done some great audio work since.
And even if the 1996 TV Movie did everything wrong, it turned the BBC on to the idea that there was a market for DW material. So they took back the rights for the books and started publishing their own in 1999. Then they entered the DVD market. By then, new DW on TV was just a matter of time...
Ok, I won't necessarily say it is the best animation, but it is also better than some I've seen. The look is off, and the synch is off, and the action is too slow -- but you still get a sense of what the Doctor was like in his return...
... it also proves he needs a companion.... but that's something else...
actually, he's had them ever since 1981, when he possessed Tremas' body in The Keeper of Traken. His offhand comment in Mark of the Rani to the Doctor when asked about how he survived the end of Planet of Fire might suggest some other abilities.
No, not his performance. But it was not his fault.
The script was an absolute mess from beginning to end. The director was standing right there and could've told Roberts to take it down a notch.
But...if you want proof that Roberts could do the Master? Go watch a movie called By the Sword. It's not a great movie, but it's decent, and Roberts is outstanding. He plays a demanding, powerful guy, all in black, and he's called ''The Maestro.'' I'm not making this up. When I saw that, I was sure that's how he'd play The Master, but alas.
Had he done so, things might've been different...but no, there's no fixing the TVM.
In terms of using it as a back-door pilot, it was the worst story to tell. A back-door pilot should be showing the viewers (and the network) what an ongoing series would be like. The TVM didn't even try to do that. You can't just introduce your hero and then kill him 20 minutes in; that's suicide.
RTD was much smarter. Rose may not be the best episode, but as an intro to the series, it's almost perfect.
As for the TVM from a pure story standpoint...it simply makes no sense. The TARDIS only opens for humans? Why would that be? Nevermind the nonsense that everything would happen at exactly midnight -- why not 11:47? And all of a sudden now he can un-do death? That's...problematic.
Still, it had its positives. McGann showed potential. The TARDIS set was utterly gorgeous. The theme rearranged as a march wasn't bad. Other than that, it's hard to think of much else I liked...and believe me, I really, really wanted to like it.
First, it didn't fail because it was up against the finales of Rosanne and all that. It was a $5m movie. It was EXPECTED to compete with other sweeps events. Fox wasn't going to schedule it against cupcakes for that kind of dough. Anything with a big budget can probably succeed against cupcakes, but that means nothing.
Second, while I am very glad that Phil Segal was able to get this made, let's not go overboard. He's a Doctor Who fan with little or no storytelling ability or experience. So he made what he thought fans would like: a big expensive set (more on that later), a regeneration, and tons of continuity references. This is why fans shouldn't (normally) be allowed to produce things like this. RTD and Moffat are much smarter: storytelling comes first, and they know it. Can they then include little tidbits for fans? Sure. But remember: there are never, ever enough hardcore fans to keep a show going. Ever.
So all of those awful stories you heard about? Phil was involved with many of them, and signed off on every one. Half human? Yep. Spider Daleks? Yep. Rassilon being the Doctor's father? Yep. And so on. Phil liked 'em all.
(Also, whoever it was who said Nimoy was given a fake movie...that's nonsense of the highest order. The movie was quite real. This I have first-hand knowledge of. And it would've been pretty damned good.)
If Phil is saying he prevented all of that, then he's engaging in spin, and it's a shame. Own up, Phil. You loved the John Leekly script, and you loved the Robert Delaurentis script, and those were just...awful. Way worse than what we got.
Ultimately I think the TVM failed because the marketing was muddled, which makes sense since the TVM itself was muddled. It's hard to make people tune in using previews of something that makes little sense.
Back to the budget...which, by the way, wasn't totally covered by Fox. That was a warning flag, but we were all too excited to pay much attention. Rarely does a studio (Universal and BBC Worldwide, in this case) have to fund a significant chunk of the production, but they did here. That's not a sustainable model, of course; studios lose money that way. And where did all this money go?
Good question. At the time, many reacted with surprise at the final budget number, because it did not LOOK like a $5m production. There were only small amounts of CGI. They filmed in Canada to keep costs down. And yet...the big figure. Why?
Ask Phil. He made a big point of how he scoured antiques shops in Vancouver, etc., to get chairs, clocks, etc. for the TARDIS set. Antiques shops? Why are you buying antiques? This is why you have set and prop people. They don't need to be authentic; they just need to LOOK authentic. Any experienced producer would've done it that way, but not Phil. This is just one example, of course, but there wasn't much emphasis on cost containment. You're not going to keep getting jobs as a producer that way -- and sure enough, he didn't for a long time afterwards. Then he got jobs as a "co-executive producer," meaning he had to prove himself again before getting bigger jobs.
Like I said, I am glad he did what he did, but I'm realistic about what actually happened.
Logopolis would be my first choice. Castrovalva my second.
Also, Revelation of the Daleks. Hardly one of my faves, but Graeme Harper did direct the hell out of it, and I'd love to hear Merrick's thoughts.
I get where you're coming from, but part of the reason they use contemporary companions is because the companions are supposed to be our (the audience members') point of view. That's an oversimplification, but it's still a big part of why the companion is there.
My guess is that trend will continue.
It would make sense if the TARDIS actually belonged to The Doctor's father originally and he set the security mechanism up to only open for - say - the mother of The Doctor [or him].
Really, it isn't a difficult concept.
Even the Eye of Harmony [link] is easy to explain certain inconsistencies. For example, if the TARDIS has such a link, why hadn't The Master had used it before in his TARDIS, you say? Well, because The Doctor's TARDIS is the most ancient one in existence still, and apparently Type 40 and before were powered by the Eye, but later models were obviously powered by some other source. That makes a lot of sense considering the only two Time Lords of the modern era who even knew the Eye existed was The Master and The Doctor per "The Deadly Assassin".
In Fox's eyes, the TV Movie only cost $2.5 million. Back then, Fox did do tv movies on Tuesday nights so no, it wasn't expected to be a monster hit. They hoped for it to do decent ratings. Other parts of Fox TV wanted it to do well so it could go to series but that wasn't the concern of the Fox TV Movie division. And yes, the ratings killed the chance of it going to series and yes, it was because of "Roseanne" and the other programming challenges. The BBC on the other hand could've done something with the show in 98 or 99.
As for sheer cost, NBC probably spent more on the first episode of "Dark Shadows" in 1991 than Fox spent on "Doctor Who" in 1996. Furthermore, Fox probably spent just as much on "Tornado" - as "Doctor Who" - which aired the week before against incredibly weak competition. Nobody at Fox had any crazy aspirations for that to become a series.
As for RTD allegedly being a better story teller than Phil Segal, I'll just use "The End of Time" as a means of refuting that suggestion. Phil was previously a producer of "Thirtysomething" and "SeaQuest", both of which were far larger/popular/successful than anything RTD did prior to "Doctor Who". He also today produces almost every hit show on the Discovery Channel. You want to talk failures and flame outs in comparison? I raise you RTD's "Torchwood Miracle Day". Yeah, he didn't last long Stateside, did he?
BLACK SCREEN. ECCLESTON V.O.:
Rose, if you're listening to this, something has gone very wrong. I'm sorry about this but I'm not coming back. So now there are two things you have to do. Get home, and kill the Tardis. [PAUSE] I know, but it's got to be done. In the wrong hands the Tardis could crack the universe like an egg, make a new big bang ... more than anyone you know it is much, much more than just a time machine. So, look, the first thing you need to do is -
IMAGE CONGEALS TO REVEAL THE EIGHTH DOCTOR LISTENING TO A PAIR OF WORLD WAR 2 VINTAGE HEADPHONES PATCHED INTO THE SPAGHETTI OF WIRES UNDER 11'S CONSOLE. HIS EYES ARE CLOSED. A STRANGE SONIC IS TWISTED INTO AND SHORTING OUT TWO WIRES, MAKING LITTLE SPARKS FROM TIME TO TIME. ECCLESTON'S TINNY V.O. CRACKLES EVERY TIME THERE'S A SPARK.
8 STARTLES. HE QUICKLY OPENS A TRAPDOOR IN MID AIR, DIVES THROUGH IT AND SLAMS IT BEHIND HIM. AMY DRESSED IN STREET GEAR DESCENDS THE STAIRS TO THE UNDERCONSOLE AREA.
RORY WALKS UP BEHIND HER WEARING PYJAMAS AND RUBBING HIS EYES.
You don't have to shout. I'm right here.
Why are you wearing your PJs?
Why aren't you wearing yours?
I heard you clanking about as per usual and wanted to ask you .... what's that?
[INDICATES SONIC] That. Doesn't look like his Sonic. Did he make a new one?
That's what you wanted to ask me?
No, but it's a good question.
AMY & RORY:
11 SWANS INTO THE TARDIS THROUGH THE FRONT DOORS DRESSED IN A SATURDAY-NIGHT-FEVER LEISURE SUIT AND SPORTING A MOUSTACHE. ~DISCO INFERNO~ CAN BE HEARD MUFFLED THROUGH THE DOORS.
Oh my god you're not doing porno are you?
11, YELLING THROUGH THE FRONT DOORS:
River! Just keep up the tango shuffle. That's it sweetie, back in a jiff. [TO AMY AND RORY] Nestene duplicates.
Studio 54, New York, 1975. Full of autons. [HOLLERS AT THE DOOR] But they can't hurt you if you just keep dancing.
Why? I mean ... what?
River dancing in an enclosed space generates enough heat to keep autons in fear of melting. [NODS AT RORY] I tried to warn him about that two thousand years ago. [JUMPS AT THE CONSOLE, TURNS A KNOB. ~DISCO INFERNO~ BLASTS OUT AT INTOLERABLE VOLUME. AMY AND RORY COVER THEIR EARS. DOC SLAMS THE DIAL BACK, LEAPS BACK TO THE DOORS.
Radio waves tuned to primitive discordancies drown out the consciousness and melt Nestene transceivers. [POKES HIS HEAD OUT THE FRONT DOORS] Bianca melted. Mick didn't. Who'd have thought?
RIVER ENTERS WEARING HEAVY BLUE EYELINER, GLAM HAIR AND LOTS OF SEQUINS.
They move pretty well once you get them loosened up. Oh but the night is young, sweetie, where to next?
I thought you'd never ask!
Um, Doctor ...
Not now Dad - do you mind if I call you dad? - twinkletoes needs doof beats -
Doctor. This is serious. And - [WALKS UP AND RIPS OFF HIS MOUSTACHE] - fake moustaches looked stupid even in 1975.
THE DOCTOR GRABS HIS MOUTH, HOWLS AND DOUBLES UP IN PAIN.
Mummy, really, he spent hours growing that.
AMY HOLDS UP THE MOUSTACHE, IS DISGUSTED TO SEE IT WRIGGLING, DROPS IT AND JUMPS BACK.
Ugh! What ... what?
DOCTOR, STERNLY, STRAIGHTENING UP:
I have a razor, you know. But you have obtained my attention. What's serious?
RORY, FROM UNDER THE CONSOLE:
This ... whatever it is.
DOCTOR DUCKS UNDER THE CONSOLE, SEES THE STRANGE SONIC, APPROACHES IT WITH ENORMOUS TREPIDATION.
But that's ... impossible.
THE TARDIS COMMENCES ITS TAKEOFF NOISE.
River! Don't touch anything! Tardis security may be compromised!
I didn't touch anything!
TIGHT FOCUS ON DOCTOR HOLDING THE STRANGE SONIC:
Scratch ~may be~.
Shame it was never properly realised.
To segue slightly, there was a restoration of the TVM TARDIS console - those who are interested in the prop side of things and restoration should take a look. Links below;
Should be edited out of TVM. That alone would be a huge improvement. Nothing against the man himself, but he really is terrible in the TVM. Roberts did what he could with what he was given, and Mcgann was great. I'm glad it didn't go into production as planned, but also would like to see McGann get at least one episode for the 50th.
It would actually be cool if the 50th celebration had a running series arc that carried in some aspect of each doctor in an individual but connected episode. Obviously there are holes since the first three are deceased and others might not happen. Recasting has been done once before, but wasn't terribly effective. Maybe the first episode could have the Doctor find Susan and reference the first Doctor based on that, and so on? Episode two then is a celebration of the Troughton Doctor. Revisit locations, have voice overs where actors arent appropriate, use flashbacks, and bring in actors who have been a part of the show. I would prefer a full series to celebrate 50 rather than a movie or "very special" episode.
There is a certain appeal to a theme season like that, but I'm not wild about the idea of recasting past incarnations (except perhaps the first) - I like the idea of each actor "owning" their incarnation - and if for whatever reason they don't want to participate in any sort of special, I would prefer to just respect their choice without question.
That said, if you really wanted to go whole-hog on it, do it "Trials and Tribblations" style ... have a series of stories that involve going back into old episodes, carefully editting in the current Doctor sneaking around in the background for some scenes, reconstructing old sets for other scenes.
I also am not a fan of the idea, but it has been done. That is more why I went with the idea of bringing back Susan to tie in with the first Doctor. "Trials and Tribbilations" is very much what I had in mind where revisiting an episode was mentioned. Another conceit that could be borrowed would be Quantum Leap. Have Matt Smith running around as an old Doctor in their costume, or switching places with someone else in an old story. Matt looks in a mirror to see Tom Baker staring back.
Am I the only one who really doesn't want to see a multi Doctor story arc ?
I just think it's a lazy idea that takes away from potentially great story telling. Sure, have a story that touches on the past, the consequences of the Doctor's decisions/actions of the past, but don't dwell on stories that only the most avid of Doctor Who fans would know or have seen.
I really don't think you're going to keep kids interested in 30-40 year old material.
Sure, I would say touch on the Time War, bring back the Timelords, create a meaningful story for the Daleks that makes them a deadly force again, and maybe tie up a few loose ends from over the years - half human or not ? Susan - grand daughter, how does that work ?
I would love to see a situation where the Doctor is banished from Earth - the planet that he's been most drawn to, but that his actions and meddling finally cause something to go disastrously wrong that he's exiled or whatever.
Just please don't make the 50th a "I must summon all my previous incarnations to put right something's in my past" type shenanigans. I already give Moff the credit of not going down that route... I hope...
what if instead of summoning all previous incarnations, we see Matt Smith summoned by future incarnations to deal with something in his future? You don't specify which number the future Doctors are, you just state that they're future incarnations and leave it vague enough that you don't have to lock in the characters as the next couple of Doctors.
I think we'll have to agree to disagree on some points.
As for Fox...I know for a fact they were disappointed with the ratings (yes, even the TVM division), given the cost. For a network like Fox (which wasn't on par with the big 3), even $2.5m was a lot, and the series division was contemplating a $1m/ep series budget. They did indeed expect it to do well against other sweeps competition. And Fox didn't even like it enough to re-run it, which kept us from a DVD release for a very long time (Fox had the right to repeat it at least once before home video release -- fortunately those rights eventually expired.)
As for storytelling...like I said, agree to disagree. I thought End of Time was a bajillion times better/more coherent than the TVM, and that's not even considering the Leekly/Delaurentis scripts that Segal was a fan of.
He had some credits on a few shows, but he wasn't the showrunner of thirtysomething or anything like that; he was a studio exec. RTD at least did Queer as Folk as an actual writer/producer.
Still, I think we can all agree that the TVM had some positive aspects to it. I don't want to just bag on Segal; I'm glad he got the thing made, flawed as it is.
As for the BBC doing something in '98/'99...the BBC was uninterested in funding Who themselves. They were really trying to do the BBC Worldwide/somepartner co-production thing.
The First Doctor can easily be recast. Just make him a younger version of himself. He is the first after all. His age in Unearthly Child isn't a result of regeneration, he's actually been around long enough to get that old.
So maybe go back and tell a story with the young Doctor, perhaps even his explore his family history and whatever tragic event that made his real name a sad story. It allows us to see how he ended up taking care of Susan, leading into An UnEarthly Child.
As for who to cast, Cumberbatch seems like the all too obvious choice. It may be a best of both worlds scenario. Fans get to see him in the role and because he'd be playing the First Doctor, he wouldn't have to play the role for multiple seasons.
Genesis of the Daleks-first episode I ever saw
Pyramids of Mars-where Dean Devlin got the ideas for Stargate
City of Death-a great Douglas Adams script
Logopolis-Tom Baker's farewell
Warriors' Gate-Romana's farewell. A story that warped by 13 year old mind. Crazy stuff.-----later-----m