Dr Who The Movie
Dr Who The Movie SYNOPSIS:
The Seventh Doctor escapes from Skaro with the Master's remains in a casket. Vortex turbulence shatters the casket and a sentient ooze escapes into the TARDIS console causing it to crash land in San Fransisco. The Doctor is shot in a gang fight upon leaving the TARDIS and dies at a local hospital due to anesthetic that's deadly to a Time Lord. The sentient ooze takes over an ambulance driver's body and the Master is resurrected.
The Doctor regenerates into his eighth incarnation and finds the surgeon who operated on him, Dr Grace Holloway, convincing her he is the same man. The Master locates Chin Lee, who had stolen the Doctor's possessions, and takes him to the TARDIS. Lee's human retinal pattern opens the Eye of Harmony fragment that powers the TARDIS. The Master convinces Lee to help him get the Doctor. He needs to possess a Time Lord body before the human one breaks down.
The Doctor proves his origins to Grace and realises the power source to the TARDIS is now open and all reality is breaking down. The entire world will be sucked into it unless he can re-set the TARDIS system with an atomic clock and they set off to steal an atomic clock chip. Time is running out, reality is breaking down and the Master and Chin Lee manage to capture them both. The Master can now take over the Doctor's body and although unless the TARDIS re-set switch is activated all reality will be destroyed.
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Dr Who The Movie DETAILS:
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Dr Who The Movie CAST & CREW
Paul McGann (Eighth Doctor)
Sylvester McCoy (Seventh Doctor)
Daphne Ashbrook (Grace Holloway)
Eric Roberts – The Master
Yee Jee Tso – Chang Lee
John Novak – Salinger
Michael David Simms – Dr. Swift
Eliza Roberts – Miranda
Dave Hurtubise – Professor Wagg
Dolores Drake – Curtis
Catherine Lough – Wheeler
William Sasso – Pete
Joel Wirkkunen – Ted
Jeremy Radick – Gareth
Bill Croft – Motorcyclist Policeman
Mi-Jung Lee – News Anchor
Joanna Piros – News Anchor
Dee Jay Jackson – Security Man
Gordon Tipple – The Old Master
Production Staff for code 50/LDX071Y/01X:
Writer - Matthew Jacobs
Director - Geoffrey Sax
Producers - Peter V. Ware & Matthew Jacobs
Executive producers - Philip David Segal, Alex Beaton & Jo Wright
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Dr Who The Movie REVIEWS
Dr Who The Movie or "The Enemy Within" as the working title was suggested.
Yes after 6 years we finally got our Doctor back, but they made a mistake because the Americans stuck their noses in it basically said how Dr Who The Movie should be done. The only thing the Brits fought for and got was all the continuity laden stuff at the start which saw the 7th Doctor give way to the 8th. Maybe if they focused more on the look and feel of the story and fought more on what the characters should be like rather than a regeneration we would've got a better story. The fans knew what was going on but the general public would've been thinking - what is this shite???
Read a review of Dr Who The Movie not long ago, which stated had it been just like the recent re-launch, where we have a new Doctor, no explanation and just launch into the story proper and give away a little background as we go along Dr Who The Movie would've washed much better. Rather than giving the audience a leading man, who hangs around for 20 minutes then dies and changes into another guy who wanders round for another 20 minutes not knowing who he is. Again, great for fans and great for seeing McCoy back, so nice of him to lend his time in LA for filming a regeneration scene BUT it was not necessary and slowed the story down.
Likewise mention of the daleks on Skaro, who for some reason capture the Master, put him on trial and execute him. Have they got their judicial system up and running again??? Doesn't seem to offer anything other than extermination. These was not needed, again I found it interesting and like seeing the 7th Doctor again. It was nice to see how he got offed (by total accident on the operating table and his new costume looks much better than his old one) But we didn't need to see it. Unfortunately as Grob says after that the plot of Dr Who The Movie sort of becomes dull and incoherent and not worthy of watching.
Adrian Rigelsford had the rights (was he a Brit fan?) seems like he got bent over at the negotiating table by the Americans trying to make it British, the lead actor was British and that was about it. That said Paul McGann does a sterling job as the 8th Doctor. He actually makes the rest of Dr Who The Movie watchable and lights up every scene he's in. His Doctor, when he has it together somehow combines Davison's earnestness with Baker's energetic eccentricity. I totally believed he had the X factor which instantly made him the Doctor, right down to his Victorian type costume from the first moment he said something. It took me a whole season to feel Sylvester McCoy or Colin Baker could do the role. But had they decided to let him stroll in and do his thing dominant, eccentric and commanding right from the start and perhaps eluded to the regeneration in a flashback scene then maybe that would've made Dr Who The Movie flow better.
As for Daphne Ashbrook she was competent enough as Dr. Grace Holloway, as the Asian guy didn't really make an impression on me and Eric Roberts as the Master was nice and sinister at the beginning but had turned into a raging, pun spinning campoid by the end of the story. Putting a then B grade actor into the production didn't exactly give the project kudos. Ok he's more A grade now but mid 90's he was the king of all things B grade.
All the other actors in it did well although again you could tell Dr Who The Movie had American flavour with car chases, humour and the big fight sequence in the TARDIS at the end. Far as I can make out the Doctor had accidentally opened the heart of the TARDIS in order to make an emergency landing work. This he never got a chance to close because he was shot when he set out to find the materials (an atomic clock?) to power the TARDIS and close the heart.
Funny thing is with all the attempts to please fans at the beginning of the movie why throw in all the other stuff such as making the eye of Harmony, the centre of Time Lord power on Gallifrey, now located in the heart of the Tardis? Why pretend the Doctor's half human? By the 90's audience's had come to accept totally alien characters and why the romance with his companion? Ok the Doctor had to kiss a woman eventually but if he had stuck to just the couple in his post regenerative phase and turned down the goodbye one from Grace at the end it would've been a very Who-ish moment and defined him as the Doctor rather than a randy Time Lord. The effects and sets, particularly the Tardis interior which obviously inspired the new series version were all good, production values were all polished but the substance was lacking. But McGann's Eighth Doctor was great and it's a pity he became the George Lazenby of Dr Who actors.
Had they taken only another 5, instead of 9 years to do a revival and used the audio plays as a template, even one series of the 8th Doctor perhaps would've topped even Eccleston's one season stretch. So lack of substance and too much Americanization gets points off but the fact they resurrected a dead show and gave us a great character actor like Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor make me give Dr Who The Movie a 6.5/10
An interesting fact is both McCoy and McGann's incarnations may not have the TV hours up but are longest running incarnations in print and fiction before the next version of the Doctor turned up - they did 9 years each!
So what has COUPLING, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, MEN BEHAVING BADLY, FAWLTY TOWERS, RED DWARF and DOCTOR WHO got in common? Yep; they are English TV shows that got fucked up by the yanks.
The main problem I have with this so-called Dr Who The Movie is that it is dull. I have seen it twice since it was first screened and have even tried a couple more times, but after McGann leaves the hospital and shacks up with Grace Holloway I become totally bored shitless and want to put the Sensorites on instead. Although, if you think someone who has watched the show all his life has it bad, imagine being the poor bastard who comes into it fresh!
In the first line of Dr Who The Movie we have the following things mentioned with no explanation; Skaro, the Master, Daleks (okay we HEAR them!), the Doctor, the Tardis, Gallifrey, regenerations, Time Lords and home planets. No wonder viewers decided to watch Rosanne instead! If I had never seen this show before and no clue about it, I'd be scratching my nut as well. Did you know they went for writer Matthew Jacobs after their first choice of Malcolm Kholl fell through? Imagine what the writer of Delta and the Bloody Dingaling would have done with it??? Who was next if Jacobs turned it down? Kevin "Suck My Balls I'm a Professional Writer" Clarke?
There are some saving graces (not her) in Dr Who The Movie though. McCoy has returned to play the part of the seventh Doctor one last time which shows a very nice commitment on his behalf. He always said he would return to the show even if it were for five minutes to do a regeneration cos he believed in the show that much. He actually looks a lot better here and his new costume is much better and classier than his previous one. Interestingly, although he is in it for the first twenty minutes he only has very few lines. To me its as though the production people didn't think much of his acting abilities and wanted to keep his performance down to a minimum. He does a lot with what he is given though and gives a very dignified and restrained performance. I liked his scenes as he battles the TARDIS going out of control cos of the Master escaping and his later ones at the hospital operating theatre the best.
Paul McGann is good as the new Doctor, if a little bland. He seems more like an eccentric Englishman abroad than an alien Time Lord. Depending on the order of the shots he also looks different from one scene to another. His wig changes noticeably as well, particularly in his first few scenes. His costume looks good though but that half-human thing.... WHERE DID THAT COME FROM????
Daphne Ashbrook didn't do it for me, likewise Cream of Sum Yung Guy or whatever the Asian actor's name is. Eric Roberts decides that he should direct his performance and does a skinny man's Terminator instead. Still, he's actually a better Master than Anthony Ainley most of the time and he plays up the comedy moments of the script (either intentionally or unintentionally).
After everyone gets introduced or regenerated I rapidly lose all interest in Dr Who The Movie. It just doesn't do it for me and I think its cos the main successful element to Doctor Who is its British-ness. Dr Who The Movie is suddenly all about atomic clocks (what the fuck???) and spontaneous car chases for no reason and shoot outs. Its just not even close. There is bugger all plot, virtually no characterization or intelligence while all the money goes on these humongous sets and special effects to try and make up for it. This is typical of American television, at least at the time. Its just candy for a low-intelligent brain cell. By the way, how is it midnight all over the world at the same time???? And how is it dark all over the globe at the same time? I guess they thought no one would question that piece of logic. Well, no one outside the good ol' U.S. of Arse.
If Dr Who The Movie had anything to do with its parent series it would be that it closely resembles stories like The Sensorites and The Space Museum. Or any six part Pertwee story. Its just so mind bogglingly deathly dull.
I'm sure the intentions were there, but at the end of the day Dr Who The Movie didn't result in a new series starring a new Doctor. Rather it just gave us ninety minutes of the typical fast-paced, American piece of flotsam that served no real purpose whatsoever.
Now, I ain't gonna score Dr Who The Movie until you chaps submit yours, cos I'm curious to read your reviews first (normally I write mine, then read yours after I have submitted it to avoid being influenced or spending an entire review bagging Tim). So what did you guys think of this great televisual feast?
Goldby brings up an interesting point. The seventh Doctor ended pretty much as he began - by accident! The sixth Doctor regenerated by accidentally colliding with the Tardis console, and the seventh Doctor went out by accidentally being given anesthesia on the operating table. No wonder the guy was so accident prone!!!
Was Adrian Rigelsford (I think he was later convicted of fraud or something) originally going to write Dr Who The Movie? I knew he was going to write the 30th anniversary story The Lost Dimension which was going to star Tom Baker and all the other Doctors in lesser cameos. From memory, Graeme Harper was going to direct it and Ace and the Brigadier were going to be the companions.
Have either of you chaps listened to any of the Big Finish stuff? I had a couple of promotional disks that came with the Dr Who magazine which I think I may have given to Tim.
In fact, I think it gets better each time I watch it.
Having said that, Dr Who The Movie was a little bit disappointing first time around. I wonder though if that's because it was the most anticipated installment of all time? I was in London in April 96 and there was publicity everywhere. Somewhere at home I've got the Radio Times with a huge supplement, and the Dr Who mag - both made the long flight home so much quicker... and one of the first things I did when I got back to Melbourne was to go straight to Minatour and order the import. Not long after I got it, the ABC screened it... so that was $60 well spent!
Whether the story works or not is almost a story in itself. I mean, Dr Who The Movie does work. It may confuse long time fans a bit by not only having the eye of harmony inside the TARDIS... but also giving it the apparent power to bring people back from the dead (which screws up so many past theories) - but on the whole, The Master trying to steal The Doctor's lives works as a story.
The purpose of Dr Who The Movie was to try and launch a new series. To do that, they really had to sell the concept of the show to prospective new fans, without alienating the existing fans by reinventing history. As this was only going to be a pilot, it was crucial to get it right. It's not an easy thing to get right, so you'd think you'd want to keep things pretty simple and achieve 3 things 1) Establish that the Doctor travels in time in a police box, 2) Establish who the Doctor is (to a point), 3) Establish that the Doctor saves planets from aliens... and does so in an entertaining way, once a week for 13 weeks a year.
Unfortunately, the first 5 seconds of Dr Who The Movie fucks this up completely.
‘It was on the planet Skaro that my old enemy the Master was finally put on trial. They say he listened calmly as his list of evil crimes was read and sentence passed. Then he made his last and, I thought, somewhat curious request. He demanded that I, the Doctor, a rival Time Lord, should take his remains back to our home planet, Gallifrey. It was a request they should never have granted.’
For the non Who, the ones that really need to be won over to get the series running again, before they're even told who the Doctor is, you get Skaro, Dalek voices, Master and Gallifrey. They're supposed to keep up with this how? And then for those of us that are, well, maybe kind of geeky and say have reviewed every single episode rating them all out of 10 and keeping it all on a spreadsheet, we've also been alienated as, whilst we've been told that Daleks apparently do have a judicial system, why the hell would they put the Master on trial? Why wouldn't they just shoot him? Why would they grant him a wish - did they develop compassion? And last, but certainly not least, why in the hell would the Doctor go to bloody Skaro (which he destroyed!), the planet of his archest of arch enemies, to pick up the remains of his arch nemesis???
Thankfully then the awesome orchestral arrangement of the old theme song then kicks in to save the day. Keff would have hated this... there's no whiney synth at all... it's brilliant.
And so is the bulk of the next 1/2 an hour or so... well... the Doctor's side of the story anyway. Having this funny looking old man gunned down does two very important things. It keeps us geeks happy as we get acceptable continuity - whilst at the same time it tells the story of what the Doctor is through the eyes of people who have never seen him before... something that works very effectively. From the waking up on the operating table, through to the stuff at Grace's house, I'm totally engaged by the Doctor's story (except for the big dramatic "Who Am I" bit... that sucked!). Grace may go a little over the top at times, but I think she plays her part in the telling of the Doctor's story well. She's not stupid - and as a result we get a reasonably rational explanation of who, or what the Doctor is... eventually leading to what he does - travel through time. So criteria 1 and 2 have been met well.
Criteria 3 on the other hand, isn't.
While "Rose" wasn't the most brilliant of stories, it did successfully meet all criteria, and it did so by creating a simple, yet nicely threatening plot. Dr Who The Movie on the other hand, ended up being bound up in dodgy continuity problems (the eye of harmony is in the Tardis now?) and more importantly a Doctor v Master plot that seems to take precedence to the "Earth's in the shit" plot and as such could never win over new fans who have no idea who the Master is, so why would they care.
The plot itself isn't that bad, and the drama with which it's played is excellent... if it was the final episode of the series having built up the relationships, I reckon we'd be talking about how brilliant Dr Who The Movie is. Unfortunately, as a first story, it's just too much. With the same set up, a simple "Master's going to take over the world with the beryllium clock" plot would have worked fine.
And to make matters worse, Eric Roberts is just plain awful as The Master.
I don't know if we should blame Robert Sax for the decision to turn The Master into The Terminator - but my guess is that it's more Roberts' stiff and ordinary acting style that stuffs up the portrayal. The glasses are fine - in fact having them hides his cat eyes from Survival, and that's a nice little nod to us geeks... maybe the choice of glasses isn't great though... I mean, you can't help that Eric Roberts' acts like The Terminator - but different glasses would at least stop him from looking like The Terminator! I can't really say anything else about Eric Roberts' Master other than his mere presence gives this a B grade movie feel. OK, maybe his final scene is OK - he is pretty menacing - but why did he put the Gallifrey robes on?
As horrible as the Master's performance is, and as inappropriate as the Master's story is, one thing does make up for it. Paul McGann.
Paul McGann is instantly watchable as the Doctor. He has the perfect level of Pertwee old school charm, Troughton frustration, Baker alienness and Davison likability. "Who Am I" scene aside, his performance is controlled and powerful. He brings a lot of feeling to the climax, some of which is really a blueprint for some of the Tennant performances in the new series. And underneath it all, he's also a bit of a prankster too - I mean, human on his Mother's side... we all know that was a joke... right... huh?
Overall, the production is quite slick, and Robert Sax does get the best out of everyone (that probably is Eric Roberts' best!). Having Dr Who The Movie shot on film is a big bonus, as is having it made with an American budget! The effects are all very impressive, and some of the set work in the TARDIS is awesome... the amount of money spent on the TARDIS alone probably outweighs the total budget of series 24, 25 and 26 combined!
As assistants, I actually don't mind Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso. The later especially is a ready made interesting character - but then teaming up with the Master, gives him some Turlough like credibility... plus he can act! As for Grace, well she obviously she can be a bit overbearing at times, but generally she's got the right ingredients for a Doctor's girl... pluck and breasts! She's also quite smart too - given history (recent and past) that normally leads to boredom - but I guess we'll never know how it would have worked. At the time I remember the Doctor kissing her, and her falling in love with him being all wrong... I guess in the new world that kind of thing happens all the time, so now it doesn't seem as wrong. I do like Grace's exit though... "you come with me!". Gives a nice edge to the Doctor's character... he doesn't stay anywhere! That said though, the fact that neither Chang Lee or Grace go off with the Doctor almost admits defeat... there aint gonna be anymore of these new adventures.
I remember at the time Dr Who The Movie being marketed around "He's Back... and it's about time". Unfortunately for us, the time wasn't quite right. The night it screened in America, it went up against the final ever episode of Roseanne (which itself was kind of about time!), and accordingly got belted. While the numbers in the UK were awesome, it's value in the American commercial market was minimal. I guess that could have been a blessing in disguise - if it was being made for the American commercial market, we'd probably end up with more than "half human on my mother's side" to complain about!
In terms of Sci Fi, the timing wasn't quite right either. Other than the endless Star Treks, there was really only The X-files flying the flag at the time... DSV, Earth 2 and Quantum Leap had all come and gone pretty quickly, so I guess the audience was still small. Twelve months later, Buffy debuted. A couple of years after that we had Buffy, Angel, Stargate(s) and the sexy witches - and now we have more new Sci Fi shows than you can poke a stick at. Thankfully, Who (and it's own spinoffs) is part of the renaissance... unfortunately then, it was just a bit too soon... maybe if it was kept simpler though, it could have been a Who lead revolution.
Dr Who The Movie was a nice try though.