We continue 12 Days of Doctors with our count up to 12th’s First Adventure with Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor and the “Doctor Who” movie.
This was after the show had been taken off the air, and the first attempt at a reboot and also at expanding the market for Doctor Who into the U.S.A. and Canada. It didn’t succeed, and there are well deserved reasons for that I’ll go into in the assessment.
The story of the film begins with the 7th Doctor taking the The Master’s remains back to Skaro after he was executed there for his crimes. The Master escapes and forces the TARDIS to land which leads to the 7th Doctor getting shot by gangsters. One of the medics who picks up the Doctor’s body gets possessed by the Master and another doctor named Grace accidentally kills the Doctor when she thinks his heart rate is beating uncontrollably. This leads to his regeneration into his 8th Incarnation, and the story unfolds from there with the Master’s plan and the Doctor trying to find out who he is.
Here is the assessment of the episode:
The Pros: the Introduction – The introduction is pretty cool. It is narrated by Paul McGann and we see the 7th Doctor reading the “Time Machine” and going about his normal life until everything goes to crap. It was great seeing Sylvester McCoy again, even if he doesn’t survive past 20 minutes. Seeing the Dalek’s used as executioners was a fitting Time Lord way to do things too and seeing the Old Master from the classic series was great again as well, before his death.
The 8th Doctor / The Eighth Doctor – Paul McGann is fantastic. He reminds me a lot of the 5th Doctor in how empathetic he is and he is one of the Doctor’s who is aware of things around him more so than most…glimpsing peoples’ futures or deducting them. He also inspires Grace and Chang to actions to save him in the end. He is just that kind of Doctor and I wish he’d gotten his own series. He deserves it and very worthy of the mantel. Also, he has a great fashion sense.
Cons: The Companions – Chang Lee and Grace are just terrible human beings. Chang steals the Doctor’s stuff works with the Master when the Master is clearly evil…his only redeeming quality comes at the end when he resists the Master. Grace has the same problem, she’s a cheater sleeping with one of her fellow doctors (the one who gets possessed by the Master) and is pretty useless up until the end. She does save the day, so I’ll give her that, but having her be the main companion besides Chang Lee was a mistake. None of them are likeable or talented enough to carry the story. Both are extremely selfish characters.
The Master – The Master is just bad…he dresses in a leather coat with sunglasses initially and spits slime. Making him like a demon was a mistake, as it took away the fact that Time Lords are supposed to be very human. He was also pretty inept and only was able to get so close to winning because of Chang Lee stealing the Doctor’s stuff which allowed him to get in the TARDIS and set his trap. Eric Roberts is just a textbook movie bad guy, there is nothing unique about him and all he does is create tension when the plot needs him too. His Master isn’t unique or memorable. His whole plan is to use the TARDIS’s energy in the Eye of Harmony to transfer his soul to the Doctor’s body so he has more lives…yep, pretty convoluted and he misses a lot of opportunities that he would have had to succeed.
The Doctor is Half Human – So glad that they ignored this plot point in the tv show. It has no purpose and is only their so Chang Lee can open up Mcguffins in the TARDIS. Him being Half Human makes no sense given how old he is and the mythos of him being one of the earliest Time Lords. This was a poor plot point to make the Doctor more human I think and again, so glad that the new series and the classic series never went there.
The Supporting Cast – No one is memorable, everyone is a one note partier, an arrogant Doctor, Businessmen, Scientist or gangster. It is sad how poorly this movie was cast and written. Doctor Who deserved better than that.
The only thing good about this movie is Paul McGann. I wish he’d gotten his own series, and I hope at some point a mini-series can be commissioned for him. He owns this role and gives it a unique and empathetic twist. He is what drove the film, cause even though it was in many ways just a stupid action film that happened to star the Doctor…he made it “Doctor Who” and he was the Doctor. “Night of the Doctor” we get to see him again, and that will be a special review for another time. Paul McGann, I hope you can get the chance to be the character that you own so well so that you won’t be associated with such a terrible film.
Final score for this film is 5 / 10. Would be a below average action movie if not for the appearance by Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor.