I'm going to be examining Doctor Who... every single episode. I'm going to take you on a journey through the 50+ years worth of this show, showcasing the good and the bad along the way. For each episode I'm going to give you a very brief rundown of the plot, how good/bad the story is, and anything interesting about the episode. Basically I'll just talk about whatever comes to mind for each of them. These will be a more in-depth overview of the series as a whole so you can see which stories or episodes (if any) you want to check out for yourself. Today I'm going to be talking about
The Eighth Doctor
Doctor Who: The Movie (A.K.A Doctor Who, A.K.A. The Enemy Within) aired in May 1996 in Canada, the US, and the UK though on different dates. It had been seven years since Doctor Who was cancelled on the BBC and fans of the show had never stopped lobbying for it to come back. While the fan outcry caused the BBC to bring back the show during Colin Baker's run, the same was not true here. In fact, there was so much hatred for Doctor Who in the BBC that it was almost a taboo subject. British-born American Producer, Philip Segal had been dreaming of bringing the show back to life and spent many years trying to get a new series of Doctor Who produced between both the BBC and (at the time) Amblin Productions under Steven Spielberg. It was a hard road to pave and still almost didn't happen.
So why didn't this become a TV show? Well, at the time Doctor Who was basically an unknown to the American community. Fox did an absolutely horrible job of promoting the movie and placed it in the same time slot as the series finale of Roseanne. While the UK viewership was high, the US viewership was lower than Fox wanted to deal with and backed out of the option to continue a series with the BBC. So, this one movie is the only official piece of Doctor Who which we have between the old and new series.
The Master has been sentenced to death on Skaro and his final wish is that the Doctor return his remains to Gallifrey. The Seventh Doctor does so and settles down in an easy chair when the box containing the Master's remains beings to shake and a strange ooze-like snake wanders into the TARDIS console and forces an emergency landing. The TARDIS lands in San Fransisco on December 30th 1999 and the ooze slithers out the keyhole. The Doctor exits the TARDIS but it shot down by a group of gang members after a young Chinese-American man, Chang Lee. Lee calls an ambulance who takes the Doctor to the local hospital to remove the bullets and sooth his rapidly beating heart (which is a normal heartbeat for a Time Lord.) Cardiologist Grace Holloway is called in but due to the Doctor's strange anatomy she becomes lost and damages the Doctor's circulatory system killing him. The Doctor is rolled to the morgue and Chang steals the Doctor's possessions including the TARDIS key. Elsewhere, the ooze has stowed away inside the ambulance driver, Bruce's coat and later attacks then takes over his body. The Doctor's regeneration, slowed by the human anesthesia takes place and the Eighth Doctor emerges having lost his memories. Chang enters the TARDIS but the Master is close behind. The Master convinces Chang that the Doctor stole the TARDIS from him and stole his body. He then asks for Chang's help in tracking down the Doctor.
While there are several things which are very good about this movie there are a lot more what are bad or confusing.
The reason for McCoy's regeneration makes me laugh/upset. The Seventh Doctor, the man who perfectly organized the self-inflicted genocide of two separate races several years before the events actually took place ended up ultimately losing his life because he forgot to look at the TARDIS scanner to see what was standing right outside? There are also many many other small points that are out of touch with continuity or just make absolutely no sense. The Eye of Harmony was always a black hole that was hidden away on Gallifrey to power their whole lifestyle, not a small individual one on every TARDIS...though the new show tends to agree with the logic of this movie so maybe I missed something. Why would the Eye of Harmony need a human eye to open it? This is especially confusing when you realize that during The Deadly Assassin, Tom Baker had to leave Sarah Jane behind because humans weren't allowed on Gallifrey....so why wold they design something around human anatomy? Why does the Eye of Harmony being open allow the Master to look out of the Doctor's own eyes? How would Grace have known how to attach the atomic clock component to the TARDIS console in a few minutes when most of the Doctors didn't even know how the TARDIS console worked that well? Don't even get me started on the TARDIS just randomly having Grace and Chang's bodies be taken back in time to right before they died so that they could live.... Freaking what?? This movie also makes the ludicrous claim that the Doctor is half-human...something that most people say is post-regeneration madness and the new show chose wisely to jettison that.
This is an excellent place for fans of the new show to launch into an older incarnation of the Doctor as it's probably the more accessible and easily bridges the gap between the two styles of the show and theories on the Doctor. That said, this film is a mess, but it really didn't have any other choice than to be a mess. With close to five different companies/individuals all making demands on the project and forcing the script to be re-written on the spot, what else would you expect? It's gorgeous, Paul McGann is fantastic but most of the rest of this makes little to no sense. I still suggest watching it but just be warned of the lack of coherency. We will see Paul McGann once more but not until the end of the 11th Doctor's era. Please join me again as we continue to examine all of Doctor Who.
This is Ghost, fading into the darkness
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