Doctor Who (1996) (part 4 of 4)
The Doctor apparently senses that the Eye of Harmony has been opened, and that it’s going to destroy the entire world [?]. He tries to convince Grace of this, but she’s not buying it and runs off in a panic. Why she doesn’t believe any of this is quite beyond me, but she even goes as far as to call for an ambulance to take the Doctor to a bed in the local loony bin. She then sees him walk through the glass of her door, and asks for two beds. Ho-ho. Komedy!
The Master and Chang hear the call for the ambulance, and figure they should go pick up Grace and the Doctor. When they arrive, the Doctor announces that he has to get to a place where there’s an atomic clock, which apparently has some MacGuffin he needs to power his TARDIS. Everyone piles into the ambulance… which promptly gets stuck in a traffic jam. Caused by a truck. That’s spilled live chickens onto the road. Because, you know, on New Year’s Eve 1999, people were transporting live poultry in large numbers into San Francisco.
The Master, after getting in a couple clever lines showing what the character could’ve been had they tried, loses his sunglasses, revealing his evil green eyes. The Doctor reacts and tries to get out, while the Master spooges onto Grace, leading to our next Caption Contest!
A: “This is why I gargle with soda after doing that.”
B: “There’s something wrong with this new toothpaste…”
C: “Dammit, Chang! For the second time, warn me before you do that!”
D: Submit your own caption! Same prizes as before!
The Doctor and Grace run away and eventually come across a motorcycle cop. The Doctor distracts the cop, grabs his gun, and holds it against himself, threatening to shoot unless the cop gives them his keys. This is actually a nice touch, and perfectly in keeping with the way the Doctor behaves. They get the keys and go riding off, with the ambulance giving chase.
They manage to elude pursuit and end up at the place where the atomic clock is located. There’s some Komedy! Exposition, and I vaguely zone out and then pay attention again when the Doctor steals the clock part he needs, and hits the fire alarm as he escapes with Grace. The alarm causes everyone at the reception for the clock dedication to run out panicking and screaming.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in buildings during unexpected fire drills. What generally happens in these situations is everyone gives each other vague looks, and then they ignore the rules about not grabbing any personal items as they grab their personal items and slowly shuffle out. People usually don’t panic, scream, or otherwise act like morons. Only in movies does this happen. Sure, perhaps if there were actual flames and smoke visible, what happens here might be realistic, but there’s not, so it isn’t.
The Doctor and Grace make it back to the TARDIS and get the doors open. For no apparent reason, a bike cop rides his bike inside, screaming about how he has no brakes, but then turns his bike around and comes back out again. This serves no purpose whatsoever and is amazingly distracting.
Grace and the Doctor wander inside. The Doctor starts to work on the TARDIS, and is doing a good job until Grace thwacks him in the face with a large tool (no, not that large tool. The Master isn’t around right now), knocking him out. The camera pans up and, oh look, she’s been possessed by the black oil. How cute.
The Doctor wakes up in the Cloister Room tied to a gurney. I didn’t mention it before, but I actually rather like the design of the Cloister Room here, as well as the use of the Cloister Bell, which is a nice callback to the original series. The leaves blowing around and the CGI bats are a bit much, but otherwise the room looks cool.
There’s some mild exposition and… oh, dear lord. If you think the Master looked gay in my spooge-a-riffic screencaps, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Yes, he looks just that dreadful. Jesus Christ, what the hell were the producers thinking here? Was this a game of “Let’s see how gay we can get?” I mean, the producer of the new series is/was Russell T. Davies, who is actually gay, and even he made a show less gay than this! Hell, even longtime Who producer John Nathan Turner was openly gay, and he never came up with anything like this. This version of the Master makes Bill Kaulitz look butch!
Who is Bill Kaulitz, you ask? He’s the lead singer of Tokio Hotel, and very, very gay (though he says he’s straight). Check out this video of him on the German version of Star Search at age 13:
The Master is gayer than this. He’s also gayer than this:
Well, okay, maybe the Master is slightly less gay than this.
The Doctor gets a crown of thorns put onto him (seriously), and gets into a position not dissimilar to crucifixion. He tries to convince Chang that the Master has been lying to him, and Chang is all like, “nosway!” until the Master screws up and is proven to be lying. Chang calls him on it, so the Master breaks the kid’s neck, and another great romance goes down the tubes.
The Master turns off Grace’s black-eye blues long enough to make her look into the Eye of Harmony, which can somehow only be controlled by a human. Which makes sense, given that it’s a piece of alien technology. Kind of like how alien spacecraft can be brought down using a virus written on a Macintosh.
The Master starts stealing the Doctor’s lives, as Grace goes to rescue the Doctor. He gets free, the transference stops, and Gloria Swans—er… the Master—throws Grace to her death.
The Master and the Doctor then go mano e mano. Eventually, the Master flies [?!] at the Doctor, who knocks him into the Eye of Harmony, where he’s killed forever. Or, until the screenwriters need him again.
The Doctor reverses the polarity of the neutron flow so the TARDIS can travel back in time and prevent all this from happening in the first place. Which violates some laws of time, I’m sure, but it’s never discussed. As he does this, the TARDIS brings Chang and Grace back to life, which makes me wonder if the two of them are as immortal as Captain Jack.
Everyone is ready to return to their normal lives. The Doctor gives Chang a cryptic warning about not being around during Christmas of 2000. Chang appears to understand this, and goes running off. The Doctor then has a hearts-to-heart moment with Grace, who decides she doesn’t want to come with him. He basically goes, “Whatever, I’ve got Rose Tyler to look forward to,” and leaves, thus ending ninety of the most painful and confusing minutes in Doctor Who history.
Like I said at the outset, there’s a lot to like about this movie: It has some nice continuity moments, I liked the TARDIS interior, it felt a lot more expansive since it was confined to quarries, Chang Lee was really cute, and it introduced us to the 8th Doctor, who has since gone on to be many people’s favorite.
But it also had the gayest Master ever, huge plot holes, a lot of things that just don’t make any logical sense, and some very, very cringe-worthy moments.
But it did act as a nice bridge between the old and the new. Watching the movie now, after seeing four seasons and a couple of movies of the 9th and 10th Doctors, I can see how there are a few things from this movie that turn up in the new series. Plus, it kept the series going throughout the late ‘90s by giving us a new Doctor and an excuse for audio adventures with the 5th, 6th, and 7th Doctors. Even the 4th Doctor, Tom Baker, who has long avoided doing audios, is finally getting into the act.
The BBC apparently considers this movie to be a part of the Doctor Who canon, because the 8th Doctor is shown in a couple of scenes in the new series, which is kind of nice. In my dreams I’d like to see them bring him back for a flashback episode taking place right after the Time War and ending with him regenerating into the 9th Doctor, but I’m not holding my breath.
I can’t hate this movie, but I also really don’t like it all that much. One of my friends who loves Doctor Who has said that it’s not any worse than what the new series does on a regular basis, and sadly, that’s true. It wasn’t bad, but it should’ve been much, much better.