Doctor Who (1996) (part 1 of 4)

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The Cast of Characters:
Sylvester McCoy as The 7th DoctorThe 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy). Enjoy the roughly five lines he gets, because he’s not around long. On the plus side, they brought him back for this movie and gave us a proper regeneration, but on the negative side, they killed him off quickly and stupidly.
Paul McGann as The 8th DoctorThe 8th Doctor (Paul McGann). The one and only TV appearance by this Doctor, who later went on to do several of the so-called “Audio Adventures” for Big Finish. Currently the Doctor with the largest number of stories. He’s the only thing that keeps this movie from true awfulness.
Daphne Ashbrook as Grace HollowayGrace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook). A Puccini-loving cardiac surgeon called in to examine the Doctor’s heart(s) after an irregular heartbeat is detected. She’s just as exciting as that description makes her sound. She also gets to kiss the Doctor, thus setting the bar for such companions as Rose Tyler, and Captain Jack.
Yee Jee Tso as Chang LeeChang Lee (Yee Jee Tso). A Chinese-American gang member who winds up having a rather disturbingly close relationship with the Master. Slash fiction writers, get your laptops ready, because the challenge here is not reading anything into it!
Eric Roberts as The MasterThe Master (Eric Roberts). After a great portrayal by Roger Delgado, and an okay one by Anthony Ainley, we have… this. Possibly—no, certainly—the gayest Master ever seen on screen. Yes, even more gay than John Simms’ version.

This movie, simply called Doctor Who, but known to many fans as “The 8th Doctor Movie”, “The Enemy Within”, or “That gawdawful American piece of crap,” occupies an odd place in the history of the Doctor Who saga.

The original series went off the air in 1989, with the 7th Doctor and Ace having beaten the Master, and walking off together. The new series, which features the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors, didn’t begin airing until 2005.

The Doctor Who movie aired on Fox in the United States in 1996, so it falls almost directly between the old series and the new. It features elements of both, and certain things which are unique to itself. It’s something of an odd duck to the rest of the shows, being neither the old series or the new, and while it isn’t without its charms, it has many, many failings.

These failings mostly center around the storyline. See, the obvious thing to do with this story, especially because it was directed at an audience who largely had never even heard of (much less seen) Doctor Who, would be to include an accessible villain. Someone obviously thought the Master was a good choice, and I guess he was okay, but certainly nothing special. The Daleks or Cybermen would have been much more interesting.

To make matters worse, most of the characters behave like idiots, the Master is extremely gay, and the eventual resolution to the storyline is completely confusing, not to mention a massive deus ex machina. And despite airing in 1996, the movie is set on New Year’s Eve, 1999 for no discernible reason.

There are good things, of course, like the 8th Doctor, and some of the throwaway nods to the fans, but for the most part, the clumsy story really drags down the movie.

By the way, if you want to see this movie and you live in North America, well, you’re outta luck. Due to rights issues, it hasn’t seen a Region 1 release, and probably never will. The good news is that if you have a region-free DVD player, you can pretty easily buy a copy of the Region 2 release.

And now, on with the show!

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Multi-Part Article: Doctor Who (1996)

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