In the Doctor Who television movie, the seventh Doctor is forced to land in San Francisco when the Master takes over the TARDIS. And then the Doctor is shot and then he dies and then he regenerates (into a rather fantastic new incarnation) and then everything is weird and then what. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch the Doctor Who television movie.
WELL, THAT WAS STRANGE. Before I lapse into my List To End All Lists, I wanted to talk a bit about this movie as a whole. I don’t think it’s very good, all said, but I didn’t hate it. You know, had this been given a good script and not been full of so many glaring abnormalities or horrific lines, I don’t think it would have been very far from any old Doctor Who holiday special. In fact, it sort of felt like that for me, that I was just watching an old special that was just…poorly written? No, seriously, most of this script was pretty darn awful.
But I have to say, before I split this review up, that Paul McGann is the Doctor, and there wasn’t a single moment of his portrayal that wasn’t an indicator that he was meant to play the eight incarnation of this iconic character. If there’s anything here to redeem this slight abomination, it’s him. I know so many of us saw this movie for the first time on Saturday and I loved the moment when McGann made the comment about his shoes fitting and it felt like a hundred of us simultaneously went, “OH MY GOD, THIS IS THE DOCTOR.” And that was a beautiful, beautiful thing.
So, starting off on this positive note, let me launch into a list of other things that I enjoyed about this particular movie.
- For being filmed in Vancouver, I have to say that I was impressed with how San Francisco this all felt. (I have a nitpick about this very thing, but I’ll get to that later.) And despite that I’ve only lived here in the bay for eight months, the locations were ambiguous enough for me to notice that they weren’t glaring mistakes, but also characteristic enough to make me believe this was San Francisco we were seeing.
- Paul McGann. PAUL MCGANN! I don’t need to say anything more.
- I love that it’s clear this is a continuation of the series, instead of a reboot, because we here in America are big fans of ruining absolutely everything in our own uniquely imperialistic way. So, while there is a whole lot of awful, I loved that this is the eighth Doctor, I love that Sylvester McCoy starts things off, I love the expectation of knowledge present in a great deal of the story, and I love how many things that are staples of Doctor Who are left unexplained to anyone who may have come to this movie with zero knowledge as to what this is all about. I think that’s why this all feels like a special instead of a wholly separate entity.
- THE DOCTOR IS STILL BRITISH. Am I a douche because I would feel slightly betrayed if a Doctor was chosen and the actor or actress wasn’t British? I DON’T EVEN LIVE IN GREAT BRITAIN.
- Ugh, the Doctor’s choice of wardrobe in this movie is ~stunning.~ It’s weird and completely anachronistic and yet EVERY SECOND OF IT WORKS.
- TOM BAKER’S SCARF. Omg.
- The theme music was rather great, too!
- I actually like that the movie opens with a reference to the Daleks, but then doesn’t ever address them again. I don’t feel like you should ever start with the Daleks if you’re going to introduce someone new to Doctor Who.
- Ok, it’s weird, and I do have complaints about it, but I kind of like the design of the TARDIS in the movie. It is MUCH bigger than usual on the inside and has….lots of rooms? Like, holy shit, it has so many fucking rooms. Which is kind of neat to be able to see? I know the Eleventh Doctor spoke openly in “The Eleventh Hour” about the existence of a swimming pool in the TARDIS, so clearly other Doctors know just how large the TARDIS is on the inside. Basically, I think I’ve always wanted to see more of the TARDIS, so despite the other shit I didn’t like about the TARDIS, I appreciated the chance to see so much more of it.
- I like the idea that sometimes the Doctor just sits in the TARDIS and reads. Seriously.
- PAUL MCGANN. Ugh, I cannot praise him enough and I cannot wait to start listening to the Big Finnish audio plays with him in them. I JUST WANT MORE OF THE EIGHTH DOCTOR, OK?
Well, I have to do it, and you better buckle in. This is going to be lengthy.
- I know I’m the millionth to say it, but Eric Roberts as the Master……NO. NOPE. NOT AT ALL. NOT INTO IT, NOT EVEN FOR ONE SECOND. And since when could Time Lords turn into goo and possess people? UGH. NO.
- No one ever, in the history of everything, would keep a diary LISTING THEIR AGE ON THE COVER. I know that’s supposed to be a clever nod to the longevity of the series and how long the Doctor’s been around, but it’s so laughably bad.
- Chang Lee. Perhaps the most confusing character to ever grace film? Why was his face so giddy half the time? And who seriously believes another person based entirely on BAGS OF GOLD DUST. Like, if someone offered me a bag of gold dust, I would laugh in their face because WHO CARRIES AROUND BAGS OF GOLD DUST. No, but seriously, I do not understand his character or the way he is portrayed AT ALL.
- “Where we’re taking him, he better be rich.” WHO SAYS THAT KIND OF SHIT IN AN AMBULANCE.
- What kind of person stays in a relationship with someone who is a surgeon, yet the mere act of being called in to work to save someone’s life IS WORTHY OF BREAKING UP WITH THEM. Like, if you decided to be my boyfriend (hhhhhaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy), but you hated people who spent more than an hour on the computer a day….WHY WOULD YOU EVEN GET INVOLVED WITH ME. THAT’S WHAT I DO.
- On that note, what kind of surgery ward allows you to play classical music very loudly during a procedure?
- On that note, WHAT KIND OF FUCKING SURGEON IS CONFUSED BY THE RESULTS OF A PROCEDURE AND THEN SHOVES THE CAMERA PROBE INTO THE BODY AS IF IT WERE A KNIFE TO A THANKSGIVING TURKEY. Honestly, that was one of the most glaring bits in the whole movie. NO SURGEON WOULD DO SUCH A THING.
- At no point does it ever seem to be acknowledged that Dr. Grace ACTUALLY KILLED THE SEVENTH DOCTOR. It wasn’t just a “mistake.” She killed him! Why is no one on the staff at all aware of this????
- San Francisco is very white, sure, but even this movie goes JUST A BIT TOO FAR in terms of displaying it as nothing but white people who are rich and go to galas. Oh, and then there are gangs with guns who shoot at people all willy nilly in Chinatown? What?
- I didn’t like the regeneration scene. Sorry!
- I don’t like “Get-On-My-Knees-And-Yell-To-The-Heavens” scenes. Not even the Doctor can pull those off.
- “What’s in it for me?” “You get to live.” AND THEN CHANG LEE STILL GOES ALONG WITH THIS!!!!!!! WHO THE FUCK HEARS THIS AND BELIEVES SOMEONE TO BE A GOOD PERSON!!!!!!!
- When Grace was dialing for an ambulance to come pick her and the Doctor up, I commented, “NO ONE DIALS THE PHONE THAT FAST.” I’m sticking to that.
- Watching Chang Lee and the Master realize they were in an ambulance MANY, MANY MINUTES AFTER THEY FIRST GOT INTO IT WAS SO RIDICULOUS. I almost felt like whomever wrote that part realized it, too. “Oh, hey, they’re in an ambulance, I can use that to get them out of the traffic jam!” AND THEN THEY WROTE THAT PROCESS INTO THE FUCKING SCRIPT. Oh my god.
- “No family, no gangs….ONLY DEATH.” Literally the worst written line in the history of every language ever.
- I have to repeat myself. We watched Grace kill the seventh Doctor because she couldn’t deal with a wire camera. And then the Eighth Doctor assigns her to re-wire the TARDIS. FYI, THAT IS AN AWFUL IDEA.
- OK, SO SERIOUSLY, THIS BOTHERED ME WAY MORE THAN IT SHOULD. BUT WHEN THAT ALARM GOES OFF DURING THE SCENE TOWARDS THE END AS THE MASTER’S PLAN IS WORKING AND THERE’S LIKE AN EARTHQUAKE THINGY? AND EVERYONE IN THE ROOM WITH THE ATOMIC CLOCK IS FREAKING OUT? YEAH, THAT SCENE? WATCH IT AGAIN. SOMEONE IS VACUUMING DURING THAT SCENE. Sir, the fucking world is ending MAYBE YOU SHOULD SAVE THAT FOR SOME LATER TIME WHEN THE EARTH IS NOT SUCKED INTO THE EYE OF HARMONY.
- Hey, nanogenes! Nice of you to show up in a brilliant dues ex machina to bring back Chang and Grace.
- No, really, the entire closing 15 minutes of this movie MAKE NO SENSE TO ME. Where was the Master hiding his Time Lord outfit????????
- How on earth did the Doctor basically romance Grace? I’M ALL FOR EXPLORING THE DOCTOR’S SEXUALITY, but there was LITERALLY no exposition for their relationship. They were just…making out? The end?
A last note unrelated to all of this: Time Lords have twelve regenerations available? Is this canon??? So that would mean we have….two more Doctors left before the end of the show forever?
Anyway, next Monday, I’ll be reviewing the very first serial of Doctor Who, “An Unearthly Child.” And tomorrow, I start Avatar: The Last Airbender. Excite!!!