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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Fifty Years in Time and Space 4 - The Movie

Because this TV movie didn't lead to the proposed new TV series it is often seen as a failure, but that wasn't really the case and the UK viewing figures (9.1 million) were strong. It is only in the North American market that the film failed but then Doctor Who wasn't as popular stateside as it is these days. And also Paul McGann made an excellent Doctor and it is a pity he didn't get a chance to continue in the role - although let's take a little tangent here.  McGann didn't play the role again for TV, the pilot was never picked up, he did play the character, still does,  for a series of successful audio plays from the Big Finish company. And we'll be talking about Big Finish in a later post in our Fifty Years in Time and Space series.

OK firstly what is wrong with the TV movie. Well in trying to appeal to American viewers it seems to jettison the very thing that made it the phenomenon in the first place. It's seems to lose it's quintessential Britishness and it far too fast paced. Ironic given that the successful current day series moves at five hundred trillion and a half miles an hour. The San Francisco setting also works against the movie and it really doesn't feel like Doctor Who but rather the kind of glossy sci-fi adventure that were ten a penny during the period - I remember watching it back in 1996 and thinking it was more X-Files than Doctor Who. The plot is also confusing and what the fuck is that snakey thingie the master has become after being executed by the Daleks? The Master also is all wrong in this movie and comes across as far too much of a panto villain.

Now what it does right - the TARDIS bridge is excellently re-imagined, and it was great to see Sylvester McCoy (the then current Doctor) turn up for the regeneration scene. Paul McGann also makes an excellent Doctor even if he is playing with a script that doesn't quite gell. Another nice point was the reveal that the Doctor was half human.

It is a pity that the series didn't continue  - it would have been interesting to see how  McGann would have developed in the role.

The movie is available on DVD from the BBC with the usual wealth of special features, which as always make it an essential purchase for any serious Doctor Who fan. For many years the  DVD was not available in the US as there was a rights issue which prevented it being released. This is no longer the case and the US have a similarly packed two disc set available.

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