Friday, November 15, 2013

Doctor Who turns 50 part 8: The TV Movie

First a confession. This was the first Doctor Who I saw in its entirety. I'd caught a couple of Pertwee's, but never a full serial. This was my attempt to see what Doctor Who was all about. I liked it, but not any great amount. Certainly nothing to go out of my way to seek more. To put it into context, it was this exact same attitude I approached New Who. So that shows how much effect this had on me. As a result I've never felt the vitriol for Eighth Doctor's adventure, in fact I almost feel defensive of it.

Now I've watched it again... it could have been a decent enough outing, but the directing is so heavy handed it kills everything. I actually was able to enjoy it right up to the point they left the atomic clock and went back to the Tardis. Then the finale came in, and during what should be a tense battle of wills between the Doctor and the Master, I was immensely bored. The constant cutting between the fight, the New Years party and the Science Institute just wrenched you out of the scene, rather than creating any tension, which was clearly the point.

The Eighth Doctor is awesome, I really want to see more of McGann, I figure he's still young enough to get some screen time in a multi Doctor arc or something. Of course, the fact they didn't go down that road for the 50th pretty much means that will never happen. As he comes into himself with the shoes, and slapping the fire alarm to 'liven things up' are the exact sort of manic stuff I like from the Doctor, all while using his brains and wits to win the day. Actually now that we mention it, considering that the fire alarm was thrown, and that they found the clock was broken, why the hell do we keep cutting back to the Institute for the party? That place should be complete shambles by this point.

Eric Roberts as the Master is terrible, because it's Eric Roberts. I also have no idea what the hell all that snake business was, which further ruined the portrayal. His motivation to steal the Doctor's body was probably the one good bit of the character here, which I understand is similar to something the Master did elsewhere.

The rather ignoble end to McCoy doesn't help with long-term fans, nor that half human bullshit. Thankfully the latter is pretty easily ignored. I'm just going to chose another reason why Lee and Grace were able to open the eye, and what was with their magical resurrections? Was it meant to be the Tardis feeling nice? Because that is even further bullshit.

Grace on the board of Directors felt wrong too. Initially the mention was clever, playing along with the Doctor's 'delusions', then suddenly it was fact. It would have been far better to just play it out as she was not, and let them fake their way in even more. The script just seemed to ruin a good moment, which sort of sums up the second half of this film all round.

I always thought of The TV movie as this bubble, neither old or new Who. However, having watched it again I think it's very much New Who. So many elements that feel in tune with the new series, in particular the TARDIS which very much looks like the what we see today instead of the small white room Hartnell to McCoy dealt with. There's also the romance with the companion, almost unthinkable back in the day, yet so much a part of the current series.

The TV Movie comes so close to being decent. The Doctor is fantastic, and the story as a whole has the foundation to be good. But the directing and plot holes completely ruin it. I completely understand why this never got picked up, and why fans try and ignore it. Give Paul McGann another outing to prove he's not as bad as the serial surrounding him.

Edit: and spoilers for Night of the Doctor

Well that was rather prophetic of me, or rather the opposite. The BBC released a mini-prequel yesterday for Day of the Doctor, giving Paul McGann's Doctor six more minutes of air time. He's still awesome. He better get even more air time now!
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