This is a television series produced by the BBC between 1963 and 1989 about a time-traveller. The series in its early years alternated historical dramas with science fictional stories (it was supposed to be educational). However by the late 60's it was only science fiction (The last purely historical story was "The Highlanders").

The first episode of Doctor Who ("An Unearthly Child") was transmitted on 23 November 1963 - the day after the assasination of President John F. Kennedy. This meant that many people missed it and it was repeated before the second episode was transmitted.

The series was originally in black and white and only became colour with the introduction of the third Doctor (played by Jon Pertwee) in the 1970 story "Spearhead from Space".

The series became popular in the US with the adventures of the fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker). He played the Doctor for the longest (7 years and 41 stories - not counting the uncompleted story Shada).

Though there have been only 8 Doctor characters on TV (including Paul McGann in the recent TV movie) 9 actors have played the Doctor on TV. When the story "The Five Doctors" was made William Hartnell had died so the first Doctor was played by Richard Hurndall.

Two Doctor Who movies were made in the 60's starring Peter Cushing based upon two Dalek stories from the time of the first Doctor.

Amongst many memorable creatures from the series were Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, and Yetis.

The Doctor and his companions travelled in the TARDIS which was shaped like an old style blue British Police Box.

The doctor often travelled with one or more companions. He also sometimes worked with the Earth organisation U.N.I.T. as a scientific advisor.

The central character was referred to simply as "The Doctor". The BBC were very strict about not referring to him as Doctor Who (and also objected to the abbreviation Dr Who for the series).

The last historical story (no science fiction elements) was Black Orchid, a two part story set in June of 1925, and bearing much similarity to an Agatha Christie novel.

The police box was chosen as the shape of the TARDIS because the creator of the show wanted something contemporary that would remind people of the real world when the travellers landed on an alien planet or were stuck in the past. Unfortunately he did not know they were being phased out, he was a new arrival to the country, having come from Canada or the United States.

There was little in the way of continuity in this series, the author and script writer Terrance Dicks admitted in a recent collection of mistakes that the continuity consisted of "What You Can Remember", making for much confusion.

All part of the fun really.

Here's a little witticism for any Who fans out there. They know exactly what it means:

How many Doctor Who fans does it take to change a lightbulb? None, they just sit around and wait for it to come back on.

26/9/2003: And It's coming back! So far we know that Russell T. Davis is going to write some scripts and it will be on BBC One sometime in 2005. Do you feel like all your christmasses have come at once? WELL THEY HAVE!


Doctor Who Story Guide (started 19/10/01)

There will be more as I finish each season, when I have a few more I may shift them out of here into their own node: This will probably get too big. The letters are the story codes, used for referencing the stories in most of the writing about the show. The season date given is just the year the season started to air on TV, as they often started at different times. However, they usually run from the end of the start year to the middle or later months of the next year, just to be confusing. When I get enough I'll do it up properly with the times, this is just a quick reference for now. Extra attention is payed to stories where the film is lost.

First Season - 1963-1964

Second Season - 1964-1965

Third Season - 1965-1966

Fourth Season - 1966-1967

Seventeenth Season - 1979-1980


Companions

I'm not going to bother with Katarina or Sara Kingdom as they are of such small consequence it's not worth placing them in the database. Katarina appears in one story and is killed in the next, and Sara Kingdom pops up and gets killed off in the same story Katarina dies in.


Well Known Monsters

A similar approach to the companions will be taken with the monsters from now on: If they only appear in one story it's not worth creating a single node, they can just go on the end of the relevant story. There's far too many monsters to put them all into their own nodes.

Doctor Who is the longest, continuously running Science Fiction series ever and has millions of sometimes Anorak-wearing fans, known as whovians, around the world, though most of us look nothing like Dwane Dibly in Red Dwarf. The main character, the Doctor, has had companions too numerous to mention and fought numerous villians, such as the Master, the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Silurians and Sea Devils, the Loch Ness Monster, Ice Warriors, Omega, and even his own race, the Time Lords. The Doctor is from Gallifrey.

Doctor Who ran on the BBC from 1963 to 1989 and appeared in a Tele-Film for FOX in 1996. It can currently be seen on many stations around the world. A list of these stations is provided weekly in This Week in Doctor Who.

Doctor Who was created by Sidney Newman, Warris Hussein and the BBC's first female producer Verity Lambert. In the 1970's the team of Barry Letts and the prolific Terrence Dicks produced some of the classic episodes of the series, including the first episodes in colour and featuring the third actor to play the role, Jon Pertwee. Letts / Dicks was followed by Philip Hinchcliffe and the late, great Robert Holmes, who produced the majority of the episodes with the man best known as the Doctor, Tom Baker. Later during the Tom Baker years, a young, inexperienced Douglas Adams became producer of the series for its 17th and least regarded season. For it's final years, John Nathan-Turner took over the series until he became so bored with it the BBC put it out to pasture. It would not emerge again until Paul McGann would replace Sylvester McCoy in the 1996 Tele-Film produced by Philip Seagal. Sadly, due to lack of foresight, the BBC deleted much of their stock of classic 1960's Doctor Who stories featuring the original Doctors, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. Currently Big Finish Audio are producing new Doctor Who serials on CD featuring the Doctors of the 1980s, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as well as new seasons of the only Doctor to have only one on-screen appearance, Paul McGann.

The Doctor ALWAYS had 12 regenerations, the segments between actors, allowing for a total of 13 lives or actors.

For a long time, the only Doctor Who books you could get were the Target novelisations of the tv episodes. Then, way back in 1991, after the tv show had been cancelled, Virgin Publishing bought the licence to publish Doctor Who stories, and started publishing their line of New Adventures, featuring the seventh Doctor.

Originally marketed as featuring stories that were "too broad and deep for the small screen", the first few books didn't really live up to that claim, being pretty standard Doctor Who stories with added nudity. Then came Timewyrm: Revelation, Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible and Cat's Cradle: Warhead, three stories in a row that, for different reasons, could only really have worked as books.

From there, the line developed and, while there were always going to be books that were little more than a standard sci-fi adventure story with a generic monster of the week (like Shadowmind), there were a great many remarkable and creative stories in the series (like Human Nature and The Left-Handed Hummingbird). New companians were created, and the existing characters of the seventh Doctor and Ace were developed far more than they ever were in the original series.

Virgin later started publishing the Missing Adventures, featuring the other six Doctors and slotting in between the televised stories. These were generally more traditional than the New Adventures, with more limited scope for character development. This series still contained some gems, that managed to add to expand on the original series rather than merely mimc it (for example, The Dark Path gave us the story of why the Master turned evil).

When the Doctor Who tv movie was made in 1996, the BBC saw a chance to make some money from the book franchise, and took over the licence for Doctor Who books themselves. They published stories featuring the eighth Doctor and stories featuring earlier Doctors simultaneously, with no particular distinction between them. They became known among fans as the Eighth Doctor adventures and the Past Doctor adventures.

The Eighth Doctor adventures struggled at first to properly capture the character of the eighth Doctor, having only an hour or so of screen time to work off, and also suffered from a poorly conceived companion (the more-politically-correct-than-thou Sam Jones). Later editors for the range gave it a more consistent feel and direction, and it now (in my opinion) surpasses the New Adventures. Recent developments have seen Gallifrey destroyed, the Doctor stranded on Earth for a hundred years with no memory and the loss of the Doctor's second heart.

BBC's Past Doctor adventures faced similar problems to Virgin's Missing Adventures, but the BBC have allowed more of the past Doctor adventures to be more experimental in style and substance (like the first person non-linear narrative of Eye of Heaven) and have produced some first rate books (The Witch Hunters and The Festival of Death, for example).


I have started noding the books, starting with the New Adventures, which I have recently been rereading. I'll also start noding some of the BBC books I've read recently.

So far, I've done:

The new season of Doctor Who (the 27th I believe) began on March 26, 2005. Christopher Eccleston is the Doctor. He wears a leather coat and is not afraid of a bit of sexual innuendo. The production values and special effects are quite nice comparable to the revamped Battlestar Galactica.

Some things have changed, some have stayed the same (mind you as I now live in the US I have to bit torrent all of my episodes and I have only seen the first three so far): The TARDIS (outwardly) has stayed the same, the control room is much larger than before and much glomier.

Apparently the Time Lords are gone and Galifrey is now a dead planet. There have been references to a Time War, which wiped out the Time Lords and left the Doctor as the only surviving member of his species (hey, can't have the Doctor without the Master so likely there is at least one other Time Lord out ther somewhere].

I will leave detailed episode write ups to someone else. But it's nice to have the Doctor back. I've certainly missed him and the new season so far holds up to the promise of the old while taking it to the next level.

Actors that portrayed the Doctor, in his many incarnations, including a list of companions:

  1. William Hartnell (1963-1966)
  2. Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)
  3. Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)
  4. Tom Baker (1974-1981)
  5. Peter Davison (1982-1984)
  6. Colin Baker (1984-1986)
  7. Sylvester McCoy (1987-1996)
  8. Paul McGann (US TV Movie, 1996)
  9. Christopher Eccleston (2005)
  10. David Tennant (2005-2010)
  11. Matt Smith (2010-2013)
  12. Peter Capaldi (2014- )

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/doctorwho/
http://www.tnelson.demon.co.uk/cult/show033.html
and of course http://www.imdb.com/

On March 20th, 2004, writer & director Russell T. Davies put an end to the speculation and announced Christopher Eccleston to play the Ninth Doctor.

Eccleston is well-known (stateside, at least) for his roles in 28 Days Later, Gone In 60 Seconds, and most certainly Shallow Grave.

This smattered selection certainly lends credence to Russell's vacuous chatterbox references to an 'edgier, darker, more exciting' new era of Doctor Who... But 'darker, edgier & more exciting' is exactly the sort of inflated, meaningless talk which proceeds the apocalyptic end of everything one holds dear, and this has led certain Whovians to wonder what sort of flighty deconstructionist nonsense will be crammed into their favorite pulp vehicle; a worry in no wise extinguished by Davies' portfolio, as the creator, writer & director of series such as The Second Coming, Queer as Folk, Bob & Rose.
('Edgy'? 'Exciting'? Russell's soundbites belong to NME, not a silly SF show with a cult following.)

While it may do little to assuage these fears, it must be noted that as a graduate of the Central School for Speech & Drama, Eccleston is a trained Shakespearian and frequently participates in productions in his hometown of Salford, Lancanshire. With this history, it's unsurprising that Eccleston's opinion of the bard is rather lukewarm:

"I wasn't always such a great fan of Shakespeare, mind you. I can guess we all at one time had it rammed down our necks at school, which tends to take the edge off it."

What does this backhanded assessment have to do with the show? Three things:
First, no matter how grudgingly, Eccleston respects the dramatic form, and isn't likely to put up with a bunch of cheap hacks damaging his career.
Second, he has a sense of humor dry as burned toast. The silliness imbedded in the show by Pertwee, Baker & McCoy will evaporate somewhat, but won't disappear.
Third and most important, the new Doctor won't be Branagh-ing it up, and thank Christ. The last thing we need is another Colin Baker.

I'm The Doctor.

Who?

The United States has hairy-chested heroes (well, with their chest hair pomaded out) with Big Fucking Guns. In space. They split infinitives in the name of manifest destiny made steel, or duralloy, or transparent aluminum, or what-have-you, and they go as representatives of something Greater Than Themselves. They have rules that they are handed down by elders for the good of All, and they break them when needed - but it's a show when they do. Going places requires sturm und drang, and enough people to run a small town all fiercely concentrating on their jobs even if they have iron bananas sticking out of their ears, or blue light bulbs burning their retinae into their skulls.

Still, it's all great fun, of course. It's just that it's so...much. That's us all over though. Never do something simple like walk out the door. Make a plan, draw up a committee, have a budget, tax the nation, allow twenty percent for shrinkage, never buy one when you can have two for twice the price. Slip quietly out and have a peek at the endless reaches of the universe, maybe with a friend or two along? Naaaah. Better build a Dreadnought, Dick and Jane, because we're gonna damn well bring home along for the ride and damn the gas mileage.

Then, of course, there's the other method.

I have been a part-Whovian for many years, albeit not a very knowledgeable one due to my lack of consistant access to public-access television broadcasting here in the benighted colonies. As such, my experience with the first quarter-century of The Doctor is extremely fragmentary, made even more so by U.S. stations' tendency to show Who episodes in four half-hour fragments on no sort of logical schedule. Given that I didn't have a television in my home until I was of age to imbibe, much of my fascinated adoration of The Doctor's wanderings is hazy. It is part and parcel of a sort of muddled confusion of bad sets and costumes, inexplicable storylines made worse by interchangeable backdrops and planets which all looked like a Cornish countryside instead of southern California, and continuity errors which would cause Uwe Boll or Ed Wood to blush.

No matter.

The Doctor represents an entirely different sort of approach to Out There (capital letters included free of charge). While many folks have lambasted the new Doctor Who series, as reincarnated by Russell T. Davies in 2005, I find it captures this alternate approach beautifully. While US-ians have had heros with beat up spacecraft of dubious reliability, and have had heros with no particular destination or home in mind, we've rarely had one with both. Add on top a delighted air of wonder at it all that (so far) both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant have managed to pull off with different emphases yet identical open-mouthed glee, and you have...something different.

"Either you're with those who love freedom...or you're with those who hate innocent life."

"All inferior creatures are to be considered the enemy of the Daleks and be destroyed!"

"Well either you're with us...or you're with the enemy."

"We obey The One...we are the superior beings!"

George W. Bush and the Daleks, Dr. Who on Holiday by Dean Grey

The Doctor isn't a representative of a steely-eyed collective. He's not the tax man. He's not your mom. He's not here to make everything nice and pretty and paint the picket fences white. He's here for a few reasons, likely only one or two of which he'll share with you (if you're lucky) and of course because he can be - so why the hell not?

The TARDIS, the most constant character on the show (it doesn't regenerate - at least, not nearly as frequently) exists solely to wander not just space but time. The Doctor, who doesn't own so much as have a relationship with it, picks destinations by looking up at the sky and pointing at a star before dashing off into the callbox with the sudden happiness of a ten-year-old who has been told there's an entire flock of penguins in his bedroom and they really want him to come teach them to rhumba. No battlecruisers for him. There are plenty of warships and empires and Federations and Evil Death Rays and monomaniacal baddies in the Whoverse, but they're all...them. The Doctor doesn't even carry a weapon. Nope.

See, The Doctor is a nerd. Yeh. He carries a screwdriver.

"Who has a sonic screwdriver?"

"I do!"

"Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks 'ooh, this could be a little more...sonic!?'"

"What, you've never been bored? Never had a long night? Never had a lot of cabinets to put up?"

Captain Jack Harkness and The Doctor (The Doctor Dances)

Well so okay, it's a sonic screwdriver, but that's another story.

Anyway, that's about it. Sure, there was a bad bit we won't talk about where he's involved with the military, and is exiled on Earth to save on scenery budgets, but really, let's move on. He traipses about the universe armed with the equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife and his wits. This makes...wait a minute...this makes MacGyver look like a fucking piker. He didn't have a time machine, fer cryin' out loud! Much less one that needed not only repair but psychotherapy once in a while, usually at critical moments.

No wonder he ended up back in the arms of the military, where things are predictable.

Oh, yes, I was talking about music. See, there's a lot of it that talks about the Doctor. Why? Why so much about the Doctor, and so little of it (that's any good, really) about That Other Show with big primary-colored toy food and miniskirts? Well, That Other Show is great for namechecking. You have instant Geek Cred if you know enough about it to know your TOS from your TFF, or to know that the Impulse Drive has nothing to do with the word 'impulse' other than as a clever reference (Ha! Betcha didn't know that, didja?).

But the Doctor, now, that's different. The Doctor awakens an instant yearning in us all. At least, many of us. I think. I hope. Or I'm weirder than I know. But at least some of us, or there wouldn't be such a massively great response to music that is designed to make enormous crowds roar and sway and thrash their heads to the words of four-foot-tall Hoovers with medieval trumpet heads and terminal throat cancer. Nope nope. Try this: put on the theme to That Other Show. You can find it, of course. The one that has the pretty woman with the steel banana in her ear singing, even. See what it evokes in you.

Okay? I'll wait.

Great. Now go find a copy of Doctorin' the Tardis, by The JAMMs. Put that shit on. No? Okay, take the Dean Grey track mentioned above. Put that on crushingly loud. Crank it. Blare it. Listen to your head vibrate in tune. Now listen. Listen to the theme.

Maybe it only works if you've seen it, I don't know. But there's this appeal, which the new version of the show is perfectly positioned to proffer tantalizingly forward. BAM, here's the call box. Open the door. Walk inside. Keep your cool at the origamicybergeometric unfolding of spacetime inside, just to prove you're an openminded badass. Nod slightly, grin halfway, ask "what next?" and pray he grins back and points at an angle off into the sky without looking and says,

"That one."

Walk the fuck out of your life and the planet's miserable stagger. Wander. Go Walkabout. Put footprints on a world that no human's ever seen. Hell, find a world that no living creature has ever seen, and dance a jig on the surface - let the next group of thinking protoplasm bags to come across it spend six months trying to figure out just what the hell your footprints mean.

Find wonders we haven't room for down here. Look at them. Swallow your tears and fears. Live the danger.

But don't wait for The Guv'mint to take you there, with its rules and regulations and small-town-starships. Fuck that.

Walk into the box.

Trust me, i’m a Doctor...Who fan.


Doctor Who is a British television that spans decades of tv history. It started way back in the days of black and white TV in the 196o's on the BBC. It has starred many weird and wonderful actors, who if I were to name here, would take a great deal of time (there is a node for that anyway). It’s main focus was on the mysterious man name The Doctor, who travelled around in a blue police box called the, TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space). He battled Cybermen, Daleks, the Slitheen and many more evils, but not without the help of his trusty sonic screwdriver and a companion of course.

My focus here is on the revival of the cult hit, which started with the shows relaunch in 2005 and my slow introduction to the fandom. To be honest, when this show came back I was one of the skeptics who immediately chose to dislike the show on the grounds that it looked stupid, lame and overtly British. Boy was I wrong!
In 2007, I watched my first ever Doctor Who episode and I was hooked. It was not stupid, or lame and I absolutely loved the British themes. I had actually flicked to the channel by accident on a Saturday night as I couldn’t find anything to watch. The particular episode being shown was the one in which Rose(the doctor’s companion) and The Doctor went back in time to when Charles Dickens had just written a A Christmas Carol. I loved the way that they mingled some history, some literature and some new sci fi ideas all into one brilliant episode.
Doctor Who may come off as an unbelievable, light sort of comedy but it is much deeper than that. The show warns of us many issues plaguing our modern society. The issues tackled are things such as our contribution to global warming and the effects it could quite possibly have on us in the future, human vanity, war, scientific testing slavery. The list can really go on but i’ll just let you watch the show.

I remember introducing the series to a friend of a friend. He took the show a little too literally and asked me “So when’s our planet blowing up? And why?” He asked as if the show was a direct representation of what had and will come to pass. I don’t see why he thought that as that particular episode had a stretched out piece of skin on a frame depicting the last human. But it did get me thinking more about the show and the undertones it portrayed.
But enough on the seriousness of the show and more on the fun! I was not a Christopher Eccleston fan as I found him really grouchy (many beg to differ). I did however LOVE David Tenants portrayal of the Doctor, and I guess so did the rest of the female population of Whovians. He had everything, he was funny, romantic, slightly immature, apologetic, sincere and deeply pained. He was a tortured soul, a sexy tortured soul, now what girl could’nt love that? He also revealed more about the Doctor than any other portrayal before him. Many fans really close to the old series didn’t like how familiar Tenant was making the Doctor too familiar with his audience but I sure as hell did not. I lapped it up even more.i particularly like how they worked the romance between Rose Tyler and The Doctor into the story.
I think anyone young or old will love this show, it may be scifi but it still has a sense of being part of the all too familiar every day. Minus the aliens of course. I hope my love of the show has come across and you all watch it at least once. Maybe one viewing is all it takes to turn a doubter into a fan, I know it did in my case.

"I love humans. Always seeing patterns in things that aren't there."
 — The Doctor

The long-running "classic" Doctor Who series ended in 1989, with the Seventh Doctor and Ace heading off to combat danger, fear and (most frighteningly of all) cold tea. When the revived show hit the airwaves in 2005, the Ninth Doctor (apparently the lone survivor of the The Last Great Time War) was ready for a new slate of adventures with Rose.

The missing link was the Eighth Doctor. In spite of winding up a highly prolific Doctor — once written adaptations and audio dramas are factored in — this incarnation got exactly one TV outing, a made-for-TV movie officially known as Doctor Who but sometimes called "The Enemy Within."

The film

Doctor Who was released in 1996 and stars Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, Daphne Ashbrook as one-off companion Grace Holloway, Yee Jee Tso as Chang Lee and Eric Roberts as Bruce, an ambulance driver whose body is taken over by the Master. Sylvester McCoy appears briefly as the Seventh Doctor, who is travelling alone as the film begins. (It would seem that Ace has since moved on.)

The movie runs 89 minutes and was filmed in Vancouver. The hope was that it would lead to a U.S.-made revived series, but it fared poorly stateside. It was better received in the United Kingdom, and McGann continued to portray the Eighth Doctor in audio dramas.

Plot (spoilers!)

The Master, the roguest of rogue Time Lords, has been put on trial by the Daleks and sentenced to death. While a Time Lord can cheat death by regenerating, this can only be done a finite number of times, "and the Master had used up all of his." He has one request prior to his execution: that the Doctor transport his mortal remains to their home planet. This doesn't strike anyone as odd enough to shut it down, and the Seventh Doctor takes off for Gallifrey in the TARDIS with the Master's ashes in tow.

Naturally, the Master isn't completely dead. Equally naturally, he has no intention of becoming completely dead or even staying partially dead. Despite the notable handicap of not having a body, he is able to sabotage the flight and force the Doctor to make an emergency landing in San Francisco on December 31, 1999. Upon exiting the TARDIS, he is caught in the crossfire of a gang fight and fatally shot. The bodiless Master, now a sentient ooze, escapes.

Chang Lee, the youth the aforementioned gang had been chasing, calls 911 and accompanies the Doctor to the hospital. Having somehow gotten onto the ambulance, the Master overtakes the body of Bruce, the ambulance driver, assuming his form.

Dr. Grace Holloway is summoned from a night at the opera back to work to perform surgery on the hospital's latest emergency patient. Despite his seemingly nonsensical protests that surgery would do him more harm than good, she proceeds. He has a seizure, apparently dies and is brought to the hospital morgue. It's there that the Doctor regenerates, scaring the hell out of a hospital attendant when he emerges from the storage area clad only in a sheet. To further confuse matters, the Doctor now has no idea who he is.

Not wanting to reveal too much about the gang fight, Chang Lee pretends to know the Doctor. Hospital staff seem confused when he shows no discernable emotion following the Doctor's death, but let him leave with his personal effects anyhow. Among those personal effects is the key to the TARDIS; after encountering Chang Lee, the Master is able to enter the time machine with his help.

Grace is distraught at having lost a patient, and infuriated when her superiors choose to cover up the patient's x-ray, which clearly shows him to have had two hearts. She resigns in disgust. In the meantime, the Doctor returns to the hopsital waiting room in an attempt to get his bearings and maybe figure out who he is. He recognizes Grace from the night before and follows her out of the hospital, claiming to be the patient she'd operated on. Naturally, she thinks he's out of his mind; that patient died, and besides, this guy doesn't look anything like him.

He finally convinces her otherwise when he removes the medical instrument she'd embedded in his body the night before (parlour-trick style). She brings him to her home to examine him further, confirming that he really does have two hearts. This is all very confusing, contradicting the most basic tenets of medicine and all, and they go for a walk to clear their heads.

Meanwhile, the Master uses Chang Lee to open the Eye of Harmony inside the TARDIS. He can't do it himself because it can only be opened with a retinal pattern scan relating to the owner of the TARDIS, and, apparently (controversial plot point ho!) the Doctor is half-human.

The opening of the Eye of Harmony triggers something inside the Doctor's head, causing him to remember who he is (and kiss Grace in the resulting glee) but also figure out that the Master's using the Eye of Harmony to try to steal the Doctor's remaining lives for himself. This is troublesome enough, but left open, the Eye of Harmony can draw the entire planet into it. Grace starts to think he's just a crazy person, but when structural things start to go weird she agrees to help him find an atomic clock so he can close the Eye of Harmony before midnight. It's a race against time! Can they do it?

Thoughts

The TV movie may be the black sheep of the Doctor Who canon, but that doesn't make it bad. McGann, in particular, was very good and it's a shame he only got the one televised appearance.

Its flaw is trying to be too much to too many people — newbies and longtime fans of the series — in such a short period of time. At an-hour-and-a-half, it's shorter than some of the classic serials and yet it tries to posit itself as a crash course in all things Who. We get Daleks, the Master and a mention of Time Lords and Gallifrey all before the opening credits. In the ensuing minutes, we're told how the regeneration process works.

With that essential background information out of the way, we get into the main plot, which is itself sprinkled with old-school Who references such as the Eye of Harmony (which was originally on Gallifrey, not inside the TARDIS) and scenes in which the Doctor offers people jelly babies, Fourth Doctor-style. Those references will make sense to someone familiar with the original series, but to anyone using the film as an entry point (the intented purpose for an American audience), it just seems random.

Among the departures from the original characterization is the Doctor's demonstrated detailed knowledge of random people he encounters. The ability to travel through time and space means he might know things about various people, but knowing the specific reason why Grace decided to become a doctor and the life story of a guard at a museum seems a bit much. The guy's not supposed to be omniscient, nor has he supposed to have travelled through time enough to have memorized the lives of every person ever.

There was some controversy over the fact that this film depicts the Doctor kissing a lady (and twice, at that), but that element was brought forward into the revived BBC series so people seem to have mostly gotten over it. At the time, though, it was a substantial departure from the asexual portrayal of the previous Doctors. (The Fourth Doctor even once says "You're a beautiful woman, probably.") It's probable that the creators might have been looking to give the brand a bit of an edge, or at least rid it of some of the alleged stuffiness of the original.

The biggest problematic factor deserves its own subheading, so let's move on to...

Half-human?

The film's single most controversial element was the bombshell that the Doctor is only half-Time Lord. The series had never hinted at such a plot twist before, and it's since been largely consigned to the dustbin of Who history. There's been no shortage of theories as to why this plot point was introduced, with some thinking that the creators hoped to draw something of a parallel to Star Trek, a show the American audience would be more familiar with. Others have suggested that the point might have been to, well, humanize an otherwise humanoid alien character (and maybe make it less 'interspecies' when he smooches his one-time lady companion).

There have also been fan attempts to retcon reasons why the Eighth Doctor might have been half-human while the previous Doctors never brought this up; a popular fabricated theory suggests that the attempt to save the Seventh Doctor with human medical techniques somehow caused the Eighth Doctor to have some human DNA. This doesn't explain the line in which he describes himself as "half-human on my mother's side," but whatever.

Anyway, with the revived series only referencing the issue once (and delightfully cheekily, might I add — the Tenth Doctor once notes that he was half-human for a time in the 1990s), everyone seems to have forgotten about this and moved on. As you were!

Legacy

In a documentary during the early days of the revived series, Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat each noted that McGann's Doctor was the one who brought "snogging" into the canon. For better or for worse, that's the case.

The premiere of the revived series suggests that the Ninth Doctor has recently regenerated in the wake of the Time War. The original theory was that the Eighth Doctor fought the Time War, though a short prequel episode leading up to the 50th anniversary special showed that after staying out of the war, he was persuaded to become the War Doctor (played by John Hurt) who then presumably regenerated into the Ninth Doctor.

The film's largest impact on the canon may be its modifications to the interior of the TARDIS. Gone is the sterile white control room of yore, replaced with a wood-paneled look the Wikipedia article describes as being "steampunk." The revived series adopted that, with the two distinct interiors seen since 2005 equally as elaborate, if not moreso.

While the Doctor defeats the Master in the end, even that element of the plot is wiped out in the revived series when we learn that the Time Lords somehow resurrect the Master for their use in the Time War. We also haven't seen Grace or Chang Lee again.


All in all, it's best suited to completist fans of the series. McGann deserved better than some of the more hackneyed plot points and definitely deserved more than one on-screen appearance. The Eighth Doctor audio dramas, to which he lends his voice, are well-received among fans of the series (though the canonicity of non-TV serials is the subject of some debate).

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_(film)
http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Doctor_Who_(1996)

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