Browse Classic Who reviews
Browse Classic Who reviews

Doctor Who regenerates into a one-off on the little big screen and heads across the pond in our very last Classic Who review

Seven has dispensed with his companions to catch up on some light time travel-themed reading at Home Alone, but little does he know that a Phantom Menace is lurking in his old frenemy The Master’s funeral casket holding a Secret of the Ooze.

Forced to make an emergency landing in San Francisco in 1999, with consummate English naiveté Doc steps through the door without a Bodyguard into the middle of a Chinatown gangland turf war and, Twister, is instantly felled by a hail of Good Ol’ American bullets.

Doctor can Dolittle as he’s taken to Hospital where Pretty Woman Grace Holloway, utterly Clueless as to his anatomy, tries to Patch Adams him back up but it’s A Time to Kill, a Mission: Impossible to save him, and sadly he expires in the process.

A new McGanning is upon him, however, and his Sixth Sense tells him the Master, dressed as a Man in Black, is spreading True Lies and plotting Armageddon. With the Eye of Harmony wide open Earth may never see Daylight and Doc and Grace with The Remains of the Day must ensure Tomorrow Never Dies before The Master makes him Die Hard 2: Die Harder.

Here's what we think of C160 Doctor Who: The Movie

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

4.5

Drew | @drewbackwhen

4.3

Marie | @hammashandjelly

4.9

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.5

Here's what we think of C160 Doctor Who: The Movie

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

4.5

Drew | @drewbackwhen

4.3

Marie | @hammashandjelly

4.9

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.5

Here's what you think 7 Responses to “C160 Doctor Who: The Movie”
  1. Bob Balderdash

    Bob here, and I got to say that this one was a bit… meh. I can’t say I remember this movie fondly, and I would include more, but I saw this movie on a TV which no longer exists using a DVD I rented from the library, so shaky memory will have to do.

    I do recall that this just didn’t feel very Doctor Who at all. More like someone’s fanfiction in the Doctor Who universe. The Doctor is hot. The Master is hot. The sidekick is a love interest instead of a companion. And there is no way that someone who actually writes for Doctor Who would think, “Yeah, it would be cool if the Seventh Doctor was immediately gunned down by a gang.”

    You know it’s not a great Doctor Who story when the awesome, incredible SciFi element of the week is just a really accurate clock.

    Two seconds to New Years’ out of five.

  2. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Hi Chaps,

    This is probably my shortest ever review because it’s the TV Movie and it’s shit isn’t it?……….or is it?

    Ok so obviously The Doctor being half human is shit, all the kissing is shit. the cloister room/eye of harmony is bafflingly shit and The Master being atomised and then turning in to a see-through goo snake is WTFingly shit.
    But all that aside McGann is fabulous, Daphne Ashbrook is brilliant and Eric Roberts out Ainley’s Ainley. I also love the Sylvester McCoy bits.

    Overall, it’s not the reboot we wanted back in 1996 and it certainly divides fandom, but if you don’t watch it with a critical eye, it’s a really run romp.

    I award this 3.9 resurrected Doctor’s scaring the shit out of mortuary assistants out of 5.

    Andy Parkinson
    @caffreys71

    P.S. If you’ve not caught it yet I certainly recommend the Documentary called Doctor Who Am I currently available on Amazon Prime in the UK. It follows the writer of this story as he reintegrates to Doctor Who fandom. It certainly helps give a fresh look at the TV Movie in a new light.

  3. Peter Zunitch

    Firstly, this thing needs a better name than “The Movie”. Why is it not called “Out of Time” or “Millennium”? That’s how it was marketed and they’re both quite fitting.

    The story is faithful, mostly. There are a lot of themes and call outs to the series past, perhaps too many. Yet it’s successful in cramming excessive backstory for new viewers and fan service for the old. It’s almost overpowering in its name-dropping.

    McCoy’s ending was quite abrupt, perhaps fitting for his series, but it was great to see him. McGann is quintessentially the Doctor, an outstanding choice for the role. He’s both serious and playful, a beautiful combination. It could be said though that this is Doctor Grace’s story, and Daphnie gives a standout performance. Lee is okay but slightly disrespected going from caring street punk to the Master’s lackey because, why not?

    While I like Eric Robert’s performance, I don’t feel he’s accurately portraying the Master. His character is more fitting of the Terminator than Doctor Who, and what’s with the gooey snake? There’s more than one plot indulgence that just doesn’t mesh. However don’t judge it too hard just because of THAT one idea. Just ignore it. Although this story doesn’t really work without it, we can just leave it there and move on like the timelessness of a certain child.

    It’s a jam packed well thought adventure that in some ways feels strangely shallow and off the mark. 3.0 motorcycle chases around abandoned Frankenstein hospital wings.

  4. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    I think I’ll do pro and cons for this one.

    Good: The music! And that Tardis set *Chef’s kiss* Far grander than the classic series set and better than the coral one in series 1-4. This wasn’t cheap who know.
    The effects are certainly a massive step up from the classic run and in general aren’t bad for a 90s TV movie.
    I like how it’s the American health system that killed the Seventh Doctor.
    Paul McGann! While maybe not fully formed as per Big Finish, he certainly hits the ground running and he manages to enhance the dialogue he gets.

    Cons: The added lore is just weird. Half-human? Guys… *Sigh*
    The dialogue? It’s not great is it?
    Eric Roberts…nah. A less good Ainley really.
    Bringing Grace and Lee back from the dead. I dislike resurrections in general (hear that Moffat) so not my favourite plot idea. Both are fine and one wonders what an actual series would do with them as companions.
    Those dalek voices at the start…

    Misguided in places maybe but it’s interesting to see how much NuWho actually takes from this. It’s very much a bridge between the two eras for better or worse. Interestingly it seems that this occurring actually delayed the BBC revival as there were plans but then rights issues from this one delayed things. A figure of 5 years worth of delay sticks in my mind. Still, that being said I enjoyed my rewatch so it can’t be that awful 3.2/5

    Cheers

    Kieren

  5. Oli Raven | @FoggyDrWho

    Hi!
    Was on holiday in France when this aired. Got my aunt to tape it from the TV onto a blank VHS. Knew the chances of a full comeback for the show depended on ratings, so was disappointed at inability to contribute eyeballs when the programme first aired (not knowing at the time how BARB & Nielsen actually operate). Fortunately, this review is based on the Special Edition DVD rather than that recording.

    So, this was meant to be a “backdoor” pilot, eh? There are corners of the interwebz where people will pay good money to witness some backdoor piloting. Apparently. Or so I hear. Ahem.

    Anyway, Sylv is brilliant during his brief screen time but: how is he narrating at the beginning?? His incarnation’s dead within the first few minutes! Do like how complicated the regeneration is due to the anaesthetic, plus the medic being confused by his second heart.

    Great use of those rubbery facial muscles as he transforms! Love the reworking of the old Pertwee logo and bombastic mix of the theme tune too.

    I recall the Radio Times preview feeling the need to put “Julia’s brother” in brackets after Eric’s name to entice wavering casual viewers to tune in.

    He gives a performance not *too* inconsistent with the previous Master, but fails to elevate the weak material. Still, think he works better here than in films where he’s cast as the protagonist.

    Don’t enjoy that the kiss at the end wasn’t a contrivance like in early New Who. Or the ‘half-human’ stuff that was simply dropped in the revival.

    We don’t see enough of that gorgeous TARDIS interior for my liking. Nice that Grace got to come back in Big Finish at least once. If you’re gonna have an American companion, might as well go the whole hog and hire an actual Yank to play the role (with apologies to the great Nicola Bryant).

    But yeah, my opinion nowadays is boringly the consensus one: terrific performance from McGann, poor story (Millennium Eve shenanigans while that was still just about futuristic!), bad execution. Strange that this same incarnation would go on to have a far superior audio story early in his Big Finish days called The Chimes of Midnight.

    Overall: 2.3 beryllium atomic clocks out of 5. Reckon it’s for the best that this version of the show – but not of the Doc – failed to be picked up for a series.

    Oli ‘solid (in the sense of the Bristol stool scale) dude’ Raven
    (IG: @FoggyDrWho)

    P.S. Oh, we can contribute to the bonus retrospectives? I didn’t realise! Too late for Seven now, sadly. Consider this my summary of the Eighth Doctor era as well then, which could serve as a convenient excuse for going way over the word count for a single mini.

    Biiig P.P.S. If you’re looking to extend the podcast into the show’s 61st year and beyond, then once you’re done with Wilderness Years content you could do worse than turn to the only canonical spin-off series that definitely exist in the Whoniverse: okay, maybe not Torchwood, but there’s that one episode of K-9 & Company (hey, yet another kinky bit of backdoor pilot action there!) and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Speaking of which, she was in those two Pertwee audio stories that were released on cassette in the pre-Big Finish days. And then there was that stage play, those fan-made 90s VHS stories, etc…
    If the Liz Sladen vehicle proves too babyish for your liking, then maybe at least cover the two stories which actually feature incarnations of the Doc? Or the one with BAGLS in it??

  6. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    The Doctor and well no one (Where’s Ace?) is tasked by the Daleks (What?) to bring the Master’s body back to Galifrey (Why?). As expected things absolutely go haywire and the Doctor is forced to land on Earth on the eve of Y2K only to be gunned down in a gang related shooting… you know what, you’re just going to have to roll with it.

    This story is somewhat of a mess running at an absolute breakneck speed and being some weird bastardization of the Deadly Assassin and Keeper of Traken (at least where the master is concerned) but I can’t say it wasn’t enjoyable.

    All the performances are excellent, Paul McGann in particular is incredibly charming and I can see why people are so fond of him.

    As for the production value it is probably the best so far, though it was obvious a lot of this was filmed in Vancouver. Actually it was kind of nostalgic to see Canadian stuff like street signs from the 90s that were ever present when I was a wee lad in the early 2000s. (Fun fact this story is the one who’s air date is closest to my birth being in April of 2000)

    Overall this story earns 3.8 extreme close ups of Hospital patients that look suspiciously similar to Winston Churchill out of 5.

    Steven From Canada

  7. GP Haynes | @FindingGspots (Insta & YouTube)

    Hello wonderful people!

    I did enjoy the TV Movie. It’s atmospheric and moody, and with a lot of night shooting, which I found that added to the atmosphere.

    It’s very well directed, the production is OK and the only ( big ) thing which lets this movie down is the American setting and actors.

    I’m not a huge fan of American movies, and I can’t stand American culture, in particular their stupid gun culture.

    Along these lines; an American Master? Urgh terrible! A childish, over the top portrayal along with the stupid Chang Lee character, dumbed down even further
    for American viewers. Don’t get me started on the moron in the morgue.

    I also hated that they killed McCoy off, in another totally not Dr Who moment, a gang killing. What a sad ending, although he had a few more moments on the
    operating table.

    The motorbike chase? Without helmets? More stupid American things along with the gun scene.

    Despite all that, it’s an enjoyable flick, with a fantastic portrayal of the Doc by McGann, and an American ( MD ) doctor as the companion was passable.

    This Tardis remains as one of my all time favourites ever, with the opening scenes with McCoy rather touching.

    The back story also saw some development, with a few scenes with the Eye of Harmony and the Cloister Room, so kudos for that

    It’s a good romp….but far from perfect

    Rating 3.8 Chunky 90s TV sets that look soooooooooo outdated

    Cheers!

    GP Haynes

    Australia

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