Doctor Who – The Movie (Special Edition)

As I mentioned when I muttered about the Revisitations box set, I’m going to give each of the DVDs its own post, as I get round to watching them. As each one comes with a moderately large collection of extras, this may take a while, as there’s some other stuff I need to watch as well.[1]

As I hadn’t seen the 1996 TV movie for quite some time, I decided to go for this one first.

The Story

OK, this one does take some liberties with series continuity. The Eye of Harmony has been moved from Gallifrey to the TARDIS, which makes little sense, the Doctor is half human[2], which makes no sense whatso-bloody-ever, and the Daleks get to execute the Master for his crimes and are quite happy for the Doctor, who they’ve never really seen eye-to-eyestalk with, to pop over to Skaro to pick up what’s left of him, which makes even less sense.

But if we ignore all that, we do have a story that works in parts. It’s got the Doctor arriving on Earth, regenerating, and having to fight off yet another of the Master’s Terrible Plans[3], and saves the world with the help of some newly-acquired friends. Compared with the classic series, it’s all a bit actiony and shock, horror, the Doctor kisses his companion! Now there’s something you wouldn’t see these days. Oh, wait…

There were apparently some reservations about having Sylvester McCoy appear for the regeneration scene, but personally I was glad to see him there before he regenerated into Paul McGann, who made a good first impression.

While this was made as a TV movie (due to the agreement with the part of Fox that was putting up loads of money), it was also intended as a pilot for a new series (due to the licence agreement the BBC insisted on). While it got a good audience in the UK, it failed to excite the US enough, and so it remained a one-off, and once again it looked like the end for the Doctor.

The Extras

But if you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with all that and you’re possibly wondering why you should by a new DVD when you’ve already got the one that came out in 2001. Well, here’s why. There’s loads of new stuff on here, which require a second DVD in the box. And some of them are well worth having:

  • The Seven Year Hitch – This is the most significant new feature. It’s a major documentary on how Philip Segal struggled to get Doctor Who back on screen. It gives an insight into the inner workings of both Hollyweird and the BBC. This was a project that very nearly didn’t happen several times, but despite numerous setbacks, Segal kept trying.
  • Who Peter 1989-2009 – More on the relationship between Doctor Who and the BBC children’s show Blue Peter.
  • The Wilderness Years – lots about the books, comic strips and audio dramas that kept Doctor Who alive during that slight[4] gap in the TV series. Good stuff.
  • Stripped for Action – the Eighth Doctor – given that slight gap, Paul McGann’s version of the Doctor remained in the comic strip in Doctor Who Magazine for a long time indeed. This tells the story of how those stories developed.
  • Tomorrow’s Times – The Eighth Doctor – Nicholas Courtney (yes, the Brigadier himself) presents a piece on how the press reacted to the TV movie.

And there’s lots more – effects shots, music bits, marketing information, and more. And in addition to the original commentary by director Geoffrey Sax, there’s a new one, recorded last year with Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy, moderated by voice of the Daleks Nicholas Briggs. I haven’t heard that yet, but it should be at least moderately interesting…

[1] I may talk about that later. Or not.
[2] On his mother’s side, apparently
[3] And I mean that in several senses of the word
[4] It just seemed like forever