CAST OF CHARACTERS:
The 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) – Enjoy the roughly five lines he gets, cause he’s not around long. On the plus side they brought him back for the show so we got a proper regeneration, but on the negative side, they killed him off quickly and stupidly.
The 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) – The one and only TV appearance by this Doctor who later went on to do several of the so-called “Audio Adventures” for Big Finish. Currently the Doctor with the largest number of stories. He’s the only thing that keeps this movie from true awfulness.
Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook) – A Puccini-loving cardiac surgeon called in to examine the Doctor’s heart(s) after an irregular heartbeat is detected. She’s just as exciting as that description makes her sound. She also gets to kiss the Doctor, thus setting the bar for such companions as Rose Tyler and Captain Jack!
Chang Lee (Yee Jee Tso) – A Chinese-American gang member who winds up having a rather disturbingly close relationship with the Master. Slash fiction writers, get your word processing software ready, cause the challenge here is not reading anything into it!
The Master (Eric Roberts) – After a great portrayal by Roger Delgado and an ok one by Anthony Ainley, we have… this. Possibly – no, certainly – the gayest Master ever seen on screen. Yes, even more gay than John Simms’ version.
The movie simply called Doctor Who, but known to many fans as “The 8th Doctor Movie”, “The Enemy Within” or simply, “That gawdawful American piece of crap,” occupies an odd place in the history of Doctor Who.
The original series went off the air in 1989, with the 7th Doctor and Ace having beaten the Master and walking off together. The new series, which features the 9th, 10th and soon, 11th, Doctors didn’t begin airing until 2005.
The Doctor Who movie, which aired on Fox in the United States, was broadcast in 1996, so it falls almost directly between the old series and the new. It features elements of both and certain things which are unique to itself. It’s something of an odd-duck to the rest of the show, being neither the old series or the new, and while it isn’t without its charms, it has many, many failings.
Those failings mostly center around the storyline. See, the obvious thing to do with this story, especially as it was directed at an audience who largely had never even heard of, much less seen, Doctor Who, would be to include an accessible villain. Someone out there thought the Master was a good choice, and I guess he was ok, but nothing special. The Daleks or Cybermen would’ve been much more interesting.
To make matters worse, most of the characters behave like idiots, it’s pointlessly set on New Year’s Eve, 1999, the Master is extremely gay, and the eventual resolution to the storyline is very confusing as well as containing a massive deus ex machina, which really drags things down. There are good things, of course, like the 8th Doctor and some of the throwaways to the fans, but for the most part, the story really drags down the movie.
BTW: For those who want to see this movie, well, you’re outta luck if you live in North America. Due to rights issues, it hasn’t had a region one DVD release and probably never will. The good news is that if you have a region-free DVD player or a DVD ROM with VLC Player installed, you can buy a copy from Amazon.co.uk. With shipping, it only cost me about $11, which isn’t too bad.
Anyhow, on with the show!
We begin with a shot of Skaro. For those of you who thought it had been destroyed at the end of “Remembrance of the Daleks“, think again. A voice over by the 8th Doctor informs us that the Master was captured by the Daleks who executed him (apparently in a helium environment, judging by how high-pitched their voices are as they say “EXTERMINATE!”). The Master’s final request was to have his remains brought to his and the Doctor’s home planet of Gallifrey. The Time Lord acquiesced and the Doctor picked up the box with the Master’s remains to bring them back home.
Not even to the opening credits and we have several problems. First, the planet of Skaro was, as I mentioned, destroyed in a previous episode. Ok, so maybe this takes place before that, I don’t know; that’s part of the joys of time travel, I suppose. It makes up for sloppy continuity.
Also, the Dalek voices are really high-pitched here. No exaggeration. It sounds like they’ve got Alvin and the Chipmunks driving them. From what I recall in the commentary the director of the movie did the voices. I’m not clear why, but one would think they could processed them to sound, you know, menacing instead of hilarious.
Third, why would the Daleks give the Master a final request and then relay it to Gallifrey? The Daleks aren’t the most loveable, huggable species in the universe. Most likely they would’ve captured him, gloated a little and then killed him without letting him make any last wishes.
Fourth, why would the Time Lords agree to this request? Surely they’d know it was a trap. Ok, perhaps they wanted to get rid of the Doctor by sending him there, but come on.
Fifth, why wouldn’t the Daleks simply blast the Doctor as soon as the TARDIS landed? Showing restraint is not something they are widely known for.
Sixth why would the Doctor agree to do this, and then not make sure he had the box in his sight at all times? The Doctor isn’t stupid; he would’ve known the Master would find a way to come back.
Seventh, why wasn’t this a trap by the Daleks? It’s exactly the kind of thing they would have done.
So, basically, in the first minute of the movie we’ve managed to see seven rather stupid mistakes that are guaranteed to annoy most of the fans of the original series. Well done! It’s seldom a movie manages that many problems. That’s one stupid mistake about every eight seconds! I am impressed.
On the plus side, they did at least reference the Daleks, however poorly, and they showed the Master having cheetah eyes, which makes sense given the events of “Survival“, the last original series episode. That’s about the only success in this scene, though.
Now we move onto the opening credits, which should look familiar to anyone who has watched the new series, since they are quite similar. I must say, the opening titles are nicely done and they kept the original series theme, which really kicked ass! Perhaps they might be getting back on track with the fans at this point?
As the credits clear off, we see the TARDIS spinning through space, looking all CGI and kind of cool. Inside we see an interior that bears a great deal of similarity to the new series interior and none at all to the original series. I actually like this interior; it’s very roomy, spacious and rather cool looking, as well as not being quite as confused looking as the new series version. Plus it comes with a record player. Because the Doctor loves his vinyl!
Also in the TARDIS we see, hooray!, Sylvester McCoy as the 7th Doctor! I always liked the 7th Doctor, especially once he was teamed up with Ace. He got some of the worst stories (“Ghost Light“, “Greatest Show in the Galaxy”, “Doctor Who: Delta and the Bannermen“, “The Happiness Patrol”, “Paradise Towers”… when it comes to doing a recap of his episodes, I’m spoiled for choice), but he was always entertaining on screen and he and Ace worked wonderfully together. Ace is sadly missing in this story, but so is the Doctor’s question mark sweater and question mark umbrella, so that’s a reasonable trade-off.
The Doctor takes what’s left of the Master, which apparently fits inside a small box, locks it up next to some candles (?), and then retires to the console room to listen to some jazz and read The Time Machine, by writer and former TARDIS passenger, H G Wells.
Ah, but all is not well on the TARDIS as we quickly learn! There’s a faint shaking, some noise and then the Doctor’s teacup falls onto the floor, breaking into a thousand pieces and allowing me to create what I call “The Praxis Teacup Rule”. This rule stipulates that anytime you see a teacup (or coffee cup), suddenly fall over and break, it means trouble’s a brewin’! Examples include this and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (a favorite of mine).The vibrating water cup in Jurassic Park is similar.
The box holding the Master breaks open and out oozes some slime. Yes, the Master is apparently now one of the Founders. He oozes along the ground until he reaches the TARDIS control console, causing a malfunction (I know that’s what it is, since there’s a sign saying “Critical Timing Malfunction”). The Doctor reacts and tries to get the TARDIS to land so he can figure out what’s going on. He also gets to look shocked, surprised, nervous, and scared when he sees the Master’s empty box.
Down on Earth meantime, we focus on three Chinese-American boys who are running from someone/something and my heart skips a beat. Oh, my. My, my, my. Yee Jee Tso as Chang Lee. Goodness, he’s quite hot. Looking at this fellow, I might have to kick Adric to the curb. Sorry, math-boy, but Chang Lee’s got it goin’ on!
Chang Lee and his redshirt pals hop a fence, and shoot at a car that’s chasing them. Their bullets make sparks (like fictional bullets do), but cause no real harm. The people in the car drive off. Chang and his buddies celebrate, and some bad guys pop up from behind some boxes to shoot them.
Now, hang on, here. Chang and his buddies were apparently up to something and running from someone in a car. That someone knew they would hop a fence and hide in this one particular alleyway, so that someone had armed men wait for them to shoot at them. Ok, maybe it’s a place Chang and the boys always hide, but I’m still not buying it.
Anyhow, the other two boys get shot (and presumably killed, though Chang seems supremely disinterested in them), and Chang’s about to get his ticket punched when the TARDIS materializes between him and the bad guys. The bad guys kindly wait until it’s done arriving, and then shoot the hell out of it. As soon as they stop, the Doctor walks out, gets shot in the shoulder and falls over.
Argh, did the writers never watch the show?! The Doctor a: would have heard the bullets hitting the TARDIS and b: would have looked at the monitor to see what was happening and c: not walked out into gunfire! This really ticks me off. This is very out of character for the Doctor and such a stupid way to have killed off a beloved character. I mean, yes, he didn’t die right here, but the way he does die is even stupider, so I’m really trying to pretend it doesn’t happen.
Alas, we must move on. Chang Lee comes up to the injured Doctor and tries to comfort him as the Doctor tries to warn him about what appears to be Master-ooze coming out of the TARDIS’ keyhole. The Doctor passes out as Chang Lee says he’ll get help. We hear sirens in the background, and it turns out to be the police. They summon an ambulance, which shows up along with a fire crew. The paramedics start to work on the Doctor and check the injured/dead gang members as the police question Chang Lee. Once they find out he has a gun, they take him into custody and haul him downtown for questioning.
Actually, no, my mistake. None of this actually happens. What really happens is the sirens are one single ambulance which Chang gets into along with the Doctor. They then drive off and we see the paramedic inside is the one and only Eric Roberts.
Ah, Eric Roberts. Famous to the world for such amazing roles as… uhm… well, I think he played one of the suitors in a TV version of The Odyssey, right? And probably some other things. Oh, yes, he was in The Dark Knight. Beyond that? I don’t know, I can’t think of anything and I’m too lazy to look on IMDB. Besides, it’s more fun to push him around here as someone with no talent who turns in a crappy performance in a b-grade sci-fi, made-for-TV movie. It’s not fair, but it’s fun!
In the ambulance, Roberts’ character, Bruce, hands Chang some forms. Chang refuses to sign them and Bruce implies that if he doesn’t, the Doctor won’t get treated. Really? That’s really how it works in a gunshot case?
We arrive at the hospital and they all get out, as the Master ooze gets in. The police are of course waiting to question the Doctor as a gunshot victim and Chang as the only witness to the shooting and- oh, wait. No, they aren’t. Instead everyone just goes inside the hospital.
Back in the ambulance we see Odo – excuse me, the Master ooze- as it slimes around, looking vaguely snake-like and reminding me of a Doctor Who villain called the Mara. Sadly, I don’t think they were going for a reference here; I think they just wanted to have some cool CGI effects.
The Doctor’s shoulder injury is treated (as are a couple bullet wounds in his legs), but the attending physician notices the Doctor’s heart-beat is very irregular. X-rays reveal what appears to be two hearts. Well, that can’t be right! So they call their heart specialist, Dr Grace Halloway. You can bet the only heart she can’t fix… is her own (aw…). What doesn’t get mentioned in this medical stuff is that the Doctor also has a body temperature of 68 degrees, but I think that’s one of those things, like the respiratory bypass system, that exists only when the writers want it to.
Grace was attending a Puccini opera with her boyfriend who is one of those movie boyfriends that’s a total prick and gets entirely bent out of shape that his on-call, doctor girlfriend has to rush off in the middle of an opera to save someone’s life. Right. He winds up leaving her right after this, making it quite clear that there must’ve been deep relationship issues and he was just looking for an excuse.
There’s a lovely, slow motion scene of Grace in her opera gear running into the hospital to the strains of Puccini. It’s a little surreal and actually rather cool. Sadly, it’s pretty much the end of cool for this movie.
Grace gets gowned up and gets the Doctor on the table. He tries to tell her he’s not human and to basically stop what she’s doing. Understandably she doesn’t listen and has him knocked out. He wakes up a couple times, and probably wishes the writers had remembered the respiratory bypass system I just mentioned, but then finally is knocked out.
Grace starts poking around with a cardiac probe while up above we see the hospital administrator and some other people, presumably benefactors, watching. What these people are doing here on December 30, 1999, I’ll never know. Sure, it’s not New Year’s Eve yet, but it will be soon, and I strongly doubt any hospital administration stuff gets done during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s quite clear that this scene exists only to give us a chance to later have a scene where Grace’s boss gets to be a prick to her.
Anyhow, Grace is poking around with the probe. She quickly gets lost (since he has two hearts), and the Doctor starts to flatline. They try to revive him, the admin guy gives her a pissed-off look, and the Doctor dies on the operating table. So after a death that makes Tasha Yar’s look meaningful, that’s it for the Seventh Doctor. Sic transit Septimanus Doctorus. Grace stomps around, demanding to see the Doctor’s x-rays.
In the next scene, Chang, who has apparently been kicking around the hospital for the last couple hours, is woken up by a nurse. He’s brought to Grace who tells him the operation was a success, but the Doctor died. He grabs the Doctor’s bag of swag, tries to bluff Grace, and then goes running out of her office. She shouts for security and tries to stop him, but to no avail. He even runs right past a security guard who completely ignores him! Very nice.
Meantime, we pay a visit to la maison de Bruce, where we find Bruce sleeping next to his rather unhappy wife. As he snoozes and snores, the Master ooze turns into something like a cobra (?!), which oozes along the floor until it oozes into Bruce’s mouth. This apparently kills Bruce but on the plus side, stops him from snoring. His wife smiles, turns over and goes to sleep, unaware that hubby is now possessed by the Mara- er… the Master.
Back at the hospital, we go to the morgue where McCoy practices corpsing. The morgue attendant makes the kind of off-color, gallows humor required of anyone in such a role in a movie like this and stuffs the Doctor into a very large walk-in fridge (??!!) that the morgue has. Now I’d always thought dead people were put into drawers, but no, apparently not. Apparently they’re stuffed, gurney and all, into a walk-in fridge. Okee-dokee.
The attendant goes to sit back and watch a movie and eat some popcorn (rather like I do at work when not writing snarky recaps). He appears to be watching 1931’s Frankenstein, though some of the clips might be from the far superior Bride of Frankenstein. Both are properties owned by Universal, who also made this movie. Nice.
We transpose between the movie and the locker, where the Doctor’s arms spasmed in such a way as to move them from the sides of his body, out of the top of the sheet covering him and then back down to his sides again, but not until after they’d drawn the sheet back from his face. Obviously this was a ham-handed effort at making sure we see the Doctor’s face for the upcoming regeneration. I have to believe there’s better ways to have done this.
Morphing happens and the Doctor sits up, his eyes at a level where light shines in on them, apparently from a slit carved into the opening of the door, or something like that. When we see the door, no such slit exists, but whatever. He then begins pounding on the inside of the fridge, scaring the bejesus out of the morgue attendant. Eventually he pounds so hard that he leaves indentations in the steel, and the door is knocked off its hinges (???!!!///111… oh, crap. I just broke the shift key). The morgue attending pulls some “KOMEDY!” faces and then faints.
Ok, now, I know what you’re gonna say: How did the Doctor turn into Superman? How is he able to bash through steel and break down a door suddenly?
Believe it or not, I haven’t that much of a problem with that. It’s been established before that when the Doctor regenerates, weird shit sometimes happens. When the 10th Doctor regenerated, a Sycorax cut off one of his hands, but he grew a new one quickly, so I can accept that, in this case, the Doctor ended up with super-strength for a few seconds.
What I don’t really understand is the morgue attendant fainting. Clearly this happens because the script calls for it and no real rational reason. If I were in such a situation and saw something like this happen, I’d assume that the guy who was put in there wasn’t actually dead, and now has come back to file a malpractice suit. Ok, knocking down a steel door might fill me with a bit of surprise, but I still don’t think I’d overact like this guy and faint. I’d probably nicely ask the superguy what I can do to help him in hopes he didn’t hurt me.
The newly-regenerated (and super strong), Doctor staggers out of the morgue and into… some weird area of the hospital. It looks like it’s a place that’s been damaged by a storm or something, but there’s what appears to be some repair equipment. That would make sense if the place was damaged, but there’s also lots of mirrors and a bouquet of flowers on the floor, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. You’d think if they were going to repair the place, they’d clean up a bit first.
Either way, the Doctor staggers about some more, finds some mirror shards, looks into them and screams unto the heavens, “Who… am… I?!” Ah, post-regenerative amnesia. Nothing like an old plot cliché.
Across town meantime, the Master is sitting up in his new body and… oh, lord… there’s no way I can describe what this looks like. Just take a look at the pic below.
Now it’s time for a Caption Contest! What’s the best caption for this pic?
A: Sadly, the Master’s forays into gay porn ended messily.
B: You think pink eye is bad? Try green eye!
C: I told you to warn me before you did that!
D: Make your own caption! Win cash and prizes! (not really)
You know, I make a lot of gay jokes in my recaps. Let me make it perfectly clear: I’m bi with a preference towards other guys. I have no problems with gay sex or gay people. But, damn, these recaps I’ve done, and this one in particular… I mean, it’s just so hard to restrain when they practically beg, beg for gay jokes!
Oh, well. Moving on.
Bruce’s wife wakes up to see the Master posing in front of a window. She makes some comments about how wonderful he is now, he agrees and then kills her, and I really start to miss the Delgado version of the Master.
Back at the hospital, the administrator turns up and bitches at Grace for daring to lose a patient, since as we all know, the only good doctor is one with a 100% success rate. He then takes the x-rays of the Doctor’s chest and burns them (?), saying that no one need be aware of Grace’s failings. He’s apparently doing this so he doesn’t have to discipline her and that it’s important to do this so the hospital will stay open, but that doesn’t make any real since. I mean, contrary to my joke, even the best doctor occasionally lose patients. It happens. Doctor House loses patience all the time (rim shot), and I fail to see how losing one patient under bizarre circumstances would cause the hospital to close down.
All this does is, of course, piss off Grace to the point where she says she’s resigning. We see her gather up her things, and then she gets into an elevator and the Doctor (having stolen someone’s Bill Hickok costume. Yes, there’s a costume party planned at the hospital. Possibly to welcome the visiting benefactors?) , who’s been waiting in the… er… waiting room… follows her. He makes a couple comments about Puccini. She blows him off (no, not that way, you sickos! This isn’t the Master we’re talking about!), and goes into the parking lot. The Doctor talks to her as she’s loading up her SUV, she tells him to bug off and then she notices he seems to have disappeared. She gets into the SUV and, of course, the Doctor is in the back seat.
Now we saw Grace loading up the back of the SUV a few seconds ago. She was looking directly inside when the Doctor did his little vanishing act, yet she somehow didn’t see him opening up the back door and climbing inside, nor did she feel the vehicle shake as this happened. Argh! It’s little shit like this that makes me really dislike this film.
Back inside the SUV, the Doctor talks at Grace for a few seconds and then, to her amazement, pulls out the cardiac probe. He casually mentions that he has two hearts and then, with him screaming at her to drive, she eventually drives off, taking him straight to her house. Yes, just the thing I might do under those circumstances (not really).
The Master hasn’t been lazing about this time, no sir! He’s down at the hospital creeping out a nurse by peeling off a fingernail while asking about the Doctor. Turns out everyone thinks the body has been stolen. He asks where the Doctor’s things are. She says Chang took them, the Master says, “Ah, yes. The Asian child,” and I cringe, trying not to picture the Master at a meeting of the Non-Aryan Master’s Boy-Lust Association, or NAMBLA.
Grace and the Doctor arrive at her place. She quickly determines that, yes, he has two hearts, which as we all know is something humans don’t generally have. This still doesn’t help her to later believe that the Doctor is not, in fact, human. I have no problem with skepticism; I’m a big-time skeptic myself. But come on. This is like Scully refusing to believe in aliens and stuff despite all the things she’s seen with Mulder.
The Doctor talks about regeneration and Grace gets all butt-hurt about him treating her like a child when he talks about holding back death. He makes some cryptic remark about her dreaming of holding back death when she was a child, and she seems amazed, though I’m sure many children have a wish to stop people from dying once they become aware of the concept.
Chang meantime has been exploring the Doctor’s bag of holding. Inside he finds several things, including the sonic screwdriver and a pocket watch, which I’m sure will come in handy for both the Doctor and the Master in later years.
Chang also finds the TARDIS key, which he uses to go inside the TARDIS. He has the ususal, “It’s bigger on the inside!” moments that everyone has, and then as he wanders about inside, he finds the Master.
Wait, what? The Master? How the hell did he get into the TARDIS? I mean, he’s the Doctor’s mortal enemy and since the TARDIS is at least partly sentient, so it wouldn’t have let him inside voluntarily, and the Master didn’t have a key, how did he get inside? Ok, maybe he used the key the Doctor cleverly has hidden on the police box sign, but that isn’t explained, and it’s a big plot hole.
Oh, well. The Master hypnotizes Chang and takes the Doctor’s swag bag. Lee protests this thievery and the Master pins him down on the console, looking for all the world like he’s ready to show Lee the sonic screwdriver’s extra settings.
The Master spins a tale about how evil the Doctor is and how he stole the Master’s body as the Doctor and Grace go for a walk. During this walk the Doctor’s memories return, including life on Gallifrey. He gets so excited about this that he plants a nice kiss on Grace.
Some fans have a problem with that kiss, and I’ll admit, it bugged me at first, too. The Doctor’s relationship with his companions is always chaste, and the closest he came in the old series to getting any was when he shared a cup of erotic cocoa with an Aztec woman. True, in the new series the 9th and 10th Doctors both kiss Rose a few times (during those rare moments when she’s not getting all weepy), and the 9th Doctor even snogged Captain Jack. Given those events, the couple kisses here are no big deal. Plus I figured the Doctor was just caught up in the moment.
Back in the TARDIS the Master has managed to open the Eye of Harmony, which I think is supposed to be the power source for the TARDIS. It’s probably similar to the power source that zapped Rose at the end of the first season of new Who, especially given what it does later.
The Eye projects an image of the 7th Doctor and then shows the 8th. The Master mentions how young the Doctor looks and I flash back to my NAMLBA joke. It’s also at this point that the Master sees the Doctor’s retinal pattern and mentions that the Doctor is half human.
Wow. Well, that’s an unnecessary revelation. It’s possible that the Master was wrong or making a joke but the Doctor makes the same revelation himself later in the episode. Many fans have tried to retcon this and explain away the apparent “fact” of the Doctor’s species. Me, I just ignore it and pretend it never happened, rather like I try to do with the Bush presidency (those eight years were a coma-dream on my part, dammit!).
The Doctor apparently senses that the Eye of Harmony is open and that it’s going to destroy the entire world (?). He tries to convince Grace of this and his alienness, but she’s not buying it and runs off in a panic. Why she isn’t buying any of this is quite beyond me, but she even goes to the length of calling for an ambulance to take the Doctor to a bed in the local loony bin. She then seems him walk through the glass of her door and asks for two beds. Ho-ho. KOMEDY!
The Master and Chang hear the call for the ambulance and figure they should go pick up Grace and the Doctor. They arrive, the Doctor announces that he has to get to this place where there’s an atomic clock that has some MacGuffin he needs to power his TARDIS. Everyone piles into the ambulance… which promptly gets stuck in a traffic jam. Caused by a truck. That’s spilled live chickens onto the road. Cause, you know, on New Year’s Eve, 1999, people were transporting live poultry in large numbers into San Francisco.
The Master, who had gotten in a couple clever lines showing what the character could’ve been had they tried, loses his sunglasses at one point, revealing his evil green eyes. The Doctor reacts and tries to get out as the Master spooges onto Grace, leading to our next caption contest!
A: This is why I gargle with soda after doing that.
B: There’s something wrong with this new toothpaste…
C: Dammit, Chang! For the second time, warn me before you do that!
D: Submit your own caption! Same prizes as before!
The Doctor and Grace go running off and they come across a motorcycle cop. The Doctor distracts the cop, grabs his gun and holds against himself, threatening to shoot unless the cop gives them his keys. This is actually a nice touch and perfectly in keeping with the way the Doctor behaves. They get the keys and go riding off, the ambulance giving chase.
They manage to elude pursuit and end up at the place where the atomic clock is located. There’s some KOMEDY! Exposition, I vaguely zone out and then pay attention again when the Doctor steals the clock part he needs and escapes with Grace after hitting a fire alarm. This alarm causes everyone at the reception for the clock dedication to run out panicking and screaming.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in buildings, like office buildings, where an unexpected fire-drill occurs. What happens in these situations in real life is everyone looks vaguely at each other, ignores the rules about not grabbing any personal things, grabs their personal things and walks out. People don’t panic, scream or otherwise act like morons. Only in movies does this happen. Sure, perhaps if there were actual flames and smoke what happens in this film might be realistic, but there’s not, so it isn’t.
The Doctor and Grace make it back to the TARDIS where, for some reason, once they have the doors open, a bike cop, screaming about how he has no brakes, rides his bike inside, turns it around and comes back out again. This serves no purpose whatsoever and is amazingly distracting.
Grace and the Doctor wander inside. The Doctor starts to work on the TARDIS and is doing a good job until Grace thwacks him in the face with a large tool (no, not that large tool. The Master isn’t on screen right now!), knocking him out. The camera pans up and, oh, look, she’s been possessed by the black oil. How cute.
The Doctor wakes up in the Cloister Room tied to a gurney. I didn’t mention it before, but I actually rather like the design of the Cloister Room, as well as the use of the Cloister Bell, which is a nice call-back to the original series. The leaves blowing about and the CIG bats are a bit much, but otherwise the room looks cool.
There’s some mild exposition and… oh, dear, lord. If you think the Master looked gay in my spooge-a-riffic screen caps, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Yeah, he looks just that dreadful. Jesus Christ, what the hell were the producers thinking here? Was this a game of, “Let’s see how gay we can get?” I mean, the producer of the new series is/was Russell T Davies, who is actually gay, and he made a show less gay than this! Hell, even longtime Who producer John Nathan Turner was openly gay and even he wasn’t as gay as this program! This version of the Master makes Bill Kaulitz look butch! Who, you ask? He’s the lead singer of Tokio Hotel and very, very gay (though he says he’s straight). Check this vid:
The Master is gayer than this. He’s also gayer than this:
Well, ok, maybe the Master is slightly less gay than that… anyhow.
The Doctor gets a crown of thorns put onto him (seriously), and gets into a position not dissimilar to crucifixion. He tries to convince Chang that the Master has been lying to him, and Chang is all like “nosway!” until the Master screws up and is proving to be lying. Chang calls him on it, so the Master breaks the kid’s neck and another great romance goes down the tubes.
The Master turns off Grace’s black-eye blues long enough to make her look into the Eye of Harmony which can somehow only be controlled by a human, which makes sense when talking about a piece of alien technology. Kind of like how alien spacecraft can be brought down using a virus written on a Macintosh. Yes, that’s right, Independence Day , I’m calling you out!
The Master starts stealing the Doctor’s lives as Grace goes up to rescue the Doctor. He gets free, the transference stops, Gloria Swans – er… the Master – throws Grace to her death and he and the Doctor go mano e mano. Eventually the Master flies (?!) at the Doctor who knocks him into the Eye of Harmony where he is killed forever (or until the screenwriters need him again).
The Doctor reverses the polarity of the neutron flow so the TARDIS can travel back in time and prevent all this from happening (which violates some laws of time, I’m sure, but it’s never mentioned). As he does this, the TARDIS brings Chang and Grace back to life. This makes me wonder if the two of them are as immortal as Captain Jack.
Everyone returns to their normal place. The Doctor gives Chang some cryptic warning about not being around during Christmas of 2000. Chang appears to understand this and goes running off. The Doctor then has some hearts-to-heart moments with Grace, she decides she doesn’t want to come with him. He basically goes, “Whatever, I’ve got Rose Tyler to look forward to,” and leaves, thus ending one of the more painful and confusing 90 minute blocks in Doctor Who history.
Like I said at the outset, there’s a lot to like about this movie. It has some nice continuity moments, I liked the TARDIS interior, it felt a lot more expansive since it was confined to quarries, Chang Lee was really cute and it introduced us to the 8th Doctor who has since gone on to be many people’s favorite.
But it also had the gayest Master ever, huge plot holes, a lot of things that just don’t make any logical sense and some very, very cringeworthy moments.
But it did act as a nice bridge between the old and the new. Watching the movie now, after seeing four seasons and a couple movies of the 9th and 10th Doctors, I can see how there are a few things from this movie (like the more expansive feel and the TARDIS interior), that turn up in the new series. Plus it kept the series going throughout the late 1990’s by giving us a new Doctor and an excuse for audio adventures with the 5th, 6th and 7th Doctors (hell, even the 4th Doctor, Tom Baker, is finally doing an audio adventure to be released in September! Yay!).
The BBC apparently considers this movie to be a part of canonical Doctor Who, which is good, since it introduces the 8th Doctor. He’s shown in a couple scenes in the new series, which is kind of nice. In my dreams I’d like to see them bring him back for a flashback episode taking place right after the Time War and ending with him regenerating into the 9th Doctor, but I’m not holding my breath.
I can’t hate this movie, but I also really don’t like it all that much. One of my friends who loves Doctor Who has said that it’s not any worse than what the new series does on a regular basis and sadly, that’s true. It wasn’t bad, but it should’ve been much, much better.
Next time on The Worst of Doctor Who… uh… I don’t know yet. Probably the Hartnell masterpiece, “The Web Planet”. Stay tuned…