Today marks exactly 20 years since Paul McGann made his Doctor Who debut as the Eighth Doctor on UK screens in ‘The TV Movie’.
The Doctor finds himself in San Francisco in 1999 whilst transporting the remains of the Master, now deceased, back to Gallifrey. But when the Master’s essence escapes and the Doctor is badly wounded, he must regenerate in order to save the world from destruction…
The Master, now deceased and stuck as some kind of demonic ooze, takes over the body of a poor paramedic (played by Eric Roberts), hops into bed with the man’s wife and then murders her! Possibly one of the renegade Time-Lord’s darkest moments shot with real horror and subtlety by director Geoffrey Sax.
The Doctor regenerates in a hospital morgue and proceeds to smash down a metal door. An innocent lab assistant is terrified in the process! A great new take on the regeneration scene.
An amnesiac Doctor regains his memory and celebrates by snogging the very lovely Dr. Grace Holloway. Millions of Whovians across the nation throw shoes at their television in anger and confusion, whilst elsewhere Russell T Davies starts taking notes…
Potential Doctors who auditioned for the role of the Eighth Doctor included Liam Cunningham, Robert Lindsay, Tim McInnerny, Nathaniel Parker, John Sessions, Anthony Head and Tony Slattery.
Composer John Debney intended to compose an entirely new theme tune for the production, but was thankfully persuaded to instead provide an arrangement of Ron Grainer’s immortal theme.
The Doctor: “Gallifrey! Yes! This must be where I live. Now, where is that?”
Grace: “I’ve never heard of it! What do you remember?”
The Doctor: “A meteor storm. The sky above us was dancing with lights! Purple, green, brilliant yellow… Yes!”
The Doctor: “These shoes! [Stomps the ground happily.] They fit perfectly!”
The Doctor: “You want dominion over the living, yet all you do is kill!”
The Master: “Life is wasted on the living!”
It may at times seem like nothing more than a failed experiment, but the US TV Movie is without doubt an underappreciated classic.
From Paul McGann’s utterly charming Eighth Doctor to Eric Robert’s gloriously camp (yet deadly) Master; here we have a Doctor Who adventure that is ambitious, action-packed and completely engrossing. From the beautifully realised opening shot of Skaro through to the motorcycle chase and the eye of harmony, this is Doctor Who doing what it’s always done best, only on a bigger scale than ever before.
Visually impressive and incredibly entertaining, the TV Movie may not be the triumphant return fans desperately wanted way back in the dark days of 1996, but watched today, it’s a fantastic little adventure packed to the brim with important and inspiring moments that would help shape the future of the series forever.
What’s your favourite Eighth Doctor moment? Let us know below…