This month marks 20 years since the Doctor Who TV Movie first aired in 1996.
Following the original series’ cancellation in 1989, the 90-minute American special saw the Doctor triumphantly return to TV… only to disappear again for nine more years.
As such, the TV Movie (an aborted attempt to reboot Doctor Who as a US/UK co-production) is often discarded as not being a proper part of the series, or – even worse – derided for it.
But it isn’t all bad – far from it, in fact.
Here are eight reasons the TV Movie is better than its reputation…
The Seventh Doctor’s cameo
From the perspective of rebooting the show, including the Seventh Doctor in the TV movie was probably a bad move, as it prevented it from making a clean start. But, hey, we fans loved seeing Sylvester McCoy back in his panama hat.
Thanks to his appearance in the film, it was clear that this wasn’t some alternate version of the show but proper bona fide Doctor Who.
The Eighth Doctor’s birth is a cracking scene, with some interesting lightning effects to separate it from other regenerations. It might mix up its symbolism and imagery, comparing the Doctor to both Frankenstein’s monster and Jesus Christ, but it still holds up pretty well in the long line of regeneration sequences.
Sure, the way it looks should not be the be-all-and-end all of how you judge a Doctor Who story (as a show, it’s traditionally known for its substance over its style), but the TV Movie was without a doubt the finest the series had ever looked. You have to hand it to director Geoffrey Sax (who went on to helm Matt Smith’s Christopher and His Kind in 2011).
Eric Roberts’ Master
Eric Roberts’ portrayal of the Master isn’t often rated highly, due to his perceived hammy performance. Well, we’d argue that he’s only following in the footsteps of Anthony Ainley or preceding Michelle Gomez in that regard – he’s the Master, of course he’s OTT!
Roberts clearly has a ton of fun in the part and makes a great foe for McGann’s Doctor.
Continued on next page…