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Flavoredair Reviews: Doctor Who the Movie (1996)

Article By: flavoredair
Editorial and opinion

A review of Dr. Who the Movie (1996), a TV movie

Submitted:Apr 7, 2009    Reads: 149    Comments: 2    Likes: 1   

I was so excited to rip open my freshly purchased DVD with its Royal Postal markings and Customs stickers. It felt so taboo in my hands. I was giddy. Without a second thought I popped it into the player and began humming along with the ethereal music that even a non-whovian might sometimes get trapped in their head. I tittered with glee as the epic logo folded down on to me. Quick and soon the flick was over and the first sentence out of my mouth as the credits were rolling was "All of these people should be shot." Of course, maybe not Paul McGann and Eric Roberts. And of course I would never chastise Sylvester McCoy; he had a moral obligation to return as the seventh doctor. (But I would have understood if he turned it down because he was washing his hair that night.) I'll get back to him in a bit. To say I didn't like Roberts' portrayal of the Master is for me to say I preferred John Simms. In essences I blame the writers.

Why Who should not be in the hands of Americans:

They tried to Americanize the show. They tried to change the cannon. They tried to inject an ill-conceived, luke-warm romance that was ironically left on the back burner unless comically induced. IE Grace (Daphne Ashbrook) screeching "I finally find the right guy, and he's from another planet." At this point, she's known him for forty-five minutes. (As a Rose/Ten fan) I can't say that I was sad when Grace and the Doctor didn't work out, but as an objective reviewer the relationship was quite strained indeed. Nothing exemplified that more than their lack-luster departure. The kiss was too cumbersome for a relationship that reminded me more of siblings than anything else. One good point: The Doctor asks Grace to come with him, she replies by asking him to come with her. I liked that. "The Doctor: The human adventure." Back to the cons. Why would an Americanized version of Dr. Who try to talk down to Americans? I realize, (as an America) McGann's accent isn't the thickest British brogue I've certainty heard, "oh he's from London", and "oh he's from Britain"… They didn't have to smack us in the face with over redundant reminders of where he was from. If that wasn't enough, how come there are so many unchecked people in this world accepting candy from strangers? Notice nobody trusted the jelly baby until they sniffed it. Does cyanide have a smell? So did Time Lords evolve from snakes? When they run out of lives they become this gooey snake thing? I don't recall spitting mind control venom listed in the Time Lords artillery of super powers. Speaking of coming from Krypton, where did the Doctor's super strength come from? I have reason to believe that regeneration is exhausting experience. So how come the naked and shivering Doctor was able to punch down a steel morgue door?I won't even touch on what kind of creepy Steven King-esq hospital has a wing devoted to shattered mirrors and broken windows that expose its patients to the elements. The plot was more of a device as the action was eclipsed by explanation of what the Doctor was. Which brings me to a big FAT WTF? (This next bit will be in reference to the current show.) I want someone to slap the Doctor and explain to him that he is NOT in fact the last Time Lord, for his mother was… human?… half breed! My heart bled for you over four seasons! (Which makes the Meta-Crisis Doctor only a quarter Time Lord?) Where was I? Oh right, Americans screwing with cannon! Let's have that Hollywood ending where the TARDIS can't stand seeing everyone the Doctor loves die. So it decided, to bring the two human lackeys the Doctor had acquired back to life after the Master was defeated. (With no explanation as to how) (Time War anyone? Time War? Oh wait let's not be biased to Russell T Davies' writing. Adric perhaps?) Some scenes did make me wince, but again I must chalk that up to the writers. Why was Grace not phased when the TARDIS was much larger on the inside than out? Well, obviously she understood the mechanics behind it. That's a little hard to swallow, ESPECAILLY since she had no idea what a temporal orbit was. Context clues, Grace. You're in a time machine. What do you think it means?

As an intelligent human being I DO NOT like being talked down to. There are more subtle ways to explain how the Master needs a new body then verbally stating it. Subtlety, people, subtlety. I hate this black and white, wrong or right routine. Some variant shades of grays would be great. (I'm not sure that's a comment on the writer's strength or that of the Fox audience in 1996.) Much of this movie explains your ear off, rather than allowing the viewer to experience it. There were some quirky moments that made me smile. The characters' interactions were definitely entertaining. Grace: "You know what they say about size?" The Doctor: "They say that on my planet too." Was it unnecessary? Hell no, but my lip curled with glee.

The actors:

McGann: his delivery was very crude at points. I like and appreciate manic, but I don't like being scared to death-mid sentence. I heard he was better through his tenure on the radio show.

Roberts: Fairly decent. I liked him as a villain, but not really as the Master.

McCoy: You are the reason I had nightmares as a child of being stabbed in the heart with tubes. Thank you for reviving your character. I truly felt for the Doctor when he was shot.

I won't mention the rest of the cast; it's just not worth it. I can't imagine even VH1 wanting to know where they are now. Over all, I really wished I hadn't spent money on it. I wouldn't even suggest renting it. If you have to see it, download it, illegally. If you can get past the fact that it was the first Doctor Who "episode" in almost a decade, it is not impressive at all. The situations were chunky, the acting was unreliable, and the plot seemed like a throwaway idea from previous eras. The only reason I gave it as many stars as I did (OK 1 and 1/2) was because I like the show. I hated this movie. =(


Sorry if this came off a tad crass and emotional than my usual reviews. I was just very irked by it.

Please feel free to tell me how you liked this film below.


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