Doctor Who: The Movie (1996)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Paul McGann isn't that bad of a Doctor

As a jump-on point, the movie loses a lot of its meaning

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Doctor Who:  The Movie

Studio:  Universal Television

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  May 12, 1996 (Canada)/May 14, 1996 (US)/May 27, 1996 (UK)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


I’m the Doctor…for now!

The Master is dead and his last request is for the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) to return his remains to Gallifrey.  En route, the TARDIS hits turbulation which causes the Master’s essence to escape and forces a landing San Francisco, days before the eve of the year 2000.  When the Doctor is shot by gang members aiming at a young man named Chang Lee (Ye Jee Tso), he’s rushed to the hospital where surgeon Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook) accidentally kills him due to his unique alien body structure. Regenerating for his eight time, the Doctor (Paul McGann) finds that the Master has taken a new body in an ambulance driver named Bruce (Eric Roberts) and with Chang has opened the Eye of Harmony. With the fate of Earth hanging in the balance, the Eye of Harmony must be shut and the Master must be stopped.


Say goodbye to the Seventh Doctor

Directed by Geoffrey Sax, Doctor Who:  The Movie was an attempt to relaunch the Doctor Who serial after its ending in 1989.  Following Doctor Who:  Survival in the twenty-sixth season of Doctor Who, the series halted production and only appeared in a special called “Dimensions in Time” which crossed over with Eastenders from November 26 and November 27, 1993.  Doctor Who:  The Movie represents the one and only outing of the Eight Doctor played by McGann as of now.  The movie was collected as a special edition and is Story #156.


Ok Master…now it just getting weird

Doctor Who:  The Movie is pretty good, but it wasn’t much of a jump-on point.  Granted, you didn’t need to know much about the Doctor or his previous relationship with the Master, but without it, it isn’t necessarily the most compelling story.  The actual story is a very typical Doctor Who story with a lot of running around, a plucky companion, and techno babble that kind of makes sense but doesn’t make sense at the same time.

McGann really wasn’t that bad of a Doctor.  It is a bit of shame that he never got another shot at it.  There has been some rumors of him making a possible appearance in the current series (especially since his regeneration was never seen), but it hasn’t happened. A line indicating that he was “part human” did cause some controversy and has been explained in various stories and fan fiction.


The Doctor…making out with some American girl…wait, what just happened?

Ashbrook also was a nice companion for the Doctor. It was interesting to have an American companion, even if it was a one-shot.  Like McGann, I think it would be interesting for Ashbrook to show up again…especially since the story tried to create a romantic link between the Doctor and his companion.

Previously, the Master had been portrayed by Anthony Ainley and Eric Roberts took his new form.  Roberts doesn’t particularly work in the role (he does get the overacting aspect of the Master right).  I also am not a fan of his sidekick Chang Lee…I thought Lee was going to be the companion for the story and that might have worked.


3D Movies Suck!!!!

Doctor Who:  The Movie is a strange entry in the Doctor Who mythos.  It is a different approach to the character and that was needed to give some spin.   Doctor Who:  The Movie didn’t work as a relaunch but did keep the Doctor alive.  I highly doubt that this movie influenced many Americans to to tune in for the show starring the guy they forever remember wearing a long colored scarf, but it did lay a foundation for the future.  McGann might not have returned, but Doctor Who:  The Movie did help with the big series relaunch in 2005 with the Season 1 episode “Rose” on March 26, 2005.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  Survival (Story #158)

Followed By:

Doctor Who—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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