Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Doctor Who - The Regeneration Boxset: The TV Movie

The TV Movie. Or, as they cleverly called it on broadcast - "Doctor Who".

Where it all began...
This is yet another episode that goes back into my past as a Doctor Who fan. I was constantly on the search for the DVD of 'the Movie they made'. I asked my friend (the same one that told me the Doctor/Master were brothers) and he said he had the Movie! So he let me borrow them – and there I was, holding the two Peter Cushing Dalek Movies on VHS. My friend wasn't that reliable really.

So the search continued, until on holiday in some county in England – I found out. My first reaction - “why the hell is it a 12?!” I've got a bit of an obsession with film certificates (imagine my thrill when they invented 12A for Spider-Man) and the 12 Certificate puzzled me endlessly. I read the back, read the liner notes, read it inside out over Pizza that lunch – and then I watched it. And I thought – this isn't Doctor Who! If you're more used to the Season 24-style stories (as I reviewed yesterday), the larking about ones, the light-hearted ones – the TV Movie will initially seem a bit odd.

If you're used to the gritty Doctor Who dramas, like the over-rated Caves of Androzani, then the TV Movie will still seem a bit odd. Because it has it's own category. I hated it the first time I saw it. It didn't feel right to me – they used a mild swear word, and there was blood! Of course, my 17 year old self now looks back on those and thinks “yeah and?”, but at the time they were a big deal. So I put the TV Movie away – discarding it as not very good.

And then my other, and much more reliable, friend told me how much he loved Paul McGann. I didn't agree, until I watched the TV Movie all over again..

The TV Movie is brilliant. There are quite a few downsides to it, a few bits that don't work, but for me that's kind of part of the fun – because when they don't work it's actually entertaining, rather than annoying. The best thing about the TV Movie is Paul McGann. Robert Shearman tells us on a documentary that it takes him something like 26 minutes to appear – and McGann grabs every minute of screen time after that and runs with it. He gives one of the most exciting and invigorating performances as the Doctor I've ever seen. By this stage, people haven't had time to experiment with his character – they just need to define it. The script and Paul McGann do this perfectly. Because the Eighth Doctor is a happy, lively, wonderful Doctor. Even Grace, who annoyed the first few times, is wonderful after a while. Her relationship with the Doctor is completely different to anything we know – but it's Paul McGann as the Doctor that makes it believable.
Drezzzzing for the occasion since 1996

If this is the first time you've seen the TV Movie, in the Regenerations Box Set, then you may find it quite strange. The camp Master (and his dress..) may pull it down in your opinion. The ending will baffle you – and when you work it out, it'll just baffle you more. But all those things show that basically – the story isn't really important. The TV Movie is a bit like Rose for me. Both of them are there to develop the character of the Doctor, and their relationship with the companion. The TV Movie does this perfectly – and the Master and the Eye of Harmony and the chickens are just all part of the.. fun. There are comical moments, there are huge character moments, and this is what the story is about. Embrace the journey and the personalities of these characters – and the TV Movie will be a wonderful experience you never forget..

The TV Movie is also epic. Its scale is incredible. From its Gothic, and seemingly Frankenstein/Jesus hybrid, regeneration to the look of the Cloister Room. When you're a kid playing Doctor Who, and you have the Doctor and the Master – they always have a fight. Maybe they talk for a bit, but then there's going to be a fight. And then someone's going to die, probably, and then there might even be some balconies to fall over! All these things in your imagination – Doctor Who with a scale and with a tone like you've never known it – it's all here. There's even the most epic Motorbike/Ambulance chase in the world – and it is a spectacle.

All those weird bits your childhood mind invents are here too. There's the strangest hospital scene with Madame Butterfly, which confused me so much the first time I saw it. But it is ridiculously dramatic – almost hyping up the tension too much. There's a few boring conversations between Grace and her Manager, but if you're looking for a deeper, more real and more human subtext – it's all here. The TV Movie doesn't seem to neglect anything at all.

The episode is inspirational, it's a great journey to be on, and it's a joy to watch. Paul McGann is one of the best Doctors ever – and the TV Movie will highlight this in such a wonderful way. If you've never seen it, I advise you to look past the gangs and the strange bits you may not be used ot – and embrace the change and the madness of the show.

Because after all – change is what it's all about.

1 comment :

Kevin Fisher said...

Never understood the hate the movie gets. It wasn't perfect by any means but it was quite enjoyable. And I'd say that the 2005 series owes a lot to the movie..it always looked to me like they borrowed a lot from it (even the time rotor for 9's console). Heck the new intro for the 11th Doctor looks a lot like the beginning of the movie (right down to coming out of the vortex into space). 8's TARDIS really WAS bigger on the inside...almost too big. For much of the new series all we got to see was the same room.

As you say, McGann really steals the show. I was pretty angry when they didn't pick up the series post 1996 with McGann...having listened to so many of his Big Finish stories he really is a fantastic Doctor. We really got robbed not having him on the small screen doing more TV episodes. But far too many "fans" have, for decades, slammed the movie as "garbage" and "not worth watching." Bollocks.

It's really too bad that the new series hasn't brought the 8th Doctor back for one final episode. Would have made a great "Doctor Lite" episode...having 10 or 11 reminiscing about the past, being a "different man back then" and then flashing back to an 8th Doctor adventure.