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Doctor Who: The Movie DVD Review

The lone Eighth Doctor episode finally hits home video for the first time ever in the U.S.

The plot: While the Seventh Doctor is en route to his home planet of Gallifrey to deliver the remains of the evil Master, the Master’s DNA ooze escapes and manages to cause the TARDIS to land in San Francisco, California in 1999. Things get worse for the Doctor when he is not only shot upon leaving the TARDIS, but when the Master escapes the TARDIS. The Doctor manages to live, however, as he regenerates into his Eighth self. Meanwhile, the Master manages to find a human host, but his ultimate goal is to take the Doctor’s body. The Master has also opened the Eye Of Harmony on board the TARDIS which causes a destructive space distortion. Can the Doctor (along with the help of his new companion Dr. Grace Holloway) defeat the Master and stop the distortion? The answer: Duh.

Originally, this TV movie/pilot episode was planned to be a backdoor pilot for a series, but unfortunately, the ratings turned out to be rather mediocre and thus a series was never made. It’s a shame too as there is real potential here. Thankfully, however, the movie manages to still be fun (albeit uneven).

First and foremost, the best thing about this episode/movie is, of course, the two Doctors. It was a real treat to see Sylvester McCoy here one last time and it was equally cool to see his regeneration. Unfortunately, his appearance does kind of ruin the pacing of the story as it takes 22 minutes for Paul McGann to show up as the Eighth Doctor and an additional 22 minutes before the Eighth Doctor remembers who he is. Regardless, it is important to see this for both continuity and the fans. As for McGann, he does a fine job given the limited amount of screentime. As his “Doctor Who” audio drama work has proven, he has a unique take on the Doctor and it’s a crime he never got a chance to step into the role on screen again. Hopefully, it can still happen one day.

As for the other cast members, I have mixed feelings. Eric Roberts is over the top as the Master, but he seems to be having a fun time playing the role. Yee Jee Tso (who plays Chang lee) and Daphne Ashbrook (who played Dr. Grace Holloway) were decent in their roles, but I would have been more interested to see their characters developed more had a series happened.

Another added bonus? A plethora of past “Doctor Who” references. From Jelly babies and Sonic Screwdrivers to “John Smith” and a neat new TARDIS interior, fans will no doubt get a kick out of seeing some old school Who stuff.

Fun elements aside, this episode/movie does have a number of groan worthy moments. I could have easily done without the ridiculous Eye Of Harmony subplot, the Master ooze (in all repsects), the Doctor smooching Grace, the “Frankenstein” parallels, and the appearance of an irritating Will Sasso (of “MADtv” fame).

Summary: For “Doctor Who” fans, this movie is a real treat to have on disc at long last. Sure, it’s far from perfect, but it’s still entertaining nonetheless. If you want to hear more of the Eighth Doctor, I whole heartedly recommend checking out the Big Finish eighth Doctor audio dramas.

Video/Audio:

The fullscreen is a little too fuzzy for my taste. Personally, I was hoping for something sharper. As is, it’s merely just decent.

The Dolby Digital Stereo track is satisfactory. From the music to the sound f/x, the track delivers.

Extras:
* 2 VFX test reels.
* Paul McGann audition/script reading.
* 1 minute of alternate scenes.
* EPK- A Fox behind-the-scenes featurette which contains interviews and discussions about the characters.
* Easter egg featuring writer Matthew Jacobs.
* 1 minute of BBC trails.
* “Stripped For Action: The Eighth Doctor”- A featurette about the Eighth Doctor comics.
* “Tomorrow’s Times- The Eighth Doctor” (hosted by Nicholas Courtney)- A featurette about the press/news coverage surrounding the “Doctor Who” movie.

* “Who Peter 1989-2009”- The second half of a documentary about Blue Peter’s segments about “Doctor Who”.
* “Philip Segal’s Tour Of The TARDIS Set”- The producer guides viewers through the impressive looking set. As an added bonus, we get to see new parts of the TARDIS set that were not shown in the episode/movie.
* “The Wilderness Years”- A superb documentary about the state of “Doctor Who” during the years when the show was not on the air. Topics explored are books, magazines, video tapes, fandom keeping the show alive, and, of course, the fantastic Big Finish audio dramas.
* “Doctor Who” series 5 and “The Seeds Of Doom” trailers, photo gallery, isolated music score, 4 songs, info text, and Radio Times Listings.

* “The Seven Year Hitch”- A comprehensive 54 minute documentary about what went on with “Doctor Who” during the 7 year break between the end of McCoy’s era and the Eighth Doctor movie. There’s some great chats about other scripts for the pilot/movie. A great watch.
* “The Doctor’s Strange Love”- A 3 person round table discussion of sorts about the Eighth Doctor movie/pilot.
* Two commentary tracks are included. The first commentary is a rather dull solo track by director Geoffrey Sax. The best commentary is the second one which contains Nicholas Briggs, Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy. It’s nice to hear 2 Doctors on a commentary together.

February 8, 2011 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , ,

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