Well then. In 1996 this oddity made one leap with thrill...if one was a DW fan who had no hope of ever seeing a series with that name again. And then after it was over, realizing that it would never come back in this format...ever again.
In hindsight,it's easy to be bored by this mess. It's a mess. Thanks goodness they it a good actor in the name of Paul McGann. And some great lines and scenes. Unfortunately, the story...limps along at a slow pace, with little to no action, sequences of little to no logic and the ...gimmick Master at the center. FOrtunately too, they gave the Master to a great actor who can handle bag guy scenes so he imbibes the Master with real terror...Doctor Who should be a fast paced (this barely touches fast paced), romantic (this is certainly a bit of that), optimistic, and thought provoking. This has almost none of that. Additionally, a would be companion should be running for that TARDIS (like Rose) and not turning the Doctor down. Lines such as "Oh no, not again" and "This can't be how it all ends" are just...so much hogwash or perhaps they knew this would never make it.
Still there's a charm to this movie...if you look hard enough. Nothing in the hospital makes any sense and no one acts as if they are in their right mind.
The whole "climax" isn't. It isn't anything exciting. Then we undo two deaths. Then undo...stuff. You wouild think RTD would have learned something from this mess and not ever do that as he did in season 3's worst story LAST OF THE TIME LORDS...
Anyway, this was entertaining when it was on and I liked it then...but trying to watch it now is like ...I dunno, nothing really. WHy watch it at all as it's a false start and nothing compared to the fast paced series we did get...YEARS later...
Oh and all those movie proposals in that book THE NTH DOCTORS make one glad they never did any of those either, except for maybe THE DARK DIMENSIOn....
Some good moments:
"BREATH IN GRACE!"
"I love humans, they're always seeing patterns in things that aren't there."
"These shoes, they fit perfectly."
"I'll take care of you, old guy..."
"WHO am I!!!!?"
"DO that again!"
And many, many more...
What can be said of the “Enemy Within” or “DWM” or “Paul McGann Era” or whatever you choose to call it, that hasn’t been said already? Merely a few more cents to the ever increasing pot. Overall, the endeavor—when compared to the vast legacy of Whodom—is not good. But, that is not to say there isn’t a few diamonds that glitter quite brightly.
First, the bad (or rather the just plain silly).
Right out of the gate there are problems. The story opens up on Skarro, which if memory serves correctly was destroyed by the 7th Doctor in REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS. Here, we are told the Master has been put on trial by the Daleks. To me, this is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, but hey … or is this perhaps part of the Time War? Suppose this is neither here nor there …
The Master. Eric Roberts does a strange job in this role (at one point, dressed in leather and sunglasses he appears like the Terminator and I was wondering if he was going to ask if anybody at the hospital had seen John Conner) that is more good than bad. With the Master there’s always this idea that he is never really dead (which, how did he survive being sucked into the Eye of Harmony? Did the Timelords resurrect him to fight in the Time War where he then fled and hid at the end of time to be found by the 10th?) and there’s the business of him as a liquid serpent looking for a host …
The Doctor. McGann does a fantastic job in the role, but there are some problems—super-strength: he apparently can batter down a metal morgue door, but can’t break free of the metal contraption holding him at the end? And then, the silly haf-human stuff—let’s not reopen that can of worms; either you accept it or don’t. The movie offers a half-hearted explanation that the Doctor was dead too long and that when he regenerates he may take on aspects of different species. This opens another discussion, of how regenerations in the past affected the Doctors that followed.
The Story. It is long, drawn-out and overall boring. It feels like a long episode or nowadays, a Christmas special. There is little or no action and sort of drags its feet. Then again, in the past, regeneration stories haven’t always been the best.
Now, the Good.
Tardis. Love, love, love the interior—very gothic, very “steam-punk.” You can see the current design is loosely based upon this, but with a more organic feel to it (I believe the 5th referenced it as the “coral” setting). Like that the cloister room (and bell) was used as well as the Eye of Harmony (there is too much mystery and conjecture surrounding this, its placement in the Tardis and its placement in the Whodom to get into, but nonetheless it worked in the story and in the “new” series to follow.)
And a few tid-bits:
- McCoy is great in this episode … love his improved outfit, sans the question marks, only wish we could have seen more of him.
- Like the bag filled with gadgets
- The return of the sonic screwdriver, though now heading into Series 5 it should just go away
- The Doctor mentions his father, and spending time with him watching a meteor shower
Despite the obvious flaws, the movie is an excellent transition between the classic and the new series as many of the elements were carried over by RTD. In closing, is the episode good? No, it should have been great. The price to pay was another nine years without the show. If nothing else this movie proves that McGann should get more time to shine as the Doctor, not merely in the audio adventures but on screen as well as he surely deserves it.
RATING: 4 out of 10.
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The Gallifreyan Embassy - Forum