Doctor Who (1963)

Season 27 Episode 3

Doctor Who

Aired Saturday 5:15 PM May 27, 1996 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
52 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Doctor Who
San Francisco, 1999. Returning home to Gallifrey with the remains of the Master, the TARDIS is forced off course, landing the Doctor in the middle of a street gang's gun fight in San Francisco. Critically wounded in the shoot out, the Doctor regenerates to save his own life. Meanwhile, the Master has taken possession of another new body. As the clock counts down to the start of the new millennium, the Doctor has to stop the Master destroying all life on Earth. The stage is set for what could be the final battle between these arch-enemies…moreless

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  • Should have been The Doctor's finest hour and a half, unfortunately it fell a fair way short.

    After a slightly implausible start of the Master being put on trial on Skaro (Dalek justice?), and some dodgy Dalek voices, Doctor Who lept into a whole new league with grand opening credits and a marvelous orchestral adaptation of the theme tune.

    Then you get to see a fantastic new Tardis control room, a subdued 7th Doctor, no longer looking like an extra in the Pantomime, yet still retaining the major characteristics of that incarnation. At this point you had a tingling feeling that Doctor Who had become something bigger and better, and was back to stay. Unfortunately it was not to be.

    It carried on at a respectable level for a little while longer with a very physical Tardis materialization, and the shooting of the 7th Doctor. Then 22 minutes in, Sylvester McCoy almost manages to gurn enough to make the transformation to Paul McGann without the need for any special effects. The regeneration sequence was very well done, possibly the most believable of all the regeneration sequences, subtle and smooth. Sadly this was probably the high point of the entire film.

    Paul McGann's representation of The Doctor was very good, believable and charismatic. He captured the essence of The Doctor and was starting to show his own take on the travelling Time Lord.

    Alas the same could not be said for Eric Roberts, his over the top Master took what was an attempt to polish the Doctor Who franchise firmly back into the realms of pantomime.

    And what of the plot? The whole thing fell apart in the last act making no sense, breaking with all known continuity. The Eye of Harmony in the TARDIS? Needing a human eye to open it? The Doctor being half human? In fact the ridiculousness of this last bombshell is acknowledged and parodied in the final episode of the 9th Doctor's term with the Emperor Dalek echoing "Those words are blasphemy, do not blaspheme" when the Daleks are accused of similar parentage.

    It is such a shame that after such an impressive start and such high production values that the ending made no sense to the general public and alienated the long term fans. It was clear by the end of the film that it would not spawn a new series, in fact it is surprising that it did not bury The Doctor for good.

    On the plus side it did give us a new Doctor. Paul McGann went on to develop his role further in the Big Finish audio dramas and made for a very credible number 8. It is just a shame we only got to hear it, as his audio Doctor is just wonderful.moreless
  • the doctor takes the masters remains back to gallifrey but is shot and regenirates on earth. the master is in a humans body taking the tardis and its heart.

    it was realy good.

    i liked the start and middle and end.

    it featured probualy the 5th best doctor yet [2011]

    a great movie but not the first movie.

    i thought the big movie would hav the dalecs or the cybermen or the warryor robot.

    none the less it was unbelevevible.

    i remember watching rememberance of the dalecks [ alou on dvd as i am 9] [10 in november] i thought the movie would be better but it would be hard as rememberance of the dalecs was an unbalevably good episode[s]

    i still loved the movie it was a rare thing i can't beleve iv got it on tape.moreless
  • Last Lives Written by Matthew Jacobs Directed by Geoffrey Sax

    Grace: "I only have one life, can you remember that?"

    The Doctor: "I'll try".

    A couple of years before the 2005 series had seen The Doctor ride the ratings and public affection high once again, there had been a few attempts to bring the show. One was the awful gimmick "Dimensions In Time" as well as "Curse Of Fatal Death" and "Scream Of The Shalka" (the former by Steven Moffat and the latter by Paul Cornell). However the only official canon was in fact the 1996 Movie and I can tell you, I actually quite enjoy it.

    Seven years is arguably a long time for a show to be gone and perhaps a shorter time to try and bring it back but this movie does make a decent attempt of doing so. We might not know what happened to poor Ace or how The Master escaped Cheetah world but the opening with the latter getting wiped out by the Daleks is a good starting point.

    A part of me is massively surprised that for the first 20 minutes, it's the Seventh Doctor we're dealing with. You'd think the movie would want to start with the Eighth and gradually explain or at least throw some hints about the regeneration process. It's an audacious move on the writer's part and perhaps a tad better for a newcomer who gets to delight in seeing an actual regeneration (which we got denied of in "Rose").

    The Seventh Doctor is set to take The Master's remains back to Gallifrey upon his enemy's final request but he's smart enough to lock the box that contains the remains of his best enemy. Of course, The Master has always been a conniving so and so and it's not rocket science that he decides to use this as an opportunity to escape and part of that plan has the TARDIS crash landing on earth.

    Now The Doctor loves Earth quite a lot so he probably wasn't expecting to have the TARDIS protect some kid named Chang Lee nor for the moment he opened the door did he expect to be shot multiple times by the same gang in pursuit of Chang Lee. Well the writers needed to speed up the regeneration and there's some fun here in seeing The Doctor mortally wounded as The Master in a snake like formation slithers away to find a new body. With The Doctor and The Master both on the verge of change, it's the shaping of their companions that propels things along as well. On The Master's side you've got a naïve boy in Chang Lee, who while not above gun violence, seems to be more manipulated by The Master's lies of The Doctor being evil rather than anything. It's also an unusual joy to see The Master with a companion even if Chang Lee is kind of annoying.

    The Doctor on the other hand nearly has his regeneration process wrecked by medics when they put a probe inside him to see why his heart is racing so far. The hospital banter, in particular with discussion of Grace's on-off relationship with Bryan comes across as being somewhat inane and the moment where both The Doctor and The Master (who swipes the body of ambulance driver Bruce and then kills Bruce's wife) won't win point for subtlety.

    As Doctors go, Paul McGann is great. He's on the right side of being both vulnerable and manic with excitement as memories of past events come flooding back. I also appreciate that The Doctor and Grace's team up is pretty quick to. Yes following her into the parking and sounding like someone loose from a psych ward may not have the resonance of other Doctor/Companion moments but it more or less does the trick in its own way.

    Grace is also a pretty good strength to this movie also. She may not be up there with either Sarah Jane, Martha or Ace but she's instantly likeable and pretty efficient even if it does take her a while to actually believe The Doctor's entire story. As for the multiple kisses these two exchange – I really couldn't care less. It just didn't bother me a lot.

    The Master on the other hand is let down a bit by Eric Roberts. He's not the worst actor in the world but compared to the likes of Roger Delgado or John Simm, you almost get the feeling that he's phoning in his performance. He started off great with the moment in which he killed Bruce's wife but when he actually captures The Doctor and uses a possessed Grace and Chang Lee to steal The Doctor's remaining lives, the camp factor does kick into overdrive.

    Perhaps The Master is pissed off for all those times The Doctor has bested his plans and I get that wanting to stay alive is important but there's something not quite as satisfying with this general plot. The Eye Of Harmony is the cause of the problems with the TARDIS and the goal for The Master to survive but it feels as if it should've been more of a battle for The Doctor to defeat him. Even The Master winding up trapped in the Eye Of Harmony and Grace and Chang Lee being resurrected feels a bit too easy.

    Still this movie was always going to have to be a bit self-contained in case it bombed and the ending with Chang Lee getting some of The Doctor's stuff and Grace and The Doctor saying their goodbyes is satisfying enough. We've had stronger departures but I ended up liking Grace a hell of a lot more than I expected to. Daphne Ashbrook's consistent performance ensured. It's only sad that this is the only televised adventure with her and The Eighth Doctor. I wouldn't have minded seeing some more.

    Also in "Doctor Who: The Movie"

    Annoying that we not only didn't get to actually see the Daleks kill The Master but the voices didn't even sound Dalek like.

    The Doctor: "Here it comes"

    Chang Lee: "Hold on there, old man. Chang Lee will help you".

    The Frankenstein moment between The Doctor and The Master was the not subtle thing I meant earlier on. Pete was watching the movie during the regenerations.

    Wife: "What would you like me to call you then?"

    The Master: "Master will do fine".

    Grace: "Somehow I don't think the Second Coming happens"

    Pete: "What you think he's gonna go to a better hospital?"

    Both The Master and The Doctor mentioned they've snogged Marie Curie. Well it wouldn't be the first time either of them have invaded the other's turf. Both of them also kissed Grace for different reasons.

    Grace: "No sorry, the dead stay dead. You can't turn back time"

    The Doctor: "Yes you can".

    The Doctor: "I am The Doctor"

    Grace: "Good, now do that again".

    The Doctor showed both Grace and Chang Lee the future as well as Gallifrey. This is also one of the few times in which he's mentioned his father.

    The Doctor: "That's very witty Grace. At least Freud would've taken me seriously"

    Grace: "He'd have hung up his pipe if he had met you".

    Props go to the makeup team for the gorgeous icy blue makeup and black eyes when Grace was possessed. Daphne Ashbrook looked rather hot during those scenes.

    Chang Lee: "You're a funny guy"

    The Master: "I'm glad one of us is amused".

    The Doctor: "But time to change"

    The Master: "I always dress for the occasion".

    Standout music: Puccini's "Madam Butterfly", despite being massively distracting.

    Grace: "I'm gonna miss you"

    The Doctor: "How can you miss me? I'm the guy with two hearts. I'm easy to find".

    There was a dedication to Jon Pertwee at the end of this movie but it doesn't seem to be on the DVD.

    For something that was supposedly so bad, I actually found "The Movie" really enjoyable. Yes it was kind of Americanised and Eric Roberts made for a bad Master but everything else was pretty fun, even the mansion like TARDIS upon repeated viewing. Still anything is better than "Dimension In Time", right?moreless
Joanna Piros

Joanna Piros

News Anchor

Guest Star

Mi-Jung Lee

Mi-Jung Lee

News Anchor

Guest Star

Gordon Tipple

Gordon Tipple

The Old Master

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Plot hole: The Master was in the TARDIS before Lee. Lee had the only key known to the Master to open the door (he most likely did not know about the spare about the "P" mentioned by the Doctor later)

    • How the Doctor managed to acquire jelly babies after his regeneration is unknown. He had no access to his earlier incarnation's clothes or possessions.

    • Other Mistake: When the Doctor tells Grace he has 13 lives, his words do not match his lips.

    • The robes that the Master puts on before attempting to steal the Doctor's lives are similar to those worn by the Time Lord council during their appearances in episodes such as The Five Doctors.

    • In the couple of years before this film was produced, it was rumoured that American actor David Hasselhoff was interested in playing the Doctor! In this vision, the TARDIS would have talked, and, if taken up as a series, episodes were likely to be self-contained affairs, rather than the traditional multi-part stories. Thankfully, none of these rumours came to anything!

    • Producer Phil Segal has admitted that the final shooting script was assembled under tremendous pressure and fell some way short of what he'd originally hoped for. In the end he opted to try and make the film as enjoyable as possible and not worry about every plot hole. It was, presumably, pressure of time that caused Segal to make the Doctor half human, to relocate the Eye of Harmony in the TARDIS, and to allow the Doctor to reverse time and bring his companions back to life.

    • The Eye of Harmony previously appeared in Season 14's The Deadly Assassin, but on that occasion it was an ebony monolith located on Gallifrey, the nucleus of a black hole that was the source of all Time Lord power. It is unexplained as to why only human eyes can open the Eye. But then so is the exact nature of a 'temporal orbit'. And how the Master can transform himself into the snake-creature. And what exactly happens in the climax, and...

  • QUOTES (15)

    • The Master: Tell me, Lee. If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?
      Lee: A million dollars!
      The Master: (scoffs) Only a million. Come on. Think bigger!

    • Grace: Okay. You're trying to tell me that you've come back from the dead?
      The Doctor: Yes.
      Grace: No. Sorry. The dead stay dead. You can't turn back time.
      The Doctor: Yes, you can.
      Grace: I'm not a child. Don't talk to me like I'm a child. Only children believe that crap. I am a doctor.
      The Doctor: But it was a childish dream that made you a doctor. You dreamt you could hold back death. Isn't that true? Don't be sad, Grace. You'll do great things.

    • The Doctor: (voiceover) The Time Lord has 13 lives and the Master had used all of his. But rules never meant much to him. So, I stowed his remains safely for the voyage back. Because even in death I couldn't trust him.

    • The Doctor (voiceover): It was on the planet Skaro that my old enemy, the Master, was finally put on trial. They say he listened calmly as his list of evil crimes was read and sentence passed. Then he made his last, and I thought somewhat curious, request. He demanded that I, the Doctor, a rival Time Lord, should take his remains back to our home planet, Gallifrey. It was a request they should never have granted.

    • Grace: Thank you, Doctor.
      The Doctor: No. Thank you, Doctor.

    • Grace [ of the Doctor ]: Great. I finally meet the right guy, and he's from another planet!

    • Grace: He's British.
      The Doctor: I suppose I am.

    • The Master: That is why there's no time to waste.
      The Doctor: But time to change.
      The Master: I always dress for the occasion.

    • Grace: I suppose you knew Madam Curie too.
      The Doctor: Yes, intimately.
      Grace: Does she kiss as good as me?
      The Master: As well as you!

    • The Doctor: The entire universe is about to end, and I'm stuck in a traffic jam.

    • The Master: Life is wasted on the living.

    • The Doctor: I love humans. Always seeing patterns in things that aren't there.

    • Nurse: Bruce, you're sick.
      The Master: Thank you.

    • Grace: But you have no recollection of family?
      The Doctor: No. No no no, wait wait wait... I remember... I - I - I - I'm with my father, we're lying back in the grass, it's a warm Gallifreyan night...
      Grace: Gallifreyan?
      The Doctor: Gallifrey! Yes, this must be where I live! Now, where is that?
      Grace: I've never heard of it. What do you remember?
      The Doctor: A meteor storm! The sky above us was dancing with light! Purple, green, brilliant yellow! Yes!
      Grace: What?
      The Doctor: These shoes! They fit perfectly! Yes!

    • Grace: Maybe you have selective amnesia brought on by shock.
      The Doctor: Maybe. I don't remember.

  • NOTES (13)

    • Eric Roberts (Bruce/The Master) and Eliza Roberts (Miranda) are real-life husband and wife.

    • DVD: Doctor Who: The Movie (BBCDVD 1043) released in August 2001.

      Video: Doctor Who (BBCV 5882) released in May 1996.

      There was no home video release in either VHS or DVD formats for the U.S./Canada market.

    • Novelisation: Doctor Who: The Novel of the Film by Gary Russell (ISBN 0 563 38000 4) first published by BBC Books in 1996.

    • This is the first time since the The Aztecs that the Doctor has entered into a romantic relationship with a human.

    • The Master appears next in Utopia, having been resurrected by the Time Lord Council and granted a new regeneration cycle to lead the fight against the Daleks in the Time War.

    • This story is sometimes referred to as Doctor Who: The Movie, which was the title printed on the cover of the Region 2 DVD release. Executive producer Philip Segal suggested that fans might want to refer to the story as Enemy Within.

    • The brief appearance of the Master associated with cat-like eyes at the beginning of the movie directly links this with the story Survival, the last appearance of the Master in the original show, where he is infected with a Cheetah virus.

    • At the end of the original U.K. broadcast of this story in 1996, a caption after the closing credits read 'In Memory of Jon Pertwee', the beloved third Doctor who had died seven days earlier on 20 May.

    • The Daleks make a very brief (audio only) cameo at the beginning of the film. This sequence was recut and speeded up hence they sound rather more like chipmunks in the final edit.

    • The Master infers from the Doctor's retinal print that he is "half-human," while the Doctor tells Professor Wagg that he is "half-human, on [his] mother's side." Which contradicts everything we thought we knew about the Doctor.

    • Sylvester McCoy reprises his role as the Doctor's seventh incarnation, lending the production an authenticity that it would otherwise lack.

    • Filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in January and February 1996.

    • An 85-minute TV movie. First aired on 14 May 1996. It was the U.S. Fox network's entire night of Tuesday broadcasting, beginning at 7.00 p.m. Central Standard Time.