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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

52 Comments

  1. 5tephe
    December 26, 2012 @ 1:19 am

    Well done. Kudos for your honesty. Amazing to see how you can make the themes of life going on fit into two such jarringly different narratives.

    But of course, that's the point. All of these things – even the most horrific of them – are just a part of life, going on.

    Thanks for letting me see a little ways past the media event, and into your town.

    Reply

  2. Tommy
    December 26, 2012 @ 1:54 am

    To be fair I sometimes think if people really were entirely aware of or thought about society's capacity for wanton malice and mad dog violence as being anything but isolated incidents that are best not dwelled on…. I suspect many people would become too paranoid or disillusioned to function properly in life anymore.

    As for the TV Movie, in regards to McCoy's presence I don't have a problem with it, and I suspect I'd have more of a problem with them excluding McCoy and throwing him under the bus the way RTD did to McGann and to Nick Courtney (incidentally I've never liked RTD's rather reactionary, messy, regressive take on the Ninth Doctor as the rough, thuggish 'anti-McGann'). I don't think a regeneration is a bad starting point for a pilot episode per se, but I think the best way to do it would be to have it happen early on, and most importantly, make sure the companion character actually witnesses it.

    In that regard I often think they should have simply dusted off the Seven Keys to Doomsday stage script and made that into the pilot episode. I think that'd be a great way of reintroducing the show to a new audience.

    I can't really see the TV Movie as damaging to the show, or at least not in the same way as Twin Dilemma was. From a British perspective I'd say it was quite the opposite. People who didn't like the TV Movie at least seemed to be moved to a more affectionate nostalgia toward the old series, when previously it was still kind of seen as an embarrassment. And people who didn't like the show for its poor production values and more wooden acting at least got a glimpse of how a modern take on the show might improve on that aspect.

    So I can't see it in the same light as Warriors of the Deep, Twin Dilemma or Attack of the Cybermen where it's not just off-putting to the kind of people who have a stereotypical view of the show in mind, but also to the kind of people who might have potentially been fans and could have appreciated the show's morality and message and focus on good storytelling, and would be put off by something that was as rotten-hearted and as far from those values as possible.

    Of course if there was no hope of a reprieve, then at least it'd be just possible to see the TV Movie as bringing some closure to the old series, rather than the dour and bitterly unresolved note of Survival.

    Reply

  3. londoncitynights
    December 26, 2012 @ 3:14 am

    Not much to say other than that was a pretty damn great bit of writing. Last place I expected to find probably the least sensationalistic article possible about the shooting.

    Reply

  4. J. L. Webb
    December 26, 2012 @ 4:18 am

    Thanks for some perspective, on a lot of things. I never know what to think abut these sorts of things, I'm wary of being drawn into any 'master narrative' logic, so I just keep out of it, stay away from the news articles and hashtags, etc.
    So it's (important? different? 'nice'?) to hear something about it and feel like I can let myself engage, not have to hold myself at a distance from other people's tragedy for fear of having an agenda forced down my throat.

    In the rather more trivial world of the TVM, I'm of a different generation. I was five or so when it came out and watched it in a BBC special Doctor Who night. Hazy blurs of The Daleks, and some Tom Baker story or other being shown before-hand. It never killed the show I loved, I was young enough to take it's incomprehensibility for enigmatic mystery, so now when I see it, though I see that it is awful, and that McGann is unenthused, I cannot escape the flame of childhood in me which sees great flickering phantom versions of these things, more magical and infinite than their true selves.
    Not that this redeems the film for what it did to to countless fans old enough to see it for what it is, young enough to still be hurt by that. But it is worth noting that at the right age, for the right mind, on the right night, even this managed to plant the seed of wonder that is Doctor Who into hearts where it would one day bloom.

    Impossibly, there is always hope.

    Reply

  5. Andrew Hickey
    December 26, 2012 @ 5:40 am

    Wonderful post.

    Incidentally, were you ever taught by Miss Lang?

    Reply

  6. Neo Tuxedo
    December 26, 2012 @ 6:09 am

    Tommy skrev:

    To be fair I sometimes think if people really were entirely aware of or thought about society's capacity for wanton malice and mad dog violence as being anything but isolated incidents that are best not dwelled on…. I suspect many people would become too paranoid or disillusioned to function properly in life anymore.

    Given how many people become paranoid or disillusioned in a world whose master narrative treats these incidents as isolated, I suspect you're right.

    I often think they should have simply dusted off the Seven Keys to Doomsday stage script and made that into the pilot episode. I think that'd be a great way of reintroducing the show to a new audience.

    …that's so obvious and brilliant I'm not surprised I've never heard anyone propose it before. After all, a wise man said it takes a true genius to see the things anyone could have seen.

    Reply

  7. The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca
    December 26, 2012 @ 7:22 am

    I study Ancient History for a 'living,' such as it were. The Romans, for fun, liked to sit in large structures and watch people die. Stabbed, whipped, piked, beheaded, set on fire, ripped apart by animals, they watched humans and animals die in orgies of blood for hundreds of years. Then I look at all the pearl clutchers in Washington D.C., a city that – as much it pays lips service to Greek cultural forms – is as conscientiously modelled on Pompey's Rome as it is possible to be. As I watch them rend their garments and question 'why,' I wonder if they ever bother to look out the window.

    As to the article itself, as per an above poster: thank you for your honesty. It was very well written indeed.

    Reply

  8. Ross
    December 26, 2012 @ 7:25 am

    One of the big problems for the TVM for me is that it's got what I tend to call a "third season plot" — a plot that is essentially introspective, where the entire story only happens because the hero didn't just decide to sleep in that morning — where the plot boils down to "There is something about the hero which someone else is seeking to exploit to a horrible end". Nothing in the story would have happened if the Doctor, upon receiving the summons to collect the master's remains, had just said "Meh" and gone back to bed — not just "Things would have happened differently" but "nothing would have happened at all." I call it a "third season episode" because it's a plot that only could work if the audience already cares about the character — it's not a plot that works when you first introduce the character. (The 2009 revival of Knight Rider did the same thing, with its plot hinging on "If the bad guys capture the car, they will be able to take over all US weapons sattelites." If I don't already care about the car, then the solution is "Well let's just blow up the car and be done with it.") The Doctor tells us that the anesthesia nearly destroyed his regeneration process — in a certain sense, we'd be better off if it had. The master would be foiled and the earth would be safe. (It is a happy coincidence that 'Human Nature' was a third season episode. It's hard to imagine that one working earlier in the series either).

    That kind of navel-gazey plot is terrible for a pilot, but it seems fairly common for shows going for cult sci-fi, I think because the "real" point of the pilot is to be an extended backstory dump, so an introspective plot gives you an excuse to have the hero explain himself and how his powers work.

    Reply

  9. Alan
    December 26, 2012 @ 8:23 am

    To be fair I sometimes think if people really were entirely aware of or thought about society's capacity for wanton malice and mad dog violence as being anything but isolated incidents that are best not dwelled on…. I suspect many people would become too paranoid or disillusioned to function properly in life anymore.

    Bit of a chicken and the egg question, seeing as how most of this wanton malice and mad dog violence is perpetrated by people driven by paranoia and/or disillusionment with contemporary civilization. Case in point: Lanza used automatic weapons purchased by his mother who reportedly was a "prepper" who was obsessed with the imminent collapse of American society.

    Reply

  10. Alan
    December 26, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    I actually thought Roberts wasn't bad as the Master (given the incoherence with which the Master was introduced — a casual viewer might be forgiven for mistakenly believing that ALL Timelords were actually floaty green energy-snakes that possessed human bodies for fun). For most of his scenes, Roberts exuded a casual menace mixed with some wry humor. I laughed out loud when he corrected Grace's grammar in the ambulance. Then, it all went to absolute shit in his last scene when he took the time to "dresssss for the occasion" in a costume stolen from Ming the Merciless. It was without a doubt the silliest thing any incarnation of the Master has ever worn.

    Reply

  11. Alan
    December 26, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    Also, how nauseating to be reminded of John Leekley's involvement with this fiasco. From 1985 to the present day, the two great pop culture loves of my life have been Doctor Who and White Wolf Games, specifically Vampire: the Masquerade. And Leekley managed to get his grubby little mitts on both of them and remake them in his own twisted, derivative image. Leekley's Doctor Who was going to be a vapid "hero's journey" to find the Doctor's missing father (and whatever you think about Lungbarrow, I will always love it for the utterly gratuitous way it craps over that idea by saying that Timelords are loomed not born).

    But that was nothing compared to the embarrassment that was Kindred: The Embraced. The Ventrue and the Brujah were rival mafia families? The Gangrel were wusses who kept getting beaten up by the Toreador? All Nosferatu are just regular looking blokes in bald caps? Everybody walked around in bright sunlight, drinking cocktails, eating canapes and acting like they were in a Spelling soap opera (which they were)? And most implausible of all, C. Thomas Howell is a driven homicide detective?

    Reply

  12. Alphapenguin
    December 26, 2012 @ 8:54 am

    "…the TV Movie is about as good as Sliders"

    When/if they start releasing Doctor Who on Blu-Ray, that's just about the perfect box quote right there.

    Reply

  13. jane
    December 26, 2012 @ 10:12 am

    The invocation of dropping a second wave of bombs on first responders reminds me so much of The Hunger Games, and I liked that. I liken the semiregular school shootings to lotteries, and the kids mowed down are Tributes to America's "freedom," where all we need do is honor their courage and their sacrifice. As The Lord of AL mentions above, it shouldn't take all that much more to move the narrative from lachrymose tragedy to an exciting free-for-all befitting the new Rome: just give all the teachers guns. The Empire Never Ended.

    Still not sure about the TVM having a Campbellian structure. Anyone care to actually map that out? I'm having a hard time seeing it.

    Reply

  14. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 26, 2012 @ 10:15 am

    Put Grace in the hero's position and it's fairly straightforward.

    Reply

  15. goatie
    December 26, 2012 @ 10:50 am

    Before I got into audios and novels, and I had only this movie with which to judge the 8th Doctor, I found I really liked him because the short glimpse encapsulates exactly what I see the Doctor as: potential. The 8th Doctor is only potential, and there's nothing that shapes him or drives him down a path that would keep him from doing something else. He can do anything, and probably will. So, if nothing else, the TV movie allowed me to articulate why I love the Doctor.

    Reply

  16. dm
    December 26, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    Is the photo caption meant to tie the movie and school shootings together or is it just a comment on McGann's appearance?

    Reply

  17. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 26, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

    I wanted to maintain the usual structure of a silly comment on s screenshot, but I didn't want to fall into jarring inappropriateness. I thought the Boomtown Rats reference split the difference.

    Reply

  18. dm
    December 26, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

    Well straddled!

    Reply

  19. Ununnilium
    December 26, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

    IMHO, if everyone knew what was in the heads of their fellow human beings, they'd form long lines, waking down the street, shaking hands and apologizing for what they thought before.

    Reply

  20. Ununnilium
    December 26, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    Hopefully I'll be able to write a more thorough comment later, but for now: Thank you.

    Reply

  21. Ununnilium
    December 26, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

    Excellent point. It's the kind of plot that has to be based in interiority, and the TV Movie had very little of that.

    Reply

  22. Tommy
    December 26, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

    Certainly we got a better, more flexible and possibility-fueled characterisation of the Doctor here than we did during most of the JNT era.

    And infact to me it marks one of the first times since The Five Doctors that the show on TV (I never really read the novels much so can't comment) seemed capable of keeping itself going through something other than spite.

    Reply

  23. elvwood
    December 26, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

    Yes, thanks for the "warts and all" picture of Newtown. You could have titled it "Now My Home Town" – it's a very personal view, which is possibly the only way of getting past the – well, "sanitised" is perhaps the wrong word, but certainly artificial – version published on the news. Oh, and the British media have already moved on, if my limited recent experience is representative.

    Reply

  24. Christopher Haynes
    December 27, 2012 @ 4:12 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  25. Christopher Haynes
    December 27, 2012 @ 4:44 am

    By May of 1996, I had completely fallen out of love with a silly British sci-fi show that had been unlike anything else on television. Virgin's New Adventures (and to a lesser extent, their fans) had ruined it for me.

    Consequently I sold all my Doctor Who books on eBay, gave away my posters and recorded over the few episodes I'd taped. I moved on to other things, and never expected to look back.

    And then people I can never thank enough took it and made me fall in love with Doctor Who all over again. I've remained a fan ever since.

    Reply

  26. Matthew Celestis
    December 27, 2012 @ 5:05 am

    I do remember that sense of despair watching The TV Movie. It just felt soul crushing to watch. But I never quite lost interest in Doctor Who afterwards. I remember reading the Radio Times comic strip with the Ice Warriors(which seemed quite good at the time) afterwards. I never quite lost interest in Doctor Who after the TV Movie.

    Reply

  27. Ross
    December 27, 2012 @ 5:17 am

    I never quite lost the love myself, and I don't think I recognized it at the time, but I did undergo a definite shift in the way I related to Doctor Who not long after the TV movie. It drifted away from being an active interest and rolled into the domain of "fond childhood memory". I guess the really telling point for me was when my parents got me the Key To Time box set for Christmas in 2002, and I returned it and got a Gamecube instead. (I did eventually buy the boxset again, a rare example of something I've gotten twice and ended up regretting both times, since the special editions were announced not long after I got the feature-poor versions)

    Reply

  28. David Anderson
    December 27, 2012 @ 7:39 am

    The half human thing is an endorsement of the American political system.
    If the Doctor and Gallifrey are both alien, then the relationship between them is one that can parallel the relationship between any political establishment and those outside it. But if the Doctor is half human, then Gallifrey is a contrast to us – the half of the Doctor that is Other. So the flaws, and virtues of the Time Lords are no longer a figure for our own political establishments. Of course, given the way US cultural imagery works, from a US perspective 'us' can be the US and the 'Other' can be the UK (or England), so that making the Doctor half human makes him half American. And therefore, the Time Lords have nothing to do with the US political establishment. The Doctor becomes explicitly an endorsement of the US' self-perception as seen in relation to the UK.

    It works that way with Spock as well. Spock's character development almost always consists of him coming to terms with his human side. And in the recent film that is explicitly bound up with realising that Kirk, the human, makes a better captain than he does.

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  29. Ununnilium
    December 27, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    It's more fundamental than that, I'd say – it's the simple old trope of "humans are special". Which can easily map to "whatever group the audience is part of is special", but given the ludicrous number of British signifiers he got – and the absence of signifiers otherwise – "half American" seems a stretch. (It's much easier to argue with Spock and Kirk, tho. But note that the new movie has a Spock who has fully integrated both sides as the best of all.)

    Reply

  30. Ununnilium
    December 27, 2012 @ 8:58 am

    Also, on a positive note, I got the first two Eruditorum volumes for Xmas!

    Reply

  31. Martin Porter
    December 27, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    What a great post.

    My main memory of the TV Movie, after the crushing disappointment of it all, was that the Millenium had been done so much better by the film Strange Days the year before.

    By the time we actually got to December 1999 I was heartily sick of it all.

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  32. Spacewarp
    December 27, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    I never really minded the TV Movie. No matter what was wrong or different with it, it was still Doctor Who. My earliest memories are of watching Doctor Who in the late 60s, and although I fell out of love with it during the 80s and 90s, that was probably because I had changed into a person who had no time for it anymore. There are people out there who grew up with Davison and McCoy, Doctors who for them could do no wrong, and yet Doctors who I just couldn't find any interest in watching. So I watched the TV Movie and I took out of it what I liked (the TARDIS interior, McGann's fresh-faced Doctor) and ignored what I didn't (the theme tune, the Master). It didn't rape my childhood or shatter my memories, because after almost 3 decades I'd already seen Doctor Who change several times into something unrecognisable from my childhood. By the time the 90s came along I was far from being bent out of shape every time Doctor Who did something I didn't like. Sometimes they do things we don't quite enjoy, but at the end of the day it's just a bloody TV programme. Enjoy it.

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  33. Christopher Haynes
    December 27, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

    I'll drink to that, Spacewarp.

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  34. Iain Coleman
    December 27, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

    The more I watch the TV movie, the less I like it. I basically just enjoy Eric Roberts' wonderfully scenery-chewing Master and those moments when McGann actually gets to be the Doctor. Apart from that, repeated rewatchings just expose the abritrariness and incoherence of the story.

    That said, there are two good reasons to look upon the story more kindly now than one might have done at the time. The first is simply that, since the successful 2005 revival, the TV movie is no longer the failure of the last hope for more Doctor Who on TV: it is simply a bad Doctor Who episode, of which there have been plenty since 1963 and yet life has gone on.

    Secondly, as more has emerged about the development process and the earlier story treatments, we can see how much worse it could have been. For all its faults, the TV movie does at least feel like a Doctor Who story in a Pertwee-esque mode. Imagine if it had still had all that bollocks about the Doctor going on a quest to find his long-lost father, Ulysses. Jesus wept, that would have been unutterably awful.

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  35. Ross
    December 27, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

    I don't know. The Doctor going on a quest to find his long-lost father would have at least been a whole plot, rather than an hour of the Doctor being unconscious/amnesiac/someone else followed by half an hour of the cast just meandering into various set-pieces until they meandered into the Floor Show for the climax.

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  36. Iain Coleman
    December 27, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

    I would rather slash my dick and plunge it into a barrel of salt than watch the Doctor go on a quest to find his long-lost father. Your mileage may vary.

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  37. Nickdoctorwho
    December 27, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

    There are two very big problems I have with the TVM.

    First is the lack of a monster. THAT'S what it needed. Forget the "Master trying to use the TARDIS to take the Doctor's remaining lives," what it needed was a big ol' beastie with great big fangs and its guts on the outside.

    Second is the plot, a Frankenstein-like hybrid of previous, aborted scripts. Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier's "The Nth Doctor" goes into greater detail, but I'll summarize two big points for you:

    1: The Master's on trial because, as we would have learned had the series gone into production, he invaded Gallifrey with his own "brand" of Daleks as a private army.

    2: The "Millennium" business comes from a draft in which the Master used something called the Millennium Star (as its name implies, it's visible only once every 1,000 years) in his masterdly plans. (Ooh, there's a good word.) To what effect, I don't know.

    So, what can we learn from the TVM? Ideally, we can learn that one must NEVER, EVER open a series assuming that a series is SURE to follow. The TVM had a Whobris about it–there are a whole bunch of unsolved mysteries because it didn't get a series.

    A bit less ideally, the whole thing needed better marketing. Say what you will about Russell T. Davies' 2005 opener, but "Do you want to come with me?" is a better tagline than "He's back…and it's about time."

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  38. Anton B
    December 28, 2012 @ 3:40 am

    An incredibly moving and well written post which gets right to the truth of both the recent events in your home town and of the (lesser) disaster of the TV movie. Thankyou.

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  39. BerserkRL
    December 29, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

    the TV Movie seems not so much to be non-canonical as anti-canonical: something that exists almost entirely as a negative example that the future of the series actively avoids copying.

    But not in every respect.

    a) The tv-movie's version of regeneration (with pixie-dust coming out of his mouth) is the closest forerunner of the new series' version of regeneration.

    b) The tv-movie inaugurates the tradition that every major companion kisses the Doctor.

    c) And the Doctor gets his new clothes by stealing them in a hospital — which looks both back to Pertwee and forward to Smith. (The considering-different-weird-options is also a nod to T. Baker.)

    the Doctor is not a figure of anarchy or of the weird. He’s a figure of authority

    Maybe in terms of the plot, but that's not how McGann projects it, at least.

    The Doctor has a TARDIS full of clocks to demonstrate that he’s a Time Lord, and for no other reason

    I assumed it was a deliberate nod to the opening of Back to the Future.

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  40. BerserkRL
    December 29, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

    One of the big problems for the TVM for me is that it's got what I tend to call a "third season plot"

    That reminds me of one of my gripes about ST:TNG. The very second episode was about an alien virus affecting the crew's personalities and making them act out of character. That's obviously the sort of story that should wait until after we've actually gotten to know the characters in the first place.

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  41. Ross
    December 29, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

    ST:TNG at least had the mitigating circumstance that a writer's strike forced them to run with a bunch of weaker episodes that they'd originally meant to rework and integrate later (Tellingly, that's one of the "Wesley Crusher Saves The Day" episodes. They'd originally intended to do 1 Wesley Crusher Saves the Day story by taking the best bits out of several scripts, then rework the leftovers into non-Wesley Crusher Saves The Day stories, but with the writer's strike, they ended up having to just run with what are essentially a half-dozen first drafts.)

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  42. BerserkRL
    December 29, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

    Among the tv-movie's failings we can add a criminally incompetent hospital whose staff violate every procedure on the book.

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  43. Russell Gillenwater
    December 31, 2012 @ 9:25 am

    A number of points you make is why I have come to see the TV Movie as a bridge between the classic & modern (you could also add TARDIS interior design). I mean take a look at example B, even BF, when introducing companions, follows the line that the first four Doctors has classic series style relationships with companions where the Eighth's female ones have crush on him (I haven't listen to Dark Eyes).

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  44. Wm Keith
    January 2, 2013 @ 4:17 am

    Excellent: the film ends with the hero having no further need or use for Dr Who.

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  45. Ross
    January 2, 2013 @ 6:09 am

    That's sort of interesting because even though it's kind of terrible here, the idea of the Doctor being less the hero himself and more a sort of Obi Wan character who acts as a catalyst to make the nascent hero become heroic isn't all that wrong — it's probably the single longest-running theme in RTD's Doctor Who (Another one of those places where I broke with the old-school fans, there were a lot of complaints during the Eccleston season about how it always seems to be someone other than the Doctor who actually saves the day — Rose, Jabe, Dickens, Cathica, Mickey, Jack, Rose again). For that matter, it's got strong parallels with the Hartnell era, where the Doctor's role was very different and it was the male companion who did most of the straightforward heroics.

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  46. encyclops
    March 21, 2013 @ 6:38 am

    I just watched this again last night and counted 14 things that originated with the TV Movie and ended up as non-trivial elements in the new series. Well, okay, the ubiquity of newscasters and the "Oh no. Not again!" tag are kind of trivial, but yeah.

    If nothing else, compare the Master's abilities and the way the ending "works" with "The End of Time" and "Last of the Time Lords," respectively.

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  47. GarrettCRW
    June 2, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

    The Writer's Guild strike was in 1988. While it was something of an issue at the end of Season 1, it most greatly affected Season 2, which had a lower episode count, a clip show season finale, and recycled a script from Star Trek: Phase II. (The discovery of a full-color print of the original series' pilot was repurposed and hosted by Patrick Stewart as a special episode of sorts for TNG's station as a further "make-good" in the wake of the strike.)

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  48. GarrettCRW
    June 2, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

    Granted, I was a senior in high school at the time and regularly working 5PM-10PM shifts at my high school job, but I don't even remember hearing about the TV movie. Though, given my impression of the show when I first heard about it, I may have stayed away because of concerns about jumping into the show and a desire to see the series in order. But even then, I was well aware of how Fox liked to screw with shows (I was watching and did enjoy Sliders at the time, but it was clear that the network was screwing with the show, and the third season, the one made in favor of Doctor Who, was when the show went beyond stupid), and had also been burned by UPN with Legend and Nowhere Man. I'm still a pretty jaded viewer because of this period and the later Fox screwings I would suffer.

    I do find your leaving behind your fandom behind a bit depressing, Phil. Maybe it's just because I'm an excessively stubborn person, but around the time of the Who movie, I was presented with the DiC-produced episodes of G.I. Joe when they were being rerun alongside the '80s episodes of the show (which was, and still is, a strong personal favorite) on USA's old Cartoon Express, and came to swiftly reject DiC efforts, which served to further solidify my appreciation for the original, high-quality series.

    I do want to say that even though the TV movie is pretty bad as you say, it's difficult for me to make a final determination since the Doctor Who Restoration Team has seen fit to time-compress the TV movie on the home video releases because they loathe NTSC's 3:2 pulldown that badly and went through hoops to take the 24 film frames/second out of a 30 frame/second video master for the express purpose of time-compressing it in the usual, poorly conceived standard PAL transfer method. It's one thing to see shows I like (the aforementioned G.I. Joe, Transformers, Jem, and pretty much everything made by Filmation) subject to crap remastering because of the actions of people who don't know what they're dealing with, but when a normally intelligent group of people screws with a movie, it's quite aggravating.

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  50. GeneralNerd
    December 9, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

    Sometime in the late 90s (not 1996, I'm sure. I think it was 1999, in point of fact), I was home from school, probably sick but possibly it was a Saturday. I'm fairly certain it was the middle of the day anyway. My memory of the whole thing is pretty hazy, so bear with me. Anyway, I was channel surfing, and I stopped on the Sci-Fi Channel. Up next, they said, was a movie called Doctor Who. I was vaguely aware of the existence of this show. I'd never seen it, but I was actually familiar with a few of its concepts, like the fact that it was about time travel, that it involved a phone booth (as I thought of it at the time, being unaware of such a thing as a police box) that was bigger on the inside, that it had run for a long time, and that the actor playing the main character had been replaced a number of times but it was still essentially meant to be the same character. I was, at this point, rediscovering a childhood love for science fiction. At some point, probably about 1996 in point of fact, I had decided that science fiction and fantasy were for little kids and I should stop watching shows like Star Trek and Sliders and the X-Files (the fact that such shows were actually at their low points at the time probably had something to do with it) and try to find more adult pursuits. I never found anything that captivated me like sci-fi, though, so after only a couple of years or three I decided to embrace my geekiness and rediscover sci-fi. Farscape went a long way in this regard, as did, later, once it came to the Sci-Fi channel, Stargate SG-1. So I decided, basically on a whim, to watch this Doctor Who thing and see what it was about.

    I fell in love.

    I can't really articulate what it was about this movie that captured my imagination but it certainly seemed to me to be very different than anything on the air. You say it was Doctor Who as an American cult sci-fi show, but even if that is the case, even in that circumstance, it still felt different from any cult sci-fi I was familiar with. It was the sense of weight, I think. There was a deeper story here, something underneath the surface. The Doctor and the Master had a history. The Doctor obviously knew a lot and had been a lot places. References to the Daleks; what were they? What was Gallifrey like? What sort of people are the Time Lords? And mostly, how had this been running for decades and never crossed into my conscious knowledge until now?

    Yeah, rewatching it now, familiar as I am with Doctor Who, I can see the flaws. I can see why people didn't like it and why it didn't lead to a show, and why a show based on it would have been a disaster. But they do say you never forget your first Doctor. And that's why, even though I've never read any Eighth Doctor novels or listened to any Big Finish audios I'll still say that Paul McGann is my Doctor, the Doctor I ultimately compare all the others to and the one who pops into my mind when I think of Doctor Who. Tennant comes close, but McGann was there first.

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  51. Jordan Murphy
    December 18, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

    I'd apologize for commenting on this so long after the fact, but comments out of time seem somehow appropriate given the subject. I've just watched this again for the first time since it's initial U.S. airing, and while it really is as slipshod stupid as I remember, and as you illustrate, there are a couple bits that stand out to me watching 17 years later and in the wake of The Night of the Doctor.
    The obvious thing is how nice it is that McGann finally got a decent Doctor Who outing on video. But I also think I may have caught a direct reference to the TV movie in The Night of the Doctor. When McGann first comes across the Wild Bill Hickcock costume in the hospital locker, one part of the costume he comes across and immediately discards is the prop pistol, holster and ammo belt. In the minisode, on Karn, he deliberately chooses a different ammo belt as part of the War Doctor's identity. One more thing that's not related, but I also found it amusing to imagine that Eric Roberts playing the Master as Lou Reed.

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  52. Davissneb
    March 22, 2020 @ 10:37 am

    Nice post, thank you so much.
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    Reply

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