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Doctor Who (1996)

TV Movie  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi  |  14 May 1996 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 6,929 users  
Reviews: 111 user | 14 critic

The newly-regenerated Doctor takes on the Master on the turn of the millennium, 31 December 1999.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Michael David Simms ...
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Wheeler (as Catherine Lough)
Dolores Drake ...
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Pete (as William Sasso)
Jeremy Radick ...
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Bill Croft ...
David Hurtubise ...
Professor Wagg (as Dave Hurtubise)
Joel Wirkkunen ...
Ted
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Storyline

The Doctor, an alien time traveller from the planet Gallifrey, is transporting the remains of his nemesis, the Master back to their homeworld. However the Master is not as dead as the Doctor thinks. The Master's essence escapes and sabotages the TARDIS, the Doctor's time machine causing it to crash land in San Franscisco on December 30th 1999. The Doctor requires a beryllium atomic clock to repair the TARDIS, but is shot as he leaves it. Taken to hospital, the Doctor's seventh regeneration is triggered by a surgeon, confused by his alien physiology, while the Master takes over a paramedic's body. He needs a Time Lord's body to survive and be able to regenerate again so he needs the Doctor's. The newly regenerated the Doctor must fight to save his own eighth body, and the world when the Master sabotages the TARDIS' power source. By midnight on December 31st 1999, the Earth will be pulled through this power-source, a mini-black hole, and only the Doctor can stop if only he can remember ... Written by Dave Gardner <is6131@dcs.napier.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He's Back... And It's About Time See more »


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Details

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Release Date:

14 May 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Doctor Who: Enemy Within  »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gordon Tipple was given an on-screen credit because he recorded the original monologue that was to have opened the movie but was discarded in favour of a monologue by Paul McGann, which was itself discarded in favour of a second monologue by Paul McGann that is now in the finished movie. See more »

Goofs

At the start of the movie, when the Seventh Doctor seals the Masters remains shut with the sonic screwdriver, the head of the screwdriver is slightly out of focus. This is explained in a recent (2005) interview by Sylvester McCoy; he was holding it the wrong way around! See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
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 Timelord, should take his remains back to our home planet; Gallifrey
The Doctor: [pause]
The Doctor: It was a request they should never have granted...
The Doctor: [Cue the opening credits]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Rather than credit the creator of "Doctor Who" (1963), Sydney Newman, a title card reads: "Based upon the television series broadcast by the BBC." Ron Grainer, composer of the film's theme music, and Delia Derbyshire, designer of the TARDIS sound effect, do not receive screen credit. See more »

Connections

Featured in Talking About Regeneration (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Doctor Who Theme Song
(uncredited)
Written by Ron Grainer
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A noble failure
9 September 2008 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

In 1996, seven years after the original Doctor Who series was canceled, the American network Fox thought a USA reboot of the show might be a good way to bring everybody's favorite Time Lord back to the small screen. The resulting TV movie was notoriously lambasted by critics and fans alike, who responded with more warmth to the BBC's revival of the character in 2005. Perhaps the biggest problem lies in the very fact that the Yanks tried to do their own version of a quintessential British creation: you don't see the Brits try and remake Star Trek, do you? Nevertheless, as messy as it is, this 1996 version of Doctor Who (which is part of the official mythology) has a few valid selling points that make it worth tracking down on a boring Saturday afternoon.

The original show ended with the Doctor being played by Sylvester McCoy, the seventh incarnation of the character, and it is still McCoy, albeit credited as a guest star, who controls the TARDIS at the beginning of the story. The year is 1999 (as a matter of fact, the specific date is December 31st), and the renegade Time Lord is transporting the ashes of his archenemy, the Master, back to their home planet Gallifrey. However, due to a series of mishaps, the machine crash-lands in America, with the Doctor presumably dead and the Master's spirit free to take over the body of a paramedic (Eric Roberts). His plan is to use some temporal anomaly to steal the Doctor's remaining lives (each Time Lord has thirteen of them; the Master's used them up). As for the Doctor, once he's regenerated into a half-human eighth embodiment (Paul McGann), he has to stop his nemesis once and for all.

The plot is a classic good vs. evil confrontation, and that's one of the TV movie's main flaws: instead of reintroducing the Doctor, like Russell T. Davies did in the new series, the narrative proceeds as if no time had passed between the original show's finale and this Americanized version. This can prove particularly alienating to US audiences, for whom Doctor Who isn't an essential part of popular culture, and McGann's clumsy voice-over doesn't do much to sort things out in that department. And that's without mentioning the holes in logic: why introduce two new (American) sidekicks, one of whom a potential love interest for the protagonist, and then suggest they would have no major role in other episodes, had the US show been picked up by Fox? And since when do Daleks and Time Lords cooperate, as shown prior to the opening credits?

That said, McGann and Roberts are good enough to compensate most of the other rubbish, one giving that undeniably English quality to the quirky time traveler, the other adding a bit of OTT menace to one of the show's seminal villains. In addition, the special effects are state-of-the-art, as is the new rendition of Ron Grainer's immortal theme music.

Overall, a one-off experiment that is best remembered as a guilty pleasure for die-hard fans. Fortunately, the Yanks were wise enough to let the BBC handle everything Who-related from this point on.

6,5/10


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