Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Eighth Doctor

The Trophy Wife and I are both major Whovians. We both, as kids, watched Doctor Who reruns on PBS - mostly the Tom Baker years, in both our cases. For us (as for much of the world, I understand) Tom Baker was the Doctor.

In 2005, we heard that Doctor Who had been restarted in the UK, and we champed and quivered and hoped until the SciFi Channel finally condescended to show it a year later. And we loved it. Christopher Eccleston was completely over-the-top as the ninth Doctor, and the production values were so infinitely better than the original series' had been.

And we didn't just watch the new series. We sought out the old - we rented episodes, we bought them (when they were cheap), and, of course, we own most of the new series as well. A lot of it was a sort of misplaced nostalgia: we enjoy the old Doctors for their camp value (except the first Doctor - most of his stuff that we've seen has been relatively boring); and since Russell T. Davies, the man who reincarnated the Doctor, was also a major Whovian, he's kept much of the original continuity, reviving the original villains and referencing the original series in little ways that bring a certain depth to the characters.

But there's always been the one Doctor we could never see - the Eighth Doctor.

In 1996, Paul McGann played the Doctor for a single movie, in an American coproduction as an attempt at a pilot for an American series on the Fox network. When it played originally, I got to see just a few minutes before I had to go to work, and could never find it again (the Trophy Wife never saw it, for whatever reason).

And it's been like the Holy Grail ever since. It was never released in America, and only available on videotape and DVD's for every Region except Region 1 (the USA). We've read about it; we've heard people talk about it. We've never seen it.

Finally, late last month, it was released in America. On DVD. For the first time ever. Just in time for the Trophy Wife's birthday (I'll bet you can see where this is going).

As it turns out, the Eighth Doctor's sole live-action outing was only a Grail-shaped beacon. There's a reason this movie never made it as a series: it's a steaming pile of suck.

It has good points: Paul McGann would have made an awesome Doctor, if he'd had a script, decent costars, and maybe a director who had some clue what the hell he was doing. A writer and producer. And if somebody had managed to shoot the committee who finally put this turd on the small screen.

The production values are good. The special effects are mostly acceptable. His companion is even a good actress, well played by Daphne Ashbrook.

In fact, there are only two major flaws to this particular production. First, the entire script. Which, you know, is a major problem for a movie to overcome, but there's one even bigger puke-inducing factor in this film.

The villain is played by Eric Roberts.

The words "Eric Roberts" are rarely the sign of a quality movie. He hasn't always sucked: he did a decent turn in The Dark Knight, and he really didn't drag down the quality of Heroes. But let me say some other titles.

Cecil B. DeMented.

Miss Castaway and the Island Girls.

For the love of all that's holy, Sharktopus!

One of his earliest roles was on the soap opera Another World. And when they brought his character back two years later, they didn't invite Eric to play him.

And I'm willing to put his performance in Doctor Who up against any other role he's ever played as a pure, unadulterated fecal stain.

Many of the early seasons of Doctor Who fall into that "so bad it's good" category. This didn't even rise to that level. It's another fine example of why no artistic endeavor should ever be created by a committee.

Without dropping any spoilers here, let me just say that this movie failed to live up to my expectations.


Sheria said...

How disappointing it must have been! I've never seen the movie and now I'm not certain that I want to do so.

bushesobrandy said...

I watched this movie for the first time Saturday (8/25/12). I wondered why the 8th doctor had been so short lived. And I couldn't find this movie anywhere until I happened upon it on the net. I LOVED the 8th doctor. Well, his persona, look, etc. I thought as far as an action movie went it was ok but as far as a Doctor Who movie? TERRIBLE! So disappointing. I couldn't believe it was already 45 minutes into the movie and NOTHING had happened. I really wish they'd have given this doctor more screen time with episodes and such. I think he could have been up there with Tom Baker and David Tennant.

Nameless Cynic said...

I don't even see it as much of an action movie, to be honest. But I do agree with you that Paul McGann would have been an amazing Doctor. In anything but this.

aussi me said...

Ha ha ha, a steaming pile of suck. I won't bother with the 8th Doctor in that case, but it would have been so thrilling to see Lieutenant Bush as The Doctor. (Hornblower, anyone?)