Doctor Who – The Movie

Doctor Who - The Movie
Doctor Who – The Movie

The Movie, sometimes known with the title “Enemy Within”, is a “Doctor Who” production that follows the classic series and was aired in 1996. It was written by Matthew Jacobs and directed by Geoffrey Sax.

The story

The Master was executed by the Daleks for his crimes. His last wish is that his remains are brought back to Gallifrey by the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy). In reality, the Master survived in a kind of goo that comes out of the box in which the Doctor had closed it and causes an emergency landing of the Tardis in San Francisco, on December 30, 1999.

While the Master’s sneaking out of the Tardis, the Doctor is critically wounded in a shootout between gangs. Rushed to a hospital, he’s operated by cardiologist Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook), but dies during surgery. A few hours later, the regeneration is completed but the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) is confused and doesn’t even remember who he is while the Master has found a new body to use to carry out his plans.


The original edition contains a fair amount of extras while the Special Edition is rich in extras. In both editions there are typical contents such as production subtitles and a gallery of pictures from this adventure. The Special Edition also contains the Radio Times Billings and a promo of the “Doctor Who” DVDs to be published soon.

There are various comments in the adventure alternative audio track of both editions by director Geoffrey Sax. The Special Edition contains a further alternative audio track with comments by protagonists Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy moderated by Nicholas Briggs.

Both editions include:

On-LocationPhilip Segal Interview (original edition) / Electronic Press KitBehind the ScenesPhilip Segal Tours the TARDIS Set (Special Edition). Assorted material that includes interviews with cast and crew, behind the scenes, executive producer Philip Segal walking around on the Tardis set and giving an interview.

Extra Scenes / Alternate Takes. Early versions of two scenes of the movie.

Music Score / Isolated ScoreFour Audio Tracks. The option to listen to the soundtrack composed by John Debney in an audio track isolated and four music pieces.

Trailers / BBC Trails. Various BBC trailers.

The Special Edition also contains:

The Seven Year Hitch. A documentary about 54 minutes long explaining the complex process that led to the production of this TV movie. It’s a very interesting extra that explains in detail the executive producer Philip Segal’s efforts to achieve the production of this TV movie and all the problems he had to face in the process.

The Doctor’s Strange Love. The writers Joseph Lidster and Simon Guerrier and comedian Josie Long talk about how they have come to love this TV movie. It’s a bit of a filler but I know none of the participants so maybe I just haven’t been able to appreciate it properly.

Paul McGann Audition. The original Paul McGann audition.

VFX Tests June 1994. A test of some special effects created in 1994.

VFX March 1996. Some tests of special effects created in 1996.

Who Peter 1989-2009. The second part, nearly 27-minute long, of a documentary that explores the special relationship that exists between “Doctor Who” and the program “Blue Peter”. An interesting extra that shows how “Blue Peter” continued to keep alive the memory of “Doctor Who” after the end of the classic series.

The Wilderness Years. A documentary almost 24 minutes long obout the wilderness years between the classic series and the new series that shows how “Doctor Who” has continued to live in books, comic books, video tapes, and in other ways.

Stripped For Action: The Eighth Doctor. A documentary almost 20 minutes long about the Eighth Doctor comics. It’s interesting especially for people interested in the comics.

Tomorrow’s Times: The Eighth Doctor. A look at the comments made on the TV movie presented by actor Nicholas Courtney.

Both editions contain an “Easter egg”. In the original edition there’s the homage paid to Jon Pertwee, who died a few days before the airing of the TV movie. In the Special Edition there’s an old interview to Philip Segal.

The cancellation of the classic “Doctor Who” series after “Survival” seemed to have marked the end to the saga on TV and the fans had to settle for books, comics and tapes of old adventures. However, producer Philip Segal, who was born in England and moved to the USA, was very familiar with the show and in 1989 started working to start a new series co-produced by the BBC in conjunction with an American partner.

Soon, Philip Segal had to change his plans and tried to produce a “Doctor Who” TV movie but finding the money and reconciling the parties involved turned out to be a really hard task. After years of efforts with proposals turned down and discarded screenplays, Segal was able to find an agreement among Universal Studios, BBC Films, BBC Worldwide, 20th Century Fox and the American network Fox.

The final script is the result of various compromises between the demands of the funding parties and one of the results is that there are a number of plot holes. It start with the Master being tried by the Daleks for his crimes, and this gives the impression that they wanted to somehow put the Daleks in the story because it’s really hard to understand why they’d want to put the Master to a trial. However, a Dalek trial is of the type:

Defense: “Exterminate!”
Prosecutor: “Exterminate!”
Jury: “Exterminate!”
Judge: “Exterminate!”

In short, we can’t expect big surprises. 😉 The Master’s last wish is that his remains are brought to Gallifrey by the Doctor. Why should the Daleks deliver something peacefully to their worst enemy? It would make more sense that the Daleks and the Master had orchestrated together a plan against the Doctor. Maybe the Master’s latest body was again about to die and to steal the Doctor’s body he had convinced the Daleks to pretend to kill him.

To have a certain continuity with the classic series, the TV movie starts with the Seventh Doctor. It’s paradoxical that the Doctor who was the greatest manipulator is killed because is easily manipulated by the Master and by chance is shot when he ends up in the middle of a shootout between gangs.

And this is just the beginning of the TV movie. 🙄

The regeneration is another element I really don’t like. The style is more that of Highlander and the Doctor, instead of being weak, can break down the metal door of the morgue cell he’s closed in with his bare hands. This phase is also weird because it mixes a parallelism with Frankenstein’s monster with other elements that instead remind of Jesus resurrection.

At that time, the kisses between the Eighth Doctor and Grace were also seen in a negative way by many fans because in the original series the Doctor was basically asexual. In retrospect, it was a sign of the change that came in the new series, where the Doctor has kissed all his female companions and even some male companions. 😀

As if all of that weren’t enough, it’s revealed that the Doctor is half human and this has a frankly nonsensical importance connected with the Eye of Harmony. In several novels published later, there were attempts to explain this element, along with other problems of the script, but those are still really far-fetched explanations.

“Doctor Who” writers were never exactly careful to avoid plot holes and inconsistencies, on the contrary the classic series is full of inconsistencies and retcons. However, the TV movie is really full of them, with the screenwriter too busy putting together the demands of the various funders to be able to do a really good job about the quality of the story.

“Doctor Who” is a product of British but the TV movie has a very American flavor. The story of the Eighth Doctor seems more suited to the Terminator saga! Paul McGann seems the only British element left so it’s paradoxical that the TV movie had an audience success in UK but not in the USA.

Evidently, in UK there was still hunger for “Doctor Who” while in the USA the fandom was limited and the rest of the audience didn’t seem very interested despite of the similarities of the TV movie with other American successful products. It’s for this reason that the American partners weren’t interested in funding a new series.

It’s a shame that the TV movie has a messed up plot because for everything else it seems like a good product. At last, even the special effects in “Doctor Who” are good, well used by a competent director! Paul McGann is excellent in the part of the Doctor and in the subsequent years has demonstrated it more and more playing the part in many Big Finish audio adventures.

In my opinion, the rest of the cast overall do a good job, also considering the low level of the story. Eric Roberts is the one most often criticized for his portrayal of the Master but I honestly don’t know what he could’ve done better with the part written for him.

After the failure of the plans to produce a new television series “Doctor Who” seemed really don on TV. Luckily, the fandom always kept active and in 2005 the new series arrived. Philip Segal had good intentions, he was simply on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean to produce a TV movie connected to the saga. When it was the BBC who produced the new series on itw own, it did it in the right way, the British one.

Doctor Who - The Movie Special Edition
Doctor Who – The Movie Special Edition

Overall, I think the TV movie is mediocre because of the story that lacks too many elements characteristic of “Doctor Who”, replaced with American stereotypes. The original edition of the DVD is a product made for fans who want to have the complete collection since the extras are made up of material of the time.

The 2-DVD Special Edition also has new extras specifically produced which are very interesting for the fans because they explain the complicated genesis of the TV movie but they also tell the story of the wilderness years between the end of the classic series and the beginning of the new series. It’s a product in which the extras are even better than the movie and that’s why I recommed it to “Doctor Who” fans.

In Region 2 nations, the Special Edition is part of the “Revisitations 1” box set, available on Amazon UK. This box set contains two adventures rated as the best in the poll held by the “Doctor Who magazine” for the 40th anniversary of the classic series, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” and “The Caves of Androzani“. They’re enough to make it a great box set absolutely recommended to anyone who’s interested in the series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *