I had mixed feelings about this made-for-TV movie when it first aired in 1996.
On the one hand, it was the first new Doctor Who since the original long-running series had finally been cancelled in 1989. I’d stopped watching it by then anyway, but had fond memories of the Doctors I’d watched growing up and would have liked to see the show come back again.
On the other hand, the movie was made by Fox TV in cooperation with the BBC and Universal Studios with the prospect of introducing a new version of the series in America.
While a few British series have been successfully adapted into US versions, the odds are against it. What made the UK show successful is more often altered out of recognition to suit US television standards, or simply doesn’t translate from one country to the other. For example, there have been at least two attempts to transplant Fawlty Towers, both of which crashed and burned. The science fiction/time travel element of Doctor Who might survive, but much of the charm and whimsy of the character would be lost.
So I watched it with a certain amount of hope and trepidation. And it was okay. I liked Paul McGann’s Doctor, but there were a couple of things in the story that really irritated me.
The movie received good ratings when it aired on the BBC, but not so great on Fox. There was no new series at that time; Doctor Who would have to wait until 2005 to return to television.
I thought little more about this movie for 20-plus years unless I had some reason to list actors who played the Doctor. But since I’ve been viewing and writing reviews of old Doctor Who episodes recently, I thought I’d give it another look.
It’s not as disappointing as I remembered it being in 1996. Viewing it again after 15 years of modern Who, I can see it as the transition between the old and new series. One of the things I disliked about it still bothers me. The other… well, the Doctor does that all the time these days and I’ve gotten used to it.