25 February 2003 | Theo Robertson
Something Of An Anti-Climax
It was in January 1996 that I first heard that my all time favourite TV hero was returning to our screens as a joint BBC / American network TVM . Whoever you are reading this review never EVER give up on your hopes and dreams because for DOCTOR WHO fans in the early 1990s not one of us ever believed we`d be seeing our favourite show return , never mind seeing a big budget American production or that this version was gong to have BAFTA award winning actor Paul McGann in the title role . Words fail to describe the anticipation me and every single other Who fan in the cosmos had in waiting till the TVM was broadcast in May . The only comparison I can think of is LOTR diehards waiting to see FELLOWSHIP , THE TWO TOWERS and RETURN OF THE KING . When the day of the broadcast came one Bank holiday Monday I`d almost bitten my fingers off in unbearable anticipation . I`d read every article I could find about the production in telefantasy magaziness , Paul McGann`s Doctor had appeared on the front cover of every British TV guide and the trailers led me to believe the Daleks were going to be heavily featured alongside the Master . So in mid evening the TVM began and for 90 minutes all the world`s problems disappeared . When the end titles rolled I was torn between being totally amazed by the good and bitterly disappointed by the bad .
The good bits were Geoffry Sax`s direction . Every single cent was up there on screen for the audience to gasp at . This is one Who story that can`t be accused of having crap FX . Sax also does an excellent editing job with intercutting between scenes , and it really was fascinating watching a Who story take place in an American setting . But the best aspect to the production is Eric Roberts camp scene stealing performance as the Master . My own memories of Roger Delgado`s original Master soon faded as Roberts bad-ass TERMINATOR inspired American arch enemy of the Doctor stole the entire show .
But unfortunately much of the bad outweighed the good and most of this was entirely down to Matthew Jacobs script which involved far too much continuity and extremely bad continiuty at that which not only displeases diehard fans but will alienate casual viewers at the same time . Regeneration ? temporal orbit ? the eye of harmony ? I know of these concepts because I`m a fan but here they`re presented entirely different from what I know them as . Likewise when did the Doctor become half human ? But the most disappointing thing were the Daleks who seem to be intergalatic hangmen and not the Nazis of the universe as shown on TV for three decades . Also bitterly disappointing to see them relegated to an off screen cameo when according to the trailers they might have been making a physical presence . Oh BTW can anyone really understand the plot ? At times it felt more like a Bond movie as the Doctor races around on a motor bike trying to save the world from a super villain . With the exception of Roberts no one really turns in a good performance least of all McGann who is surely one of Britain`s most underrated actors . I really expected more from him , though to be fair he didn`t have a lot to go on due to the script.
Oh well I suppose it was good while it lasted and I suppose my life has been slightly enriched after seeing an American version of DOCTOR WHO , and let me just repeat if someone had told me in 1992 I`d one day be watching an American version of the show I would have laughed in their face . It`s not the worst DOCTOR WHO story I`ve seen but it`s not a story I`ll watch over and over again unlike The Silurians , Inferno , Genesis Of The Daleks , Seeds Of Doom or Kinda . These really were classic pieces of not only Who but of British television