Now With Car Chases and Kissing. Dear God, the Kissing...
This morning was my second-longest duration on the Time Treadmill in one go, trailing behind The Five Doctors by one minute. From here on out it is all either standard 45 minute stories, or else the Christmas and other specials that all run at a straight 50 minutes. I do not expect to ever be on the treadmill again for this ridiculous project for as long as I was this morning. Which is nice. This morning also marked the end of twentieth century content for this project. Tomorrow morning I jump ahead nine years to 2005.
But that's tomorrow. For today, let's talk about the curiously American interpretation of Doctor Who.
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
Oh, the failed attempt at resurrecting the series. It was a noble idea, and with the boost in funding from the BBC joining with FOX, could have been something spectacular. Then again, one of the actors that FOX wanted for the Doctor was Jim Carrey, so it could also have been something truly wretched. Instead we got something comfortably in the middle.
There was a lot that was good. The lead role was cast with a respectable English actor, Paul McGann. The story was written as a direct continuation of the existing series, and contained a surprising amount of attention to detail in terms of set design and historical details. Sylvester McCoy was given a surprising amount of screen time (it is a full 22 minutes until the regeneration happens), and as such got to pass the baton to his successor in a way that Colin Baker was denied. The Master continued to have the cat's eyes from his CheetahWorld infection from the final story of the classic series. The Seal of Rassillon featured prominently in the set design. So really, lots and lots of good things to be had here.
Oh, the bad.
Some of the bad is the kind of low-grade mediocre badness that you can argue was present in the classic series. There are some painful supporting characters who are given awful "bits" played for straight comedy that just doesn't land at all. I could live with that.
The next-level badness comes with the mandatory American cranked-up car chase, because you can't have an American action story without a car chase sequence. In this case, a lengthy series of scenes in which the Doctor races down the highway on a motorcycle with new companion Grace Halloway clinging to his back as they are pursued by an ambulance. This includes a bit where the Doctor steers the motorcycle between two oncoming semis, forcing the ambulance to go off-road. There is more (much more), and it just doesn't feel like Doctor Who at all. But I could have lived with that as well.
And then there's the kissing. In the previous thirty six years of broadcast, the Doctor had never had a romantic relationship. The TARDIS was strictly a no-kissing zone, as well it should be. I feel the same way about the Doctor kissing his companions as I do about the vampire in Twilight kissing what's-her-name. This man is centuries old, and a different species. It is just gross for him to be kissing someone who is basically an infant compared to him. I will grant that in this case Grace is at least a full-grown woman, old enough to have become a doctor, own a home, and have some real life experience under her belt. So it's not quite as creepy as the upcoming Rose situation. But it's still creepy.
Even worse than the kissing, though, is the major plot point that the Doctor is half human. Really? Really?!? If it was just the one throwaway line ("I'm half human. On my mother's side.") I could disregard it as the Doctor being facetious. But in addition to that line there is a bit where the Master looks at the Doctor's retina scan and identifies it as being partially human, and another bit where the Master has to use human accomplices to open the Eye of Harmony specifically because of their human DNA. It was absolutely intended to be a literal, truthful plot revelation that the Doctor was half human. Fortunately this has been completely ignored in all future stories, and just gets hand-waved away, but it really is an egregious plot point.
And speaking of egregious plot points and the Eye of Harmony, let's talk about that. Also known as Rassilon's Star, the Eye of Harmony is the power behind all Time Lord technology, and what makes time travel possible. Rassilon forever trapped in time a star that was in the process of exploding and collapsing into a black hole. Most importantly, the Eye of Harmony is located on Gallifrey beneath the Panopticon. It most certainly is not located inside the TARDIS. And yet, here it is. Subsequent to this story, this plot point was again hand-waved away with the notion that each TARDIS contains a mathematically modeled duplicate of the Eye, or a fraction of the Eye. Which, good on later writers for coming up with a plausible workaround, but seriously... to get so much right about Doctor Who lore and then to fail on this level is just heartbreaking.
So all in all this is a mixed bag of a beast. I didn't hate it. I was surprised at how much screen time Sylvester McCoy got, and once he finally settles into the regeneration I liked Paul McGann in the role. I particularly liked the new TARDIS console design, and I suspect it had a non-trivial impact on the design used in the series revival nine years later. I didn't especially like Eric Roberts in the role of the Master, especially having just yesterday seen Anthony Ainley give the best performance of that character since Roger Delgado tragically passed away. I think the character of Grace was mostly fine, aside from the kissing.
It could have been worse. I mean, it could have been better, but it could have been much much worse.
Companion(s): Grace Halloway
Episode(s): TV Movie
Steps Walked: 11,265 today, 2,534,990 total
Distance Walked: 5.78 miles today, 1,315.01 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 0 today, 245 total
Weight: 249.54 lbs (five day moving average), net change -57.76 lbs