Days of Future Past: Doctor Who (TV Movie: 1996)

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Written By Amanda Pampuro

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“Can you believe it? 2000!” –News Anchor 

The beloved time lord Doctor Who is known for traveling through time and space in his T.A.R.D.I

.S. permanently disguised as a vintage police box). Like many heroes with strong followings, Doctor Who also has a terrible secret hidden in his past. Having 13 lives (or regeneration cycles), each Doctor Who (there have been eleven to date) is logically played by a different actor and has a slightly different personality. Still there is no logical explanation or reasonable excuse for what Paul McGann did to the series in 1996. There were only two good things about the made for TV movie Doctor Who, that it broke the story’s seven year hiatus, and the part where it ends—if you make it that far, to watch such a pointless movie end, is almost like watching the victims of a car crash loaded into an ambulance, though you still wish you could unsee it, at least the worse is over.  Ironically enough, the eight Doctor, as portrayed by McGann, has been one of the most written about Doctors in novelization and radio broadcast formats.

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The film opens with the seventh Doctor Who (portrayed by the original Sylvester McCoy) in the T.A.R.D.I.S. enjoying a cup of tea while escorting the remains of the evil Master (a fellow rogue Time Lord) back to his home planet Galifrey. Having burned through all of his lives, The Master’s last chance of survival is to force the T.A.R.D.I.S. to crash land on Earth, which he does, and then inhabit the body of a paramedic played by Eric Roberts. Meanwhile the doctor is caught in an L.A. gang fight, is shot, taken to the hospital, and killed in botched heart surgery by Amazing Grace.

eric_roberts_1996Amazing Grace embodies mid-nineties feminism at its worst. Women in the workplace, wow! Though an educated, opera loving doctor, in order to be taken seriously by the audience, Grace must perform surgery in a ball gown and be forced to choose her career over an insecure boyfriend. Once her ethos as strong woman is established, Grace spends the rest of the film babbling like a rabid puppy in love, as she enjoys her affair with the time traveler as does a lonely tourist on vacation in Bali.

Filmed in 1996, and set on the brink of 2000, Doctor Who adds no predication in terms of Earth technology or human capability. However by putting the start of 2000 as the possible destruction of Earth, the film assumes that our millennium’s coming would be a great cosmic event, that it would be important somehow. Unfortunately our millennial birthday equaled the status of some friend on the Universe’s Facebook, who they didn’t really know, but sent an asteroid for good luck anyway, because it’s good networking to do so.  1996WhoThis is a terrible movie, and unfortunately was my official introduction into Doctor Who lore. I have been assured that this film was a mistake—in the words of KD, “blasphemy to the Doctor Who loving world and all who are part of the culture, and it is indeed a culture.”

For those who may have not yet jumped into world of Doctor Who, although it’s always great to revisit the long-running original series that ran from 1963 to 1989, but one can pick up with the currently running, hugely popular and well received revived series which began in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston introduced as the 9th Doctor, just on the tail end of his regeneration from his time spent as the 8th Doctor (seasons 1-6 are currently available on Netflix).

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Since the Doctor only has thirteen lives (currently on his eleventh) let this be a lesson to ye wasting away your years, no matter how badly you wish you take back your Eighth life, you can’t. So be careful what you upload to the internet.

In other news, the Doctor supposedly has just two lives left, and I just wanted to put it out there, I would give up coffee for a year if Tim Curry was cast for one of those lives.

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