Monday 4 November 2013


4x11 The Papal Chase
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Doctor Who
The TV Movie [1st third; 5th watch]

Choices are limited when it comes to representing the Eighth Doctor as part of #bbbDW50 -- it's either this again, or a half-arsed 'animation' of Shada (that they didn't include properly on the DVD anyway, so I don't know how we'd have gone about watching it).

So it's back to the TV movie, for something like the fifth time for me and second for my viewing companion. That's not so bad: I do like it, and the last time was five years ago now. Just to mix things up, we're going to watch it as a three parter, stripped across the week as per usual. It's not the easiest thing to divide into traditionally-sized 25 minute chunks -- it might seem roughly the right length, but it depends how well-balanced you want your episodes. See, there's actually great cliffhanger points (and DVD chapter stops!) at exactly 25 and 50 minutes... but that leaves a "Part 3" that's 35 minutes long. Alternatively, using the chapter points, you can get a "1st third" that's 30 minutes (ch.1-8), with a second of 27 minutes (ch.9-14) and third of 29 minutes (ch.15-24) -- pretty equal.

(Splitting it neatly in half for two new-series-length episodes, however, is next to impossible -- there's a huge sequence right in the middle that leaves you with clearly lopsided 'halves', whether you're using chapter points or not. And that's one of the reasons we're watching it in three, not two.)

Anyway, I went for 25/25/35 -- that's the more entertaining way to split it, because it means 'Part 1' ends with the Doctor's whole "Who. Am. Iiiiaiaiaaargh?!" bit, which is quite a natural end-point, rather than a semi-decent one at the next chapter break. The TVM's biggest sin is being too old-fan friendly: if it began in San Francisco, 1999, with all the gang shootings, and a box appearing out of thin air, and a mysterious man, and a surgeon... that could all work. Instead, it begins on Skaro with a huge exposition dump, which is fine if you're a fan -- plenty of nods -- but must've been awful for total newcomers.

That aside, there's a nice vein of sly humour that would sit well in the revived series, and incredibly classy direction from Geoffrey Sax (apparently they've tried to get him on the new series several times, but he's always been in another job). With the (very good) regeneration out of the way, so a new Doctor and Master in place, the best bits are yet to come.

4x10 The One with the Girl from Poughkeepsie [4th or so watch]

DVD Extras

The Doctor's Strange love, Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the TV Movie

Featurette on the Doctor Who TV Movie Special Edition DVD, in which Who author Simon Guerrier, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures writer Joseph Lidster, and comedian Josie Long discuss why the TV Movie is actually pretty good.

Perhaps most surprising is how many similarities they draw up with the new series. This was filmed while David Tennant was still the Doctor, and I think those things are, if anything, even more pertinent after Matt Smith's incarnation.


Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - The Final Chapter by Russell T Davies & Benjamin Cook
Book Two, Chapter 22