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Recap: Doctor Who TVM "The TV Movie"

The Doctor: A meteor storm... t-the sky above us was dancing with lights! Purple, green, brilliant yellow... yes!
Grace: What?
The Doctor: These shoes! (stomps the ground happily) They fit perfectly!

In 1996, seven years after its cancellation, there was a near-Herculean effort to return Doctor Who to the small screen. The lone fruit was a Backdoor Pilot TV special on Fox that sadly never got developed into a series. The finished product was notably very different from the original script, but we'll explain more about that later.

Despite being made in Canada and set in San Francisco, it's remarkable how true to the old series this movie was, and how much of a precursor it wound up being for the new series as well.
As we open, the Master, apparently escaped the cheetah planet, only to be EX-TER-MIN-AT-ED by the Daleks (who now sound like cyborg chipmunks) for some random reason. (Then again, it's Daleks. Did they really need a reason?) And the Seventh Doctor is charged with bringing his ashes back from Skaro, in spite of the planet being reduced to ashes previously (the planet is still not-destroyed to this day). He's supposed to take them to Gallifrey for, well, maybe a really dignified and tasteful ashes-scattering ceremony over the seas of Rassilon or something.

Before the Master's ashes can be returned, though, they turn into a semi-intelligent blob of amorphous goo. This blobby thing escapes from the little casket and wreaks havoc with the TARDIS controls. The TARDIS, the Doctor, and the blob crash-land in San Francisco, on New Year's Eve 1999. Unfortunately, they've landed in the middle of a Chinese gang war. Half a second after the Doctor sets foot outside the TARDIS, he's hit by two stray bullets from the shootout.

One of the gang members, Chang Lee, is nice enough to call an ambulance. The ambulance arrives, with EMT Bruce. Bruce, Chang Lee, and "John Smith" are whisked away to the hospital, where the Doctor's physiology is sufficiently different from the human norm to cause a few raised eyebrows. Trauma surgeon Dr. Grace Holloway is called in (from a performance of Madame Butterfly, where she was weeping tenderly, while on call) to check out why the man seems to have a double-speed heart beat. And to see why every scan keeps showing two hearts. As such, cue the irony: the Seventh Doctor, the master manipulator, is now failing at the task of manipulating the continuance of his own life. He grows panicky, desperate to warn these surgeons not to operate on him, who are now assuming he is a human, having never seen an alien at all, and since he looks human, the difference doesn't register. He fights the anesthetic two times to beg them not to take a peek inside him, but his pleas are written off as sedative-induced irrationality. He's put under each time. Even though the bullet wound is Only a Flesh Wound and pretty much harmless, Grace inadvertently does more harm than good when she starts poking inside the Doctor's arteries. The surgery takes a turn for the worse when Grace gets a probe stuck in the Doctor's unfamiliar physiology and it snaps off inside his body. Seven wakes up from the shock a third and final time. But he's not got any words left in him. Just a huge scream. The painful last gasp of the seventh incarnation of our Time Lord protagonist drowns out the sound of the music and the Doctor dies on the operating table. From exploratory surgery. Congratulations, Grace! You're the first companion to successfully kill the Doctor!

Chang Lee takes advantage of the confusion to swipe the Doctor's stuff. Bruce the EMT, for whom this must be sad but routine, ambles off home... completely unaware that the the Master has invaded his EMT outfit and has designs on the rest of him. At night, the Master slithers into Bruce's body and gives him some neat glowy green eyes.

Anyway, the Doctor's death doesn't last, as is routine for Time Lords, although thanks to the anesthetic, it was a close call. Hours later, the Doctor starts to come back to life in the morgue through regeneration. His bone structure crackles as it transforms, and electrical energies fling out of his body. His face does a lot of wicked contorting and changes into someone looking like Paul McGann. Meet the Eighth Doctor. Apparently, a very confused Doctor, clutching his death shroud around him, escapes and wanders the hospital. He's suffering from a bad case of post-regenerative amnesia. But his regeneration has boosted his strength. He starts pounding on the cold storage door several times until it falls down with a heavy thump. The Doctor scares Pete the morgue worker half to death by appearing right when the guy is watching an old Frankenstein film. He then takes a moment to scream "WHO AM I?!" dramatically in the run-down "broken mirrors and creepy dolls" wing of the hospital, while wrapped in that white shroud and showing off his half-naked torso. The fact that he Looks Like Jesus is neatly paired with shots of the satanic Master looking very serious.

The Doctor swipes a Victorian costume from the employee locker room, explained as being there in preparation for the hospital's New Year's Eve fancy dress party, thus creating a new Whovian Iconic Outfit. (The screenwriters needn't have bothered with an explanation — wearing Victorian formal dress around town is, by San Francisco standards, only mildly eccentric.)

Now dressed, though still barefoot and sporting a toe tag, the Doctor tries to figure out who he is. The sight of Grace jogs his memory, and he follows her to her car, where she is even further freaked out when he extracts a stray bit of medical probe from his person and explains that he's the two-hearted guy she killed the night before. Grace takes this about as well as can be expected, especially considering she just quit her job over a Doctor-related coverup, and her boyfriend just left her for leaving the opera halfway through. But eventually, she takes him home with her (not like that... well... okay, maybe like that) and gives him her ex-boyfriend's shoes. The Doctor's memory is soon restored, and he snogs Grace a few times out of sheer joy, forever shattering the series' No Hugging, No Kissing policy.

The Master, meanwhile, has paired up with Lee, and Lee is able to freely wander around the TARDIS (using the Doctor's key) because the TARDIS apparently likes him. The Master promises him gold in return for helping him, and the two open the onboard Eye of Harmony, thus overloading the TARDIS and wreaking havoc on Earth.

The Doctor senses this, and decides that he must, simply must have a beryllium atomic clock to repair the TARDIS. As luck would have it, one is being inaugurated that very night, at a posh party that Grace (even ''more'' luckily) has tickets to. There's a traffic jam, so the Doctor swipes a police motorcycle by threatening to shoot himself.

The Doctor finally gets his hands on the beryllium atomic clock, after pissing off half the fanbase by confusing the script's first draft with the final product and thus randomly claiming he's half-human. The day is saved from being wiped out by an overloaded TARDIS going boom.

Oh, and the Master tries to steal the Doctor's body while blowing things up, the Doctor is put in bondage gadgets, the Master tenderly kisses Lee on his forehead for no reason, and the Eye of Harmony eventually saves everyone by sucking the Master into its core. The Doctor reaches out and tries to save him, but to no avail. The Master gets killed Deader Than Dead for real... for a while. (Like anyone believed for an instant that would stick. Although, it was the Time Lords' doing that time.) You know, the usual for the Master.

And Grace and Lee both die, but the TARDIS revives them... somehow, and the three return to San Francisco at the stroke of midnight. As a parting gift, the Doctor gives Lee a bag of gold dust and sends him on his merry way. The Doctor asks Grace to come with him, and Grace asks the Doctor to stay with her. They figure that it won't work out either way and just say a sweet goodbye. And with the world saved and the Master safely dead, the Doctor....

Oh, cruel world, you have got to be kidding us! Nine more years before we see him again?!
Yes, Fox Network had to be ruddy gits and turn down the attempt to produce an official revival of Doctor Who, despite good criticism of the movie. The series would not return once and for all until 2005, when Russell T. Davies managed to enstate a revival of the series with much greater production values.

As for why it wasn't picked up by Fox? Despite great ratings with males for the day it aired, it had little-to-no female demographics, and that made its marketing potential look rather one-sided and unexploitable to the fullest. (Which is blamed on Fox's decision to run the movie against David and Darlene's wedding on Roseanne.) Fox disliked this, for some reason. And so, Doctor Who was put back into limbo for almost another decade. Meanwhile, the adventures of the Eighth Doctor would continue in literary, comic book, and audio format, with Paul McGann reprising his role in the latter up to this very day.

However, McGann did not get flagged down for a role in the 2005 revival, and admits he wouldn't have been up for the task even if he had. Davies's master plan for the new series involved a Darker and Edgier characterization of the Doctor, in direct contrast to Eight's romantic, cheery, and warm personality established here. To avoid breaking character or having to explain the abrupt change in his personality, Davies had the Eighth Doctor regenerate off-screen, and started things fresh with the Doctor's Ninth incarnation, who would assume the darker persona Davies wanted. Eight's adventures would be left to the novels, comics and audio dramas, which chronicle his transition into this personality, but the actual cause of his regeneration was for over seventeen years one of the great unsolved mysteries of Doctor Who — that is, until a mini-episode entitled "The Night of the Doctor", made during the Eleventh Doctor's tenure and officially declaring the Eighth Doctor's Big Finish Doctor Who adventures canon.

The "half-human" thing has been brushed aside and declared non-canon a few times in the new series, though. It has been either accepted, ignored, or Hand Waved by various Expanded Universe works. And remember, the Doctor lies...

Watch it here.


Tropes:

  • Agent Scully: Grace is a bit like this. Helped by the fact that Daphne Ashbrook bears a passing resemblance to Gillian Anderson.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The novelisation goes to great lengths to try and explain away the more egregious plot holes, and doesn't do too bad a job of it either.
    • The Nth Doctor, by Jean-Marc Lofficier, details just about every single attempt to get Doctor Who back into the public eye. None of these succeeded, but many plot points were reused in the TVM. For example, one storyline had the Master taking over Gallifrey with his own army of specially-modified Daleks (i.e. not Davros' Daleks), which is to them a major crime. This is why they have him on trial. Granted, we probably would have learned this had the TVM resulted in a series, but alas....
  • And the Adventure Continues: "Time... Time... Time..." "Oh, no — not again!"
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Grace comes off a bit like this; one minute, she's floating the possibility that the man with two hearts and blood that is "not blood" is some kind of (presumably hyper-advanced) "weird genetics experiment". The next minute, when he's claiming to be an alien, she's screaming that he's a lunatic and running away from him in terror. Oh really, Grace? Granted, the Doctor's not exactly presenting his case as well as he can at that point but it's not like her explanation is any more plausible.
  • Artistic License - Medicine: Let's see...
    • There's Grace attending an opera even while she's on call. (Though since she's an opera fanatic it's possible this was her only opportunity to see this particular show and she decided to risk it.)
    • The doctors use X-rays to look at the Doctor's heart(s) and think it's an error in the machine, but apparently never used a stethoscope on the Doctor, which likely would have told them right away he had two hearts. Although, at her place, Grace uses one on the Doctor and believes the extra beats she hears are his heart still fibrillating. It takes the Doctor actually moving the stethoscope to the other side of his chest for Grace to realize the truth.
    • Bruce the EMT says they can't treat the Doctor until Lee signs for him. Although it's not said what exactly Lee is signing for, hospitals are required to treat you in life-threatening situations, even if you don't have insurance, so if Bruce had actually refused to treat the Doctor he could have gotten the hospital into legal trouble.
  • At the Opera Tonight: Grace is at the opera when she's called in to operate on the Doctor.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: A mild example: the mortuary guy is eating popcorn while taking a break to watch a movie in his office.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: The Eighth Doctor's outfit is full Victorian; he stole it from a man going to a costume party as Wild Bill Hickok, discarding Bill's gunbelt and hat.
  • Back for the Dead: Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, who returns to Doctor Who just so he can be shot and regenerate, thus linking the movie with the series.
  • Bad Vibrations: The Doctor's tea cup, when the blob is messing with the TARDIS at the beginning.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Grace, and then the Doctor returns the favor.
  • The Big Damn Kiss:
    • The one with the fireworks in the background especially, although the first one probably counts too since it was the first time the Doctor was ever shown snogging anyone.
    • And again when the Master kills Grace.
  • Big Damn Movie: Inversion. This is probably one of the simpler stories in Doctor Who, not to mention being shorter than many classic series (and a couple of new series) serials. There is the whole "the world is about to end" part of the plot, but then for the Doctor that's just a regular Friday.
  • Big "NO!": The Doctor does this immediately after regaining his memories and realizing the Master's trying to kill him and seize his body.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Earth is saved and the Master is defeated (for now), but the Doctor leaves Grace behind.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Posessed Grace.
  • Body Horror:
    • Bruce undergoes this when the Master takes his body. According to the DVD commentary, the Body Horror was to get progressively and dramatically worse over the duration of the film as the Master's body decayed, but this concept was ultimately toned down, as Eric Roberts proved allergic to the prosthetic they planned to use.
    • The Doctor's regeneration counts too, being one of the few times we actually get to see his face twist and morph from one form to the next.
  • Book Ends: Both the Seventh Doctor (at the beginning) and the Eighth Doctor (at the end) sit down to read The Time Machine and listen to a jazz record — which begins to skip, suggesting that trouble's afoot....
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. When the gang members fire their machine guns at Lee, and then at the TARDIS, they fire for about three seconds before having to change clips.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Grace
  • California Doubling: Did we say "San Francisco"? Because parts of it look an awful lot like Vancouver...
  • Camp: The Master. Boy howdy, the Master.
    The Master: (swanning in wearing a Time Lord robe and striking a pose) I always dreeeeeess for the occasion.
  • Cassandra Truth: The Doctor has a hell of a time trying to convince Grace of anything:
    • Firstly, the Seventh Doctor tries to tell Grace not to operate on him, because he's an alien and it'll kill him. Unfortunately, Seven is a very humanoid-looking alien, and he sounds like he's daft from anesthetic drugging. She doesn't listen. He dies.
    • Secondly, the Eighth Doctor tries to persuade Grace that he's both an alien, and that the world is going to be destroyed at midnight if she doesn't help him. She tries to get him committed, and it takes getting acidic vomit being spat on her arm by a dead paramedic with unnaturally green eyes possessed by an evil Time Lord to convince her that maybe there's some validity to his story. To be fair to Grace, though, he's not exactly presenting his case as effectively as he could this time.
  • Chain Link Fence: When Chang Lee and his friends are running from the gangsters at the beginning.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The heart probe.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: This is the Doctor we're talking about here; but, even so, Eight is one of the loopier Doctors.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Doctor hears that an ambulance summoned to take him to a psychiatric ward has arrived, and happily concludes that it's going to take him straight to the beryllium clock he needs to save the day. Of course, it's being driven by the Master anyway, so it's academic, but still....
  • Continuity Nod:
    • This is not the first time (nor will it be the last) that the Doctor has stolen his new outfit from a hospital locker.
    • He also likes offering people Jelly Babies (like the fourth).
    • The Master's deformed eyes resemble the cheetah eyes he acquired in the Doctor's previous TV adventure, "Survival".
    • The freshly formed Eight Doctor briefly fumbles with what seems to be Four's scarf when going through the hospital lockers.
  • Continuity Reboot: Was considered to become a form of this during pre-production. John Leekley had plans in progress for remaking the First Doctor's tenure, alongside renaming old foes like Cybermen into "Cybz". Leekley's scripts were not well received by any of the production companies, so he was removed from the project in September 1994.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Grace happening to have tickets to the clock inauguration, for one.
  • Corpsing / The Living Dead: Daphne Ashbrook had a hell of a time keeping a straight face in the scenes where Grace is supposed to be dead. Although you won't catch her giggling in the final cut, she gave her autobiography the slightly spooky title of Dead Woman Laughing because of it.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Where did the Master get that helmet and spreader from? Apparently, the Doctor has a collection of bondage gear stashed away in his TARDIS, just in case the Master drops by.
  • Creator Cameo: As mentioned on the DVD commentary, director Geoffrey Sax voices the Daleks during their cameo in the opening sequence.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: The not-exactly-subtle Christ imagery.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: The Doctor, although he's harmless.
  • Digital Destruction: The horrible Region Coding on the DVD (but NOT the American TV broadcast) led to everyone, British and American, getting it with a 4% speedup, messing up the timing and causing Vocal Dissonance as it makes Paul McGann's voice noticeably higher-pitched than the lovely deep voice he uses for the Eighth Doctor in the audio dramas.
  • Disposable FiancÚ: Grace's boyfriend, who apparently dumps her for having the audacity to do her job, and then plunders her home and steals the furniture. Jerkass variant indeed.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The Seventh Doctor's fate.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Eight awakening in a morgue cupboard seems to fit with his Big Finish persona. His Doctor is frequently relegated to Gothic Horror stories.
    • The "these shoes!" bit of dialogue (the bit including the page quote) is always the first thing anyone goes to when describing the Eighth Doctor.
    • Grace's establishing moment is when we see her crying at the opera. This is lampshaded on a DVD featurette.
    • The Master, believe it or not, gets one of these. Perhaps the only moment in the Movie where he really seemed like the classic Master.
    Grace: I suppose you knew Madam Curie too.
    The Doctor: Yes, intimately.
    Grace: Does she kiss as good as me?
    The Master: As well as you.
    • Although this exchange from the climax is also cited by fans in summing up both the Doctor and the Master:
    The Doctor: You want dominion over the living, yet all you do is kill!
    The Master: Life is wasted on the living.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The entire plot unfolds from the evening of December 30, 1999 to shortly after midnight on January 1, 2000.
  • Eye Scream: The contraption the Master sticks the Doctor in at the end, which holds his eyes open A Clockwork Orange style for the sake of the Master's nefarious purposes. Apparently, it really was at least as unpleasant for McGann to film those scenes as it looks. His eyes really were held open, tears streaming down his face, with all that wind blowing around, the works. According to Daphne Ashbrook, she didn't even hear him complain once.
  • Fake Shemp: The Master (played by Gordon Tipple) was briefly seen on Skaro prior to his execution. The cage obscured most of his face. Originally, Tipple's Master provided the opening voiceover narration but his lines were replaced by Paul McGann's Doctor in the final cut. As a result, Word Of God appears to have no problem with fan assumptions that this incarnation is actually intended to be the Anthony Ainley incarnation of the Master. Or that it may as well be him.
  • Fat Comic Relief: Pete the morgue worker speaks to the Seventh Doctor's then-dead body as though it were a spa attendee, faints slapstick-style upon sight of the resurrected Doctor, and (among other comedic antics) has the following conversation with Grace:
    Pete: (standing in front of the open freezer after the Doctor regenerated and walked out) It wasn't the same guy.
    Grace: Sounds like you saw the guy stole the body.
    Pete: He was wearing a shroud and a J.D. tag on his toe.
    Grace: Somehow, I don't think the Second Coming happens here.
    Pete: Right. You think he's gonna go to a BETTER HOSPITAL? You know what? I'm going home.
    Grace: Hey, Pete. Stop by psychiatric and pick up some more mind-altering drugs.
    Pete: Okay, sure.
  • Faux Horrific: Downplayed with the Nixon Mask: when the Doctor picks it up, ominous baritone choral music happens and he quickly chucks it over his shoulder.
  • Finger Twitching Revival: The Doctor does this as he's Waking Up at the Morgue. The shot alternates with Frankenstein's Monster coming to life in the black-and-white movie the morgue attendant is watching. Yes, they tried to make the Doctor out to be quite spooky. Afterward, he escapes the morgue via Barrier-Busting Blow, maintaining the spookiness factor, and then we see him looking confused and clutching his shroud tightly around himself and flinching when the morgue attendant screams and faints when he sees him.
  • Fingore: At one point, the Master pulls off one of his fingernails and flicks it aside.
  • Five-Finger Discount: The Eighth Doctor demonstrates a talent for pickpocketing people while directly speaking with them. He uses this talent to steal an ID card and a gun... which he uses to hold himself hostage.
  • Forgot I Could Fly: "This is an ambulance!"
  • Gang Bangers: The Seventh Doctor gets shot by a bunch of Chinese-American gangsters. Chang Lee is one of the gangsters, but he turns out to be possibly not so bad, despite behaving like a bit of a kleptomaniac and being tricked by the Master.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The bondage-gear-looking device the Master uses on the Doctor — and the Master's remark that he suspects Grace won't need any instructions on how to use it.
  • Grammar Nazi: One of the Master's lesser-known quirks.
  • Grand Theft Me
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat:
    • Believe it or not, Eric Roberts realized Paul McGann was taking the brakes off and dialed his own performance down. And the whole "WHO AM I???" thing from the Doctor.
    • "The Master wants to take all my remaining lives... SO THAT HE WILL LIVE AND I WILL DIE!"
  • Heroes Want Redheads: As traveling companions, anyway.
  • Hidden Depths: Grace shows off some sci-fi savvy when she steps into the TARDIS for the first time. The Doctor is impressed.
    The Doctor: Grace, this is a Type 40 TARDIS, able of taking you to any planet in the universe, and to any date in that planet's existence. Temporal physics.
    Grace: Oh, you mean like interdimensional transference? That would explain the spacial displacement we experienced as we passed over the threshold.
    (beat)
    The Doctor: Yes, if you like...
    • Later, she successfully jump starts the TARDIS' console and time rotor by herself, without the Doctor's help.
  • Jerkass: Brian, Grace's quickly-ex-boyfriend. We only see him for about ten seconds, but he just seems to ooze "self-centered, smug git". Then, he moves out and takes away a whole bunch of stuff from their apartment. And, it seems, this isn't the first time he's hassled Grace over her career.
  • Kirk Summation / Shut Up, Kirk!: Distilled into two sentences.
  • Impairment Shot: For the newly regenerated Doctor in the waiting room.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: The Master always dresses for the occasion.
  • Made-for-TV Movie: Duh.
  • Magical Defibrillator: When the Doctor flatlines on the operating table, he is shocked by a defibrillator seven or eight times in the span of about thirty seconds in attempt to revive him. It fails, but presumably only because he is an alien with different physiology.
  • Messianic Archetype:
    • And how. The movie really goes to town with the "Doctor-as-Jesus" imagery and subtext.
    • Inverted with the Master (obviously). He turns into a snake, he lies, he tempts Chang Lee with power... It's even lampshaded by Grace, who asks if the Master is a devil.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: The Doctor does this not long after he revives and finally regenerates, during his Resurrection Sickness.
  • Mind-Control Eyes:
    • When she's under the Master's influence, Grace's eyes go completely black; the effect is quite creepy.
    • Bruce's eyes go a sickly green colour when the Master possesses him, but that's more "Killed-the-Original-Occupant-and-Possessed-His-Body Eyes".
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The seal of Rassilon (and statues of Rassilon as he appeared in "The Five Doctors") shows up around the interior design of the TARDIS.
    • The Doctor keeps bags of gold dust in one of the TARDIS's cupboards. Gold dust is the primary weakness of the Doctor's enemies, the Cybermen, so it would make sense for the Doctor to keep some with him during his travels.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Several of the FOX trailers for the film feature an impressive special effects sequence showing the TARDIS approaching a space station. Impressive, yes, but a decade old and not in any way related to the TVM; the footage was produced for the first episode of Season 23 back in 1986 ("The Trial of a Time Lord") and was recycled by FOX, but not used anywhere in the film itself.
  • New Year Has Come: Most of the action takes place on New Years Eve 1999.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nice Job Killing the Seventh Doctor, Grace.
  • Nixon Mask: The Doctor finds one while raiding some lockers which happen to be full of costume-party ensembles. He seems a bit scared of it.
  • Noodle Incident: We're very interested to know how the Doctor came to know Marie Curie... intimately.
  • No Name Given: The TV Movie does not have an official name or title other than Doctor Who. Producer Philip Segal offered "The Enemy Within" to fans as an unofficial title; some fans use it, others don't. "The American telemovie with the Pertwee logo" is the term given by The Completely Useless Encyclopedia. Pretty much sums it up. BBC Worldwide for the DVD release simply calls it Doctor Who: The Movie.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: The Doctor repeatedly gets excessively cozy with Grace, to her evident annoyance.
  • Oblivious Janitor Cut: When the Doctor and Grace escape from the Institute.
  • Oh, Crap:
    • The Seventh Doctor's reaction when he sees the Master has escaped is pretty epic.
    • Grace's reaction to the Doctor pressing on her glass window — then stepping through it, thus proving that Earth is doomed — is also epic.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: The last line of the movie, when the Doctor's gramophone starts to skip at exactly the same point it did at the start of the movie.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Paul McGann's scouse accent sort of fades in and out. In the DVD commentary, he attributes it to having been tired.
  • Opening Narration: The first time it had been done since part 1 of "The Deadly Assassin".
  • Orifice Invasion: The Master-as-a-Snake entering Bruce's body through the mouth.
  • Out of Continues: The Master's whole motivation, not spoilered because it's made clear from the beginning: Having run out of regenerations, the Master wants to steal the Doctor's. (Or, as he put it, "I NEED THE DOCTOR'S BODY"!) I'll get me coat...
  • Percussive Maintenance: The TARDIS needs a little tap to get going at the end.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Okay, so the Doctor's always been a bit of an anglophile, but the movie and the Eighth Doctor really takes it Up to Eleven. Dresses like a Victorian poet, oft-stated fondness for tea, highly eccentric — it's a wonder they didn't have him save the day with a crumpet, a bowler hat and a copy of The Times, really.
    Grace: Wait! He's... British.
    The Doctor: Yes, I suppose I am!note 
  • Quote Mine: The line "I finally meet the right guy, and he's from another planet" comes out of absolutely nowhere and is often considered to have been put in the script solely for this purpose.
  • Reckless Gun Usage:
    • The Doctor shows he's an Actual Pacifist by threatening to shoot himself in order to commandeer a policeman's motorcycle. However, when Grace wants a word with him, he starts pointing the gun vaguely in the direction of the policeman while looking the other way. It's not even clear if he's actually aiming at the cop or if it's simply slipped his mind that the object he's holding is a gun.
    • When Grace takes the gun off him, she shoots the radio on the cop's motorbike — and seems very shocked by it, implying a bit of this trope was involved as well.
  • Recycled In Space: Doctor Who IN AMERICA!
  • Refusal of the Call: Grace turns down the Doctor's offer to travel with him. Then, in an interesting turnaround, she offers him the chance to leave with her instead; he considers it, but ultimately refuses.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Master turns into a snake. It doesn't help. Oh, and it's not just a snake, but a snake made of goo. At least it was fairly well-rendered CGI goo, by the standards of 1996.
  • Reset Button: Closing the Eye of Harmony reverts time just enough to bring Grace and Chang Lee back to life.
  • Resurrection Sickness: His amnesia was the worst yet. He even forgot who he was for quite some time. He explained to Grace that the anaesthetic repressed his regeneration, resulting in him being "dead too long".
  • Retcon: When he first arrives at the hospital, the Master taps his fingers a few times in a quick four-drum-beat. It meant nothing in the TV movie, but it was made very important in the new TV series.
  • Save the Villain: Attempted, but the Master refuses the Doctor's help.
  • Scaled Up: The Master turns into a cobra-thing that forces its way down Bruce's throat.
  • Scenery Porn: As mentioned below, the interior of the TARDIS. Having a budget meant they could really play with the whole Bigger on the Inside thing, and boy did they ever.
  • Scully Syndrome: Grace suggests that the Doctor might be "the result of some weird genetic experiment", but she's extremely skeptical of the actual explanation.
  • Shirtless Scene: When the Doctor is wandering around the hospital after his regeneration, wearing nothing but a shroud draped in a way that shows off his chest.
  • Spear Carrier: Believe it or not, the Seventh Doctor. The Chessmaster who could plot his foes into oblivion if he wanted is simply Back for the Dead. He gets relegated to a mere ten lines, all of which are very abbreviated, doesn't have much impact, and seems to be settling in from a big mission at the start of the story. His main purpose in this story is to lead the way for Paul McGann to take over. Then he gets one final scene as a hologram. Sylvester McCoy felt like it would have been better to just start with the Doctor already regenerated and then go back and tell the story of what happened to his incarnation to capitalize on the Seventh Doctor's portrayal. Sly Sylvester seemed to get the short end of the stick on this one.
  • Steampunk: The re-vamped TARDIS interior is all brass trim and wood panels and it's completely gorgeous. The New Series would draw its inspiration from this console room much more than from the classic series' stark white console room.
  • Sticky Fingers:
    • Chang Lee, who's very insistent on stealing the Doctor's personal effects before he even has any idea whether they're valuable.
    • The Doctor indulges in quite a bit of theft as well.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: And it is awesome.
  • Technobabble: The "temporal orbit".
  • That's What She Said: The Doctor innocently remarks, upon obtaining the MacGuffin, "See? I told you it was small." Grace raises an eyebrow and says, "What is it they say?" But according to the unofficial commentary, she just means "good things come in small packages." (But it could just as easily mean, "It's not the size that counts, it's how you use it.")
  • The Movie: Officially marketed by the BBC as Doctor Who: The Movie.
  • There's No "B" in Movie: Averted. The mortuary guy spends his shift watching the original Frankenstein.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: The anesthesia almost stopped the Doctor regenerating entirely — when he did regenerate it had been several hours since his death, and as a result he was unable to even remember his own name when he came to.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After spending the movie as both coldly methodical and campy, the Master completely loses it when the Doctor escapes his chains.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Fans of the established series were left wondering what had happened to Ace between the show's cancellation and the movie. This never has been addressed within the show, though the Expanded Universe has given her several different fates. According to The Sarah Jane Adventures, she became a charity worker when she returned to Earth, though the circumstances behind it weren't stated.
  • Wham Line: While now not cannon, this probably qualified at the time.
    The Master: The Doctor, he's half-human.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Coincidentally, the malfunctioning TARDIS will cause the planet to implode precisely at midnight local time. Mildly averted when the Doctor installs the beryllium clock and closes the Eye of Harmony, but still doesn't avert the vaguely defined universal disaster. When Grace protests that it's only 11:48, the Doctor replies, "Yes, but there's no context!"
  • You Have to Believe Me: The Doctor gets a bit hysterical immediately after he realises the Master's loose, in his TARDIS and planning to suck the Earth through a black hole and steal his body. Unfortunately, this doesn't help him convince Grace of this. Although to be fair to him, he'd just very suddenly recovered all his memories and was presumably knocked a bit out of joint; his later attempts at trying to convince her of this are a lot calmer and more rational, but by this point she's not believing a word he says.
  • You Make Me Sic: The Master wants to make sure Grace knows that "good" can't be used as an adverb.


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alternative title(s): Doctor Who TVM The Enemy Within
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