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Trivia / Doctor Who TVM "The TV Movie"

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  • California Doubling: Vancouver plays San Francisco, but they might as well have acknowledged they were in Vancouver for all the difference it would have made. It only seems like San Francisco in that there's a Friendly Local Chinatown and a guy almost went to a costume party dressed as Wild Bill Hickok (but then the Doctor stole his costume). In the Chase Scene, there aren't even any hills to speak of.
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  • Completely Different Title: The Canadian French dub is entitled Le Seigneur du Temps (The Time Lord).
  • Deleted Role: Gordon Tipple originally did an opening voice-over narration as the Master, but this was cut out in favor of Paul McGann doing a narration instead. Tipple's involvement with the film was reduced to a fleeting appearance in the opening scene where he had no dialogue, his face was totally obscured by shadows and his version of the Master was promptly killed off, making his discernible presence in the film next to nonexistent.
  • Development Hell: Oh, Jesus. How can we begin to describe this? The concept for a revived series first started in 1989, but the BBC rejected it. Eventually, multiple companies were involved — at first, it was Universal, the BBC and Amblin Entertainment. Steven Spielberg himself was a fan of the concept, or at least the overly energetic way the old series was once described by one of the fellows trying his damndest to get this movie made, and wanted it done quickly. This was 1994. The script for the pilot at the time, according to Word of God, would have featured the Doctor and his Grandfather Borusa. The Doctor would have gone on a journey to find his father, Ulysses, and discover that the Master was his brother. The original audition Paul McGann read this script for can be found on the 2-disc set. However, the proposed script was pretty much a knockoff of Indiana Jones, which Spielberg hated. He left the production, and the producers struggled to keep it quiet from the BBC while they found a home with Fox. The Fox TV Movie department. To keep the BBC happy with this change, the pilot-turned-movie was then changed into a pilot-turned-movie-turned-backdoor-pilot. Should the ratings be high enough in America, the whole thing would be picked up for a series. The ratings were alright, but sadly, not with the right demographics... and this is an abbreviated version of the hell it went through. Just about the only good thing that came out of it was the decision to make the film a continuation of the original series rather than follow the reimagining route of some of the early scripts.
  • DVD Commentary: The DVD release had two:
    • The first was a straightforward commentary by director Geoffrey Sax about casting, filming, and special effects shots.
    • The second was moderated by Nicholas Briggs, and featured Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann reminiscing about filming, gushing about Daphne Ashbrook, and making fun of the movie's sillier scenes.
      Paul McGann: (referring to the Master's infamously camp entrance) Are those stairs going to light up as he steps on them?
    • An unofficial commentary featuring Daphne Ashbrook, Yee Jee Tso, Gary Russell, and Ken Deep is available on YouTube.
  • Executive Meddling: In order to cast Paul McGann as the Doctor, Phillip Segal had to agree to cast a name actor as the Master. Hence why Eric Roberts was cast.
  • Exiled from Continuity: Reportedly due to rights issues between the BBC and Universal, Grace and Lee haven't even been mentioned in the new series and have a spotty presence in the Doctor Who – Expanded Universe. Grace did reappear a couple of times in the "Doctor Who Magazine" comic strip, travelled briefly with the Eighth Doctor in the 50th anniversary comic "Prisoners of Time", and was given a mention in a Sarah Jane Adventures novelization. However, an Eighth Doctor Adventures novel that was intended to feature her had to be rewritten with a Captain Ersatz, due to last-minute legal difficulties, and both Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso have made several appearances in Big Finish Doctor Who dramas, but always as original characters. In "The Day of the Doctor" a photo of Grace appears alongside other companions in the Black Archive but it's barely visible even in freeze frame.
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  • Fake American: Yee Jee Tso, who played Chang Lee, is actually Canadian.
  • Fan Nickname: "The Masterater" — The Eric Roberts Master with his Terminator get-up, although it sounds like someone who polishes their wand.
  • Hostility on the Set: In this interview, Paul McGann and Daphne Ashbrook have nothing but nice things to say about almost everything... except Eric Roberts, who was apparently standoffish, rude (making personal remarks about McGann being "effeminate"), and sometimes "amazingly bad".
  • In Memoriam: The UK television broadcast ended with a dedication to Jon Pertwee, who had died a week earlier.
  • International Coproduction: The BBC teamed up with Universal for this, with filming in Canada with a number of Canadian cast members (most notably Yee Jee Tso). The US ratings weren't high enough so Universal withdrew, hence the nine year wait for the next episode...
  • No Export for You: Even though it was partially an American production, complicated legal issues (Universal Television owned the movie itself and the new characters, the Beeb owned everything that previously existed) meant it was fifteen years before the TVM was released on home video in the United States and Canada.
    • In a reverse, UK-based Big Finish Productions has (as of early 2016) been unable to obtain the rights to Grace or Chang Lee for use in their BBC-licensed audio dramas.
  • Omake: Daphne Ashbrook likes to chat with her fans in-character as Grace, frequently on her Tumblr.
  • Orphaned Reference: The Master's human body was originally supposed to slowly degrade throughout the film. This plan was abandoned when Eric Roberts found the make-up prosthetics to be too uncomfortable. One scene of this plotline remains, when he peels off a fingernail in front of the ambulance dispatcher.
  • Prop Recycling: Both the original TARDIS key and Sonic Screwdriver props were retained.
    • The costume designers were unable to get any of the costumes Sylvester McCoy wore as the Seventh Doctor but luckily the actor still owned the hat.
  • Real-Life Relative: Eric Roberts' actual wife plays Bruce's wife, whom the Master strangles.
  • Real Life Writes the Hairstyle: Paul McGann had just shaved his head to play an SAS officer for the Made-for-TV Movie The One That Got Away. He had hoped to be the first Doctor to have a shaved head, but he was overruled, hence the wig.
  • Recycled Set: The hospital sets used for this film were also used by the producers of The X-Files.
  • Role Reprisal: Sylvester McCoy returned seven years after last playing the role, solely to get killed off early on.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: The movie was thought to be permanently unavailable outside the British Commonwealth due to this. The warring rights-holders decided to bury the hatchet and a worldwide DVD release came in February 2011.
    • The show's expanded universe cannot use any of the characters solely created for the movie, because the rights for those characters still reside with Universal and are buried underneath a mountain of red tape. The Doctor Who Magazine comic strip did once use Grace without being aware of the copyright issues, and received a warning for doing so and had to promise not to use her again; similarly, one of the Eighth Doctor Adventures was originally meant to feature her, but had to be rewritten to cut her out at the last minute.
    • The 2016 Blu-ray release of the film is upscaled standard definition. The film was largely shot on 35mm film, and so could have been released in true high definition, but again the original negatives are property of Universal and it would be far too expensive and time-consuming to sort out the rights.
  • Screwed by the Network: Fox aired the film during Sweepstakes at a time when Doctor Who fandom in America wasn't quite as big as it is today. It aired opposite Roseanne, namely the storyline of Dan's heart attack. As a result, it disappointed in the ratings, the series never happened, and fans had to wait a whole decade for new Doctor Who.
  • Short Run in Peru: The movie aired in Canada and the US two weeks before it hit British airwaves, due in part to it being an international co-production between The BBC and Fox.
  • Stunt Casting: Eric Roberts as the Master. This was actually a compromise, with the original idea being to stunt-cast the Doctor himself. Although Paul McGann was the first choice of producer Philip Segal and director Geoffrey Sax, executives at Fox wanted a well-known American actor in order to draw in ratings—with Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, and Jim Carrey being among the names thrown around. Eventually, Fox agreed to cast McGann under the condition that a name actor play the Master instead.
  • Too Soon: Following the Dunblane massacre, the movie was edited on its original BBC transmission, to remove as much of the opening gunfight as possible. This scene has subsequently been reinstated on the DVD release of the episode, but the sound effect of the Master breaking his wife's neck (which was also removed on the original transmission) is still missing on the DVD.
  • Wag the Director: A mild example. According to the DVD Commentary, Eric Roberts brought his own makeup crew (although this is justified as he proved allergic to the makeup and prosthetics originally used), and oversaw the lighting and framing of all his character's shots (again, this could stem from his allergy and didn't want to ruin the shots with his rash).
  • What Could Have Been:


Example of: