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Doctor Who: The Movie

Doctor Who was a made-for-TV movie broadcast in 1996. It was made as an attempt to relaunch and continue the Doctor Who television franchise in the UK and abroad. With no on-screen title other than Doctor Who, home video releases of the film from BBC Video are marketed under the title Doctor Who: The Movie. The movie featured Sylvester McCoy’s final chronological appearance as the Seventh Doctor and his regeneration. A large period of time is implied to have passed since Survival, since the Seventh Doctor has parted with his companion Ace and is travelling alone.

The film was co-produced by the BBC and Fox networks. Filmed in Canada, the television movie introduced Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and was his only on-screen performance in the role for 17 years until TV: The Night of the Doctor in 2013. The television movie won a Saturn Award in 1996 for best television presentation.


The Master has been exterminated by the Daleks on Skaro for his terrible deeds. As part a “last, and somewhat curious, request”, the Master asked that the the Doctor, at the end of his seventh life, escort his ashes back to Gallifrey for proper burial. Doing a voice-over of the opening scene, the Eighth Doctor explains that Time Lords have thirteen lives, but the Master used all his. As rules never mattered Movie (2)much to his old foe, the Doctor knows that even in death, he cannot trust the Master; he locks the container of the Master’s ashes inside another box. Continuing on, the Eighth Doctor says that he grew to learn, especially near the end of his seventh life, that he could not help but be too careful. After returning to the main control room, the Seventh Doctor sets the TARDIS coordinates for Gallifrey He then gets a cup of tea to read a book, H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, while eating a bowl ofjelly babies. At the same time, the Doctor has “In a Dream” playing on his gramophone.

Meanwhile, the casket containing the Master’s ashes shakes violently. A symbolic warning occurs as the record begins skipping on the word “time”; the Doctor simply fixes it and continues to remain unaware of the situation. The shaking grows worse until the casket breaks open; the Doctor’s tea crashes to the ground as the record skips to a stop. Immediately suspicious of these omens, the Doctor begins wondering why they occurred. A snake housing the Master’s consciousness slithers out of the box and, unseen by the Doctor, slithers into the TARDIS console. The resulting effect is the console malfunctioning as sparks fly out. The Doctor finally gets up from his chair and rushes to fix it, but is unsuccessful, seeing he cannot undo the damage or stay on the same coordinates; he is forced to make an emergency landing because of the timing malfunction. Concerned that the Master may have had a hand in this, the Doctor quickly returns to where he left the ashes, to see the box cracked open. The Doctor looks on with a shocked and worried expression, wondering what his old foe could be up to this time.Movie (3)

Meanwhile in San Francisco on December 30th 1999, two local Chinese-American gangs are having a shoot-out, reducing one to just Chang Lee. When the other gangsters prepares to fire on him, the TARDIS materialization wind picks up and it appears in front of Lee. The gang fruitlessly fires at the TARDIS, emptying their guns. While they reload, the Doctor exits the TARDIS to find his bearings only to be shot by the gangsters, who quickly flee. Lee runs to the Doctor’s side. The Doctor tries to warn Lee about the Master, who has slipped through the TARDIS keyhole. However, Lee doesn’t turn around in time to see him. The Doctor falls unconscious and Lee quickly runs to get an ambulance and accompanies the Doctor to Walker General Hospital. Unseen, the Master stows away in the ambulance.

At the hospital, a surgeon removes the bullets, but the Doctor’s two hearts cause confusion for the medical team. They assume he is fibrillating and that the X-rays showing his two hearts is a double exposure. A cardiologist, Dr. Grace Holloway, is summoned from her visit to the opera, and attempts to stabilize the Doctor’s heartbeat. Regaining consciousness, from pre-op sedation by music from “Madame Butterfly” opera, just as she is about to begin the operation, the Doctor tries to prevent the operation by explaining his non-terrestrial origins and tells Grace that he needs a beryllium atomic clock. Salinger implies that they can’t wait any longer to begin the operation, and Grace has the anesthesiologist administer the anesthetic. However, he fights the sedation and awakes from it twice, Movie (4)deliriously telling the people in the operating room, “Timing malfunction. The Master, he’s out there! He’s out there… I’ve got to stop…him…” The medical team think this is just incoherent babble brought on by the anesthesia, and attempt to put him to sleep again. Once the Doctor falls asleep, they insert a endotracheal (breathing) tube in his throat and start their operation to stabilize his heart beat. The Doctor’s anatomy confuses Grace, who believes his unusually fast heartbeat is an unwanted and life-threatening fibrillation. She decides to do exploratory surgery to fix it. She gets lost in his right side, which holds a second heart, knowing that she should be in the right side of his body, the surgical team identify his second-heart blood veins as the left side of the heart (the normal human heart parts). Grace attempts to move the microscopic probe in her plan B, accidentally damages his unfamiliar circulatory system with the probe, causing the Doctor’s sedated body to have a massive seizure. Unable to get the probe out when it snaps off inside one of his vital heart vessels, killing him. The medical team shock his body in attempt to restart his heart. The Doctor’s body starts to spasm violently, and he wakes from the anesthetic one more time, forced into consciousness by the incredible pain he is now feeling. He lets out a final, horribly agonized scream, and collapses on the operating table. The medical team fail to revive the Doctor and they pronounce him dead. Grace takes of her surgical glasses and cap and runs out of the room upset. Wheeler covers the body with the Doctor’s surgical drapes.

When Grace tries to comfort Lee with the death of the Doctor, she realizes he doesn’t know him. Lee runs off with the Doctor’s possessions. Around the same time, the Master has hitched a ride to the home of one of the ambulance workers, Bruce, by hiding in his jacket.

The Doctor is put in the morgue after the attendants make spa jokes to his dead body. Elsewhere, the Master has entered Bruce’s body, killing him and taking it for himself. Later that night, as Pete, a morgue attendant, watches the 1931 film version of Frankenstein, the Doctor starts breathing again, snaps awake and, at last, regenerates into his eighth body. His old face twists and warps into the features of a brand new, younger man, followed by a release of dense, foggy breath from his mouth. Surprised and slightly disoriented, he springs up from the gurney and begins banging on the door, attracting Pete’s attention. When Pete arrives to see what is the source of the sound, the new Doctor knocks the metal door off its hinges. He is clad in just a shroud, a sight mirrored by the image in the movie. Pete faints in shock while the Doctor stumbles into a deserted wing of the hospital where he sees himself in broken pieces of mirror and cries out, “Who am I?”

The next morning, the Doctor, after going through numerous hospital lockers, steals the Wild Bill Hickok costume that Pete’s co-worker, Ted, intended to wear to the hospital’s New Year’s Eve costume party. Meanwhile, Chang Lee goes through the Doctor’s possessions, finding his sonic screwdriver, pocket watch, jelly babies, a yo-yo, and TARDIS key. Elsewhere, Bruce’s wife Miranda awakes to find, unbeknownst to her, the Master staring out the window. As the Master talks to himself about Bruce’s body not lasting long and his need to find the Doctor, she asks him to come back to bed. However, after her failed attempts to be seductive, she realizes too late that the Master isn’t Bruce when she sees the cat-like eyes the Master acquired in his time on Cheetah World; the Master breaks her neck.

At the hospital, the Doctor recognizes Grace (who has quit her hospital job after an argument with the hospital administrator over covering up the surgery), and follows her to her car, asking for help as he believes she knows who he is. He removes the surgical probe which Grace had left in him the previous night, a sight which convinces her that this strange man is in fact her supposedly dead patient. She then drives off with the Doctor, at his request, to prevent the hospital staff from killing him again.

“Bruce” goes to the hospital, where he learns that the Doctor died during surgery and that his body is missing and Lee has taken his possessions. Grace takes the Doctor to her house, where she discovers that her boyfriend has left her and taken some of her furniture to boot. She listens to the Doctor’s hearts, and takes a sample of his blood, while the Doctor’s spotty memory begins to return with anecdotes about Puccini and Leonardo da Vinci. He also explains that his has thirteen lives, going on to say Grace became a doctor because of her childish dream to hold back death; according to the Doctor, she’ll do great things.Movie (5)

Elsewhere, Chang Lee uses the TARDIS key to enter the TARDIS. There he encounters the Master, who entered before him. The Master hypnotizes Lee into giving him the Doctor’s possessions by staring with his inhuman eyes. Searching through the bag, the Master demands to know where the Doctor is. Lee says that the items he stole are his now, and that the Doctor is dead. With a snarl, the Master informs Lee that the Doctor is not dead and that he will die unless he finds him. Wondering what he’ll get out of assisting the Master, Lee is told he’ll get to live. Elsewhere, Grace has given the Doctor a pair of shoes left behind by her boyfriend, letting him keep them; her attempts to examine the Doctor’s blood fail. They decide to take a walk, during which the Doctor remembers seeing a meteor storm on Gallifrey with his father during his initial incarnation.

Rummaging through some of the drawers, the Master withdraws some red pouches, going on to say the TARDIS and the Doctor’s body were stolen from him. Lee once more says the Doctor died. The Master explains it’s half true; that body, the body of the Seventh Doctor, died, but the Doctor regenerated into a new one. He goes on to lie that the Doctor used seven of his lives to commit terrible deeds as well-known villains in Earth history. He then gives Lee the pouches, which contains $5,000,000 in gold dust, as payment for his help, promising a full billion once he gets “his” body back. The Master takes Lee to the Cloister Room, where he uses Lee’s human eyes to open the Eye of Harmony, the TARDIS’ power source. In the meantime, the Doctor regains his memories. In a fit of enthusiasm, the Doctor announces, “I am the Doctor!” and kisses Grace, who asks him to kiss her again. In the Cloister Room, the Master sees a series of images: the Seventh Doctor, the newly-regenerated Eighth Doctor, and a human retina. The last causes him to assert, “The Doctor is half-human.”

The Doctor becomes aware that the Master has opened the Eye of Harmony as he holds Grace; at the same time, the Master and Lee see her through the Doctor’s vision. However, the Doctor shuts his eyes, preventing nothing more than audio to come through the Eye’s projection. The Doctor explains the Master’s plan: he hopes to force the Doctor to look into the Eye of Harmony, which will destroy his soul and allow the Master to take over his body. The Master says the Doctor is lying again; however, Lee is worried Grace might believe him. At the same time, the Doctor asks Grace to help him find a beryllium atomic clock. However, Grace runs back to her house; the Doctor opens his again, but the visual doesn’t return to the Eye. The Doctor tries talking to Grace, but she calls him insane and phones for an ambulance to take the Doctor to a mental institution.

To prove that the Eye is open and changing the physical structure of the planet, the Doctor presses against one of the windows, making it bend; he walks through it and into Grace’s house. The Doctor explains that at midnight, the entire Earth will be sucked through it unless he can close it in time. Collapsing in shock, Grace asks for two ambulances over the phone. Hearing this, the Master decides to use the identity of his stolen body to commandeer an ambulance, with Lee. The Doctor weighs himself on scale as Grace’s television reports strange weather occurring around the world, which has been caused by the Eye’s opening. The Doctor is even more shocked to see he has lost twenty pounds in just the same amount of minutes. Watching a news report, the Doctor hears that a beryllium atomic clock is being unveiled at ITAR. When the ambulance arrives, the EMT is the Master, and the unseen driver is Chang Lee; the Doctor doesn’t see Lee or know it’s the Master. The Doctor asks to be taken to ITAR. Grace is still skeptical, but indicates for the driver to play along.

As they are being driven, the Doctor questions Grace as to why she didn’t tell him she had access to an atomic clock. Still playing along, Grace says she was more worried about what would happen to the Earth if the Eye isn’t shut. Their conversation changes subject, in which the Doctor explains he met Sigmund Freud and Madame Curie. However, Lee slams on the brakes at a traffic jam, making the ambulance shake, causing the sunglasses the Master had been using to hide his inhuman eyes to fall off; the Doctor recognizes him. Putting his glasses back on, the Master has them pulled back off by the Doctor, who gets out of the way of a burning viscous substance spat by his foe; it lands on Grace’s wrist. The Doctor temporarily blinds him with a fire extinguisher, while they flee. They flee into the blocked traffic as Lee cleans the foam off the Master.

A policeman tells them to go back to their vehicles, but the Doctor instead offers him a Jelly baby; skeptical about the sweet, the officer eats it. Grace explains that the Doctor is British to explain his odd habits just as he takes the officer’s gun and points it at himself; he Movie (6)demands the officer hand over his motorcycle. The Doctor turns his attention to Grace, who he tells that he cannot make her dream to hold back death last forever, but he can make it come true tonight. Believing the Doctor, Grace takes the gun and shoots the radio, preventing the officer from calling for backup. They take the keys and drive off, leaving the gun behind. At the same time, the Master reminds Lee that they are in an ambulance, which can go past traffic jams if the sirens are on; Lee complies and takes a shortcut to ITAR. The Doctor and Grace arrive shortly after, finding the empty ambulance; the Master and Lee are already inside, waiting for them.

Grace, a board member of ITAR, gets herself and the Doctor inside the party; while looking around for a way to reach the clock, the Doctor explains that time travel is possible and that Time Lords who run out of regenerations, like the Master, are desperate in the fight for survival. She also gives him the alias “Dr Bowman” while introducing him to Professor Wagg, creator of the clock. As the Doctor tells Professor Wagg “a secret” (“I’m half-human, on my mother’s side”), he surreptitiously removes Wagg’s security pass. Grace and the Doctor steal a small component from the clock, which he needs to repair the TARDIS. They spot the Master and Chang Lee in the crowd, which prompts them to head for the exit. They then find guards that the Master subdued by using the same substance; they are frozen in place, covered in goo. The Doctor activates the fire alarm to “liven things up” as he and Grace make their escape by lowering themselves from the roof with a fire hose.

They flee on the motorcycle, and arrive at the TARDIS, where the Doctor remembers that he keeps a spare key in the cubbyhole above the letter “P” in “Police box.” They enter the TARDIS, where the Cloister Bell is ringing. The Doctor is able to close the Eye of Harmony; however, a quick temporal scan confirms that the Eye has been open too long, and the Earth is still in danger. The only solution is to take the TARDIS back to a time before the Eye was opened — but since the Eye was open so long, the TARDIS now has no power. The Doctor attempts to jump-start the TARDIS by drawing energy directly from the Eye. While working under the console, the Doctor wonders why Grace is not helping as he instructed her to, looking up to see her eyes have turned black; Grace has been taken over by the Master’s will. Grace knocks the Doctor out just as the Master and Lee enter the TARDIS.

The Doctor awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney in the Cloister Room. Chang Lee and the possessed Grace chain the Doctor to a balcony, under the supervision of the Master (who has decided to “dress for the occasion” in Gallifreyan robes). Lee explains he’ll be rich once once the Master gets his body back. However, the Doctor tells him the Master neglected to mention Earth would be destroyed, making his payment pointless. Per the Doctor’s slight manipulation, the Master inadvertently contradicts his earlier lies to Lee by claiming to have used all his lives. Lee now believes the Doctor and refuses to help the Master. Rather than waste more time by hypnotising Lee again, the Master snaps his neck. The Doctor comments that only Grace is left to open the Eye, but her eyes are not human. The Master taunts the Doctor and removes his influence on Grace as he kisses her, then forces her to look into the Eye. As the Master begins to absorb the Doctor’s life energy, the Doctor implores Grace to return to the console room and jump-start the TARDIS.

Several disasters happen all around the Earth as lightning and heavy winds surround the TARDIS; Grace enters the control room as sparks fly out of the console. In the Cloister Room, the Master begins hearing the Doctor’s memories and feeling his life force come into him, even briefly taking on his form several times. As the Earth celebrates the approaching new year, Grace manages to start the TARDISMovie (8) one second before midnight, having remembered the Doctor told her piloting a TARDIS is like setting an alarm clock. The TARDIS enters a temporal orbit, something she needs the Doctor to explain. She returns to the Cloister Room and frees the Doctor, but the Master attacks them both. He throws her off the balcony, killing her. The Doctor and the Master struggle over the open Eye, and the Master falls in; the Doctor attempts to save him, but the Master rejects his hand and is sucked into the Eye.

The TARDIS slips back in time before midnight. Energy travels from the Eye to the bodies of Grace and Chang Lee, reviving them, and the Eye closes. Amused by how sentimental his TARDIS is, the Doctor asks Grace how it felt to hold back death. He then congratulates them, as they’ve been somewhere he’s never been (yet). Grace tells him there’s nothing to be afraid of, but wonders if they’ve gone back far enough. The Doctor tells her that they have or he’s talking to a bunch of ghosts, and he doesn’t believe in them.

They return to the console room where, through a high-tech dome, the Doctor shows them alien galaxies and his home planet. Lee Movie (7)questions where the Master is just as a grumbling is heard from the TARDIS; “Indigestion,” the Doctor remarks. Deciding where to leave them, the Doctor asks if they wish to be deposited back on the 29th. While Grace would rather not live through the day again, Lee knows he won’tsurvive it; instead, the Doctor takes them to exactly the first minute of 2000 in a city park.

The Doctor allows Lee to keep the bags of gold dust the Master originally bribed him with, and tells him not to be in San Francisco next Christmas; in exchange, Lee gives back the bag with the belongings of the Seventh Doctor in them. The Doctor asks Grace to travel with him, but she refuses and asks if the Doctor will stay with her. However, both know he won’t and they kiss. Grace thanks the Doctor, but he retorts “No, thank you, doctor.”

The Doctor leaves in the TARDIS, off to a new adventure. Conducting maintenance on the new part inside the console with his newly recovered sonic screwdriver, the Doctor asks his beloved time machine where it will be they’re going this time. He settles back in his armchair in the TARDIS control room to continue reading H G Wells’ novel: The Time Machine. The gramophone record that he is listening to suddenly starts skipping (again). As the TARDIS continues on its flight, all the Doctor says is, “Oh no, not again.”