The Eight Doctor: 1996 and 2013
And thus cometh the eight, played by handsome devil Paul McGann. ‘Doctor Who’ had been gone for many years and to some members of the younger generations the eternal question, ‘Doctor Who?’, had perhaps become a legitimate question again. It was in 1996 that the series would get another chance when the English hooked up with their transatlantic friends in America to produce a TV movie of the series; you know, the one that killed both the Seventh Doctor and Doctor Who as a brand. The plan was to use this 89 minute feature as a pilot for a new, American TV series. Perhaps the BBC felt that ‘Who’ was a bit of a dead horse and thought they might as well earn some money by shipping it to foreign frontiers for another studio to beat. The movie however flopped and it would take another nine years before anyone would dare pick up the property again. By this point most people in the business probably thought it was better left buried in its grave along with any sliver of dignity it still retained.
Looking back on the TV movie today, it is not hard to see why it didn’t work. However, the team on CharacterCat don’t feel that McGann was at fault and other people felt the same way. He thus gained a bit of a cult following and his portrayal of the Doctor was seen as a breath of fresh air.
This Doctor was younger and softer than previous incarnations, a bit like the Fifth Doctor, but with more charm, charisma and confidence. He was a romantic intellectual, a bit of a suave 1700’s swashbuckler minus the swords. He was an eccentric filled with passion and enthusiasm who showed a love and respect for all life. Sadly, the circumstances were not in the Eight Doctor’s favour as the movie did not support him enough for him to continue playing the role; at least not on television. Instead, the Eight Doctor’s stories were mostly told in prose and in audio adventures where he has gained a fair amount of appreciation amongst fans.
Many people were longing for this Doctor to get a second chance but nobody really thought they would see him on television again. But then, after 17 years, this very November of 2013, fans were treated with a seven minute mini episode in liue of the 50th anniversary special. And lo and behold, to surprise, shock and cheers (we bet many people fell of their chairs!), McGann was there, on screen, as the Doctor! Oh! Whoa! How! Wow! Regardless of what you think of the TV movie it can be said that McGann finally got some highly deserved recognition. Go check this very special feature, ‘The Night of the Doctor’, out on Youtube or bbc.co.uk!