Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Best of Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor

Well this should be easy. Paul McGann, the Doctor for one night only. What's his best story then?

Well, I could cheat and consider media other than TV, in which case I'd go for the animated version of the Douglas Adams story Shada that he voiced.

But that would be cheating.

So we're left with his only canonical entry in the classic series, Doctor Who The TV Movie, an attempt to revive the series by setting it in the USA, something it notably failed to do.

It's not so much that the story is actively bad, it just has a complete absence of anything good in it. This is Doctor Who by numbers with lines such as "Would you like a jelly baby?" (groan), "Don't mind him he's English" (cringe) and "I'm half human" (roll around on floor going 'nooooooooo!').

Eric Roberts makes a passable villain, although he's clearly not The Master, and Daphne Ashbrook makes a passable companion.

There's certainly been worse stories on US television, but is it Doctor Who? Only just. Yes there's a blue box, but where is the multi-layered plot, the monsters who turn out to have hearts of gold, the moral dilemmas etc etc.

But enough of the plot, what about McGann? Well, before I answer that lest have a quick recap of the debut stories of the various Doctors. William Hartnell was of course perfect from the word go, Patrick Troughton's first outing is, alas, lost forever whilst Jon Pertwee spent most of his first story out cold in a hospital bed. Tom Baker left us for a while in the TARDIS leaving Sarah Jane to carry the story whilst Peter Davidson spent most of his debut in a box. The less said about the intial appearances of Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy the better.

So you'd have to say McGann's debut performance was probably the best since The First Doctor's thirty three years earlier. He was The Doctor straight out of the box. Debonair and romantic.

His only role and hence the only entry.

That is until five minutes ago, when as part of the fiftieth anniversary special wee have the on-line mini episode Night of the Doctor. It may only be seven and a half minutes long, but it is brilliant.

This is not an uncertain McGann saddled with a limp script, but the McGann who honed his character in the audio adventures given decent lines.

And doesn't he deliver them well? Could any other Doctor have delivered the line "Physician heal thyself" as well?

So having starred in both the longest and the shortest episodes, it is quality that wins out on quantity.

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