Played by: Paul McGann
Significant contributions to the Whoniverse: Doctor Who had been off the air for seven years when the first attempt at a reboot was attempted. A such, the most significant contribution of McGann to the Whoniverse is the fact that Doctor Who has survived at all. Talk that the 1996 telemovie was to be a reboot for the series never became reality, but the fact it happened at all proved there was still interest alive and well in the franchise.
Being a reboot, it was a big event and some significant additions to Whovian lore. A new function of the Eye of Harmony was revealed. The Eye has appeared previously, originally in the Fourth Doctor’s era. It is an artificial black hole which provides the power for Gallifrey and for time travel technology. In the telemovie, a resurrected Master attempts to use the eye to steal the Doctor’s remaining regenerations for himself.
Another element introduced in this film, though subsequently ignored in future incarnations of the Doctor, is the implication that the Doctor is half human. While making a significant plot point in this story, it seems now to be flatly denied. I have read that explanations have been flying around the interwebs and in print media of the further adventures of the Doctor, including that this particular incarnation alone is half human. In the end though, I find it amazing the lengths people can go to explain away a plot discrepancy In the end, it is just an introduced idea into the franchise which was later decided to be dropped.
Reflections by Film Nerd: I have always personally considered it a great shame that McGann never got the chance to play the Doctor in a regular serial format. I love him as an actor, and I love him in this role. I guess like any of these desires and hypotheticals, what else may have changed if he had been in the role for longer. For instance, I love his subsequent work in the Hornblower franchise, and I now cannot see another person playing Lieutenant Bush in that series. Also, you change one thread in the tapestry of time, would that mean we would not have had the joy of Ecclestone, Tennant and Smith. A random musing I know, but it is one I do often, such as, what if Firefly had survived past that first season?? Would quality have been maintained, or would it have followed the same downward spiral as Angel??
Bringing matters back to the topic at hand, McGann was extremely charismatic in the role. Eric Roberts hammed up the Master opposite him, but there was certainly connective tissue between his Master and the incarnations which preceded him. It was also an amusing pairing to have the companion be a medical Doctor from our time. Clearly, someone agrees with me, as the idea was repeated more recently with Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones.
Now that I have finished seeing the entire history of Doctor Who, or at least all the episodes that have survived, now may be ample opportunity for me to investigate McGann’s contributions to the Big Finish audio productions of Doctor Who. It is pleasant to think there are other Eighth Doctor stories out there, even if they do not exist as part of the central television show.
Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook)
Grace Holloway met the Doctor briefly whilst he was in his Seventh incarnation, and indeed was partially responsible for his passing. Not that it was really her fault… how could a twentieth century cardiac specialist be expected to understand the binary hearts of a Time Lord??? From this rocky start though, she proves a reliable and likable ally, whom is a bit lost in this new expanded world, but quickly adaptable like all the best companions. Just like McGann, I would have also enjoyed observing her future adventures in the TARDIS.
The Eighth Regeneration [NO SPOILERS]
That is right, no spoilers. This is the only regeneration of the Doctor to have never been seen on-screen. When the series returned in 2005, we jumped straight into the action with Christopher Ecclestone’s Ninth Doctor. It is however clearly implied that the regeneration had been recent, given the Doctor examine’s his features in the first mirror he comes across. Part of me still hopes we will get to see the regeneration one day though. It is on my wish list for the 50th anniversary celebrations!!
Don’t forget that you can meet Sylvester McCoy, as well as Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Paul McGann, at the Lords of Time convention on April 7th. Tickets can be bought from the Culture Shock Events website.
Feel free to check out our previous Doctor Who Summaries!!