BBC America to celebrate Eighth Doctor’s short TV run Aug. 31

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Doctor Who Fox TV movie Paul McGann

“It’s about time.” That’s what many Doctor Who fans said in 1996 when BBC, Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox partnered to revive the iconic British science-fiction series, which had been off the air since 1989. Unfortunately, their co-production was a Fox made-for-TV movie that failed to inspire confidence, much less spark a full-time revival. Still, it gave us Paul McGann, who for many years would be the Doctor until Russell T. Davies and Christopher Eccleston could reignite the spark in 2005. A series didn’t immediately follow the telefilm, but McGann’s likeness would be used for years on the covers of original novels featuring his character (penned by some of the current series’ writers), and McGann himself would play the Doctor in Big Finish’s successful series of audio adventures — which continue to this very day.

According to Doctor Who News,BBC America will celebrate the Eighth Doctor on Aug. 31 with The Doctors Revisited: The Eighth Doctor. It includes a documentary at 8 p.m. featuring current Doctor Who mastermind Steven Moffat and the TV movie’s supporting actors, Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso, followed by the first-ever TV airing of their adventure since 1996.

It’s about time.

The TV movie was criticized, not unfairly, for injecting too many American-style action film elements, such as motorcycle chases and liberal kissing — minor sins of which the series that later followed would be guilty from time to time as well. Eric Roberts’ camp portrayal of the evil Master always rubbed me the wrong way and reeked of stunt casting, and the suggestion that the Doctor might be half-human comes out of — and goes — nowhere. But McGann is without question the Doctor, legitimized by his spot-on portrayal and his predecessor Sylvester McCoy’s regeneration scene. Enjoy his one and only (so far) on-screen outing as the Doctor.

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