‘Doctor Who’ TV movie coming to U.S. DVD — and it’s about time

Doctor Who Fox TV movie Paul McGann

The 1996 Fox TV movie Doctor Who, which introduced many Americans to the long-running British sci-fi phenomenon but failed to generate enough interest to revive the series, is finally coming to home video in the United States.

According to The Doctor Who News Page, the telefilm will be released on DVD in North America sometime in the next 12 months. It will also be released in Australia and New Zealand.

The movie starred Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor in his one television appearance, and showed the Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy, regenerate after being gunned down by a street gang in San Francisco on the eve of the millennium. McCoy was the star of Doctor Who when the series went off the air in 1989.

With his memories in turmoil and his nemesis the Master (Eric Roberts) on the loose, the new Doctor (McGann) must get back to his TARDIS in time to stop the end of the world, with help from heart surgeon Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook) and street urchin Chang Lee (Yee Jee Tso).

The movie is often derided as “too Americanized” for its motorcycle pursuit and romantic elements, and it was a flop in the ratings when it aired in the U.S. But oddly the new series, launched in 2005, has explored romance for the alien Doctor and boosted the action quotient, and has managed to do so with much acclaim.

For all its faults, the Doctor Who TV movie looked great with visual effects from Tony Dow (who also did special effects for Babylon 5 and starred in Leave It to Beaver) and it never suffered from slow pacing or lack of wit. And McGann, who would reprise the role for a series of original audio dramas for Big Finish Productions, was born to play the Doctor, however briefly.

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