In 1996, the 8th Doctor came on our screens in the form of Paul McGann. Sadly to date, McGann has only ever appeared as the Doctor on screen once with a few hidden cameos in the new series, the most notable being Human Nature where his sketch is seen in the Journal of Impossible Things, although McGann has portrayed the Doctor in countless audios and graces numerous covers for the Eighth Doctor Novels from BBC Books.
"Grace, I came back to life before your eyes. I held back death. Look, I can't make your dream come true forever, but I can make it come true today."
Though its official title is simply Doctor Who, Mathew Jacobs, who was Producer of the teleplay, has said that if it needed a title, it’d have been called The Enemy Within. After years of being in New Adventures novels, Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor returns to television once more. His appearance taking on more of his New Adventures appearance by dropping the question mark jumper and the red question-mark handled umbrella. Coming from the events of Lungbarrow (I’m such a New Adventures fan!) the Doctor is informed that Skaro has the remains of the Master and his last wish was to be returned Gallifrey by his nemesis the Doctor. However, as the Doctor says “even in death I couldn’t trust him”, it was all a trap and the Master breaks free of his urn, forcing the TARDIS to emergency land in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve, 1999.
The 7th Doctor is shot in a back alley shootout and, during a botched operation (because the Doctor’s anatomy is far different than us humans), he dies on an operating table. He then regenerates into the 8th Doctor, who has no memory and seeks the help of Dr. Grace Holloway, the surgeon who ‘killed’ him.
The film as a whole really sucks in this fan’s eyes. It is a combination of The Deadly Assassin and the sub plot from Keeper of Traken with the Master needing the Doctor’s body, not to mention his act in Logopolis, attempting to cause the destruction of half the known universe. However as I said for Time and the Rani all regeneration stories deserve a place in the list of best episodes. When shown to non-Whovians, the Doctor Who TV movie, comes across as a fun two hours and Paul McGann, to his credit, nails the role in an hour and a half, it really is sad we never saw more of him. However the groundwork, which was laid out by this TV movie for the Eighth Doctor Adventures Novels is fantastic!
As we finish up with the Doctor Who TV movie we move over into the further adventures of the 8th Doctor in novel form. (Don’t worry, I’ll be bringing you some 7th Doctor New Adventures run downs soon enough!).
The New Adventures continued right from the classic series end with the 7th Doctor and Ace and even introduced new companions like Bernice Summerfield (River Song before River even existed mind you!). As the 7th Doctor changed over, the 8th Doctor would take center stage and The Dying Days would feature the 8th Doctor and also continue in the vein of the New Adventures.
We see the Doctor returning from the events of the TV movie, meeting up with Bernice once more. The Doctor has returned to Earth a changed man and just in time for an Ice Warrior invasion. The Doctor teams up with Brigadier Winifred Bambera once more and the retired Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart.
We see the 8th Doctor take to his role of Time’s Champion ever so simply. He even refers to himself as a Time Lord with pride to the Ice Warrior leader, flipping the scales from the 7th Doctors almost shame over his Time Lord heritage. At one point the Doctor even refers to himself as The Eighth Man Bound, which was a recurring theme in the later end of the 7th Doctor novels.
Of course the Doctor saves the day and he even gets the girl as it is eluded Bernice jumps the Doctor in bed! He gives her his 7th incarnations hat and umbrella to keep as well as the pet cat, Woolsey, though we’re left wondering where he was during the TV movie.
As the BBC was able to make friends with the Terry Nation Estate once more, the Daleks could again appear in the Doctor Who novels. They were absent from the 7th Doctor New Adventures, albeit talked about often. War of the Daleks would be the first time the Doctor had faced his archenemies since Remembrance of the Daleks.
We see the Daleks as they conquer world after world, it would seem the destruction of Skaro in the afore mentioned story hasn’t stopped them. (Not to mention the same planet, Skaro was in the TV movie, one of the biggest continuity problems ever in Doctor Who). The Daleks find Davros’ escape pod and place him on trial for his crimes, bringing the Doctor as a witness.
The Dalek Supreme explains to the Doctor that when the Daleks invaded Earth (The Dalek Invasion of Earth) they found UNIT files that talked about the events of Remembrance of the Daleks and so they thwarted their home world’s destruction by creating another Skaro, the one the Doctor and Romana visited in Destiny of the Daleks. They moved Davros to that planet while he was in suspended animation so that Davros would have those space time coordinates. It’s a bit of a convoluted tale but John Peel’s attempts of trying to retcon the Daleks while obviously high gives it a spot in this list. There’s even a bit of an explanation about how the Dalek Factory wound up on the planet Vulcan in the second Doctor story, The Power of the Daleks.
War of the Daleks is a must read for any Dalek fan!