This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Doctor Who TV movie. I some how managed to convince Andrew to sit down and watch it with me – partially because it was shot in Vancouver and partially because he seems like to bad movies. There was a lot of laughter, disbelief, and amusement as we watched the movie together. Andrew also remarked on how American it felt, very unlike any of the other Doctor Who he had watched. Though Andrew didn’t love the movie he didn’t hate it and I’m just glad I got him to watch it with me.
One thing I love about the TV movie and the eighth Doctor more broadly is the range of possibilities that were created by the movie. Without the TV movie the new series as we know it probably wouldn’t have come to fruition. I also enjoy the fact that the eighth Doctor’s adventures have been extended through Big Finish, books, and comics. The TV movie was just one adventure leaving so much space for tangential writing and additional stories to be developed in other mediums.
If you’re looking for a way to dive back into the TV Movie both Radio Free Skaro and Verity! podcasts had great episodes around the time of the airing anniversary. RFS had an interview with Yee Jee Tso about Time and Spaces his photo book publication which compares the Vancouver 1996 movie shooting locations to the Vancouver landscape today. The same episode of RFS also included a panel Long Island Who recorded panel featuring Paul McGann, Daphne Ashbrook, Matthew Jacobs, and Gary Russell. Both the interview and panel are well worth a listen. And if you’re looking for a slightly less serious way to rewatch the TV movie Verity! did a pretty amusing commentary of the movie.
“Day One” the second episode of Torchwood picks up right where the pilot left off – Gwen Cooper has joined the Torchwood team and this episode revolves around her first day. Of particular interest to current Doctor Who fans this episode was written by future show-runner Chris Chibnall.
To be frank this isn’t the best introduction to Chibnall’s work. The entire episodes revolves around a gas based sex monster, which given that context the episode can only be expected to do so much. At times the episode really felt like it was trying to prove how ‘adult’ Torchwood was in comparison to Doctor Who and what better way to do that then focus an entire episode around sex.
Though I do love some of the very sex positive lines given to Captain Jack in this episode. His line “you people and your quaint little categories” is by far one of my favoruite of the entire Torchwood series. This is one of the many examples of Jack’s refusal to conform to (gender or sexuality based binaries.
The episode also positions Gwen as having an amazing snog with the female character possessed by the sex monster – drawing attention to the existence of bisexual people and the range of sexual orientations beyond straight and gay. Plus Gwen actually uses the word snog to describe her actions — which is adorably British and I had a minor squee moment when she talked about it. The Verity! Podcast episode looking at this episode does a good job of diving into some of the specifics around this and find hints of redemption in the sex monster story.
On a whole I think watching Chibnall’s contributions to Doctor Who proper are a bit more inspiring than this in terms of faith in a showrunner. It’s a sex monster story. “Day One” is not a bad story – but it is what is. The Radio Free Skaro Miniscope on Chibnall’s Doctor Who contributions does a great job of looking critically at Chibnall’s contributions but the general assessment of his DW work is positive and highlight the huge range of genres, themes, and ideas Chibnall is capable of carrying. And I think watching Broadchurch is probably a better example of the possibilities of what can happen under Chibnall than this slightly over the top sex monster and I absolutely loved Broadchurch.