Paul McGann had only one story arc as the Doctor, the American produced TV movie that was intended to be a pilot for a resurrection of the series, after a seven year hiatus, this pilot was made in 1996, and was not well received and Doctor Who would not be brought back to television again for another nine years for the new series. While the movie may not have been everything it was intended to be, there is no doubt that Paul McGann made an excellent Doctor with his portrayal.
He took the role very seriously and gave the Doctor seemingly more humanity in his portrayal than had been seen in this strange alien in a very long time. His portrayal paved the way for the dramatic moments that would resurface in the new Who series.
Best / Worst (Only) Companion: Dr. Grace Holloway
BEST / WORST (ONLY) EPISODE (STORY ARC):
Doctor Who (The Movie) (#156)
Why it’s the best/worst?: Well, for starters being the ONLY episode for the 8th Doctor it is by default also both the best and worst, and that pretty much sums up the feelings on this pilot. There are a lot of moments that end up being just outright ridiculous, but there are also some really solid dramatic performances as well. In an attempt to be more big budget Hollywood in size scope and story telling, the film does not really play like a Doctor Who story, and yet there is no denying Paul McGann is actually a pretty terrific Doctor. We get the regeneration of the 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) in this as well, which was nice to see, and the story is actually not too bad in general. Eric Roberts plays a very scary version of the Master and is actually pretty awful, (not my idea of the Master at all). Then there is the “romance” between Dr. Grace Holloway and the Doctor. Ugh. No. Just no. That may have single-handedly been enough to sink this whole muddled effort. It has some good things about it, Paul McGann most chiefly, but there is so much that does not work that it ends up being a mostly poor effort.
The Night of the Doctor (Mini-Episode)
While this is not a full episode (which is why it only receives an honorable mention), this mini-sode is amongst the best of Who and packs a myriad of great moments for fans. If you’ve seen the 50th Anniversary episode but missed this mini-sode, you’ve not had the full experience. This is the type of episode fans of the 8th Doctor were waiting for. (Now if only they were to bring him back for another full episode, our wishes might be fulfilled.) Watch it now, and realize how this is a great episode for both The War Doctor and the 8th Doctor, bridging the gap between classic Who and new Who.