New Years Eve 1999. Earth is about to run out of time...
Returning home to Gallifrey with the remains of his arch enemy, the Master, the TARDIS is forced off course, returning the Doctor into the middle of a street gang's gun battle in downtown San Franciso.
Critically wounded in the shoot out, the Doctor has to regenerate to save his own life. And he's not the only one - the Master too has a new body with which to wreak havoc, and his ultimate goal is to take the Doctor's own existence.
As the clock counts down to the start of a new millennium, the Doctor has to stop the Master destroying all life on Earth. But at what cost...?
-- from the DVD release, 2001
The VHS release initially held up other video releases for the majority of 1996... The DVD release in 2001 was (slightly less) controversially one of the first stories picked for a digital release.
Episode timing on DVD: 85'46"
Episode timing on PasC: 84'39" (85'46" on 1999 repeat)
The release delays were caused primarily due to the sensitivity over the events
that happened in a school in Dunblane during March (a gunman opening fire on a
hall full of children), which had a knock-on effect of over-censorship of any
use of guns on TV or film for most of that year. Following the preparation of a
mock-up sleeve in late March showing a 12 certificate, BBC Worldwide showed a
rough print of the film to the BBFC to gauge an early reaction. The board
suggested a 15 rating would be more appropriate, which initially pleased the BBC
as it "placed the film in the same sector as The X-Files" (an odd comment given
that by that point the BBFC had made passes on 10 different X-Files videos and
only 1 of them was classified 15, while most were given PG or 12 ratings); but
on the evening of 9 May, the BBFC told BBC Video that they couldn't allow the
film, due to be broadcast before the watershed on 27 May, to be screened to a
family audience, whilst having the simultaneous release of an 'adult' video
version. Hence the cuts were made to fit the TV scheduling - despite Alan Ayres,
Head of Drama Publicity, promising that "Schedules are not confirmed until two
weeks before the date of transmission, [and] The Scheduling Department will not
set a timeslot until they know the nature of the finished material".
As part of the production agreement Universal received syndication and video distribution rights worldwide, except for the UK - the BBC retained those rights there. The video was never released in the US, although Universal held the rights to a release for some time.
The caption at the bottom of the German cover translates as "The Time Traveller returns! But this time he is not alone!"
DVD Bonus features
A collection of interviews taken from the Fox US EPK, which was handed out to networks wishing to promote it. Some of this footage was edited into the Promo, above, and an alternate version was created by BBC Video for use in the UK, with some slightly different comments. These are all "raw" and sometimes contain the actors making facial expressions they probably assumed would be edited out prior to public consumption.
Sylvester McCoy (2'21") - The history of the show, 1963-1989, and them having to repeat the first episode. The worldwide following, how he became involved in the film and his friendship with McGann. Why he agreed (the thrill and the money). The magic of Doctor Who. The show being both Earthbound and space-bound (a cross between The X Files and Star Trek). [the Fox Promo includes an extra moment where he explains the tradition of regeneration, not included here].
Paul McGann (1'59") - Sylvester McCoy teaching him, what he should expect from the film, the enhanced production values and the concept of regeneration, the Master's relationship with the Doctor and the thousands of loyal fans [the sequence in the Fox Promo is not included].
Eric Roberts (0'51") - Playing such a melodramatic character and his history of watching Doctor Who since the early 70s.
Daphne Ashbook (1'27") - The character of Grace and why she kills the Doctor, what the Doctor remembers about her, the Master being "a bad guy" and "the history of Who...ville..."
Philip Segal (2'08") - The difference between the old and new show (the money essentially) and tailoring to an American audience. The underground following in Chicago and why Fox is the best place for the series.
Geoffrey Sax (2'16") - The high quality of the script, a brief synopsis of the film, why the Doctor is such a unique character, how they picked Daphne Ashbrook and reaching a bigger audience [the Promo also contains a brief moment where he refers to the film as "fun"]
Philip Segal 2001 (8'59")
Recorded backstage at Gallifrey 2001, Segal provided a brief to-camera commentary on his feelings on the production, 5 years on: He talks about his background and how he first got into Doctor Who, why he felt it was a fresh idea to bring DW to the States, the idea that the film should have led to a series and the Doctor as a "timeless" character. He then goes onto explain how his involvement with Amblin and Seaquest DSV led to meeting with Alan Yentob to discuss Who, how Spielberg lost interest following the Leekley script and the end result pleasing all the partners. Next he moves onto the uniqueness of Doctor Who, using Eric Roberts (not his choice), the romantic elements (again not his choice) and his favourite elements (the TARDIS etc). Finally he describes himself as privileged to be a part of the show's history and his hopes that the show will live on...
Camera: Keith Barnfather
With Thanks To: Philip Segal, Shaun Lyon, Robert D Franks
4 Audio Tracks
Three audio options, including a Sax commentary recorded at TVC on 8th March 2001, an isolated score compiled by Mark Ayres, and four complete pieces of stock music used (or, in one case, ultimately not used) in the production.
49 colour photos
By Richard Molesworth
Behind the Scenes Compilation (4'47")
More footage from the Fox EPK - the shooting scene, the sequence where Grace and the Doctor hold up the traffic cop and the Master sitting up in his new body for the first time. Some of this appeared in the Promo.
Philip Segal tours the Tardis set (2'33")
More footage from the Fox EPK - Segal takes us round the TARDIS interior, primarily the console and some of the background props. Some of this appeared in the Promo.
Alternate Scene - "Give him the keys!" (0'45")
Alternate Scene - "Puccini!" (0'17")
Two alternate takes of scenes from the TVM, taken from a promo reel prepared for Canadian audiences.
Easter Egg: Pertwee Dedication
Move left from the Play All feature to display this dedication, as broadcast immediately post transmission in the UK in 1996.
Restoration NotesAll footage was taken from the Digital Betacam original, with a brief moment (from the opening credits) taken from a DEFT conversion made in 1996. Although an early edit of the TVM exists (which Matt Dale painstakingly catalogued at the request of the Restoration Team), it was later discovered that almost all sequences of interest contained unclearable music. Matt put the Team in touch with another fan who held the Canadian promo reel, which fortunately just featured an early mix of the Debney music. Matt received a thanks on the RT website for his work.
20/05/1996 - Passed as '12' by
the BBFC (1'06" requested to be cut from the original 90'46". This apparently
made the final length 84'32") for the UK.
26/06/1996 - Passed as 'M15+' (for 'Low Level Violence') by the OFLC for Aus/NZ
11/05/2001 - Bonus features passed as '12' by the BBFC for the UK
10/07/2001 - Menus passed as 'PG' by the BBFC for the UK
03/09/2001 - Passed as '12' by the BBFC (85'41" - this time uncut) for the UK