Cheap Thrills: The 8th Doctor

Cheap Thrills: The 8th Doctor

On my way back from the Mongolian Outlands, I was listening to a few things that I’d loaded onto my phone for the trip.  One of them turned out to be a hidden treasure.  Or at least it’s hidden to most Americans.  The British have known about this for a while.

Back in 1996, Fox Network had the absolutely hideous idea of rebooting Doctor Who, which had been on hiatus for seven years at that point.  It was almost as bad as the Peter Cushing Doctor Who movies. The Doctor was turned into a mid-nineties Fox character.  He was now half-human and had the hots for his new companion.   The joke was, “if he’s half-human, it’s clearly the lower half.”  The Master was played by Eric Roberts of all people.  The only thing it did right was in bringing back the last Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, so he could regenerate into Paul McGann.  Credit where it’s due, McGann tried, he wasn’t badly cast, the part was badly written.  The ratings were terrible, and I don’t remember the plot.  

It died in ignominy, and I thought it was banished from everyone’s head-canon.  Or at least I thought it was.  

The Doctor Who revival felt like it was at its height when the Fiftieth Anniversary rolled around (it wasn’t but it felt like it).  There was a huge build-up for that special and with a number of promotional YouTube videos.  And one of them featured Paul McGann’s Doctor.

I was surprised by that because of the whole “banished from head-canon” thing I just mentioned.  But that wasn’t the case because of the British audio dramas that he had starred in as the 8th Doctor.

I finally gave one of them listen when I was being the road zombie this week and I couldn’t believe it.

After the utter destruction of Chinballs era Woke Jodie Doctor, I didn’t think could ever feel anything but sad indifference for the last of the Timelords ever again.  And I was wrong, these Paul McGann audio plays were authentic Doctor Who.  Everything I liked about the series from the mid-2000s revival was present.  It felt like it was supposed to feel.

And these radio plays are totally free.  You can stream these on Spotify basic.  Or you can nose around the Wayback Machine and find a few of them there.

Here are three. I’m linking to Big Finish Productions because it’s less annoying than linking to Spotify but you will have to pay if you get any of these from Big Finish. It will also give you the best navigation results but finding these episodes are still going to be a PAIN IN THE ASS. Free stuff has a different price.

Blood of the Daleks

The Timelords have decided to use the Doctor as their own private witness protection program.  The protectee is Lucie Miller.  And she can’t stand the Doctor.  For his part he likes her even less.  But for the moment they are stuck with each other because they are in the middle of a great Nigel Kneale type setting.  It’s dark and foreboding and fantastic.  The Doctor finally has a chance to revisit what he feels is the greatest mistake of his life.  The moment when he could have ended the Daleks forever.

The Dark Herald Recommends with Enthusiasm.

Phobos

This story works well as a radio drama due to the setting.  It’s an intimate little horror story taking place on one of the moons of Mars that is a resort in the off-season.  There is just a touch of the Shining to this one.  

The Dark Herald Recommends with Confidence.

Human Resources

This is such a great satire and feels so much like Douglas Adams, I actually had to check to make sure it wasn’t a secret lost episode he’d written.  It wasn’t.  But it may as well have been. 

Dark Herald Recommends with Enthusiasm. 

If you were once a fan of Doctor Who and wandered away in completely understandable hopeless despair, you can treat yourself to a final Indian Summer before winter sets in and the show is canceled for good.

And if you are not a fan of Doctor Who, trust me on this point, your lack of interest does NOT make you interesting.  So don’t pollute my comments with your declarations of boredom on the subject. The ban hammer awaits the first Gamma that does so.

Okay, I’m done here.

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Comments (14)

  • Mussorgsky112 Reply

    The radio dramas have been a lovely mixture of modern and pulp stylings. There’s a great one with Tennant feating a pirate radio boat (just go with it) that had some solid fourth-wall bending and good writing. Glad to know that there are more good ones from everyone’s forgotten/disavowed Doctor.

    August 28, 2021 at 1:57 am
  • douglas Whiddon Reply

    I remember watching, and enjoying the Fox movie when it came on. I didn’t know a lot about DW. I had only seen a few Tom Baker episodes, I knew there were other doctors, but had never seen any. The funny thing, (to me), is that Paul McGann has actually played the doctor more than any other actor (when you include the radio dramas). His US companion is only in the movie, the actress wouldn’t allow her “likeness” to be used on the radio shows.

    August 28, 2021 at 3:37 am
  • Dave W. Reply

    Thanks for posting those. Definitely hunting those down.

    This short almost completely changed my opinion of McGann as Doctor Who. IMO, one of Moffat’s best bits of writing.
    The Night of the Doctor
    https://youtu.be/-U3jrS-uhuo

    August 28, 2021 at 4:36 am
    • Dave W. Reply

      Just noticed a comment under the video from The Critical Drinker:

      The Critical Drinker
      2 years ago
      My god, when I think about the years of wasted potential here, when I think about everything McGann could have done with this role and how this six minute minisode is superior to all of series 11 put together, it makes me genuinely sad. McGann was born to play the Doctor, he really WANTED to be the Doctor, and I truly wish he’d been given a real chance.

      August 28, 2021 at 4:38 am
  • Wazdaka Reply

    Thanks
    Will give them a shot this week

    August 28, 2021 at 6:16 am
  • EXALT Reply

    “Back in 1996, Fox Network had the absolutely hideous idea of rebooting Doctor Who, which had been on hiatus for seven years at that point.”
    Hideous because it was Fox, or hideous in general? Because a DW full-on reboot is starting to sound quite nice these days.
    “It was almost as bad as the Peter Cushing Doctor Who movies. The Doctor was turned into a mid-nineties Fox character. He was now half-human and had the hots for his new companion.”
    Dare I ask your thoughts about Rose Tyler and River Song?
    And about the half-human thing, there’s this interesting theory I’ve heard: Chibnall’s Timeless Child retcon states that the Doctor was never actually a Time Lord, but that “she” came from an unknown race through a wormhole; people have rightfully wondered what the point of this is: who cares if the Doctor’s actual race is called the Chronians or Hourkeepers or whatever? “Ah, but suppose that wormhole connected Gallifrey in the far past with Earth in the very far future: the Doctor having been human all along would be quite the twist, wouldn’t it?” Just food for thought.
    “I’m linking to Big Finish Productions because it’s less annoying than linking to Spotify but you will have to pay if you get any of these from Big Finish.”
    Please don’t give money to BF: they may be less woke than the BBC, but they are woke; remain in the “Free Stuff from the first decade or so” zone, that’s where I’ve heard the decent stories are anyway.

    August 28, 2021 at 6:54 am
  • The Dark Herald Reply

    It was hideous because Americans simply can’t make a good Doctor Who. It just isn’t in us at all. I should have made that clear.

    As for Rose and River. Those relationships took time to be believably established. Rose in particular didn’t have any real romantic interest in the Doctor until they were well into the David Tennent era.

    I would have been surprised if BF wasn’t Woke. Like I said, I linked to them for the best search results but you are better off doing your own research on these regardless.

    August 28, 2021 at 11:16 am
  • Skyler the Weird Reply

    Back in the Eighties I thought a great idea for an American reboot of Dr Who would be moving the Doctor and Susan to a town in middle America and making the Tardis one of the old drive in photo kiosks found in mall parking lots instead of a British Police Box. I thought of it as The Day the Daleks Destroyed Sheboygan.

    Paul McGann’s Doctor was a missed opportunity. The BBC should have some prequels with the Eighth doctor in his later years before the Time War but they can’t because they’re woke.

    August 28, 2021 at 4:27 pm
    • EXALT Reply

      It’s not so much that the BBC is woke – although they are; the problem is that it would be difficult to sell to the general audience a show with the premise “Doctor Who, but without the actor that’s currently the Doctor”; McGann lacking a proper tv era is, at best, an obscure curiosity for most people, rather than a missed opportunity, and the guy just doesn’t have enough of a pull, fame-wise, to justify the risk.

      August 28, 2021 at 5:44 pm
  • Skyler the Weird Reply

    There was an American Rip off of Doctor Who and Time Bandits but it was terrible. Voyagers with Jon-Erik Hexum as Phineous Bogg and his cute kid companion. His catchphrase was ‘Bat’s Breath’. The actor later died playing with blanks on a spy series he graduated to.

    August 28, 2021 at 4:38 pm
  • Bryce Reply

    I’ve never really been into Doctor Who, outside of some Tom Baker when I was growing up and some Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor…but the synopses of these stores make me want to take the plunge into the larger world of it. Where would folks recommend as a good starting point?

    August 28, 2021 at 4:45 pm
  • Moonglum Reply

    Richard E. Grant should have been McGann’s companion.

    “What is it? What have you found?”
    “Matter.”

    “We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!”

    “I don’t advise a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight.”
    “What absolute twaddle.”

    August 28, 2021 at 10:35 pm
    • Skyler the Weird Reply

      There was a BBC online cartoon with Richard E Grant as an un numbered Doctor Scream of the Shalka but it was forgettable.

      August 28, 2021 at 11:10 pm
  • jorgen b Reply

    I like Dr Who as a kid, the ones made in the 80s. But as an adult if I go on youtube and watch one episode at random I instantly see that even back then it was always subversive antigod bs.

    August 30, 2021 at 4:49 am

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