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‘It was on the planet Skaro that my old enemy the Master was finally put on trial. They say he listened calmly as his list of evil crimes was read and sentence passed. Then he made his last and, I thought, somewhat curious request. He demanded that I, the Doctor, a rival Time Lord, should take his remains back to our home planet, Gallifrey. It was a request they should never have granted.’
In the TARDIS control room, the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) places an urn containing the Master’s remains into a casket and locks it with his sonic screwdriver. This done, he rests with a cup of tea and a book while the TARDIS heads for Gallifrey, dateline 5725.2 Rassilon Era.
The casket shudders, gently at first and then with more vigour, and finally cracks open, releasing a jelly-like substance. The substance swiftly moves to the TARDIS control console and vanishes inside. The console starts to malfunction and the Doctor tries to stabilise it. There is a critical timing malfunction and the TARDIS prepares for an emergency landing.
On Earth, in San Francisco, a group of youths – Chang Lee (Yee Jee Tso) and two others (Michael Ching, Dean Choe) – are being chased by a car. They scale a fence into a yard and believe themselves safe, but a group of armed thugs (Darryl Quan, Byron Lawson, Paul Wu, Johnny Mah) emerge from hiding. Suddenly a wind blows up and the TARDIS materialises in front of Chang Lee. The door opens and the Doctor exits, to be met by a hail of bullets. A car pulls up and the gang members depart, leaving Chang Lee with the prone figure of the Doctor. Chang Lee calls for an ambulance and the Doctor sees the jelly-like substance emerge from the TARDIS’s keyhole.
In the ambulance, a medic named Bruce (Eric Roberts) gets Chang Lee to sign a form authorising treatment for the patient. The date is December 30 1999. Chang Lee gives the Doctor’s name as ‘John Smith’. On arrival at the hospital the Doctor is rushed into surgery, while in the ambulance a jelly-like snake hides itself in Bruce’s jacket.
Much to the astonishment of a nurse, Curtis (Delores Drake), the Doctor’s X-rays show that he has two hearts. The emergency doctor, Salinger (John Novak), removes two bullets from the Doctor’s left leg – a shot to his shoulder passed right through – and requests that the cardiologist, ‘amazing Grace’, be summoned from her night off at the opera.
Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook) arrives at the hospital still in evening wear and prepares to operate on the Doctor. In surgery she starts to probe the heart of the apparently unconscious patient, but he wakes and recognises the music playing in the background: Puccini’s ‘Mme Butterfly’. He struggles but is anaesthetised. Grace finds that she cannot recognise the internal structure of the Doctor’s body and experimentally pushes the probe hard. The Doctor convulses and his life-signs vanish from the monitors. He dies at 10.03 p.m. Grace is upset and demands to see the X-rays. Chang-Lee, waiting outside, is summoned and takes possession of the Doctor’s possessions. Grace is suspicious of the boy, and he runs from the hospital.
At Bruce’s apartment, the jelly-like snake emerges from the medic’s coat and approaches the bed where he and his wife (Eliza Roberts) are lying. It rears up and enters Bruce’s body through his mouth.
The Doctor’s body is taken to the morgue where it is checked in by Pete (William Sasso) and Ted (Joel Wirkkunen) and placed in a cubical.
Later, Pete is watching Frankenstein on television, unaware that something is happening inside the cubical. Lightning plays around the Doctor’s body and he regenerates, returning to life. The new Doctor (Paul McGann) smashes his way out of the cubicle, causing Pete to faint. The Doctor leaves the morgue and finds himself in a deserted wing of the hospital where he breaks down on seeing his reflection. He doesn’t know who he is.
The next morning, the Doctor raids some lockers for suitable clothes and discards a long multi-coloured scarf before plumping for a selection of items, including a green duster coat intended as part of a Wild Bill Hickok fancy dress outfit.
Bruce’s wife wakes to find her husband already up and acting strangely. He tells her to call him ‘Master’, and then kills her by breaking her neck.
The Doctor, waiting in the hospital corridor, recognises Grace as she passes him. He starts to remember what happened.
The hospital director (Michael David Simms) tells Grace to forget about the death, and about X-rays that show two hearts. Grace refuses to co-operate and resigns. The Doctor follows her as she leaves, and manages to get into her car. There, to her astonishment, he removes the broken probe from his chest. Now realising that this is the missing, apparently ‘dead’ patient, she drives him back to her apartment.
The Master arrives at the hospital and is told that the Doctor is dead and that his body has gone missing. He also discovers that Chang Lee has the Doctor’s possessions.
At her apartment Grace checks the Doctor’s hearts again and also his blood. She is puzzled by what she finds, but the Doctor assures her that everything is all right. They decide to go for a walk in a nearby park.
Chang Lee returns to the TARDIS and gets in using a key that he found amongst the Doctor’s possessions. Inside he meets the Master, who entrances him and takes the bag containing the Doctor’s things. The Master intends to use the boy to obtain the Doctor’s body, which he needs to take over as his own in order to survive, and bribes him with gold dust. They move through the TARDIS to the cloister room. The door opens of its own accord and the Master comments that the TARDIS ‘likes’ Chang Lee. In the middle of the vast room is the Eye of Harmony, the centre of the structure. The Master tells Chang Lee how to open the Eye – something that can be done only with a human eye – and he does so.
As the stone cover over the Eye moves back, the Doctor regains his lost memories.
An image of the seventh Doctor appear above the Eye, followed by one of the current incarnation. Seeing the Doctor’s eye magnified, the Master realises that he is half human. The next image is of Grace, as the Eye ‘sees’ through the Doctor’s own eyes.
Realising what is happening, the Doctor closes his eyes. He explains to Grace that he needs an atomic clock to fix the timing mechanism on the TARDIS. Grace, believing that he has finally flipped, hurries back to her apartment. The Doctor follows and pleads to be let in, but Grace calls for an ambulance. The Doctor frantically explains that they have only until midnight to close the Eye and leave the planet, taking the Master with them, or the Earth will cease to exist. To convince Grace, he demonstrates that molecular structures are already breaking down by pushing first his hand and then his whole body through a glass pane and into her apartment.
Chang Lee and the Master leave to supply the ambulance that Grace requested.
The Doctor sees on the television news an item about an atomic clock being unveiled in San Francisco that evening. He realises that this must be a beryllium clock and determines to obtain it.
The ambulance arrives and the Doctor and Grace go off in it, unaware that Chang Lee is driving and that their fellow passenger is the Master. The vehicle suddenly jolts to a halt in a major traffic jam and the Master’s sunglasses fall off, revealing his identity to the Doctor. The Master spits a burning slime at Grace, and it hits her arm. The Doctor uses a fire extinguisher to temporarily blind the Master, and he and Grace escape out of the back of the ambulance.
The Doctor and Grace run to the front of the traffic jam and steal a police motorbike. Chang Lee and the Master give chase in the ambulance.
Eventually the Doctor and Grace arrive at the Institute for Technological Advancement and Research (ITAR) where the clock is situated. Grace uses the fact that she is on the board of trustees to get the Doctor in. They meet Professor Wagg (Dave Hurtubise), inventor of the clock, and the Doctor steals his pass in order to get to the device and remove the component that he needs. On the way out, however, he and Grace are spotted by the Master and Chang Lee. They manage to escape by setting off the fire alarm and using a fire hose as a rope to lower themselves down the outside of the building. They return to the TARDIS, where the cloister bell is tolling. The Doctor wires the beryllium chip into the circuits and the Eye closes. He discovers that this was not done quickly enough, however, and decides that they must go back in time to before the Eye was ever opened. To obtain sufficient power for this, he plans to divert energy from the Eye. Grace, however, becomes possessed by the Master as he enters the ship, and she knocks the Doctor unconscious before he can complete the connections.
The Doctor revives to find that he is now strapped to a trolley in the cloister room. Grace places a crown-like device on his head on the instructions of the Master, who has now changed into Gallifreyan robes, and he is then chained up on a balcony overlooking the closed Eye. He appeals to Chang Lee for help. The Master, in countering this, inadvertently reveals to the boy that his earlier claim that the Doctor had stolen his lives was a lie. The Master kills Chang Lee and then kisses Grace so as to return her to normal and enable him to use her to open the Eye. The Master positions himself in the reflected light from the Eye and the transference of his mind to Doctor’s body begins. The Doctor shouts to Grace to return to the console room and re-route the power as before.
Storms break over San Francisco as the transference process continues. The countdown to the new millennium begins: thirty seconds to go.
Grace struggles to connect the correct wires beneath the console. She manages it with just one second to spare.
The TARDIS starts to roll back in time and enters temporal orbit. Grace releases the Doctor from his chains, but this act also frees the Master who throws her from the balcony to her death. The Doctor and the Master fight. The Master leaps at the Doctor, intending to push him into the Eye, but the Doctor blinds him with reflected light and he is sucked into the Eye himself.
The Doctor sadly collects the bodies of Grace and Chang Lee as the TARDIS slips farther back in time. Suddenly, their life essence emerges from inside the Eye and returns to their bodies. The Eye closes by itself and, as he and Grace embrace, the Doctor observes that the TARDIS is sentimental.
The Doctor directs the TARDIS to take Grace and Chang Lee back to Earth on December 31 1999. When they arrives, he bids farewell to Chang Lee, letting him keep the gold dust and telling him not to be there the same time next year. He asks Grace to come with him, but she retorts that he should come with her. She says that she will miss him, and they kiss. The Doctor returns to the TARDIS alone, and Grace watches as it dematerialises.
In the TARDIS, after making some fine-tuning adjustments to the console, the Doctor again relaxes with a fresh cup of tea and his book.
Synopsis from Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor Handbook by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker, reprinted with permission; further reproduction is not permitted.
The long-awaited return of Doctor Who to the screen took place in 1996, with the production of the film, unofficially titled "Enemy Within" by producer Philip Segal (but never as a working title). The long trip to the screen for this story features heavily in Jean-Marc Lofficier's book "The Nth Doctor," featuring earlier editions of the story, and Segal and Gary Russell's hardcover book "Regeneration" which addresses the production history of the movie. The transmitted version differed in the UK on its original broadcast, with several cuts (mostly for violence). Also cut in the UK was a caption, "Based on the original series broadcast on the BBC". The story was filmed as a joint production by the BBC, Universal Television and FOX Television, and produced entirely in Vancouver, British Columbia. The UK transmission featured a dedication to actor Jon Pertwee, who died seven days prior to the original transmission. Premieres took place in the UK at BAFTA as well as in the US at the Directors Guild of America, where Segal, stars Paul McGann and Daphne Ashbrook and effects supervisor Tony Dow attended (as well as a multitude of fans). A documentary, "The Making of Doctor Who – The Movie" was featured on the Sci-Fi Channel using excerpts from the Electronic Press Kit. Sylvester McCoy agreed to appear at the beginning, to bridge the gap with the original television series. The film did poorly in America (up against the Roseanne series finale) but very respectably in the UK; nevertheless, further production was not greenlighted. McGann returned to Doctor Who in the Big Finish audio productions, as did Yee Jee Tso (Chang Lee) and Ashbrook (Grace) in different roles. For years this looked to be the final televised Doctor Who adventure... until the new era began in 2005.
For more in-depth information about the contents of this story, a complete episode-by-episode detailed breakdown can be found at the Doctor Who Reference Guide