There really is no genre better than the biopic to me. After I watch a good one, I go into a frenzy and quickly research the real facts of what transpired. Artistic license is used to dramatize events since usually a life is lived dully unless you embellish it. This film came in the 50th anniversary Doctor Who boxset I picked up. I thought it would be a cheap looking mediocre affair made on a dime to cash in on the anniversary. Nope. It was a gem of a biopic.

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An Adventure in Time and Space is a title that references the nature of Doctor Who. The Doctor every episode will take a trip through time: backward or forwards. This film captures the way Doctor Who came to be from the modest budgets to the famous regenerations. It does tend to gloss over a lot of these things quickly whereas I would love to see entire scenes devoted to these. However, it keeps a good pacing, and the real meaty part of this story is the man who plays the first doctor, William Hartnell. William is an old actor, who from the sounds of the film was typecasted and never really took off due to his relative stubbornness. All this changes when he becomes The Doctor. At first, the show is struggling to get afoot as the pilot episode doesn’t work and is reshot. Poor ratings on the eventual airing of the pilot are due to unfortunate timing as JFK is assassinated. After a few bad starts and almost cancelation Doctor Who takes off. William finally sees people clamoring for him, they want to see him, and the bitterness disperses like Scrooge on Christmas. The rest of the film tackles William’s failing health as he feels like the production and future of the franchise relies on his involvement.

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William Hartnell is played superbly by David Bradley, Argus Filch of Harry Potter fame. I never knew Bradley had this acting in him. The other star of this film rides on the producer, Verity Lambert, the first woman in the role of producer at the BBC. She was tasked with the purpose of getting Doctor Who together. It was her career riding on this. Doctor Who was initially a show for children to educate them about the past, yet this fulfillment of the show appears to have gone to the wayside in favor of spectacular science fiction. Verity succeeded in getting children to watch, but it was more to do with the horror they were experiencing as the terrifying Daleks take to the screen in the second episode. Verity’s character talks to the women of the sixties too. She was believed to have become a producer from sleeping with the senior boss. Therefore, we cheer when she triumphs, and everyone can see she progresses because of talent.

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This is a special movie for people that watch Doctor Who. It’s also a unique little biopic in its own right. An old typecasted actor and a newly appointed producer take on all odds to create a show that succeeds for generations, more than fifty years now. I recommend this one.

Robert Ring

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