REVIEW: "Doctor Who Soundtrack CD (1996 TV-Movie)" Audio CD 

by Zepo
22 July 1999

Debney, John; John Sponsler, and Louis Febre, _Doctor Who: Original
Soundtrack Recording_, (?, USA: Debney Productions, 1996), Audio
Compact Disc, Promotional CD (#JDCD005) of Fox "Doctor Who" TV-Movie

[Image of CD]

RATING: 2 (of 10)

     For a reviewer, tackling a soundtrack is always tricky.  The
reviewer always, intentionally or unintentionally, weighs the
quality of the music against the quality of the original
production.  Whether they intend to or not, comparisons are 
unconsciously made in the mind of either the reviewer or the reader of 
the review. I will not hide the fact that my disappointment with the 
Fox "Doctor Who" TV Movie is akin to being diagnosed with a terminal
illness.  Fortunately I am not on my death bed but I did see 
the TV-Movie. Quite frankly, I look at the McGann film as an offering 
that will (hopefully) only remain a footnote in the Doctor Who 
experience.  But the music might be an entirely different matter.
     The _Doctor Who: Original Soundtrack Recording_ of the 1996 Paul
McGann film is an offering that was printed as a promotional CD by
John Debney, the primary composer of the Soundtrack.  How limited
this "promotional" printing was is unknown to the author, but copious
copies have appeared at US conventions for the last three years
without it seemingly disappearing.  Might this be an indication of
the quality of this offering?  The spine credits all three composers
who worked on the project and besides Debney his co-writers are John
Sponsler and Louis Febre.  Interestingly, Debney did not compose a
single offering on this disc by himself.  He either arranged Ron
Grainer's original theme (with Sponsler) or co-wrote with the other 
composers.  Each of the other composers wrote at least two tracks on 
this soundtrack alone.  Debney gets the lion's share credit here 
simply because he was hired to do the music and he "invited" other 
composers to work on the project.
     The front and back covers of the CD both feature "8th Doctor" [I
use this term loosely] Paul McGann, with the back cover being a
more interesting photo of him and co-star Daphne Ashbrooke inside
the TARDIS's Eye of Harmony room.  The actual front cover is a
bit less interesting.  The CD sleeve insert does open up to
reveal a very minimal description of Doctor Who series and then a
short plot summary of the TV movie.  It also includes a short
biography and a few words from Louis Febre.  I found it odd that
a small bio of him was included but there was no mention of John
Debney's past or previous work. 
     But the real measure [excuse the pun] of any musical offering 
lies in its melodies and interwoven notes.  It's true that there 
are a few tracks that stand out on this CD.  I enjoyed  tracks 
sixteen, twenty-two and twenty-three, entitled "The Chase", 
"'Open the Eye'", and "'Reroute Power!'/Temporal Orbit" 
respectively.  These tracks seemed to work into them a sense of 
emotion and urgency that all the other tracks lacked.  To 
Debney's credit these are all written by him and John Sponsler.  
The other offerings on the CD fell quite short of my musical 
interest.  The music in the original serial of Doctor Who has had 
quite a range and often these offerings were quite strange or 
experimental for their time.  The music for "The Sea Devils" 
springs instantly to mind.  Doctor Who's music was as progressive 
as the program itself often was.  The Soundtrack to this film 
serves us mediocre music that sounds like the incidental music in 
most American productions and is thus entirely forgettable.  Even 
Ron Grainer's genius other-worldly masterpiece, the Doctor Who 
theme itself, is watered down in an almost elevator music-like 
arrangement.  Fluffy and without the edge of the original, this 
version of the theme, especially the opening, should be placed in 
a rubbish bin.  I maintain that if Grainer's original theme had 
been used it might have intrigued more American viewers if only 
because of its entirely original and distinctive alienesque 
sound -- unlike anything on American television.  Viewers would 
have known they were in for something good... but as they weren't 
perhaps the arrangement was quite fitting. 
     As a reviewer with a strong opinion against the McGann film, 
I have honestly given this CD a chance to impress me and tried to 
separate the music from my opinion of the film.  The CD simply is 
not something I would recommend for listening.  For collectors 
though a promotional CD is always an interesting find, but be 
warned that I have seen quite a number of these CDs.  I must add 
that I do know people who quite like this soundtrack and were 
very happy with it.  I admit that some of these people I quite 
respect, but none the less the music offered here failed to make 
a real impression on me.  I find it quite interesting that the 
work print of the Fox TV-Movie had a somewhat different     
soundtrack in parts.  Having heard seen that work print let me 
assure you that soundtrack was not much better.  

(c) copyright Zepo, 1999.

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