Roots: 2001: A Space Odyssey, 'Un Bel Dei' from Puccini's Madame Butterfly (the story of a child born to parents of different cultures and raised in both. Also possibly referenced in the Billie Holiday soundalike song in the opening TARDIS scene). The Doctor reads The Time Machine (c.f. 'Shada'). Frankenstein (holding back death and regeneration - also, Pete the mortuary attendant watches the Universal movie of the same during the Doctor's regeneration), The Creeping Flesh (eye enlarged in magnifying glass), Terminator and Terminator 2 (the TARDIS' arrival, the motorcycle chase and the Master's disguise), Batman (bats in the Cloister Room, plus the fire hose escape), Back to the Future (table of clocks in the TARDIS), Jurassic Park ('tremors' measured in the Doctor's tea cup), Raiders of the Lost Ark (the Eye of harmony and reflector staves). Ghostbusters (the guards are 'slimed') Superman and Superman 2 movies (winding back time, the Master prologue), Let's make a Deal, The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian legends, including that of Merlin (c.f. 'Battlefield', plus the Doctor being half human on his mother's side, paralleling many heroes including Hercules, Mr Spock, many Greek heroes and of course Jesus Christ). The Bible and Christian lore (the Master as the serpent, the Doctor rising from his 'tomb' in a shroud to be greeted with 'Oh, God!' by Pete, Salinger nicknames Grace 'Amazing Grace' after the hymn, Grace asks if the Master is the Devil, the Cloister Room resembles a cathedral, the Doctor is effectively 'crucified' above the Eye of Harmony complete with a 'crown of thorns', plenty of references to self-sacrifice, and the millennial theme. The Doctor predicts people's futures (as Christ did) and he symbolically walks across water as he returns to his TARDIS.
Fluffs: Curtis says 'sorry' in a Canadian accent [she's on transfer to San Francisco from Vancouver].
Goofs: When the Earth is sucked into the Eye of harmony at midnight in San Francisco, it is also midnight in Moscow, Paris and London (where they are also celebrating the turn of the millennium). How does the Master get inside the TARDIS without a key? [he slipped in behind Change Lee and hid in the interface between the exterior and interior doorways]. In some shots during the motorcycle chase it is clearly a stuntman and not Paul McGann riding the bike. Not really a goof as such, but in her last scenes Grace appears to be having a bad hair day, in the 'good-bye' scene it is wet and flat, whereas in the scene immediately prior it is dry and 'full'.
Fashion Victims: The Master's Gallifreyan robes and collar ('I always dress for the occasion'), the fancy dress ball costumes.
Double Entendres: The Master kisses Chang Lee ('the son I always yearned for')
'See, I told you it was small.' 'What is it they say?' 'Yeah, they say that on my planet too'
Technobabble: The TARDIS enters temporal orbit.
Dialogue Disasters: 'Oh no, not you, Grace. This is no time to be playing doctors and nurses.'
Dialogue Triumphs: 'My name is not Honey' 'Oh, well, what would you like me to call you?' 'Master will do.'
'I love humans. They're always seeing patterns in things that aren't there.'
'You kill me' 'You want me to kill you?' 'No! No! I mean you make me laugh, man. You're a funny guy.'
'You want dominion over the living, yet all you do is kill!' 'Life is wasted on the living!'
'This is an ambulance!'
And many more.
Continuity: The Daleks capture the Master and place him on trial on Skaro [presumably this takes place before its destruction in 'Remembrance of the Daleks'].
Gallifrey is 250 million light years away on another side of Earth's galaxy (which places it in a different galaxy from Earth's c.f. 'Terror of the Autons'). The local dateline on Gallifrey is the Rassilon Era 5725. 2. The dateline on Earth is known as the Humanian Era.
The TARDIS has a new [?] control room and console. The Cloister Room now incorporates the Eye of harmony [this was not in areas previously featured in other stories]. The Seal of Rassilon adorns almost everything including appearing above the doorways, on the casket containing the Master's remains, on the reflector staves and the walls of the Cloister Room. The Doctor pulls a lever marked 'Brake' to stop the TARDIS. TARDIS once again stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space (for the first time since 'The Time Meddler'). The TARDIS key is once again ankh shaped ('Planet of the Spiders'). The Doctor keeps a spare in a hidden compartment above the letter 'P' of the word Police. The TARDIS has a 'cloaking device' [i.e. the Chameleon Circuit]. The TARDIS is a Type 40 (Grace says it looks 'low tech'). The Eye of Harmony is the heart of the TARDIS [this is not the same Eye that lies under the Panopticon on Gallifrey but a link to it]. The Master is pulled into the Eye at the end of the story (presumably he is still somewhere in the TARDIS!). Although Grace and Chang Lee die, the TARDIS is able to bring them back to life with power from the Eye [the Eye 'destroyed' their souls, but by restoring their souls brought them back to life].
The Master is beyond his final incarnation and has somehow mutated into a snake-like gelatinous creature. He implies that he was Genghis Khan (c.f. 'The Daemons'). Whilst Time Lords can only regenerate twelve times, they are also able to change species. However, for this to happen they must first die [which either contradicts everything we have been previously told or explains how it was possible for the Master to take over Tremas' body ('The Keeper of Traken') and later become the master 'Morphant'].
The Doctor has two hearts which fibrillate at a [normal] rate of 300 (c.f. 'Inferno'). The Doctor has post-regenerative amnesia ('Robot' and 'Castrovalva'). His full memory returns when the Eye is opened. If a Time Lord looks into the Eye's light beam their soul would be destroyed - only a human can do so [this is a fail-safe device installed by the Time Lords to ensure that one of their own kind does not abuse the power of the Eye link]. The Doctor is half-human on his mother's side [though when he reveals this to Professor Wagg it appears he is joking, the fact that the Master discovers the same when the Eye of Harmony is opened suggests there is some truth to it. Whatever the case may be this revelation explains the Doctor's fondness for earth and his instability following regeneration]. The Doctor has a retinal pattern similar to that of a human eye but as he is not fully human he cannot open the Eye. He shows surprise that the Master knew how to open the Eye using a human; he himself has never been able to open it, and in 700 years no-one else has managed either [the Eye was last opened when the TARDIS was on Gallifrey for repairs. The Doctor had to close it in order to flee the planet, meaning he first left Gallifrey 700 years previously. His inability to reopen the Eye is why he was unable to operate the ship properly]. The Doctor loses 20 pounds as a side effect of the Eye of Harmony being opened. He is afraid of heights and doesn't believe in ghosts. He recalls a time with his father as they watched a meteor storm on Gallifrey: 'the sky above us was dancing with lights... purple, green, brilliant yellow...' (c.f. 'The Sensorites', 'The Invasion of Time').
The Doctor has a 900 Year Diary (the second Doctor carried a 500 year Diary). He also has a collection of antiques and objects, including bags of gold dust. The Doctor finds a long, multicolored scarf in a hospital locker [the fourth Doctor left his behind on a previous visit - see: 'Untelevised Adventures']. He Doctor steals the clothes he eventually wears from Ted's locker. It is a fancy dress costume based on Wild Bill Hickock (he doesn't keep the hat). He still likes jelly babies.
Links: The TARDIS lands in an alleyway filled with junk (c.f. 'An Unearthly Child') The Cloister bell is heard ('Logopolis, 'Castrovalva', 'Resurrection of the Daleks'). The Doctor has a new sonic screwdriver with a retractable head, and the TARDIS toolbox makes a reappearance complete with Neutron Ram and magnetic clamp ('Earthshock'), Chang Lee gives the Doctor the name John Smith ('The Wheel in Space').
Location: Skaro, Earth (San Francisco on the 29th to the 31st of December 1999, and the 1st of January 2000)
Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor has met Sigmund Freud and Leonardo Da Vinci (the artist had a cold). He knew Marie Curie ('intimately') and was with Puccini shortly before he died. He knows Gareth's future and has knowledge of Grace's past and future. He has been to San Francisco several times before but in various time zones as he knows of the aforementioned, Gareth's achievement in ten years' time of accurately predicting earthquakes, and what happens at Christmas in the year 2000 [possibly whilst in his fourth incarnation, see above].
The Bottom Line: 'Yes! These shoes - they fit perfectly!'
While the old series was a case of good plot, poor special effects, this attempt is more a case of good special effects, poor plot. But as afar as regeneration stories go this is one of the best. McGann makes an impressive start to what may be a very brief reign as the Doctor. After a seven year wait (and despite the rather confusing final two acts) there is still much in this production that pleases.