20 years ago today: The ‘Doctor Who’ TV movie was a light in the dark 1990s

20 years ago today, the Doctor Who TV movie premiered in the U.K., giving us the lone official appearance of the Eighth Doctor and the end of Sylvester McCoy”s tenure as the Seventh Doctor.

Aside from spoof appearances in a couple charity specials, Doctor Who: The Television Movie was the only new piece of televised Doctor Who content in the dark period that was the 1990s.

The series had been canceled in 1989, though novels continued the Seventh Doctor”s adventures. McCoy returned to his role as the Time Lord for the beginning of the 1996 TV movie. The Doctor is caught in a gang shoot-out, and in a hospital afterward, he regenerates into Paul McGann”s Eighth Doctor. It was McGann”s only appearance as the Doctor – the role would next be played by Christopher Eccleston when the series was revived in 2005. With the TV movie, McCoy”s Doctor – who had started out a bumbling buffoon and turned into a darker, more mysterious character – gave way to McGann”s Doctor, one who remained an optimist and a romantic in the face of a hostile universe that was on the brink of the Last Great Time War.

Check out McGann”s audition tape for Doctor Who below:

Other notable May 27 happenings in pop culture history:

• 1933: The Three Little Pigs, a short film that”s part of Disney”s Silly Symphony series, premiered at New York”s Radio City Music Hall.

• 1947: Disney”s 10th animated feature, Melody Time, was released in theaters.

• 1950: Frank Sinatra made his TV debut in Bob Hope”s Star-Spangled Revue.

• 1975: Wings album Venus and Mars was released.

• 1977: Burt Reynolds movie Smokey and the Bandit opened in theaters.

• 1982: The series finale of Robin Wiliams show Mork & Mindy aired on ABC.

• 1982: During a show at Rome”s Flaminio Stadio, U2 was loud enough to set off earthquake alarms in two neighborhoods. Police and fire stations were flooded with phone calls from people who reported their windows were rattling and their furniture was shaking.

• 1985: President Ronald Reagan went to Epcot for what was billed as the Presidential Inaugural Parade. The parade in January in Washington, D.C. had been canceled due to bad weather.

• 1988: The final episode of Punky Brewster aired.

• 1994: The live-action Flintstones movie starring John Goodman and Rick Moranis, opened in theaters.

• 2006: Red Hot Chili Peppers album Stadium Arcadium hit the top of the Billboard Hot 200 album chart.

• 2006: Guillermo del Toro film Pan”s Labyrinth had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.