It certainly is a gem in the rough. It is definitely filled with a lot of network TV movie qualities, but it manages to shine through all that.
The regeneration scene is just wonderful. The juxtaposition of the Doctor's regeneration with the Frankenstein
movie was brilliant. I also love how when McGann stumbles into the room with all of the mirrors (seriously, what was that room, with the mirrors and the weird plastic dolls), he stares into 8 mirrors, representing his 8 lives. Then, of course, his "Jesus" moment with his arms outstretched shouting, "Who am I?"
As far as the deadline, the Doctor does have a throwaway line to Grace that it's lacking in context. It becomes just of many things (the biggest being the whole half-human business) that you just shrug off and ignore. The movie does have a ton of those moments, such as the whole "molecular structure" thing that is used to set that danger of the impending crisis, but is not referenced again.
McGann is simply wonderful. He does so much with so little screen time to make you love the Doctor and he does straddle the line between being tied to the old series and being accessible.
I was 17 when this first aired on Fox and I remember thinking that I would be on-board with a series. It certainly didn't grab me in the way that other shows had, but it was enough to cause me to watch "Rose" 9 years later and continues to fan my love for all things Who
to this day.