Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sixth Doctor Part X - "Time and the Rani"

I finally end the Sixth Doctor's tenure - and I end it with this?

Oh dear...what to say?

Following "Trial of a Time Lord" which was sort of a mixed bag in my opinion, Colin Baker left Doctor Who, foregoing the role of the Sixth Doctor. However, since that character appears for about a minute on screen here, I must review it (just like with "The Caves of Androzani").

Normally at this point in the review, I'd give a brief summation of the story as a whole. Well, that's kind of hard to do considering "Time and the Rani" did not have much of a plot at all. It was a jumbled mess and all I could fathom was that it had to do with the newly regenerated Doctor (played by Sylvester McCoy) having to fight the Rani (Kate O'Mara) who has kidnapped a number of renowned scientists - and there's a giant brain. And there's bat-like monsters with three eyes, some green people and lots of rocks.

Although most of the 1970's episodes of Doctor Who were filmed in a quarry which doubled as an alien planet, there was something about the presentation of it which made the quarry seem like an alien planet. However, here I knew that this was a quarry and all I could see were a lot of badly-costumed actors running around some rocks. But that's sort of beside the point. Classic Doctor Who didn't have the best production values, so what? I can overlook that. What I cannot overlook is that the whole thing didn't make any sense. As I said above, there was no plot. And if there was one, I sure didn't see it.

Well, I have to talk about something positive - Sylvester McCoy. The Seventh Doctor is great. He's not in top form here since this is his first story, but the Seventh Doctor is a great character. I really do like him, despite some of the conflicted opinions concerning his tenure. And as surprising as it may seem, I actually rather like the new titles. While I feel as though the '80's titles (used by the Forth, Fifth and Sixth Doctors) are some of the best, the overly 1980's feel of the new titles and theme is sort of overwhelming, but it's not bad. Here take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-EsFnBgFyY

Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor
Aside from the Seventh Doctor and the overtly 1980's feeling from the episode, there's not much more praise I can give to it. While the Rani was a good villain in her first appearance, she is far worse here. It's not the fault of Kate O'Mara since she's a pretty competent actor, but she's let down by the script. She spends the first few episodes trying to trick the post-regenerative Doctor into thinking she is Mel, his companion (played by the ear-bleedinngly screechy-sounding Bonnie Langford). She's not much of a threat towards the Doctor here.

In my mind, "Time and the Rani" is the epitome of a bad script and it is probably the weakest story that I have seen of the Doctor Who Classic Series thus far. I have not heard anyone defend this story before, so I have to assume viewers are in agreement with me about this particular adventure. It's just a dull, uninteresting story and does not have the feeling of a momentous regeneration story. The story is saved from the brink of complete disaster by Sylvester McCoy's quarky sense of humour (getting to see him play the spoons was hysterical), but little else. It's a rather disappointing ending to the end of the Sixth Doctor's era.

A Retrospection: Colin Baker was one of the best of the eleven Doctors and surely the most underrated. I loved the Sixth Doctor immensely, but he was indeed let down by bad writing which marred episodes like "The Two Doctors," "Trial of a Time Lord" and "Time and the Rani" even though he didn't actually appear in this episode. He may have started from humble beginnings, but the Sixth Doctor is indeed a great part of the show's history. As I write this, I toy with the idea of beginning where the show started - taking a look at the First Doctor adventures. But that's a deliberation for another time.

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