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Doctor Who: Time and the Rani

His face says it all.
"I've had enough of this drivel."

That makes two of us.

At the conclusion of 'The Trial of a Time Lord' the judge, the right dishonourable Michael Grade, decided that Doctor Who, despite mounting evidence against it, would be given a stay of execution. However, he was not so lenient towards the show's leading man, who he fired without so much as a second thought. And so Colin Baker became the first, and so far only, Doctor to be sacked from the role.

Unsurprisingly, Baker refused to return to film the regeneration scene, forcing his successor to don a very silly curly blond wig and imply that the Sixth Doctor had fallen off his exercise bike to his death. Even the world’s least gifted hacks could’ve come up with something more plausible than having the Doctor fall off his bike. It was an ignoble end for one Doctor and an embarrassing start for another. And that was just the opening scene of 'Time and the Rani'. There are still four more episodes of shit to shovel through.

One of the sad truths about Doctor Who is that regeneration stories tend to be a little on the crap side. There are only three I can think of ('The Caves of Androzani', 'The War Games' and 'The Night of the Doctor') that are any good and one of them is only six minutes long. The rest are either boring as fuck or downright terrible. 'Time and the Rani' somehow manages to be both at the same time.

Written by Pip and Jane Baker, the husband and wife team responsible for such classics as... anyhow, 'Time and the Rani' was the duo's final contribution to the series and by far their worst. The only good thing I can think to say about this repellent tale is that it isn't as bad as 'The Twin Dilemma'. But only just. It's four agonising episodes of people in silly costumes and even sillier monster suits running around a dreary quarry punctuated by the odd moment of scenery chewing and clumsy exposition.

As the title suggests, Kate O’Mara is back as the Rani, who is just as vapid and one dimensional as she was the last time the Bakers inflicted her on us. But it gets worse. So much worse. For reasons that I don’t want to even begin to comprehend she starts impersonating Mel. Just one Bonnie Langford is excruciating enough, but two is beyond the limits of human endurance.

As for the new Doctor, well, he's better than the last one, but that's like saying Revenge of the Sith is better than Attack of the Clones. Sylvester McCoy was my first Doctor and I have a lot of leftover childhood affection for him, but I am well aware that he was not one of the best Doctors. He could've been, if the writers had figured out sooner what kind of Doctor they wanted him to be, but he did get some great stories. (Those in his final season, for example.) Unfortunately, for much of his tenure, and this season especially, he was a bumbling clown, prone to making malapropisms, embarrassingly unfunny pratfalls, Rrrrrollling his Rrrrrrss, and playing the spoons. The Rani isn't the only one who has no patience for that nonsense.

Notes and Quotes:

--Brand new computer generated title sequence and remix of the theme tune. Both utterly horrendous. Doctor Who has never been more grotesquely 80s than it was here.

--Take away that ghastly tank-top and I actually quite like McCoy’s costume.

--There must not have been enough money left in the budget for laser effects so everyone shoots confetti at each other instead.

--As bad as this story is, it's still a hundred times better than the Rani's next appearance.

--Giant brains always look stupid. For further evidence see ‘Planet of the Ood’.

--Wanda Ventham (Faroon) and Donald Pickering (Beyus) both previously appeared in 'The Faceless Ones'. Pickering also appeared in 'The Keys of Marinus' while Ventham appeared in 'Image of the Fendahl'.

Mel: "One thing about the Doctor, you can't miss him in that outfit."

The Rani: "Leave the girl, it's the man I want."

The Doctor: "The more I know me, the less I like me."

Zero out of four Colin Baker wigs.
Mark Greig is a man of constant sorrow More Mark Greig


  1. "As for the new Doctor, well, he's better than the last one, but that's like saying Revenge of the Sith is better than Attack of the Clones."

    Which is only barely true. I thought RotS was almost as awful as TPM.

    Thanks for having the courage to review this stuff.

  2. McCoy is so much better when they move away from the Vaudeville version he is here, as you rightly point out, buy hoo boy is this a bad start. In my own list, this is the worst classic Who story of them all. There's so much wrong here that it hurts.

    I love the 2nd Doctor's 'cosmic hobo' approach to the role; come off silly and foolish, but secretly be very clever and more observant than you appear. It's a template used often ever since Troughton played the role, but making him actually be a fool like this was agonizing to watch.

    Mel is terrible as always and her scream matching the ending credits of one of the episodes didn't endear her to me, or most people I imagine. Having the Rani impersonate her only made a terrible story worse.

    This is about as low as Who can get and while the 7th Doctor does have a few more stumbling blocks on the way, this is his nadir thankfully, and once things get rolling the show does start improving after this season. Shame it gets cut off while it's truly getting better though.


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