Reviewed By: JMChurch25
Review Date: 4/6/18 9:48 pm
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The Seventh Doctor era unfortunately did not start off on a good note. Quite the contrary in fact; behind the Sixth Doctor opener "The Twin Dilemma", "Time and the Rani" is the worst first story for a Doctor and honestly one of the worst Doctor Who stories currently in canon. Reading the background information on it, this is a story clearly disliked by almost everyone involved on it including the production design and the writing team and it very much shows. With a dumb and nonsensical premise of the Time Lord known as the Rani kidnapping geniuses from throughout time and space for mysterious reasons badly explained in the story, the TARDIS is attacked and forced to land on the planet Lakertya with the Doctor regenerating in the console room for reasons that wouldn't be properly explained until almost 30 years later. From there, the story devolves into lots of running back and forth, hammy overacting, over the top designs, and bad effects. As much as you can tell that the production team is trying to make things work, it simply fails pretty badly and this story is retro 80’s camp in the worst way with nothing substantial to back it up with. Unlike 'Twin Dilemma' however, there are a couple of things that I would recommend watching parts of it for. One is Sylvester McCoy doing his damndest to salvage what he can in the part and halfway succeeding. This is far from the personification from the Doctor he would grow into in later stories but McCoy is a natural in the part from the get go and he gets a few good moments here in there particularly in his interactions with his companion and in his post-regeneration mania which isn’t anything unique but is at least entertaining. Another watchable piece to this story is Kate O'Mara as the Rani. That's not to say that the character itself is good in the story as unfortunately she's basically portrayed here as a female Master before Missy happenned in the new show. The Rani is supposed to be an amoral scientist with no regard or interest for anything else other than her experiments and her work. Here that's sort of the case but she does things that the Master would've done had been in this story such as threatening peoples for her own sake, disguising herself in a bad over the top wig / outfit, and especially in her nonsensical plot that makes surface level sense but disintegrates the deeper you go with it. I think this is more the script's fault than the actor's as O'Mara is certainly trying her best but she doesn't get much to work and it turns into a standard cursory villain role as a result. Unfortunately the good elements of the story end there as the rest is either boring or bad. Bonnie Langford as Melanie Bush is at her worst here which is a shame because I do think she has good stories later on. Here she's just a screeching waste of screen time with nothing to add to the story other than reacting to the Doctor's new look and getting captured over and over. The design of the alien Lakertyians are laughably awful looking like 80's chicken men and the actors in each side role look and sound bored out of their minds. The location shooting is dull with lots of gravel pits and nothing interesting to look at and the interior sets looks cheap and forced out of desperation and time. The action and pacing are uninspired and at times laughable with lots of unnecessary pratfalls, confusing moments, and plenty of times where you just get a sense of wonder at how everything could've gone so wrong. This story is just a mess and one that I would like to say avoid if it weren’t so important to the show. Literally the only thing that saves it from ‘Twin Dilemma’ bad is watching Seven’s first moments and post-regeneration scenes and a little bit of the acting and effects. It's an utter shame as the Seventh Doctor and his era would go onto some of the greatest stories in all of Doctor Who history and it's really not the worst Seventh Doctor story ever shockingly as you can certainly see glimmers of potential here and there. But for Seven's first story, he definitely deserved better.