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Doctor Who: The Mark of the Rani (Story No. 140)

4.3 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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(Nov 07, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Doctor Who: Mark of the Rani, The (Episode 140) (DVD)

The Doctor, the Master and another renegade Time Lord converge in 19th century England at the height of the Luddite rebellion.


Fans of the Colin Baker-era Doctor Who (which is somewhat underrepresented on DVD) will be pleased with this terrific and well-liked serial from 1985 that pits Baker's Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant) against not one but two formidable foes against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution in 19th-century England. The villains in question are the Doctor's longtime antagonist, the Master (Anthony Ainsley), who despite appearing to perish in 1984's Planet of Fire is back for more world domination, and the Rani (UK TV vet and former Hammer starlet Kate O'Mara), a cold and calculating renegade Time Lady whose experiments on the population of a mining town are turning the citizens into savage killers. Scripted by the husband-and-wife team of Pip and Jane Baker (who wrote three additional Doctor Who serials, as well as for Space: 1999), Rani is a literate and exciting Baker episode, well buoyed by O'Mara's elegantly evil performance and clever touches like the Doctor's brainstorming session with real-life engineering legend George Stephenson.

Chief among the wealth of extras on the Mark of the Rani DVD is a commentary track featuring a typically charming Baker and Bryant, who are joined by O'Mara; Baker, in particular, shines here by giving a considerable amount of production information along with personal reminiscences. "Lords and Luddites" is a 43-minute featurette about the serial's conception and production (narrated by UK television personality Louise Brady) that's chock full of interviews with the cast and crew, including the Bakers and composer Jonathan Gibbs (who is also profiled in a short interview piece), who replaced John Lewis, who died during production (both composers' soundtracks are offered in isolated music tracks). A battery of deleted and extended scenes, a return jaunt to the production locations, related clips from the children's TV programs Blue Peter and Saturday Superstore, and the by-now standard photo gallery, text-only information track, and PDF files for the Doctor Who Annual and Radio Times listings round out the supplements. --Paul Gaita

Special Features

  • Isolated music score
  • Alternate soundtrack for episode 1
  • "Lords and Luddites" 43 minute making-of featurette
  • "Now and Then" location visit featurette
  • "Blue Peter" featurette
  • "Playing with Time" interview
  • "Saturday Superstore" short
  • Deleted scenes
  • DVD-ROM features: 1985 "Doctor Who Annual" and "Radio Times" Listings
  • Subtitled production notes
  • Photo gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Colin Baker, Kate O'Mara, Anthony Ainley, Nicola Bryant
  • Directors: Sarah Hellings
  • Writers: Pip Baker, Jane Baker
  • Producers: John Nathan-Turner
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 7, 2006
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,923 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Doctor Who: The Mark of the Rani (Story No. 140)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
England, 1826--the toil and drudgery of the coal miners is emphasized with the opening elegiac music. Jack Ward and his companions go to the bath house to wash, but suddenly, gas seeps through the walls, sending them to unconsciousness. They reemerge alive, but with red circles under their ears, and acting violently. They kick a food stand, knocking down its contents and a young boy.
The Doctor and Peri are en route to Kew Gardens, but the TARDIS is pulled of course to 1826. There, they try to find the source of the time disturbance and trace it to the Rani, who like the Master is a renegade Time Lord and an old classmate.
This is a semi-historical story, as they meet George Stephenson, the engineer whose Blucher locomotive hauled coal from Killingworth colliery. The Doctor tells Peri: "How would you like to meet a genius?" She says, "I thought I already had."
The Rani, who has been taking the brain fluid enabling men to sleep throughout history, treats humans as "walking heaps of chemicals." "There's no place for the soul in her scheme of things." Result: the men become restless and violent. When the Doctor argues that humans haven't done any harm to her, she counters with: "They're carnivores. What harm have the animals in the fields done them, the rabbits they snare?... Do they worry about the lesser species when they sink their teeth into a lamb chop?" Point to the Rani there. She's so callous, the Doctor angrily tells her "They should never have exiled you. They should have locked you in a padded cell!"
The Master is also here. Not only has he improved his compressor so that its victim totally vanishes, he wants to use the Rani's skills to continue his feud with the Doctor.
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Format: VHS Tape
This is an example of semi-historical Dr Who at its best. There is a grown-up and interesting storyline, the appearance of a famous character from human history (in this case George Stephenson), the setting is charming and realistic, and the sets look great. The scenes between the three Time Lords (the Doctor, the Master and the Rani) are well-written, the bickering between them providing touches of amusement, and there is a genuinely gripping cliff-hanger.
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Format: VHS Tape
The Rani, an exiled time lord scientist, has quietly been infiltrating humanity over millenia: Trojen wars, Luddite Riots, America's Independence War, et cetera... she becomes involved in the Master's latest attempt to kill the Doctor as the Master is blackmailing her with a vial of fluid she has been collecting.
The master is back and is in production-continuity order. (the last 4 years of the show, the Master comes back and nobody wants to explore the idea that the Master could have died at one encounter but thanks to time travel the Doctor can meet him before he dies!)
There are some historical dating problems, but history itself is usually falsely written anyway and this is *entertainment* and *science fiction*.
The Doctor is arguably at his best here and somehow is a more interesting adversary for the Master than the 5th Doctor.
The Rani is cool and calm and pokes great fun at the Doctor/Master rivalry and it's brilliant.
Get some wine and sit back, it's not an action piece but does indeed entertain.
Oh, and check out the Rani's TARDIS interior. Definitely a highlight given the show's low budget...
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By A Customer on March 5, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
"The Mark of the Rani" is a delightful adventure. Enter the Rani, another Renegade Time Lord, on earth, conducting unethical experiments on humans. The Doctor and Peri land in Kew Gardens, the TARDIS being hijacked by the Master for revenge from events in "Planet of Fire". A wonderful time-piece. Colin Baker giving one of his best performances in this season. The Rani's sarcastic view on the Doctor/Master rivalry is great(as is her TARDIS). The production and location set this apart from the other stories in this season, as well as the soundtrack! And why doesn't anybody like the tree transformation? Devilishly Rani! A superb psuedo-historical setting(even if the Luddites violence happened a few decades early). Pip and Jane Baker really make a welcome entrance as new writers for this Who era!
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This season, the 22nd of the show, is arguably second ONLY to Tom Bakers first three years under Philip Hinchcliff's 'Gothic' era. This episode is a good representative of the season with it's realistic, grity feel, haunting soundtrack and excellent performance by everyone invovled. A shame some people just don't 'get it' but they probably weren't around for the hey day of the show anyway and preferred the more MTV style added into the McCoy adventures. This adventure, along with the Two Doctors, Vengeance on Varos and Revelation of the Daleks (when they get around to putting it out) are all MUST buys as part of one of the greatest and most misunderstood seasons in the history of the program.
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Format: DVD
As a story, "Mark of the Rani" is all over the place. Well, in a way. Every bit of the action takes place in or around a single coal mine in Killingworth, England, some time during the early 1800's--the very cusp of the Industrial Revolution. And the plot is fairly straightforward, too: The Rani, a renegade Time Lord scientist, is going about her own business performing unethical medical experiments on Earthlings when along come the Master and the Doctor, the one trying to force her into an alliance, the other trying to stop her after discovering her cruel if clinically efficient work. And yet, given such a unified setting and uncomplicated premise, all the characters involved seem to wander here and there, back and forth, around and around, endlessly criss-crossing the mine's environs--as if the writers would get dizzy if they tried to pen a straight plotline. In this case that's a plus, though, maximizing the incredibly authentic and historically accurate location shots to great advantage. "Doctor Who" has often benefited from BBC expertise in historical dramas, and they've done so here in spades.

Which means of course that this storyline is a pseudo-historical, an unusual genre highly characteristic of this show throughout its long and (now) continuing run--you could almost say unique to it--with a futuristic science fiction premise set in some interesting time in Earth's past (okay, more often than not England's past, but you know what they say, write what you know). "Mark of the Rani" is a prime example in fact, including as it does an actual historical figure as a character (George Stephenson, self-made man and engineer responsible for innovating the public use of steam locomotives on railways) and skillfully incorporating aspects of this time frame into the plot.
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Two Episodes Missing From MARK OF THE RANI
"The Mark Of The Rani," along with the rest of season 22, was made and broadcast as two double length episodes instead of the usual four. An international four part version was later made by adding new cliffhangers half way through each episode, but the new cliffhangers were usually... Read More
Feb 9, 2011 by Mr. C. P. Taylor |  See all 2 posts
Prices for RC1 version of MARK OF THE RANI are getting ridiculously high Be the first to reply
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