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Doctor Who: Time and the Rani
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New to DVD! Digitally remastered Doctor Who classic Time and the Rani! Violently wrenched out of time, the TARDIS is brought crashing down onto the planet Lakertya by the villainous Rani. Caught within the maelstrom, the Doctor is forced to regenerate.
Imprisoning the Doctor in her stronghold, the Rani seizes upon his vulnerable state. By impersonating his friend Mel, the Rani deceives the unwitting Doctor into helping her achieve her audacious plan.
Just what is she up to? Why has she enslaved Albert Einstein and a host of geniuses? And as an asteroid composed of Strange Matter approaches Lakertya, can a weakened Doctor save the universe when he has little idea of who he really is?
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Because that is what it feels like. With most of this season, for the first time, I'm feeling like I'm watching a children's show. And a horribly made children's show at that. Time and the Rani brought on the Dark Ages of Doctor Who (yes, Time and the Rani. Trial was for the most part an intriguing mystery season). From the moment of the ridiculous opening where we see the monster turning over the "Sixth Doctor" (and you can tell it's not Baker, that costume is wayyyyyy too big on the person) and we're forced to endure McCoy in a blonde wig (Why couldn't you just have him lying on the floor in Baker's costume, having regenerated unseen?) I cringe in embarrassment, and wonder what it was I liked about the show again.
The Rani? Oh, no, far from the intelligent and rational scientist in her first outing, doing what she merely wants to do. Oh, no, now she's a meglomaniac, another imitation of the Master. Arrgh, was it so hard to think of a storyline to better suit the character? The Mel disguise is probably the only thing worth remembering... simply for the "so bad it's good" factor, and O'Mara relishing the scene.
Oh, and Mel... talk about your "typical screaming companion?" More like an insult to every companion whose been in the series. In a way, I've felt a lot of the 80's female companions were WORSE than the 70's or even 60's at times... What was the best thing about Mel, her best trait? Oh, yeah, to scream for three minutes in the reprise of the end of Episode One, trip over, get unconscious... I read the rough inital character sketch off the Net that she was supposed to be this smart computer programmer and feminist... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Oh, stop, I can't breathe, that was better than any stand-up comic.
I haven't mentioned McCoy yet, but that was because I was trying to avoid it. JNT and co. have set up a situation similar to Twin Dilemma, a completely forgettable and awful story, but this time around, Colin and Nicola aren't around to save it. Twin became a good story because of its real storyline of The Sixth Doctor's regeneration trauma. With McCoy and Mel, there's no real electrifying scenes, and the only one that really sticks out is where they suspect each other of being impostors. After that it was back to business. The played down of the scene worked in Robot, with a fun adventure to get into, but when one lead actor is barely acting, and the lead actress makes you want to shoot yourself, that leaves... nothing.
Time and the Rani. The gateway to the sorry state of what Doctor Who was (with some exceptions). It's one thing if the writers intended the story to be a humourous one, but Pip and Jane apparently thought this was a dramatic way to start the season! And you can tell how prejudiced Michael Grade was against Baker, after this season he declared Sylvester McCoy the man who saved Doctor Who!
In fact, Time And The Rani is quite the opposite. It slaps Marxism and Socialism in the face. Case in point, the Lakertyans represent a race that has become indolent, with all their needs fulfilled, everything handed to them, causing them to lose their will to strive, therefore losing their ability to survive. Using this laziness against them, The Rani steps in to subjugate the planet, using them to do her bidding. It's a stern message. Don't depend on government handouts or you will become slaves.
Time And The Rani is quite an enjoyable romp. I really don't understand fandom's negativity towards it. It has many similarities to the previous Doctor's debut story, The Twin Dilemma, another story I enjoy. The Rani (Mestor) subjugates a planet, Laketya (Jaconda) with the help of a collaborator, Beyus (Edgeworth), enslaving the people to assist in causing a cosmic phenomenon which as a side-effect will destroy the planet for the intended effect of being able to take over the universe. If only they would have continued this path for McCoy, the series may never have been cancelled two years down the road.
During the show's 26 seasons, there were seven different actors who played The Doctor. I have seen every episode for the third (Jon Pertwee), fourth (Tom Baker), fifth (Peter Davison), sixth (Colin Baker), and seventh (Sylvester McCoy) Doctors. I have seen most of the available episodes for the first (William Hartnell) and second (Patrick Troughton) Doctors (many of the episodes are not available because the BBC reused the video tapes on which they were recorded).
I recently watched all of the "Doctor Who" episodes featuring Sylvester McCoy (the seventh Doctor) in order. Overall, these episodes are bad. As Verity Lambert (the first producer of "Doctor Who," from 1963 to 1965) said, "You've got to be able to suspend your disbelief, and with Sylvester McCoy it got so camp. It was ridiculous, and I think that's why people stopped watching it." Most folks hated seeing The Doctor over-acting, behaving like a clown, and rolling his Rs (e.g., "Rrrrrrrrrrobot"). Sylvester McCoy was not responsible for the poor quality of the "Doctor Who" shows during his years; producer John Nathan-Turn (J N-T) and script editor Andrew Cartmel were entirely to blame for the horrible shows made during the McCoy years.
Time and the Rani is the first episode of Season 24 from 1987. This episode is important because it features the first appearance of the seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy. Of the 159 stories in the original Doctor Who series, I would say that "Time and the Rani" is among the 20 worst. The "Mighty 200 Poll" conducted by Doctor Who Magazine (which rated 200 episodes from the old and new Doctor Who shows) rated "Time and the Rani" 198 out of 200 (third from the bottom). The same poll rated Sylvester McCoy as the second worst Doctor (with, of course, Colin Baker being the worst).
In "Time and the Rani," The Rani (an evil renegade Time Lord whom we met in "Mark of the Rani") causes the TARDIS to crash-land on the planet Lakertya. At the very beginning of the story, the Doctor "regenerates" into his new form (Sylvester McCoy). Very shortly, we learn that The Rani has kidnapped the Doctor to repair equipment she needs for some evil plan. As is customary following a Time Lord's regeneration, the Doctor is very disoriented and confused and not quite himself (neither his old self nor his new self).
- Excellent video quality.
- The original story by Pip and Jane Baker is pretty good, although it has way, way too much "filler." Pip and Jane Baker also wrote "Mark of the Rani" which was shown in Season 22. Unfortunately, their original story was vitiated by changes mandated by the new story editor, the producer, and a BBC exec.
- Good first-time use of digital special effects.
- Good supporting cast.
- Interesting costumes and makeup.
- Good outdoor scenes (which were notoriously difficult to shoot).
- Witty dialog here and there.
- Criminally bad portrayal of The Doctor by Sylvester McCoy. Mr. McCoy plays The Doctor as a buffoon. While the Doctor had sometimes been whimsical and funny (as with the Patrick Troughton's second Doctor and Top Baker's fourth Doctor), he had never before been portrayed as a clown. This ruined the series for me. When The Doctor played the spoons (including Kate O'Mara's breasts as a percussive surface) I knew that the show was doomed.
- The Doctor's companion, Mel (Melanie Bush, played by Bonnie Langford), is dreadful. Before producer John Nathan-Turner, Doctor Who had some truly great companions; after J N-T took control of "Doctor Who," he originated the most annoying and hated companions in the series. For example, compare Mel to Leela (a companion of the fourth Doctor): when confronted with a monster, Mel (like Peri before her) screams and screams and screams and screams; in contrast, Leela might turn to the Doctor and (with a gleam in her eye) says, "Doctor, we must make weapons and kill the beast!!!" In fact, Leela might just pull her knife and plunge it into the heart of the monster without saying a word.
- The portrayal of The Rani was not as good as it was in "Mark of the Rani."
- Horrible background music.
- The question-marks on The Doctor's costume. This was an idiotic idea of producer John Nathan-Turner, started in the last season of the fourth doctor. J N-T is also responsible for dressing the sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, in that ridiculous clown suit.
In summary, you should skip this story until you have seen the episodes for Doctors 1 through 5. With a few exceptions, the Sylvester McCoy years were rather bad in comparison. Even so, I am glad I got this DVD because I liked the Special Features.