Monday, 10 April 2017

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Time and the Rani Part Four

Part four begins with us recapping the brain drain of the Doctor, and I'm very surprised that the phrase "brain drain" doesn't get used at all in this story.

The Doctor's voice in the brain talks nonsense and confuses the other voices in the brain. This makes the Rani so angry she lets the Doctor out of his fridge, then he and Mel overpower the Rani and put her in in his place. Beyus comes and lets her out after they have gone.

Ever since the Rani hypno-injected the Doctor to give him amnesia in part one, he has been getting sayings wrong. Now that we are in the final part of the story, the Doctor turns this on its head by doing it on purpose - as he spins a dial to turn on the Rani's space-television he puns:
"He who dares spins."

The Doctor works out the Rani's plan and then she comes in and explains it for our benefit watching at home - it is to use science to take over the universe, the classic Doctor Who baddy's plan!

As the Doctor and Mel run away, they meet a Tetrap and Mel fires a tiny net on him to make him have sleeps. The Doctor makes two more puns at this, as if he is trying to be James Bond:
"As you snore, so shall you sleep."
"Waste net, want net."

The Doctor and Mel escape and go to the Leisure Centre Centre of Leisure to rescue the Lakertyans. By this point even Ikona is joining in with all the sayings, but the Doctor interrupts him to get the ending wrong:
"Where there's a will, there's a..."
This could be a deliberate joke on the Doctor's part so, like the others above, it will not be counted in the "Doctor getting sayings wrong count" for this episode.

Then it is back to the laboratory to rescue the geniuses from the fridges. The Doctor sabotages the Rani's space rocket launch and then Beyus self-sacrifices to make sure it is destroyed for good, but the Rani launches the rocket anyway.

This is quite a good model effect by Doctor Who standards. The Doctor's sabotage has delayed the rocket enough that it misses the asteroid it was aimed at so the planet doesn't get blowed up and the Rani's plan is foiled.

The Rani gets captured by the Tetraps when they turn on her for trying to blow up the planet they were on (another classic Doctor Who turn of events), and the Doctor has time to get one more saying wrong before the end credits. He still has a task remaining though - to get the rescued geniuses home without Einstein learning too much about the TARDIS...

Time and the Rani is an unfairly maligned story. In 2009, Doctor Who Magazine #413's "Mighty 200" poll of all Doctor Who stories up to Planet of the Dead, Time and the Rani came 198th out of 200! That puts it below awful, awful stories like Daleks in Manhattan (#152), Boom Town (#141), The Christmas Invasion (#48) and The Stolen Earth (#13). No, that isn't a mistaik... well, it is a mistaik, but it's not a typo... it is at #13, and so just outside the top 10, not #113!

Clearly we can't give any credence to this poll. It has Love & Monsters criminally high at #153, while Timelash, the second-best Doctor Who story evar, is at #199! That's almost the very bottom! Don't they know it has Paul Darrow in it? It even comes 100 places below Planet of the Dead, a story that has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.


Time and the Rani is not a great story, but it is certainly not a bad one either. It has a simple, almost archetypal, plot with which to gently introduce the new Doctor, leaning heavily on the tried and tested tropes of Doctor Who rather than trying anything too new - perhaps that was a reaction against the failure of Colin Baker's first story, which tried to be original and different in several ways, all of them excruciatingly bad.

It also uses elements from the Blakes 7 episode Ultraworld, which is a curious decision when you consider that the writers could have chosen any of Blakes 7 from which to steal - we might lament that they did not pick Powerplay, but should at the same time be grateful that they did not choose Power.

The visual effects are more successful, being some of the best Doctor Who ever achieved - from the bubble traps to the Rani's space rocket, and even the fabulous pink sky of Lakertya was done using a special effect. While obviously not up to Hollywood movie standards, and unable to compete with the likes of Star Wars, Star Trek 2 Wrath of Khan, or The Wizard of Oz, they do the job they were designed for quite satisfactorily.

The new season and new Doctor also sees the introduction of a new title sequence, which is a big departure from the previous version, but fits in very well with the new style of the show. The same is true for the new version of the theme music, which always makes me think of the late 1980s whenever I hear it. And I was only made out of socks in 2008 so that is quite an achievement!

As I said in my review of part one, I think this story (and season) is so poorly rated within Doctor Who fandom because the fans in 1987 missed Colin Baker being the Doctor so much. He was a good actor and played the part very well, so it must have been tough to see him depart and maybe equally difficult to see another manny take over from him. But I think, based on Time and the Rani, Sylvester McCoy immediately inhabits the role of the Doctor, and has the potential to be just as good as Colin Baker if the fans would only give him a chance - after all, Colin Baker began his era with The Twin Dilemma, after which it could only get better!

Can the same be said for the McCoy era?

Doctor getting sayings wrong count: 3
(Season running total: 17)

"Two wrongs don't make a left turn."
"All hands to the stumps."
"Time and tide melts the snowman."

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