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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Doctor Who: Time and the Rani: Part 1 starts as the TARDIS is struck by
several laser-beams which force it to land on the inhospitable planet
of Lakertya & causes the Doctor (Sylvetser McCoy) to regenerate for the
seventh time while his companion Mel (Bonnie Langford) is knocked
unconscious. It turns out that the evil Timelord the Rani (Kate O'Mara)
was responsible for forcing the TARDIS to land & it's all part of a
sinister plan, she kidnaps the Doctor & gives him an injection which
gives him amnesia in an attempt to trick him that she is in fact Mel
when he wakes up so she can convince him to work on her evil scheme.
Meanwhile the real Mel is lost on the surface of Lakertya together with
Ikona (Mark Greenstreet) a rebel Lakertyan who is trying to save his
race from the Rani & her evil ways...
This Doctor Who adventure was episode 1 from season 24 that aired here in the UK during late 1987 & was the first story for Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor, directed by Andrew Morgan I don't think there's a lot of love floating around for Time and the Rani but I have to say I quite liked this first episode. The new Doctor Sylvester McCoy is rather more restrained & less theatrical than Colin Baker & has slightly more about him than a sometimes flat Peter Davison, he ain't the best Doctor but he's decent enough all the same. The script by Pip & Jane Baker is alright, not much is made of the regeneration scene & the new Doctor doesn't take long to get going. I thought the story was quite fun & I liked the interplay between the Rani & the Doctor as she impersonates Mel, there's also some monsters lurking around that haven't been completely revealed yet. I also have to say that this particular episode has a terrific cliffhanger ending. It's not brilliant by any means but I thought it was mildly entertaining & quite fun which isn't a bad return when you think about it.
Being a BBC production the budget was probably low but it has to be said apart from a terrible opening sequence of the TARDIS being shot at in space the special effects aren't too bad actually, the spinning bubble traps that the Rani has set up look rather good & while we haven't seen the creatures completely yet so far they seem to look OK & the way they are shot deliberately not showing them adds to their effectiveness.
Time and the Rani wasn't as bad as I'd had been lead to believe it would be, in fact I'd go as far as to say I quite liked it & I'm looking forward to see the following three episodes.
Time and the Rani is widely regarded as one of the worst Doctor Who
stories of all time. It's one that the fans use to joke about bad
stories. But I don't feel that way.
OK, sure, there is no way I could claim this is one of the best stories ever but in my mind it is far from the worst. I fear the regeneration scene is the biggest cause for the bad reputation. Wig-gate is a massive error which could have been avoided. The rest though is pretty much the best that could be done. How do you do a regeneration scene without the actor present and without the modern ability to use CGI? There is no way it can be satisfactory. The writers probably gathered this and got it over with quickly and didn't make it the main use of the story.
Once that gets out of the way though, it is not bad at all. Both McCoy and O'Mara act their socks off- McCoy gives us a fun new Doctor and O'Mara gives us round two of the fearsome Rani, with an impression of what Mel ought to be like to boot. The story is packed full of neat ideas too- it's really unusual for an alien race to be conflicted over whether to act with or against a villain, for instance.
There is too much technobabble, and the story does drag a bit but how many times have I said that before? Many would have expected a true post-regeneration story with the companion getting to know the new Doctor but this isn't that. Production problems meant the regeneration was ruined and the writers made the probably correct choice in not making the regeneration the focus of the story.
It's all about personal opinion but I disagree with the majority here. It's like when I thought Genesis of the Daleks wasn't as good as everyone thought. Controversial it may be, but I think Time and the Rani is better than it is given credit for.
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