Sometimes it’s just better in the long run to get all the medicine downed in one go, so as to (hopefully) accelerate your recovery. After wallowing in the despair which was The Twin Dilemma last time, the minions over in the Classic Capitology exhibit felt it would be less painful to do the next set of caps now, rather than wait for a more austere occasion, and hence we present a pure add for the Tour, caps from Time and the Rani.
Doctor Who was probably never in a sorrier state than it was after the ‘Trial’ season in 1986. JN-T assumed he was gone, only, by his own account, being left with no option, and precious little time, to come back for the 24th season. That production on the season, and the casting of a new lead, was hurried, is all too evident in this story. JN-T stalwarts Pip and Jane Baker, who had pulled the mess that was The Ultimate Foe out of the fire were once again approached to do the same here. They had the character of the austere Rani from The Mark of the Rani to fall back on, but in the intervening time Kate O’Mara had crossed the Pond to appear in the American gloss-fest Dynasty and her appearance here in Time and the Rani oddly reflects that.
The first episode and a half of the story are particularly excruciating with the Rani impersonating Mel and Sylvester McCoy tripping over feet and tongue with equal regularity. Fortunately the device of the Doctor using continual malaprops would last only in this story as it easily outstayed it’s welcome just in these four episodes. The story only just settles down once the Doctor and Mel are reunited, but Bonnie Langford only really ever comes across as all pluck and lungs. If you think about it, Langford was Doctor Who’s first attempt at celebrity casting for the companion. Fortunately both Billie Piper and Catherine Tate would fare, and wear, much better a generation or so later. By the way did we mention there’s a giant brain in this story. Yep… Giant Brain.
For those who’ve thought about such things, the nomination of ‘worst season’ of Doctor Who invariably includes the 24th, and with good reason. Only Dragonfire feels in the least bit traditional, whilst the experimental storytelling in Paradise Towers and Delta and the Bannermen almost seem unforgivable at a time when the season running length had been cut down to only fourteen episodes total and the perceived attitude towards Doctor Who within the BBC was stand-offish at best.
The caps for Time and the Rani are the second straight story which is a first story for a particular Doctor. Wonder if they’ll be a third?