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Season 24

Reviewed by Nigel Flockhart

Time and the Rani

This story has been given somewhat bad press but I'll put that down to who wrote it. The story is your standard 'Evil-villain-enslaving-alien-race-and-using-the-Doctor-to-further-their-plan-for-universal-domination'. Ho hum, been there, done that.

Kate O'Mara returns to give another great performance as the Rani, though I can only feel sorry for having to pretend to be Mel - a fate worse than death in a case such as hers. Speaking of Mel, any promise she may have showed earlier evaporates here as she is relegated to becoming another member of the Doctor Who 'Scream Team'. As for the Doctor all he seems to be able to do is run around overacting and falling over a lot, but he settles down by the end of the story and so I'll put a good deal of that down to post-regenerative stress.

And the story? Well it had a number of things that were just plain silly ie. the glitter guns, the pinball traps and some rather weak CSO scenes not to mention the killer insects.

Mark Greenstreet's Ikona was fine, though the character of Beyus was rather the wet fish, it being pretty obvious he would sacrifice himself at the end to atone for his collaboration. The point about the Doctor's character affecting the brain was also predictable. The Tetraps were effective and it would be nice to see them used again somewhere - maybe Glitz could use a couple to carry all the loot.

Unfortunately the end is, as per usual, a rushed fiasco, with Pip and Jane using those technical words and complex explanations again meaning you have to watch it twice to fully understand. All in all, while nothing Earth-shattering happened, it could have been a lot worse.

Paradise Towers

And now for something completely different. Quite an original idea for a change, although the basic plot was again the Doctor getting everyone to work together to defeat the baddie.

The thing that interested me the most was probably the Kang culture with their regressed language and improvised names. The rest of the occupants of the towers fell short of this somewhat. Tilda and Tabey were just too dreadfully nice and their rather obvious eating habits were continually overstressed. I too however, took great pleasure in seeing them dragged down the waste disposal - a very fitting end. The Caretakers were so unbelievably stupid that it was embarrassing and they served only for Sylvester McCoy to get all the laughs.

What about Richard Briers you ask? Yes, well he was fitfully amusing as the bureaucratic straight man (something he does very well) but once he gets possessed his performance goes downhill - I mean for a 'Great Architect' he doesn't act very bright.

And then there was Pex. OK it was a change to get a 'He-Man' who's really a chicken but after a while it had me wondering whether there could really be someone that gormless who would carry a loaded gun but not use it. Of course he sacrifices himself in the end but this is getting to be the norm in Doctor Who.

Finally there is the problem about where exactly everyone came from to start with. The war excuse would suggest the lifeboat theory of women and children first but the lack of male youths means that perhaps it didn't happen very long ago.

Delta and the Bannermen

A promising battle scene opening quickly develops into a jolly romp around the Welsh countryside. Now I know some people out there like this sort of thing but personally I think it ends up as 'Carry On' - a holiday camp with aliens rather than Doctor Who. I mean the locals don't seem very surprised about a bus with a satellite lodged in it's drive system dropping out of the sky, or the various aliens running about shooting things or changing shape (I suppose if it were an Irish holiday camp that would justify it!

There were parts that simply weren't needed e.g. the bumbling American idiots Hawk and Weissmuller. Perhaps it would have been better to make them Russian (Sputnik was first after all) as they would have been out of their element and it would have made their attempts to retrieve the satellite more plausible.

As far as acting goes only Don Henderson as Gavrok was any good, which is a pity as I feel he was rather the right villain trapped in the wrong story


At last - a serious story! After the previous three sideshows, it was nice to get something a little bit more familiar with a decent plot and interesting characters. Admittedly there were things that could have been left out like the milkshake slapstick and the cutesy little girl.

Generally however the three-parter worked well, taking full advantage of the studio sets without looking cardboard. Okay, the bio-mechanoid was a bit obviously taken from Aliens, as was the scene with the two guards in Part Three. But using other people's ideas isn't new in Doctor Who.

It was good to see Glitz again and Ace is also introduced as a strong character here, acting scared without resorting to the vocals, except when she's about to get the cold shoulder from Kane. She did tend to overplay the Ace's and 'Brill's somewhat and the excuse as to how she came to Iceworld in the first place is so exceedingly pathetic that it had me wincing.

Edward Peel really does a superb job as Kane, outranking a lot of the previous villains in Who as one thoroughly nasty piece of work.

Sylvester McCoy has settled in as the Doctor by now and is very much in command, although he still does stupid things that insult his intelligence and ours i.e. the ridiculous cliff-hanger at the end of Part One, that is utterly pointless other than being a cliffhanger-cliffhanger.

This item appeared in TSV 19 (June 1990).

Related Items: Season 23
Index nodes: Season 24, Time and the Rani, Paradise Towers, Delta and the Bannermen, Dragonfire