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Time and the Rani (Part 1)

Reviewed by Paul Sinkovich

The first story of' Season 24, Time and the Rani, has just finished screening in England, and a copy of Part One of the four part serial has fortunately managed to find its way to New Zealand on video. (Warning: stop reading if you would rather not read about it before you see it.) Before the actual opening credits start, there is a short piece on the Doctor's regeneration. The last Doctor, Colin Baker, refused to do a regeneration scene, so instead we have the TARDIS spinning through space, explosions and green and red lights everywhere. The Doctor and Mel are lying on the floor as the TARDIS lands, the doors open, and the Rani walks in. "Leave the girl," she says, "it's the man I want. Take him to my laboratory." A big monster thing enters, and turns the Doctor over. His face is a mess of colours, which gradually fade out, and we see the new Doctor. Then the opening credits explode onto the screen; spinning galaxies, meteors, a spinning ball with the TARDIS inside, McCoy's face...very impressive indeed The new theme is still, fortunately, based on Ron Grainer's original; it's just been "spiced up" a bit with synthesisers, etc, although personally, I prefer the original.

Now McCoy - I have high hopes for the new Doctor; he has a good blend of humour, without being silly. I love his face, and acting somewhat sulky and depressed gives him a vulnerable Troughtonish character. Overall, a very impressive episode effects well used throughout - the "ball booby-trap" is quite amazing. No longer is an alien planet just a quarry - nowadays it's still quarries, but using electronic paint box techniques they can paint the sky pink! Super!

Will the public like it? Will ratings increase? Is this a new start for Doctor Who? We'll keep you informed.

A second opinion on Time and the Rani...
Review by Paul Scoones

I wish I shared Paul's optimism, but I can't shake the feeling that I've just seen another nail driven into Doctor Who's coffin. It may not mean an end to Doctor Who on TV, and indeed the new style may be very popular with viewers, but traditional fans like myself will probably be somewhat disappointed. I certainly was.

Special effects do not make a good story - the pre-credits sequence of the TARDIS being shot at by laser bolts was all very nice, but it did seem a bit spectacularly unnecessary. The regeneration was well handled, I thought, and it wasn't overly obvious that it wasn't Colin Baker lying facedown on the TARDIS floor. The opening titles, though, were a real step down from the lovely starfield effect of' the Peter Davison years. I'm not sure the music score is an improvement on The Trial of a Time Lord or not, but I don't think I'll ever grow to like the new logo - when I saw the 'neon' logo for the first time, I thought 'wow!' this time my thought was 'yuk!' I hope someone sees fit to improve on the illustration for McCoy's face in the opening sequence, too.

As for the story itself, having seen one quarter of it, I don't think Pip and Jane Baker are going to gain any admirers. Its written for the most basic of intelligence, even by Doctor Who standards, and I won't be surprised if the show loses it's adult viewers to a large extent. Kate O'Mara's Rani character was good though, and really carried the somewhat superficial plot with her strong character, a real improvement on her first appearance in Season 22. Sylvester McCoy, though, was interesting. His character is very charismatic, and a bit bumbling and whimsical, although this may be a regenerative influence. He had a superb scene near the end of the episode where he tries on Tom Baker's costume, then Pertwee's, then Davison's, then Troughton's fur coat, throwing it off to reveal his own individual costume! I can see real potential in his Doctor, and he could easily prove to be very popular - he's a definite improvement on the aggressive Sixth Doctor anyway!

This item appeared in TSV 3 (October 1987).

Index nodes: Time and the Rani