on 9 June 2004
This is a pleasant and watchable tale from Pip and Jane Baker (Space:1999), a pair who are noted for their reliable professional reputation, rather than for writing anything terribly Earth shattering. The result is a highly watchable and inoffensive script with solid research behind it, but a story which is less than the sum of its parts. The Master and new evil Time Lord the Rani make a good double act and their interaction is as enjoyable as that of the Doctor and Peri. Whatever Colin Baker did wrong in the eyes of audiences in 1985, he remains far more engaging than Sylvester MacCoy and his costume, while outrageous, is certainly eye catching and attention grabbing. His sheer energy makes him never less than entertaining to watch. This story is directed with real skill by Sarah Hellings, another example of the high quality contributions made to the series by women directors. The hostorical setting looks suprb, very authentic and gives great production quality to the story. Guest stars like Terrance Alexander add real class as well. It's a pity the plot is such a throwaway thing, because the dialog is amusing and whacky and the story holds the attention well. Overall a very good 90 minutes, just a little hollow in the middle. But I enjoyed it all the same.
on 9 July 2014
A beautifully shot story, made with loving care and showcasing the Ironbridge Museum, it has superb performances, a wonderful villainess, fantastic guest stars... and the Master :(.
Plot: The Rani is an excellent idea, more so because she is the rare case of a female villain. Her motivation is solid, not out-and-out evil, but misguided - correcting one mistake by making another. The setting is well thought out (and apparently the Baker's wrote some of this 'on the fly' as the locations became apparent). Nicola Bryant gets well used with Peri's botany background coming to the fore. Where this story falls over is in the inclusion of the Master, whose motivation is lame and who seems to get in the way of a perfectly good story. To be fair to the Bakers, I get the impression that this was a requirement of JNT, but unlike say Robert Holmes being asked to add things in to The Two Doctors, here the join is not seamless. The Rani would have been better with a subservient foil, perhaps a member of the race that she is trying to help. This could have had some interesting tension of its own. Instead we get the Master simply acting like a bully.
Script: The Bakers aren't going to win awards for their scripting, but this isn't all that bad. Some good stuff for Colin and Kate to get hold of. The scripting for the Master, however is just poor.
Design: Who can fault the authentic feel of the location work (though apparently there are anachronistic gas lamps, not that I noticed). The small amount of studio work doesn't disappoint, especially Rani's excellent TARDIS. Costuming is very good, though Rani could have done with a costume that didn't somehow look like a lighter version of the Master's costume.
Acting: All of the guest stars put in solid performances, with accents and each character is given the feel of a real human being. That is except Anthony Ainley. The guy can act - see his performances in most of his other appearances, but here it is almost as though he was disappointed in sharing the limelight and having tacked-on lines and puts in a by-the-books performance.
Direction: Sarah Hellings does a fantastic job with this story. The use of the Ironbridge museum is inspired and she makes the most of the location in all of the outdoor scenes. One wonders if she could have chivvied Ainley into giving a better performance. Nevertheless, it is a shame that this is her only output for the series as I think she does a good job.
This would have gotten another star if the Master hadn't been thrust into the story.
on 14 May 2009
One of Colin Baker's better serials in the role of The Doctor; the one negative here is that it introduced Kate O'Mara's awful camp villainess - The Rani. Fortunately, and unlike the other serial in which the character appeared, the adventure is good enough to compensate for The Rani's presence. The setting - 19th Century England during the Industrial Revolution - makes this an extremely evocative production, and the historical focus reminded me of what the show was originally perceived to do: Educate and entertain. The Doctor's other old adversary from Gallifrey - The Master, is also present in this story, and Anthony Ainley gives one of his more restrained performances in the role. Colin Baker seems much more comfortable playing the nomadic Timelord, and the scene where some unfortunate locals are turned into trees is memorable, if somewhat less impressive than I remember from twenty-odd years ago!
Despite their occasionally inappropriate fondness for language that would make Oscar Wilde scratch his head - who could forget the appalling "Fortuitous would be a more apposite epithet!" from The Doctor - Pip and Jane Baker wrote an atmospheric and gloriously humourous script, which was nicely played out by the story's three leads. Kate O'Mara's deliciously wicked Rani has not yet become the camp abomination that appeared in her second (and final) story, whilst Anthony Ainley produces what is probably his second best performance (after 'Survival') as The Doctor's nemesis, The Master. The only let-down for me is the atrocious North-East accents of the 'locals'; rooting the story firmly in an era when actors were generally expected to speak in RP; whatever the role they had taken on.
DVD extras on this release are also pretty good:
A commentary track featuring a typically charming Baker and Bryant, who are joined by O'Mara; Baker, in particular, shines here by giving a considerable amount of production information along with personal reminiscences.
Lords and Luddites" is a 43-minute featurette about the serial's conception and production (narrated by UK television personality Louise Brady) that's chock full of interviews with the cast and crew, including the Bakers and composer Jonathan Gibbs (who is also profiled in a short interview piece), who replaced John Lewis, who died during production (both composers' soundtracks are offered in isolated music tracks).
A battery of deleted and extended scenes, a return jaunt to the production locations, related clips from the children's TV programs Blue Peter and Saturday Superstore, and the by-now standard photo gallery, text-only information track, and PDF files for the Doctor Who Annual and Radio Times listings round out the supplements.
on 11 July 2007
Mark of the Rani comes from midway through Colin Baker's first season and he is now settled in the role and flying with confidence. After the 'light touch' of Peter Davison's portrayal, Mr Baker brings a greater weight to the part and fills the screen at every opportunity, embracing every line with gusto. His cheeky sidekick, Peri Brown is full of witty one-liners and the pair of them make a great team. This adventure sees them travel to Victorian times to unravel a dastardly plan between not one but TWO rogue Timelords. The evil Master (played with real steel once more by Anthony Ainley) is joined by a diabolical LADY Timelord, The Rani (the lovely Kate O'Mara.) The villians make a great double-act and their witty interchanges add a real sparkle to proceedings. Also worth a mention is Gawn Grainger, who plays the real-life historial figure of George Stephen. Mr Grainger provides one of the great Doctor Who guest-star performances and really lifts the story into the ranks of the all-time greats. If you like the new series and stories like 'New Earth', then this one will not disappoint you.
on 11 April 2008
That's how Colin Baker described the appearance of Kate O'Mara's Rani in the "Colin Baker Years" video and she is the highlight of the story. A marvellous character, who as stated many times before is amoral rather then evil. She never kills for its own sake but has no qualms stealing a fluid, the absence of which prevents people sleeping. She knows all about the Doctor and Master's battles and finds it all really rather dull. Great performance, costume and a fantastic tardis (for once not just the Doctor's tardis redressed a little). Shame she would turn into the Master in drag in the next story.
Colin relishes his scenes with Kate and Gawn Grainger's Stephenson, which are a treat to watch. His chemistry with Ainley's Master is less impressive, including a ridiculous moment where he apepars to brandish his fist at the Master.
Anthony Ainley is not well served by a script which has him wait in a field dressed up as a scarecrow-no it really happens! He is clearly secondary to the Rani but at least has fun with the Master fancying her-the Doctor seems quite keen on her too.
Nicola Bryant is at her most covered up in a period dress and shows some botanic skills.
The story is frequently bonkers e.g Master and Rani planning to harness the genius of Stephenson, Faraday et al. What is this diabolical plan they must have involving steam trains and lightbulbs?
A truly appalling bit of FX sees a man turned into a tree and then using his branch to pull Peri out of danger-looked pathetic then and still does.
A really fun romp despite a few deficiencies.
A great documentary has Colin, Nicola and Kate among others telling how the story got made and how odd Mr Ainley could be. There's a chance to hear a mournful original score for part one and a commentary with Colin, Nicola and Kate discussing being beaten up by extras & the importance of good annunciation among other things-very jolly.
A great package for Classic Who fans, but only for those current series fans who really love visits to the past. Show it to the wrong person and you'll never hear the end of "that tree"!
on 22 May 2004
This is well directed with superb location filming and historical costumes, but sadly that's about it. Colin Baker and Peri are likeable enough here, but Colin overacts to the point of being really annoying at times, though I like the big ham during some of his later scenes in this story. But the plot is a bit of a drag, the Master is rather poorly used and the Rani isn't much chop, sorry, despite Kate O'Mara's best efforts. Even full-blown pantomimes like Twin Dilemma and Timelash are far more entertaining than this, which has the production values and viual quality to be something special. It's just above average. Still, it could have been worse, it could have been a Sylvester MacCoy story!
on 10 May 2007
I have a great if somewhat irrational fondness for Pip and Jane Baker's "The Mark of the Rani", probably arising from its incredibly evocative setting within an early Victorian mining village, created with extensive location filming in and around the Blists Hill Open Air Museum near Ironbridge, Shropshire. The village of Killingworth is organic, dirty and probably the most convincing period setting the show has ever created. Overall the story, including its interior sets, gives the appearance of having high production values (and features an evocative score).
The plot, of course, is a bit of a mess, overburdened with rogue Time Lords. The Rani (Kate O'Mara) is a great creation: amoral rather than immoral, seeking only to accomplish her own objectives and regarding human beings with nothing more than the nonchalance of a scientist exploiting a lesser species rather than any particular malevolence, using the Luddite rebellion as cover for her own experiments, which are turning ordinary people violent. The Master (Anthony Ainley), however, is quite the opposite, turning up at the same time and place for no particular reason (back from the dead with no explanation, I might add), chuckling evilly to himself and apparently deciding that Killingworth is the perfect base from which to entrap and destroy the Doctor, before embarking on a mission to hijack the development of the human race's industry to serve his own ends, apparently giving him the key to ultimate power. It's an irrational set-up, for sure, but essentially one has to shrug and accept this fact and get on with enjoying the story, which, aside from its lack of logic, is quite fun.
The fractious relationship between the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and his companion Peri (Nicola Bryant), so often cited by fans as a reason to dislike the series' twenty-second season, has calmed down somewhat by this stage and the Doctor and Peri genuinely seem to care about one another beneath the bickering. In a season often further criticised for its violent content, the Doctor also gets a welcome chance to underline his essential abhorrence of violence on more than one occasion. It's a good outing for the Doctor and Peri, and the supporting characters from the village are likeable, too. The cliff-hanger between parts one and two is a little goofy, but is an impressive piece of stunt work none the less.
"The Mark of the Rani" was a rushed DVD release, but still comes with an excellent array of special features, including an illuminating commentary by actors Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Kate O'Mara, a comprehensive making-of documentary, a "Now and Then" featurette showing the Blists Hill Museum as it is today, and some interesting bits and bobs from the archives. A strong release of a somewhat underrated story.
on 28 April 2007
The Doctor and The Rani are both very good. The Master on the otherhand, clearly has some big plan, only it is never really discovered. The Rani is a great character and her TARDIS is pretty amazing! I feel the Master was great to see as ever, but his character was outdone by the Rani, not very natural! Quite why the Master was needed I don't know, it makes much more sense for the Doctor to have discovered the Ranis plans and then the Rani go back for revenge! Saves the Master, who didn't really do much, just run around following the Rani and forcing her to attack the Doctor. While good to watch, I don't think its up to that much! Probably best to get it cheap and then see what you think!
on 21 February 2012
the mark of the rani was the third story of season 22 it is often ingored story but i love it it's my favrout colin baker story kate o mara is wonderfull as the rani she and colin have great chemsitery the story is good but the master is not needed nicola byrant is great as peri and has wonderfull chemistery with colin and kate but peri will do something in the end of part one that will make you facepalm the music and setting are brillant the diracton is great on the extras side we have lords and luddiets the making of whice is great and a phtoe gallry and commentry with colin nicola and kate and all in all a first class story on a first class dvd buy it!!!
on 15 May 2012
Mark of the Rani was a interesting story. We had the 6th Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant and Colin Baker) in a semi historical story, involving The Master, and a foe I wish had benn better used in the history of the xhow in the form of the Rani played by Kate O'Mara. The Rani made a much better foil for the Doctor than the Master, who was out for his usual humiliate and destroy, compared to the Rani, who did not WANT to get involved, but prefered to work on her own experiments.
While not a bad story, I wish that they had done more with The Rani, rather than the usual play between the Doctor and the NMaster.