on 11 July 2015
I'd stopped watching doctor who after Tom Baker left the role. I'd never really warmed to Peter Davidson's doctor, seemingly too bland and 'weak tea vicar' for my tastes then. And I recall that Buck Rogers and the A Team were the talk of the playground when I was a child. So I rediscovered a whole new era of Doctor Who post Tom Baker many years later.
Twin Dilemma is often held up as the very worst story that the series has produced - and I initially came to this expecting the worst when I purchased the 1st VHS video release many years ago. However, I was pleasantly surprised by an entertaining story with a barnstorming performance by Colin Baker which I enjoyed greatly. I ditched the VHS for the DVD - and it scrubs up very nicely.
I feel that I have to address the main point of controversy in this story that the Doctor in a brief paranoid fit of madness attacks his companion 'poor put upon Peri'. Fans who were outraged by this should consider that his is not without precedent. My thoughts on this recall that the Doctor in Hartnell's 3rd serial 'Edge of Destruction' also entertained paranoid delusions about his new human travelling companions to the extent that the was going to murder them by ejecting them into the vacuum and Susan likewise attempted to stab Barbara with a pair of scissors. The effect of the latest regeneration appears to have returned the doctor to attitudes more fitting with the renegade timelord pre 'Earthy Child'. It's also amusing to consider Tom Baker's attitude to having a companion - at one time citing a preference for a 'talking cabbage' and his allegedly stormy on set relationship with the cast and crew. One can imagine the Sixth as being a manifestation of the unbounded frustrations repressed by the Fifth doctor during his constantly bickering relationship with Adric, Tegan and Turlough in the overcrowded Tardis.
The Info Text unearths some fascinating tid bits, that also hark back to the beginning, my favourite being the following dialog dropped from the script. In episode four, Azmael asks if it is wise to give the twins' work to Mestor and the doctor replies, "Wisdom? I am a renegade Time Lord who travels the universe in a rickety TARDIS with a motley selection of alien companions. Is that wisdom? ........."What am I saying? I am Lord President! I must go home! Too long have I resisted my responsibilities! Too long have I been out in the cold. I- I- I must reform. Become one of the team". I would have loved to hear the Sixth doctor deliver that speech, it would have really generated speculation over how the Sixth doctor would develop.
In my opinion the Sixth doctors tenure was no better or worse than any of the other seasons of Doctor Who, just that the hard-core fan base became too controlling and vocal (in my opinion eventually contributing to the series hiatus). The other issue for some people is the Doctors' coat of many colours. My own rationale is that the Doctors coat is probably the very hight of fashion 'somewhere' in the universe- it may even offer camouflage in some alien environments and any criticism is 'human-centric'.
This DVD is an essential purchase for any fan of doctor who - watch without prejudice - consider the sometimes darker side of the Doctors character and enjoy it. The DVD commentary is hilarious and the info text adds further layers to the story. Special feature How to look 100 years younger It’s nice to see the Sixth Doctor in a black frock coat but, and perhaps I'm in the minority here, I LIKE THE COAT!.
Only disappointment is the lack of a making of feature.
on 8 February 2010
Oh dear. What we have here is quite possibly the most loathed and hated story in Dr Who's entire canon.
But let's consider this. It looks cheap and has a silly story, along with two irritating twins complete with pudding bowl haircuts. But on the other hand, it has a strong supporting cast who do well with what they're given, it shows hints of a complex Doctor unlike any which had been seen before and it has a villain who chews the scenery with relish. Let's be honest, the effects and plot are no worse than those you'll find in many other "cheapo" Who stories.
What dooms this adventure is, perhaps fittingly, a pair of major problems. Firstly, it was Colin Baker's first. To tack the first story of a new Doctor on to the end of the previous Doc's season is a bold move. But to make it the season cheapo is just ridiculous. Far better to spend money on a story you're showcasing and one which a lot is riding on rather than blowing half the year's budget going to Lanzarote for "Planet of Fire" (itself a pretty lightweight tale). The second dilemma, so to speak, is that this adventure is overshadowed by what is possibly the most unpleasantly misogynistic storyline in Dr Who's entire run. We're being asked to warm to a Doctor who is essentially written as a parable of a loud-mouthed brute who abuses his wife and then bullies or brainwashes her into staying with him. Peri is a non-character simply there for the Dads, for various menfolk in the stories to ogle over and to be an excuse for cheap sexist jokes. It seemed the series which once created such memorable characters as Barbara, Jo and Sarah Jane Smith now thought of women as being worthless and fit for only one thing. The production team couldn't even bring themselves to let Peri at least be remembered as the companion who had the all-time greatest death scene (reading between the lines of what's said in "Trial of a Time Lord", she finished up being abandoned by the Doctor on an alien planet where she became the concubine of a violent barbarian who previously spent his time bellowing at her and treating her like a rag doll). No matter where Colin Baker's Doctor went from here, this abysmal start would forever hang over him.
Forget the 1985 suspension, Michael Grade, Bonnie Langford or any obsessions with continuity. This is the story which lit the fire under Dr Who's pot.
Peter davison's doctor went out on a high in the story the caves of androzani. A story that ticked all the boxes in regards to what doctor who fandom wants from one. What followed was the twin dilemma. And sometimes lighting doesn't strike twice in a row.
It was a bold move to end the season with a complete story rather than make the viewer wait a year to see him again.
It was a bold move to make the new doctor brash and initially unlikeable, especially whilst he goes through the usual post regeneration trauma.
It was a bold move to give him a totally outlandish costume.
But such experimenation can't compete with the money having run out, a script that didnt work and had to be heavily re-written, and some rather poor acting from some of the guest stars.
Not to mention the lack of money leading to some very poor choices set design and costume wise.
So the new doctor goes through four episodes trying to find his feet, nearly killing his companion, and trying to save the universe at the same time.
I can often watch old doctor whos and admire how the production team managed to get something that could air out of weak scripts and no money. But that sometimes doesnt offer much compensation to the viewer looking for entertainment.
It's not all bad. Maurice denham offers a typically distinguished performance as another time lord. And by the end the sixth doctor will have grown on you. But the entertainment it offers on the way could be so much more.
Anyway, if you're a fan, you'll already know if you're going to buy this or not. If you're a casual buyer, what else can the disc offer you?
the following extras wise:
a commentary from colin baker, nicola bryant [companion peri] and kevin mcnally [one of the guest cast].
The star man. a short interview with the designer of the title sequence, showing how it was amanded for this new doctor. he does have a few interesting titbits to say and for a real curiosity this offers the glimpse of a version of the sequence that was never used, which has the doctor winking.
look 100 years younger: this runs eleven minutes and has colin baker and a comedienne/fashion designer called amy lame watching clips of old doctors and commenting on their costumes. they do manage to come up with some interesting comments. but the whole thing is worth it for the end when thanks to the miracles of cgi you get to see the sixth doctor in a costume much closer to what colin baker wanted.
Stripped for action: latest in a series of documentaries looking at the life of the doctor in comic strip form, this runs seventeen minutes and focuses on these elements that made the run highly regarded by those in the know: the clever writing of steve parkhouse. The superb art of john ridgway. and frobisher, the doctors comic strip companion. a shapeshifting alien trapped in the form of a penguin. If you've never read the strip, then this might just make you want to know more. as all good documentaries should.
Breakfast time has ten minutes worth of an interview with colin baker and nicola bryant on the bbc show of the time. it jumps about a bit as they came back to them several times over the course of the morning, and colin baker changes out of his costume in the meantime. but this has some delights. watch him masterfully correct selina scott as to it being the doctor rather than doctor who, and watch nicola bryant wonder whether she should do peri's accent and then decide not to.
Colin baker is an equally affable interviewee in a nine minbute clip from blue peter of the time, and watching him managing to keep the blue peter cat under control is a very interesting distraction. you'll also marvel at the way he manages to profess an ethusiasm for his cotume that he didn't really feel.
like all the others in the range it has:
continuity trailers from bbc one of the time
a photo gallery of stills from the story and the production
production informaiton subtitles
radio times billings as a pdf file
a trailer for the next release in the range
english language and subtitles and english audio captioning.
for an easter egg watch the disc on a computer and move the pointer over the first special features screen till a hidden doctor who logo lights up. click on this for four minutes of footage of the location filming. with absolutely no soundtrack.
so whilst there's not a lot extras wise the quality of some of them just about this release as a whole to a 3/5. Are they enough to make you want to buy it, though?
That's up to you
on 23 September 2009
A little like ardent fans of ace Manchester institution, 'The Fall', Dr Who enthusiasts can appear a joyless, judgemental lot when discussing their addiction in public.
Is 'Twin Dilemma' as awful as they, in high church mode, would claim? Colin Baker gives a spirited, commited performance as a doctor in transition, unstable and unreliable. Yes the, gastropods are a little silly. But like rep theater, panto and, yes, the Fall, Docor Who is always the same, always different. Thoroughly entertaining!
on 20 September 2009
I vaguely recall this one being Broadcast and thought it was pretty poor back then.
Having looked at it now, it isn't half as bad as thought it was. Admittedly it does reek of cheap, and I suspect the Budget for the Series was running a bit low by the time this was made, but for some reason it actually works.
I don't know how it works, but the whole daft premise seems to hold together just enough to carry the story.
OK, the Slug Costume is a bit of a low in the DW Monster Pantheon, on the plus side the Bird People Costumes (In particular the Chamberlain) look really good.
Colin Baker seems to be enjoying an opportunity to have a chew at the scenery while settling into the role and having now rewatched all his stories, I'd say he was written off harshly before and deserves some credit for trying to be a different Doctor.
on 18 October 2010
Everything derogatory you've heard about this story is true. Thanks mostly to the Doctor's silly costume, it looks tacky, the acting is abysmal, and the script atrocious. The low(er) points of the story are the twins themselves- twin planks of wood, more like- and a horrifically irritating depiction of Peri. No wonder the Doctor tries to strangle her in part one.
And yet...it's the first Colin Baker (an extremely underrated Doctor) story. If you're a bit of a completist, then it's essential buying. He puts in a great performance; unlike a couple of later stories, his hammy, snide turn here seems wonderfully unforced and refreshing. He's easily the best thing here.
If you want the Twin Dilemma on its own rights, you're going to regret buying it- unless you watch it from the safety of a few cans of lager- but if you want it just because it's Bakers' intro, then have at it. Fun stuff.
on 15 November 2009
There is no doubt that Colin Baker had bad press at the start of his tenure, however, really this is unfair as it is the production values that jar not the powerhouse performance from the actor.
This is a prime example. The unstable Doctor, still in post regeneration stress, portrays paranoia, cowardice, selfishness and all the things we would never have attributed to his previous incarnation. No wonder he came in for such a lambasting, though it has to be said this was mainly from the tabloid press and not the fans at the time. Dress him up as a knickerbocker glory and it is worse still. Blame John Nathan Turner for that one.
The story is no worse than many others. The gastropods aren't any less believable than many of the other rubber costume monsters that graced the programe during its initial 26 year run - viz Tractators, the Myrka, The Chronovore, Melkur.....et al. We were spoiled with the Caves of Androzani the preceding week (if you haven't got that one, it is a must), and this story is rather off the peg compared to the excellence of the preceding one.
Unfortunately the twins are too reminiscent of Adric rather than Turlough, and in my opinion they deserve Adric's fate. But I suppose that is always a chance you will have to take when you cast children in major roles.
The overall plot is reminiscent of other planetary manipulation stories in places, such as The Pirate Planet, The Tenth Planet, The Mysterious Planet, The Dalek Invasion of Earth.... i.e. it is a well worn path, though the sinister motive of the Gastropods is not revealed until late in the story.
The ending is weak and cliched and falls back on the self sacrificing alien type of resolution. This is a shame, as this darker Doctor could have really made an impact here.
This DVD completes my collection of Colin, and I am very glad I didn't skip it. It reminds me why I like Attack of the Cybermen and Vengeance on Varos. OK it is not as good as either of those, and the direction the show was being pushed in by Nathan-Turner was in my opinion erroneous, but Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are clearly a double-act in the making.
In summary, I am glad I bought this. I shall watch it from time to time to be entertained by the manic new Doctor. I would rate it as an average 3/5 if it weren't for Colin Baker who had not by then been pressured to tame down his act. So it gets a 4 from me.
Oh and there is a rather amusing extra on the DVD which shows the costumes of the Doctors, with a little bit of fun with Colin's incarnation.
on 16 October 2009
Colin Baker's sixth doctor is the most criminally underrated in Doctor Who's history. Despite being given a crap costume, some poor scripts and some extremely low budgets, Baker was consistently entertaining, giving 100% in every performance and as a result is one of the genuinely watchable actors to play the role.
'The Twin Dilemma' is Colin's debut story, following on from Peter Davison's departure in the quite excellent 'Caves Of Androzani', and therein lies the problem. 'The Twin Dilemma' simply can't follow a story as good as that with arguably the best regeneration sequence the show has ever had.
The story itself isn't much to shout about. Two twins called Romulus and Remus (!) are kidnapped by an old friend of the Doctors who is working for a sinister beetle type alien with an evil agenda. It's hardly inspiring.
However, running parallel to that particular plot is the Doctor's troubled regeneration. He fluctuates between total control and bouts of lunacy and cowardice, and at one point tries to strangle assistant Peri. He struggles to nail down his new persona and Baker's performance is both convincing and absorbing.
By the end of the story he is in full control, but is a world away from Peter Davison's schoolboyish 'goody little two shoes' Doctor.
Colin Baker's portrayal is more rock and roll and that is the beauty of 'The Twin Dilemma'. Forget the plot, just enjoy Baker in full throttle, quite literally!!!
The DVD is complete with documentaries and another entertaining commentary by Colin Baker himself.
The Twin Dilemma is the strongest Doctor Who story ever made. It has to be....as it always holds up the other stories that are above it on every single 'Doctor Who poll' done in the last 30 years or so.
From watching Doctor Who religiously in the 80s when I was younger, to then wearing out the video tapes, my viewing of 'classic' Who has become a yearly event where I pick half a dozen stories and watch them over a couple of weeks, then leave it till the next year. Twin Dilemma I remember watching from it's initial video release in the early 90s (was it a Woolworths exclusive??) and not having much impact then. Goodness knows what people really thought on it's initial run - 4 weeks of this!!!
Having kickstarted my classic Doctor viewing for 2014 with this (and having left it unwatched for about a decade) this truly is an awful embarrassment for all concerned. Where to start?? The Doctor here is just unbearable to watch. There's been talk this year of Peter Capaldi's Doctor being on the dark side similar to the Doctor here, but he's nothing compared to what is on show here. I'm not going to knock Colin Baker because he is a fine ambassador for the classic series, but you actually want something bad to happen to him here (is this real, let's kill him quick and then regenerate him again). I don't mind Mestor even though quite often you see his cronies (the bird people characters) having to help him move about in his outfit. Maurice Denham is a wonderful actor who must have wondered what on earth happened to his career to have ended up in this, and we can't knock the Doctor's costume when we see what shirt Kevin McNally's 'policeman' ends up wearing. It's like the 80s is epitomised in the 100 minutes on show here. But none of this is as bad as the dreadful 'twins' Womulus and Wemus. Apologies, that's a little insensitive, but if it's made you angry that's the same effect the twins have on me when they appear on screen. Who are they? Why are they even there? Who actually felt that they could act?
Lurking behind all this abomination is actually an interesting story. I don't need to cover plot details because you can read that elsewhere if you don't already know, but if you imagine the story with the budgets of today? Again, maybe unfair to compare 30 years difference, but I'd never say imagine Caves of Androzani or Vengeance on Varos with today's budgets because they stand out in their own right, this one really makes you wish you were watching something else. perhaps this story really needs to become a cult? There are some great quotable lines in it. It could work that way....imagine it on a big screen shouting out 'thou craggy knob' (at the appropriate time of course)
I'm at least rest assured that the next story I watch in my 2014 mini season will be better than this...won't it?
on 11 June 2009
I imagine this will create a dilemma for anyone thinking about buying it. Consistently ranked bottom of any favourite-Who-stories list, there is little on the surface to recommend it, even to die-hard Dr Who fans. So why should you buy it?
The story is frankly bonkers, involving giant slugs kidnapping a pair of child geniuses to crash some planets together to create a supernova to...you get the idea. The costumes are uniformly terrible, with garish colours bleeding from the Doctor's horrible new wardrobe onto all the supporting cast, who end up looking like they have been wrapped in coloured tin foil. The twins themselves act like they're reading their lines off a rejected Noddy script, and come across as smug, self-righteous and intensely dislikeable. The Gastropods shuffle around woodenly like a poor man's Tractator from the vastly superior (and as yet unavailable on dvd) Frontios from earlier in the season, with quick-setting slime as their only USP. Wonder why they never got a second story...
So again, why should you buy this dvd? Well, for a start, Colin Baker is a real revelation in his first story, blustering and rampant in his random mood swings, terrifying his poor assistant and indeed nearly choking her to death at one point. As different a character from Peter Davison's subtle, nuanced performance as possible, this is one hell of a way to bring in the changes. This is also Colin's final story to be released on dvd, so you can now have all of his unfairly-truncated tenure on your shelf. There are also some good themes in the examination of relationships, be it father to son, master to pupil, or even Time Lord to human companion. It features some good planet-hopping scenes and moves at a brisk pace to start off, before tailing off into tepid melodrama and tired cliché. There's the appearance of another Time Lord from the Doctor's past, painting a larger background for the Gallifreyans. As with all the DW dvd's, the Restoration Team have done their usual stellar job with extras, interviews, behind-the scenes footage and related items.
And that's kind of it really. Let's not pretend that Twin Dilemma is a misunderstood classic ripe for rediscovery. It is what it is, an example of Dr Who at its worst: cheap, tacky and lacking in almost every department. Do not show it to any new-Who fans in an attempt to get them into classic Who, you will only put them off the whole programme. Wait til it's in the sale if you must have it, if not save your money for the Dalek War boxset due at the end of the year. That's a good one to show the kids. This one is probably one for completists and masochists only. You know who you are.