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3.5 out of 5 stars74
3.5 out of 5 stars
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2010
If you love this story, then you may not want to read on as I consider it the weakest debut for a Doctor yet. It's a shame because undeniably there is greater energy in the production than in the previous year. There are good moments in the direction, mostly good effects particularly for the time (Death by bubble still looks great) but it's the script bizarrely mixing real science (google strange matter!) & pre-school hi-jinx that is the problem.
The Rani shoots the Doctor's tardis out of the sky (that's another good moment)which causes him to regenerate and tries to enlist his help in manipulating strange matter to rewrite time and history. The Rani has now been reduced by her own creators Pip 'n Jane Baker to being the Master in drag, losing the intriguing amoral quality of her last appearance. She also indulges in a Masteresque silly disguise by dressing up as Mel. Yep you got it, Kate O' Mara impersonates Bonnie Langford & she does quite well with it but like when Disney Store used to make middle-aged women dress in US High School Uniforms, it's a bit embarrassing. Kate makes what she can out of the good moments e.g rapture staring at her giant brain with geniuses (genii?) hooked up to it.
To prevent the Doc seeing through the disguise she injects him with an amnesia inducing drug which considering the dangerous project she wants his help in is just plain daft.
As regular readers of my reviews know, I don't think Mel worked until Big Finish audios but the character written for Bonie Langford to play here is so insipid that it's no wonder she does little with it. She gets the unintentionally funniest line though; "I've had enough of this drivel!"
The guest cast struggle with underwritten roles, only Mark Greenstreet as Ikona makes any real impression. He's given a daft moment at the end throwing away a solution to a lethal problem on the basis they should solve their own problems!There's Christmas Cracker wisdom for you!
The Lakertyans are a good design for an alien in costume and make up, sadly not so for the Tetraps though. Meant to be bat humanoids, they just look like fat lager lout Yetis. The award for something you can't convey onscreen goes to them having 360 degree vision.
Sylvester struggles as despite the post regenerative and drug induced instability, he does looks silly not suspecting the Rani in disguise a bit more. He gets a moment when he's unsure but a quick slap deals with that. There's too much clowning, some of which works e.g. playing the spoons is a charming eccentricity like the 2nd Doctor's recorder, much of it does not e.g. comedy runs etc. There are a few moments of the better portrayal to come like delivery of the line about a "temporal flicker."
His trying on costumes sequence is like very long but seeing him in a Pertwee jacket shows the difference a better costume could have made.

Some other nice touches; the geniuses including alien ones as well as human ones & the Rani's reaction in disguise as Mel to having her evil genius summed up "I'm overwhelmed."

The extras are top notch, enough to raise the overall package marking to a 3, even though the story's a 2 at best. The Last Chance Saloon" is a great documentary on the reasons why Who was given another chance and the making of the story. Contributors include; Sylvester McCoy, the late JNT via archive stuff. the writers (more personable than previously they also get a separate feature on their original concepts for the planet), script editor Andrew Cartmel, director Andrew Morgan and there is a look at Sylvester's filmed audition plus the people he beat for the role.
There's one of those off cuts from the documentary pretending to be a separate feature things "Hot Gossip" recalling the chatter of guest stars Donald Pickering & Wanda Ventham. Great features on the effects sequences and the title sequence.

Great commentary with Sylvester, the Bakers and a rare appearance from Bonnie Langford who is great fun as they all are. Bonnie advises us if you're asked to do something dangerous by the director, ask him to do it first!

A great support package propping up a weak story, completists only.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2013
'The new Doctor is going to be a bloke, who used to put ferrets down his trousers' was the news told me by a real Job's comforter in 1985. Colin Baker had been unceremoniously sacked, and it is hard to blame him too much, because he comes across as a very likeable bloke, when he's not wearing that coat, but now we have a hurried regeneration, and a very different kettle of fish indeed. Sylvester was nothing if not different.

So the story has a disorientated Doctor partnered, at least at the outset, by the Rani dressed up as Mel. The latest planet looks very impressive, and the Tetrap monsters are fun, and (in one shot) we get to see that there really are hordes of the things (rather than the more usual six), and that bubble trap looks very good, and that giant brain looks very good - almost operatic - and lots of geniuses, including a nice little cameo from Albert Einstein. It all looks very good, even if the local aliens are wetter than the ocean, and the skeleton is a nice touch.

There's been some money spent, I'll give 'em that.

But it is still a story for kids.

Not too much of a problem, if you're about 11, or if you don't look for any more to a tale than a jolly runaround. Kate O'Mara is highly amusing, even if it does draw attention to the fact that Mel herself is really quite annoying, and Sylvester, with his spoon-playing and his delightful malapropisms, is eminently watchable, but the story itself is no deeper than a modest-sized puddle.

Providing a programme for children is what's required, then this really is a tour de force, but Dr Who isn't children's television.

The trouble was, that for the whole of the season, that's what it was to be.

2/5 but on its way to 3...
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2011
As a fan i have to give an honest review, this is one of the worst Dr Who stories ever and I am not sure it even deserves 2 stars. Just because this is the old or classic series dose not mean every story should get five stars, there were some bad stories and this was one. This is no Genesis of the Daleks or Pyramids of mars, could you really give this story 5 stars making it the same as those, i do hope not. OK Sylvester McCoy had to take on a story originally written for Colin Baker's Dr, but no matter who the actor was not much could save this weak story.I never understood why Bonnie Langford was the companion, and i am sorry her performance still grates, but to be fair this was more due to the script as opposed to her acting ability. The idea of the Rani played by Kate O'Mara collecting all the scientist to make a super brain was a workable idea, but this is just a awful part of Dr who's history, The McCoy Dr you see here is nothing like the Dr that was portrayed in the next season, but this did nothing than make the average person laugh at the pr gramme, including Varety Lambert who hated it. The extras are good but is the price worth it for extras alone. On a plus it was goodbye to the awful sixth Dr costume, shame it was not goodbye to the question marks as well. This is for hard core fans only be careful.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sylvester McCoy became one of the best Doctors ever to grace the series- eventually. However he got off to an appalling start, and "Time And The Rani" justifiably tends to appear well towards the bottom of any fan ranking of Doctor Who stories.

Pip & Jane Baker were the worst writers ever to contribute to Doctor Who, and their story here is a ridiculous mess.

On the plus side, there's a marked improvement in special effects. Whilst all four episodes are (like the DVD cover) far too pink, improved computer graphics and some very good setbuilding and model work help make the whole thing a little more impressive on that front. I've always been impressed by the Seventh Doctor title sequence, which was ahead of its time, and also the new theme arrangement- although the incidental music was not so convincing.

The DVD extras follow along the usual lines- a jokey commentary, a half-hour slightly tongue-in-cheek documentary about the danger Doctor Who faced from cancellation, ten minutes about the visual effects, and some Easter Eggs that I'll admit I've not found yet... Sadly no deleted scenes or outtakes but you can't have everything.

A standard Who DVD- decent enough but certainly not one that should be on the top of your wishlist.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2012
This has got to be the dullest most boring, embarrassing episode in the history of Who to that date. McCoy is awful, pratting about like a proper fool. No charisma, no acting ability and dear oh dear no line delivery. I almost curled up with his line: 'and who are you!'.

The Twin Dillema was bad, but at least you could laugh at it. This abysmal effort contained absolutely nothing at all of any sort of entertainment value. It was like some amateurish school play, I still have terrible dreams about it but the good news is I am responding to treatment.

I have relented in many ways and bought some McCoy DVDs just to see how the features play. Can rubbish like this be critically defended? that kind of thing, but I wouldn't waste a single pound on this drivel in fact I wouldn't have one given.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2001
Now a number of fans hate this little gem - why? Well they give their reasons below. However I like this story. Basically it is this story that got me interested in Dr Who in the first place way back in 1987. I was only 7. For a child I think that this story is supreme. It is full of some great creatures : the Tetraps in particular, but also the Lakertyans and the two brains. IOt also has some great graphics - in particular the bubble traps. Give this story a go. Its not that bad! Its certainly better than The Twin Dilemma or Timelash!!!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2006
Contary to believe, the McCoy era produced more good stories than bad. Sadly, this IS BAD, no, worse than that, it is complete CRUD!!!!!

Sylvester McCoy is one of my favorite Doctors (Thrid to Pat Troughton and Tom Baker in fact) but he is not at all good in this, and Bonnie Langford is rubbish, she screams and screams and screams till we're deaf with anger at the writing and acting, in fact, only McCoy and Kate O' Mara are good.

However, the Tetraps are VERY freaky to look at, and the ep 2 cliff-hanger is as good as The Curse Of Fenric ep 2, Remembrance of the Daleks ep 1 and to some extent Paradise Towers ep 2 (If Ace, my fav companion was in Mel's shoes, I'd have been having nightmares) and Urak was good and eerie. The 7th Doctor is very good as well and very interesting to watch, he is a lot more funny and entertaining than Jon Pertwee, but I was upset when he senselessly killed a Tetrap, Colin Baker had gone, but the brutalness remained.

This was going to get one star, but, because of the Tetraps and McCoys and O' Mara's performances, I give it two.
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on 1 October 2015
Excellent smooth transaction - prompt & efficient - one to recommend to all A++
Prompt delivery, good value and required to complete collection
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21 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2010
Yes, this story to be released in September 2010 is the main reason why 1980s Doctor Who gets such a bad press - after unceremoniously dumping the woefully underrated Colin Baker, the production team seem determined to nail the lid on the coffin of the BBCs flagship family drama. From the risibly bewigged Sylvester McCoy in the opening regeneration scene, to Mel's clownish costume, and the Seventh Doctor's mind-numbingly awful mixed metaphors (truly the lamest expression of post-regeneration trauma in the series' history), this is one almighty mess - not to mention Kate O'Mara hamming it up as evil Time Lord 'The Rani'. Everything about this stinks; even Russell T Davies struggles to find something to like about it!
Accomplished actors such as Wanda Ventham, Donald Pickering and Mark Greenstreet must have wiped this mess from their CVs, and it's amazing anyone wanted to be associated with the show afterwards.
DVD extras have not yet been announced, but I would strongly advise anyone except diehard completists to steer well clear of this release come September.
Fortunately Sylvester McCoy was at least given something of a chance to redeem himself in later serials - an opportunity which he eagerly grasped - subsequently this remains the low point of his era as well as the show's; Twin Dilemma knocks spots off this, and that's saying something!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2014
I know that 'Time and the Rani' isn't very good but that's not to say you can't enjoy watching it. Indeed, it can be very enjoyable.

Whereas stories like 'The Sun Makers' are boring and visually dull, 'Time and the Rani' is rarely if ever boring and visually it is anything but dull. In fact it's often visually very impressive thanks to some stunning effects work, for example the Rani's bubble traps and the model work. The quarry location is also imaginatively used and the story is very well shot.

The story starts with a pre-credits sequence which features by far the worst regeneration to date. Colin Baker wasn't present and so they simply put Sylvester McCoy in Baker's costume and an unconvincing blonde curly wig. Needless to say, it was a bad start to the story.

The Lakertyans (the reptilian indigenous creatures on Lakertya) look quite garish and silly in green, orange and yellow and with very long blonde hair. The Tetraps (the Rani's muscle, bat like creatures with eyes in the backs of their heads) on the other hand look quite good.

Sadly the Rani's plan is just a string of meaningless technobabble. It's also impossible to believe that the Rani, who is supposed to be a genius, would concoct a plan that involved her impersonating Mel with an unconvincing ginger wig and a copy of Mel's outfit. Even though the Rani's plan severely lacks credibility Kate O'Mara is still fun to watch in the role of over-the-top villain.

Sylvester McCoy's performance involves pratfalls, playing the spoons and mixing metaphors. These characteristics wouldn't be annoying but they're all quite prominent, especially the metaphor mixing, making it difficult to take this bumbling Doctor seriously. Thankfully in later McCoy stories these traits were toned down considerably.

As usual, Mel is quite a difficult character to believe in; at one point a Tetrap jumps out in front of her and she simply stands still and screams. Langford's screaming as Mel is trapped in the bubble is particularly excruciating.

The story features some peculiar physical comedy which seems out of place, for example the Doctor's pratfalls, spoon playing and his fight with Mel. On the other hand, the scene in episode one where the Doctor tries on various outfits, including several worn by his previous incarnations, while the Rani looks on in disbelief is priceless. The scene in episode four where he promises to explain the TARDIS to Einstein is also amusing.

The story features some of the dreadful dialogue that is par for the course with writers Pip and Jane Baker. Why exactly does that idiot Ikona dispose of the antidote to the Rani's killer insects?

It's easy to see why this story was so poorly received upon transition in 1987, it certainly isn't the type of story that was needed to restore faith in Doctor Who. Nevertheless 'Time and the Rani' can be good fun, but if you have a friend who isn't sold on classic series Doctor Who then, whatever you do, don't show them this.

There are quite a few extras on this DVD. The main special feature is 'Last Chance Saloon' which is a making of documentary. As usual it's informative and entertaining but Jonathan Powell is, as always, a useless talking head, he just can't resist slagging the show off, he has nothing positive or interesting to say.

'7D FX' is about the special effects which were the story's greatest success. 'Helter Skelter' is about the superb new title sequence introduced in this story. There's an interesting story about how for the new title sequence Sylvester McCoy had his face painted silver needlessly.

'Lakertya' is a two minute feature about the differences between the original visions for Lakertya and what ended up on screen. 'Hot Gossip' is about guest actors Wanda Ventham and Donald Pickering who knew each other and gossiped persistently.

'On location' is a behind the scenes feature from when they were filming the story at the quarry. It features brief interviews with Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, Kate O'Mara and John Nathan Turner. There's also a segment from a 1987 episode of Blue Peter which features a very short interview with Sylvester McCoy.
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