Customer Review

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Something of a misfire", 18 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Doctor Who - Time and the Rani [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
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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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Apr 2011 18:06:20 BDT
I think perhaps 3 stars is to much that is if you rate this the same as frontios and Planet of the Spiders which i do hope not as they may not be great but better than this awful example.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Apr 2011 12:19:42 BDT
Bob Marlowe says:
In terms of story alone, I'm with you as I think it's largely awful but I did not do this as an Pre-release review having not watched it in a long time so the marks were for the whole package including the extras & there's no ignoring that they are so good they bump the score up.

Frontios and Spiders I was able to refer to copies to write advance reviews and mark for story only. Rest assured I do not think that Time and the Rani is as good a story as them.
res assured that

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jul 2011 15:35:26 BDT
I think that's fair comment and I now understand as a package the extras are a lot more entertaining than either the releases I mentioned.

Posted on 16 Jul 2013 19:34:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Jul 2013 19:35:40 BDT
Just watched this last night and I thoroughly enjoyed it , it gets a lot of unfair criticism which is not warranted , I think a lot of it is the anti - McCoy brigade rattling their sabres more than anything , watching the Rani impersonating Mel to try to get a dazed Doctor to fix her Time Manipulator was brilliant , the special effects for the time were great as well , it is never boring and jogs along at a decent clip.

The extra's were decent as well , one comment was made in the extra's which went into the reason's for the demise of Doctor Who which I found interesting (well two to be honest) , one was that at the time it wasn't just Doctor Who which the BBC were trying to destroy , Blakes Seven which was a classic piece of Television was scrapped as well as other Sci Fi shows , it was the BBC hating the genre NOT the quality of the actual show which was the reason it got ended and this point more than any other really should be brought forward at all times when discussing this , the BBC at the time was populated by small narrow minded individuals with as much hindsight as an amoeba (Yes, Mr Grade I'm talking about YOU) , the other which leads from that was the fact Mr Grade decided in his infinite wisdom to put Doctor Who out opposite Coronation Street in a blatantly deliberate attempt to justify it's closure due to bad ratings , this was so transparent I don't know how he got away with it.

Speaking of the abomination , his piece on Room 101 when he talks about how Star wars and Close Encounters was coming out and we had Doctor Who with it's rubbish effects should tell you all you need to know about the man , Star Wars with it's millions of $'s budget and unlimited time to produce and direct , he genuinely wanted to compare it to a show which HE threw a couple of quid at and had to be produced in a fortnight beggars belief it really does and I always thought it was an utter disgrace he never gave the Production teams credit for the actual show that was produced.

Rant over soz.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Feb 2014 12:36:47 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2014 12:11:24 GMT
Bob Marlowe says:
Sorry John but have not been keeping eye on comments on reviews as well as I could have. Sorry but I did warn Time and .. fans at the top of the review they may not like it.
Predictably I don't agree about the criticism the story gets being unfair for the reasons specified in the review. I don't agree that much criticism comes from the anti-Sylvester McCoy brigade, I'm certainly not one of them. Plenty of people who rate the Sylvmeister still don't like this and in my case it is mostly due to the Bakers' script.
I did praise both effects and extras in my review.
When it comes down to it you like it and I don't and both points of view are fair comment.
I'm with you entirely on Mr Grade. His behaviour on Room 101 rubbishing it as he did (he was even worse about it in his autobiography claiming that there were so many protest letters that each of the small number of Who fans must have written 10 of them!). In fairness it was within his purview at the time to cancel it but he clearly took being overruled more personally than he should have done. He should not have still been going on about it years later.

To have written the quite funny fan letter to Russell T et al when it came back admitting it was good, well perhaps he had some therapy?

Blake's 7 looks more like a case of doing nothing about bringing it back rather than cancelling. Apart from Script Editor and writer of last episode Chris Boucher, most of those involved said in interveiws thety were aware series 4s had been intended as the end.
But despite the good ratings all through season 4 (final ep burying our old pal Coronation Street), no matter how many people wrote in and asked for it back (in 1989 Anne Robinson revealed it was still a bigger matter in the the Points of View postbag than a lot of things that were taken seriously), nothing concrete was ever done about it.
In his explanation of how he came to write his post series novel Afterlife posing as an Amazon review , Tony Attwood said there were rights issues stalling any potential revival.
If you check out Docs on Survival & Trial of a Timelord DVDs then interviews with Peter Cregeen and Jonathan Powell give a bit more of an explanation as to why Who came back but with little support from the Beeb for Sylvester's era.
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