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 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 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 26 December 2013
This is a very nice period piece. It benefits enormously from superb direction from Sarah Hellings and some wonderfully evocative incidental music courtesy of Jonathan Gibbs. The other thing that really helps is the vast amount of location work done at the Ironbridge gorge museum in Shropshire, Hellings really makes the best of this and the whole story is beautifully shot (it's a shame Hellings never worked on the series again).
The story does move slowly but this isn't necessarily to its detriment, the story focuses on establishing the time period and it does this very effectively. The Doctor is very well characterised here; there is less sniping and shouting from him and he is far more likeable here than in the other stories in the 22nd series. Colin Baker gives one of his best performances here as well.
The Rani is great fun as the villain and she is well acted by Kate O'Mara. Anthony Ainley turns in a good performance as always but the Master is outclassed by the Rani here. There are some memorable scenes where the Rani ridicules the Master for his incompetence (although it would seem that the Rani shares the Master's love of disguise). The Rani's Tardis interior is a lovely set, it's a shame we never see it again.
There is, admittedly, some silliness; the tree that grabs hold of Peri and the landmines that people can't see despite them being visible. But these are only minor niggles, this is a very good story.
The special features include an insightful 'Making of' documentary called 'Lords and Luddites', this clocks in at an impressive 43 minutes.
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 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 12 March 2007
This is the bestest Dr Who story ever - and I don't say that about all of them. A history lesson, excellent action & adventure and some good forest magic to boot.
The Rani is sucking brain juice out of humans, the Master is trying to kill the Doctor, as always, and the Doctor is busy saving the day.
One of the worst bits is when the Master kills a beautiful dog - just for barking at him. That's the kind of thing the Master does - just for fun - just because he likes being evil.
The Rani has an awesome looking Tardis. In fact, it is by tinkering with the Rani's Tardis that the Doctor gets to beat her and the Master in the end. The ending is pretty darn good. The Master and the Rani are stuck on a wildly speeding Tardis with a very interesting laboratory specimen. They do not look like they will survive, but we can't know for sure.
This is good because it means the Master can return again, again.
on 4 May 2009
This is one of the most enjoyable Colin Baker stories. The idea that the Rani is simply trying to get on with her work and finds both the Doctor and the Master irritating nuisances is a small stroke of genius, and makes the story great fun to watch. As the Rani, Kate O'Mara is very good value, by being both larger-than-life and believably three-dimensional. The camerawork is imaginative and dynamic, with attractive location work nicely complemented by some very stylish sets. Despite all these plus points, it's not Doctor Who at its best: in the second half of the story, the storytelling becomes a little muddled. Instead of developing its initial premise into a really dramatic and satisfying climax, it goes off at some pretty random tangents - which are still fun, but don't reward the viewer by paying off the elements that were introduced at the start of the story.
on 18 July 2007
The Mark of the Rani marks Kate O Mara's debut appearance as the devilish Rani who in this story is working alongside the Master to try and destroy the Doctor by turning him into a tree (Yes a tree!).
Meanwhile the Rani is creating slaves by taking brain fluid out of human beings heads making them all crazy and attack people all to cover up her existance on Earth.
Colin Baker stars as his absolutely brilliant incarnation of the Doctor in this absolutely brilliant story.
A Doctor Who fans 100% must buy!!!!!!!!!