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A freshly regenerated Sixth Doctor arises discombobulated and edgy, but altogether more abusive and homicidal in this rarely lauded serial

The Doctor has just regenerated into his 6th form, and he’s an altogether edgier, less dainty and more homicidal chap. Barely out of his cricket kit and into a psychedelic clown coat, he’s already trying to kill his companion and decrees that he’s taking them to the far-off planet of Titan 3 to live as a hermit with Peri as his involuntary maid and acolyte.

Meanwhile, a pair of mathematically twin wunderkinder with apparently nefarious powers we’ll never explore in this serial are visited by an inextricably teleporting old man whom they happily mistake for a stage magician and allow to wipe their memories and spirit them away.

And to really hammer home the crazy, through a roundabout series of plot points, they end up on the planet Jaconda, which—since the last time Doc visited—has been taken over by power-hungry human-slug hybrids of Jacondan myth who plan to use the twins to change planetary orbits, create orbiting kitchen cupboards for themselves, and in the process jizz their gross slug eggs across the galaxy.

(Sorry for the delay in getting all the magnificent Mini Reviews onto the page here below. Some sneaky WordPress update went up without my knowledge and reset the comment settings. It took me a while to realise, but it should all be sorted now! Cheers /Leon)

Here's what we think of C137 The Twin Dilemma

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.7

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.7

Here's what we think of C137 The Twin Dilemma

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.7

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.7

Here's what you think 10 Responses to “C137 The Twin Dilemma”
  1. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    Sorry this is so late but it took me some time to work out exactly why this unsettled me so much. It’s not just the choke that ruins this, although that’s pretty bad. It’s the constant thread of the Doctor doing things that establish him as an abusive personality. He lies, gaslights, and manipulates. He seems emotionally remorseful at times, but doesn’t correct his behavior. Towards the end of the serial he turns Peri’s criticism back on her “I’m an alien, and it’s *you* being insensitive of *me* that’s the issue here.” These are actual abuse tactics, and writing them onto the Doctor character feels like a serious misstep. It’s upsetting and I don’t know what to make of it.
    I want to say something ‘on a lighter note’ but the best I can do is say, when the Valeyard episodes come up I’m unsure whether I’m hoping he’ll fail or succeed.

  2. Neil | @neilandrozani & @neiljamesactor

    Last time, Peter Davison went out on a truly spectacular high in The Caves Of Androzani, which is still lauded by fandom nearly 40 years later. So, where do you possibly go after such a well-loved classic???
    Well bizarrely, the BBC decided to follow it up with this STEAMING PLATE OF HORSESHIT.

    Now, I adore Colin Baker and think he’s a great actor, but the 6th Doctor is such a twat here! Loud, brash and arrogant, he gets off to an awful start by trying to throttle his own companion! It’s all just too much and I find it impossible to warm to his costume. It’s simply BAD!

    Moving on from the raving lunatic Doctor, we get flat direction, awful costumes, ropey alien make-up, an embarrassing script, and possibly the 2 worst child actors ever to have stepped in front of a video camera.

    I do think the few brief location scenes work well – the crashed and burning spaceship looks really good. But beyond that I’ve got nothing. This is dreadful.
    Rating – 0.5

  3. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Like:

    • Doctor Numero Six. One story in and he’s assaulted his companion twice, cowered behind her as a human shield, strangled his best mate, and insulted everyone he’s met. Plus he melted a giant slug into bubbly gloop by lobbing vinegar at it. This guy is brutal. I even like the coat which gives off a Pennywise vibe.

    Beef:

    • Is crashing a planet into a sun really the most sensible way to scatter and hatch a bunch of giant slugs across the galaxy? The idea is as stupid as, say, deporting UK asylum seekers to a small, deeply troubled central African country with piss-poor human rights records. A policy which, incidentally, was also conceived by a bunch of slugs.
    • For a Timelord who has lived eons, Azmael is a wee bit naive to trust Mestor, and a bit dense not to clock his plan.

    Understatement of the story: Doctor, ‘Are there any more eggs?’; Azmael, ‘a few through there’.

    Rating: 3.3/5 Jacondans blood haemorrhaged to death. Yep. I know Baker has his detractors, and with hindsight the ‘Bad Doctor’ goes down like a bag of wet chips with audiences, but fuck it. They were trying something new. And this guy’s hilarious. I’d definitely join him in the Tardis for an adventure.

  4. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    Change, and a moment too soon…

    I understand the direction that they were trying to take the Doctor but it was very poorly executed. This regeneration mess up was much better done with the Mawdryn Undead fake out, I suppose effects physical are easier to convey than mental ones. This characterization is something they really should have ditched after the first story but unfortunately it persists.

    I have no problem with Colin Baker himself, I think it is clear he has incredible potential as an actor (their arrival on the planet and the subsequent monologue about the slugs was very Doctorish). I just wish he got better writing.

    As for the plot of this story it is decent, I can imagine it working for any of the other doctors but it is pretty run of the mill and really a poor fit for a first outing.

    As for the aesthetics I really only like the owl aliens and Peri’s Plaid outfit, the rest is either entirely tasteless or bland.

    Speaking of Peri, she’s really been endeared to me, but it is uncomfortable seeing her suffer so much, especially at the hands of the Doctor, someone she had considered a friend. I think this story really fractured this relationship and she feels more like a prisoner than a companion.

    This story is taken in a very misguided direction and is poorly executed, a combination that is sure to spell disaster.

    Overall this story earns 1.4 attempted murders out of 5.

    Also why is it that whenever there’s a smart teenager they’re always a math wiz? It’s only really happened twice but it’s a strange coincidence.

    Steven From Canada

  5. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    Oh no…

    From last time’s high point we get this…

    *Sigh*

    So I like the Sixth Doctor but not here. This story kneecaps the adjustment process by making him so unlikeable. JNT decided to have the new Doctor have a single story at the end of the season as a taste of the new Doctor. However it backfires really badly here with this story leaving a bad taste in the mouth, and people wondering over the 9 month wait between seasons. God, that scene in part one. Then we have the Doctor’s new costume and wow it’s…something isn’t it? I think Colin wanted it all black but JNT want the technicolour dreamcoat. He on purposed made the designer make it extra garish. Then again some of the other costumes in this one are a bit questionable as well coughLangcough.

    And then we have the wider story and it’s not very good. Very dumb. The writer Anthony Steven apparently had issues writing it in time with dodgy excuses, and then fell ill. Thus Eric Saward had to finish this one off. That said, I think there’s worse, just…The first half is painful but it gets a bit more watchable in the second half. Jesus, Peri does get some shit from thrown at her (spoilers, it doesn’t change really).

    0.6/5

    Cheers
    Kieren

  6. Ed Corbet

    Doc has regenerated and seems quite pukka for it; oh wait he’s trying to kill Peri; that escalated quickly. They attribute his initial un-Doclike behaviour on the regeneration, but I feel they took the rough side of the Doctor too far in Episode 1; it’s not a great way to get your new actor over with the kids. They reigned it in after that though and by Episode 2, I was starting to find his vainglorious quips quite amusing.

    Our guest-villain is Mestor, a killer-caterpillar; it’s like the producers went “No one can make a lamer villain than the Tractators.” and the Writer went “Hold my beer!” . The face-mask was okay even though the mouth-parts didn’t work and its habit of using jazz-hands when using its powers was amusing, but my brain had to filter their plan down to “it bad thing; stopping it good thing”.

    In the end, Mestor is defeated by the power of love, as Edgeworth sacrifices himself by regenerating with no regens left (that’s established; that’s a thing now). Baker gets to show that our new Doc has a softer side, as he comforts his dying friend and then … sorry they’re still going… still going …still going. Christ, Tennant didn’t take this long to die.

    I knew about this one’s bad reputation and hadn’t seen it since its first transmission, so I tried not to pre-judge it. Is this great? No; is it the worst Doctor Who story ever? Also No.

    1.9

  7. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Hi Fellas,

    Welcome to not just the single worst Doctor introductory story, but possibly the worst Doctor Who story ever!

    Coming hard on the heels of a truly excellent story, this one fails at pretty much every single point. The story is crap, the monsters are crap, the actors playing Romulus and Remus are crap (I’m sure Leon has already torn them a new one), the costumes are crap and the sets are crap.

    Just about the only thing that saves this is Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant. The scene where Sixie strangles Peri is truly shocking and Nicola Bryant plays her role really well. Sixie’s erratic and pompous nature (which will continue throughout his entire run) does allow for some funny moments particularly when he’s using Peri as a shield.

    Also worthy of note is Kevin McNally, who recently appeared with the 13th Doctor as Jericho, was being tried out as a companion and it’s a shame he wasn’t kept on.

    Likes

    • Errrrr…..it’s only 4 episodes?!?

    Beefs

    • If Azmael is a Timelord, why doesn’t he understand regeneration?
    • The other slugs leave a trail in the caves but when Mestor is moving around he doesn’t??
    • Why is Lang dressed in Bacofoil for most of the story?

    Why JNT chose to put this story at the end of Season 21 instead of starting season 22 afresh is baffling, especially when it’s a story this bad. If it hadn’t been for Baker and Bryant doing so well this could have been a 0 out of 5 story, as it is I award this

    0.7 slimy slug deely-boppers out of 5

    Andy Parkinson

  8. GP Haynes

    Hey everyone!

    Here is my mini review for “The Twin Dilemma”

    Oh dear, quite possible the worst 1st episode of a new Doctor, and a pretty bad episode full stop.

    Although I ultimately didn’t mind Colin Baker ( even rating him better than his predecessor ) I felt this was NOT a good introduction.

    It was probably part writing, part direction, and even part Baker himself.
    It still does have some good moments. When he’s at his arrogant, egotistical best, it’s actually quite humorous and entertaining, and Baker shows off what he’s capable of.

    But there were too many inconsistencies with the character we know and love. Spontaneous hugs? Trying to kill a companion? Whimpering & cowardly? The Doctor is many things, these he/she is not!

    And since when does the Doctor address an ( Sentient) alien as “Wretch”? Huh?

    But the costume? Well, this actually suits him so well, I couldn’t imagine him wearing anything else
    As for the story: Bland and uninteresting, but I confess the production was good, and the cast tried hard.

    I felt Peri & the Doc lacked chemistry, which is hardly surprising given the material Nicola Bryant had to work with.
    Thankfully better things are to come.

    Peri said it best in the 1st episode, “ I think I’m gonna be sick”. Me too Peri, me too

    Rating: 1.3 Cheesy alien costumes

    Cheers

    GP Haynes
    Australia

  9. Peter Zunitch

    I’ll admit that I’m slightly less insulted than previous viewings. However that is really the best praise that I can give this story. There’s a lot of standing around interspersed with dreadfully small amounts of character and story development. The biggest action scene is when the doctor throws a bottle of beer at the slug. Other than that some cap guns go off and everybody slowly saunters up and down corridors not chasing one another. There is a plot, but it’s not worthy of discussion.

    Some of the acting is adequate. Peri is by far the best part of this story, even though her only direction is to react. Azmal is fine but again, given so little to do. Baker seems un-settled in his new role and misses the mark on expressing many emotions.

    Another major problem is the doctor’s troubled psychosis. I get what they were going for, but it’s just poorly executed all around. Some have said the outbursts went too far. I would argue the rational moments didn’t go far enough. No balance equals unlikable Doctor.

    I can’t help but feeling that at some point this was going to be a sequel to the Web Planet, but then they got scared off. It’s a shame because it would have been far more interesting that way. As is, it’s a snooze fest that only occasionally wakes you up because of how joltingly incongruous it is. Only the Celestial Toymaker with its racial slur was written worse. Unstable regeneration 1.0

  10. Derek Moore

    Dearest Whovians,
    I am quite excited for this new experience with the sixth doctor! I have seen maybe one full serial and one other episode with Colin Baker, so 98% of this is all new for me. That being typed, well, oh my, this serial was, hmmmm…..not that interesting beyond a few mid-range highish points.

    The good:

    1. The incidental organ music–a continuation of previous doctors, and always a highlight.
    2. That closet with all previous doctor clothes–outstanding!
    3. Hmm…err….give me a few minutes to think of something.

    The bad:

    1. It was sooooooo boring. I think about 10 minutes in the newness of the new doctor wore off.
    2. The choking! Makes me miss the passive-aggressive 5th doctor.

    Overall, I give this 2 out of 5….sorry, I was so bored with this serial I fell asleep before I could finish my ratings system.

    Well, here’s hoping the next serial is an improvement either in that it’s actually good or so bad it becomes good.

    Sincerely,
    Derek Moore

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