New Exiled Time Lady in town, The Rani, teams up with The Master in a bid to siphon brain juice from human heads, plot global domination and/or turn people into trees
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The Sixth Doctor and flawlessly American companion Peri Brown miss their holiday mark once again and, instead of Kew Gardens, make their way on over to the mining town of Killingworth, where George Stephenson is apparently assembling a veritable inspiration of geniuses to discuss the betterment of mankind through automation. Seemingly coincidentally, though, an ever increasing amount of luddite marauders are wreaking havoc in Stephenson’s tiny mining conurbation.
Well, it might be a coincidink, but they sure as popsicles ain’t luddites. They’ve simply been kidnapped by another exiled Gallifreyan—no, not that one, though he’s there as well—who’s siphoned bits of their brains to use as alien valium. Don’t be so hard on yourself; it’s an easy enough mixup. The Time Lady in question is The Rani, and she and The Master are about to murder civilians, plot world domination and turn the locals into trees unless Doc has something to say about it.
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We are introduced to the Rani, another Gallifreyan nemesis obsessed with time meddling. As enjoyable of a character this is, she seems soiled by her subsequent stories which are a considerable drop in quality (I’m looking at you Dimensions in Time!). This is of course no fault of the marvellous Kate O’Mara.
It was entertaining to see the Master interact with the Rani. It was fun to watch him go full John “Simp” as he fanboyed over her… but I do not, under any circumstances, want to hear Anthony Ainley utter the words “impregnate” and “Sweet meat” one more time, especially in reference to Maggots.
The Doctor and Peri are back to being unbearable together, I knew it wouldn’t last. Honestly, some of these scenes feel like they belong in the Twin Dilemma.
The sets and costumes were great, I especially loved the Rani’s Tardis interior; very unique. Even the T-Rex looked good. The performances were also fantastic. Overall this is a very good story. Nothing great, but very good.
This story earns 3.5 bickering Time Lords (and Ladies) out of 5.
Steven From Canada
Unlike some stories this season, the Doctor and Peri are in the action quite quickly. The first episode is quite good with the Master sneaking around (and killing a dog…) and the mystery of the Bath House. And then we have the Rani played by the wonderful Kate O’Mara. Rather than being interested in power like the Master, she’s just for her research with no respect for anything else. That difference is quite important and a good one. Sadly part two is where it goes a bit wonky with the tree minefield. Now that’s a weird sequence. Apparently it was raining throughout filming and Colin was left tied to that poll for a while
Blists Hill museum and the wider Ironbridge Gorge area in Shropshire double for the North East here, with some interesting accents. Apparently there was a spare film crew that had been paid-for going free, so JNT jumped on the chance, so we get a lot of location filming.
Pip and Jane Baker’s first script for Who is fairly good and probably their strongest. It’s actually our first historical set one since The King’s Demons and the first one to have real historical characters (Stevenson and Lord Ravensworth) for a long time.
Generally I feel it’s a fairly decent one with a couple of strange bits in the second part and wonky accents 3.7/5 angry raging workers
Peri seems to have finally got over the murder-thing and I like how she is starting to play along with The Doctor’s vanity.
We are introduced to a new Time-Lord villain, but through most of episode 1 she is continually outwitted by The Master, which is hardly a way to sell her competence. The Rani also didn’t seem to immediately recognise The Doctor; so when combined with the other instances of Time Lords crossing paths over the last 60 years, regarding the big 2 questions about Time Lords;
a) Can they tell a Time-Lord from Human by sight?
b) Can they recognise someone they know after a regeneration?
We can finally definitively say “Sometimes”.
“So we need a way for The Rani to try and kill The Doctor, any ideas?”
“What about Land Mines?”
“That, now hear me out … turn people into trees!”
“ … That! … We must absolutely do that!”
This serial is a definitive record, that some time in 1984/85 the above conversation must have happened, and for me that will be this story’s defining legacy.
I found that The Rani having an agenda beyond The Master’s obsession to kill The Doctor (in fact she was initially disinterested in Doc and thought The Master had become quite pathetic) made her the more compelling villain and I would probably prefer to see her again than The Master.
A fairly average, but still entertaining serial.
I am indeed pleased to say that I’m enjoying Colin Baker more than I ever have. I’m noticing things this watch-through that I never appreciated previously. This story is a prime example. Being from somewhere other than Europe I confess that I never really got it until now. I doubt most Americans understand what the Luddites were all about, and without that knowledge this story was always confusing. Ultimately though I still believe this outing fails in spite of the phenomenal effort from four amazing actors.
I would place the negatives into two categories. Things that I THINK were supposed to be funny but came off as dumb, and moments of plot that just occur for no reason. Part one was rather enjoyable. To say part two is a letdown however is probably putting it lightly. The Master and the Rani devolve into a bumbling duo. The Rani kills her helpers rather than saying “stay”. Cool mines but dumb trap. Volcano painting? Same lame. The Doctor threatens with a weapon? Not! Finally, the ending just fizzles out.
I also hate admitting that the Master ruins it all, but he really just flounders about, and the Rani really needed a solo spotlight introduction story. Everyone and everything ends up lacking development, depth and logical continuity.
We end up with a script that fails to do justice to even the quaint little tale that this was. It’s not all bathhouses and pretty dresses. There’s definitely some mustard gas in the air. 2.2
Well, after two great stories, I really, really struggled through this serial, especially the first episode which dragged.
I did not find the story very interesting, another attempt to change history, this time by altering the great minds of Earth’s past. Don’t get me started on the “brain fluid”.
The highlight was Doc being pushed on not one but two trolleys!
I can’t remember a serial in recent memory where so many characters talked to themselves, Peri and Doctor both guilty, but none worse than the Master.
Is it my imagination, or is this Master getting worse with each subsequent Doctor??
He’s like a cardboard cutout character, and The Rani is not much better. The dialogue is childish in parts and over the top.
At least Mr Baker is in reasonably good form, save the self-talk, but Peri certainly took a step back here.
I’m only rating this slightly higher than Baker’s debut, due to his portrayal being more in character.
Pretty awful! 😬
Rating: 1.4 jars of “brain fluid” whatever the hell that is….😳