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The Rani implements a convoluted stratagem and the Seventh Doctor skips over plot holes in his debut serial

Taking off his Colin Baker wig, Sylvester McCoy arises as the Seeeeeeeventh Doctor in a debut serial, and where better to kick off than in a quarry? The Rani has returned to wreak havoc upon the universe through the most simplistic of plots. She’s simply going to kidnap geniuses from across time and space, suck out their intelligence, implant it into a gigantic brain she’s got lying around, then use that brain to create a new element with which she’ll detonate an asteroid that will create a supernova which will transform her planet into a time manipulator which she can use to give the dinosaurs a second chance. If only she had some sort of time machine that would enable her to do it more easily.

With a battery of garbled proverbs and a perpetually screaming companion, however, The Doctor might just be able to save the day, if only his memory were intact and The Rani didn’t have an army of bat monsters. The local enslaved population isn’t much help either. Imagine if David Bowie had a dragon era, then imagine that he lost the use of his arms and ran around a lot, then imagine he made the crystal balls from Labyrinth into gigantic, killer capsules, then imagine him as a dragon-person in a killer crystal ball capsule flying into a mountain. Quite an image isn’t it… er, where were we? Oh yes, with no help from the local population, it looks like our heroes will have to rely on that most elusive of gifts, the coinkidink.

Here's what we think of C148 Time and The Rani

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

1.8

Jim | @jimmythewho

1.2

Here's what we think of C148 Time and The Rani

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

1.8

Jim | @jimmythewho

1.2

Here's what you think 13 Responses to “C148 Time and The Rani”
  1. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    And so. At long last. We arrive. To the greatest period in ‘Who history. The Seventh Doctor’s era is so momentous and in such a different league that it’s debatable whether the previous 23 Seasons are even canon. Is this the best Doctor Who story to date? Don’t be daft! Of course not! There’s still 14 Seventh Doctor Episodes to come! But his opening story is a magnificent whopper. It’s got everything. An A class villain, bat people with laser guns, a giant brain, Albert Einstein, awesome death traps, some odd Logan’s Run pleasure thing, killer space bees. What!? Colin Baker refuses to come back for the regeneration!? Fuck him! Stick a wig on McCoy! And that new opening is orgasmic! Plus, when else have we seen a villain disguise themselves as a companion?! When else have we seen the Doctor play the spoons on said villain’s breasts?! My only beef is that it’s all too good. They’ve set the bar too high! Or have they? Nope!!! Hold on to your tights because this is going to get AMAZING!

    5/5 dumb Lakertyans stung to death, blown up or trapped in a giant hamster ball, then blown up – ha ha ha!

  2. Kristaps Paddock

    Finally! The ~~Seventh~~ Doctor.
    I’m going to make the very bold claim that Sylvester McCoy is the first Doctor of the New Who Era. Unfortunately, he’s not quite there yet – that has to wait until Season 26. This serial is probably one of the most vapid in the history of Who and barely earns 1.5 stars, 1 star of which is entirely down to McCoy finally arriving.

    Kristaps

  3. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    Oh good, finally I can return to the classic channel to talk about a Doctor I like!
    We already met Champion Screamer Mel, earning her title several times over in this serial. But who’s this new Doctor? Before even he can figure that out the Rani kidnaps him and fucks up his mind. He subsequently spends a lot of the serial being confused, and being the Doctor of quirky idiomatic blunders.
    I’m really struck by the scene in which he and Mel check each other’s pulse. There’s a note of vulnerability that puts one immediately on the Doctor’s side in that moment. I like what it’s bringing into the character.
    The rest of the story work is fantastically scifi: the way the Lakertians move, the outfits, the hair, and the giant brain composed from geniuses; all being quite interesting elements. And this music. I like it but it’s a bit much. One second it’s giving me life, the next it’s wearing out its welcome.

    Rating: wow -point- what’s next?

  4. Lawrence in the Philippines

    This is my second ever review and my last. It covers all episodes of Doctor Who, Classic and New, past, present and future.

    All episodes before Mindwarp: WHERE’S BRIAN BLESSED
    Mindwarp: IT”S GOT BRIAN BLESSED
    All episodes after Mindwarp: WHEN’S BRIAN BLESSED COMING BACK

    Special Time and the Rani review: IT’S GOT KATE O’MARA. She is wonderful and beautiful and lovely and Kate O’Mara, even when she’s pretending to be Bonnie Langford.

    Regards
    Lawrence

  5. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Hi Chaps

    So, a bit of background, by this point on its original run I had stopped watching Doctor Who so it’s only since the advent of Britbox that allowed me to watch it for the first time in 2019 and possibly it’s just as well because if I’d seen it on original airing I might never have watched again!
    So, Time and the Rani – we get a new Doctor, a new title sequence and a new version of the theme. We also get to meet some familiar faces in the Rani and also Donald Pickering who was in Keys of Marinus and The Faceless Ones alongside Wanda Ventham who was also in Image of the Fendahl.

    Likes
    Kate O’Mara absolutely smashes it! And I love her impersonation of Mel
    The special effects are good
    Love the new theme arrangement

    Beefs
    Mel’s screaming!! OMG definitely the worst so far – this is exactly why I stopped watching when she was cast.
    The scene of the Doctor choosing a new outfit was painful to watch.
    Why do the bubbles that seem to kill everyone else spare Mel?

    We’ve seen using collected minds before in Shada, and this story doesn’t come close to that. This story is generally quite poorly thought of in fandom, and although I can see why, there’s just about enough enjoyable stuff to rescue it. As Sylvester’s first story it’s not bad and at least he isn’t strangling his companion!

    I award this 2.6 giant space brains out of 5

    Andy Parkinson
    @caffreys71

  6. Ed Corbet

    Doc dies after a nasty fall (well he is getting on a bit) in probably the worst regeneration in the series (although impacted by real-world events). The new Doctor is suffering from post-regeneration issues further exacerbated by the Rani. I found this incarnation a bit annoying in his first outing, as McCoy is still trying to work out how much clownishness he wants to put into the character (Davison was allowed to film his first story later-on specifically to avoid this).

    We’ve had issues in the past where companion character development has suffered as they are passed between various writers, however the Bakers have written all Mel’s episodes so far, but even so, she has degraded very quickly from go-getter to irrelevance to screaming lots.

    I wanted to see the Rani again and O’Mara is one of the better things in this story, but it’s clear they don’t teach proper password security on Gallifrey as she uses her and the Doctor’s mutual birthday as the door-code. We also find out she is after the Doctor because of his ‘unique understanding of time’; according to Romana, Doc’s academy grades were average at best, so this unique understanding has never been mentioned before and a quick check, yes Andrew Cartmel is script-editor (he didn’t waste any time).

    A slow-moving story that dragged badly enough that I was glad it was nearly over before I realised it was only coming to the end of episode 2.

    1.5

    Ed Corbet

  7. GP Haynes | @FindingGspots (Insta & YouTube)

    Well, the 7th Doctor kicks off in reasonably good form, in perhaps Pip & Jane Bakers best script of this era.
    It’s with a tinge of sadness that we say goodbye to Colin Baker who didn’t even do a regeneration scene.
    Nevertheless, McCoy proves right from the start that he’s got what it takes to be the Doctor.

    I enjoyed his mispronouncing of proverbs, and he brings an energy and enthusiasm to the role in a totally different way to his predecessor.

    Mel proves again that she’s also a worthy companion, yes the screaming is a tad annoying, but she too brings a great power and eagerness to the role
    that is more than just simple exposition that many companions seem to have.

    The Rani is also far improved over her previous role, in a somewhat confusing plot to change time…..somehow??

    Production wise, we get some great costumes with the Lakertyans and the Tetraps both looking pretty good, and great models of an asteroid and that missile launcher!
    The highlight though was those spinning balls where people got trapped in…very original.

    So apparently this episode gets a bad rap. Well, it wasn’t brilliant, but it’s solidly above average for me!

    Rating: 3.1 Cool 80s computer screens

    Cheers

  8. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    I had hoped to be rewatching via my season 24 BluRay set but alas my bluray player isn’t working so lesser quality it is. Not that many will notice.

    Ok, that’s a little harsh on this story which I don’t actually mind, despite not being a fan favourite by far. Maybe having the VHS when I was young has helped with that. And no, Colin didn’t come back to film the regeneration scene. It was McCoy in a wig. He was offered the story but insisted he was contracted for 3 seasons so said no.

    Cold open. This is the first proper one in the show’s history, with only the start to The Five Doctors which was a repeated clip of Hartnell from The Dalek Invasion of Earth and the repeated regeneration at the Castrovalva occurring before. Also CGI…somewhat shit but this is 1980s TV so…what do you expect.

    Theme music? It’s very of its time but I kinda like it. I’ll be interested to hear what you think. Incidental music is by Keff McCulloch (who also does the theme music) and is variable but does have some good bits to it.

    Effects are mixed but the spinning death ball is fairly good and there’s so nice explosions which we always like.

    Actual plot wise, it’s alright I suppose, if a little silly. The weakest of Pip and Jane’s scripts and apparently they butted heads a lot with incoming script editor Andrew Cartmel (more on him later…). They were the only writers to write the Seventh Doctor who had previously for the show.

    3.6/5 Giant talking brains of knowledge

    Cheers
    Kieren

  9. Peter Zunitch

    Several details don’t add up here. If I can’t eat spaghetti without ruining my shirt how do two people spend four episodes in a quarry without getting a single smudge on white pants? If a marble lands in water and doesn’t explode, why does a stick? If mosquitoes raid your cookout, should you really stand still? How many things can you fit in a drawer clearly filled with a single button? Finally, is a doctor a regeneration if you haven’t fleshed out his character profile?

    Yet again, we’re in a new era of production quality. Younger me was hypnotized by the updated intro. Effects, makeup, music, acting, all get upgrades. What fails is the lighting and blocking. Everything is so evenly lit it’s actually noticeable. There’s also an obvious choice to ignore the little things, which again becomes incredibly irritating. It’s a three sided table, at least have three drawers. That needle would have gone out the back of the doctor’s arm, There’s a lot of Scooby Doo with doors, repetition of movement, recycling of props, and everyone literally poses when they’re not acting, like a stage play. Also, does anyone besides me think several potentially useful scenes were cut in the interest of time?

    I’ll miss the Rani, I miss Colin, and Sylvester is “Not yet Alice”. Despite all that, I like this story. Just don’t examine it closely. Using big brain only, it works.

    3.1 times I needlessly emphasized the complex name of an irrelevant sludgy plot device.

  10. Richie Blagg | @richiesexington

    Here we are the seventh doctor and a rather inglorious exit to the legend that is Colin Baker.

    Sticking with the post regeneration weirdness isn’t a bad way to introduce McCoy but he is so much more than what is seen here. I like how he just believes that this is the kind of thing he would be working on

    There is no scenery that the Rani won’t chew on, her plan is crazy but I think she acts a bit too much like the Master as opposed to the science over everything persona she had before. And the fact she hasn’t been used more is a mistake

    Mel does a decent job still hard to not see the stage school but that bubble mine is damn scary

    Overall it’s the start of the last hurrah and for that I salute it

    2.9 out of 5 death chandeliers

  11. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    The Rani is back and the doctor, having regenerated, is under her spell. It’s up to Mel to save the day. Will they prevail? yeah probably. Will it be good? I don’t know, probably not.

    To be fair this story is entertaining for the most part, though I’m sure it’s more of an ironic enjoyment. This story just feels like it’s lacking something it is just so uneventful. It’s not bad just nothing special.

    The production value of this story are a mixed bag, on one hand the the costumes (tetraps are great) and sets look pretty good but the 1980s CGI is incredibly dated but I’m sure it was incredibly novel for the time. The music is also a two fold: one part excellent, one part bonkers.

    Sylvester McCoy makes an excellent impression, he is very entertaining and I am excited to see where he takes the role.

    Overall this story earns 2.5 somewhat unenthusiastic Halloween skeletons out of 5.

    Steven from Canada

  12. Tanz Sixfingers | @tanz6fingers & @tanzsixfingers (insta)

    Hello Who Back When team!!

    The Mark of the Rani was different, to say the least. It offered an introduction to a new Doctor played by Sylvester McCoy, the return of a new enemy (The Rani), and the continuation of a newish companion we still hardly know(Mel). The plot centers around the Rani needing the Doctor’s expertise and knowledge of time travel, so she attacks the TARDIS and brings the Doctor in against his will. He regenerates in the process, and then she uses a drug to cause amnesia, complicating his recovery.

    The Seventh Doctor seems quicker of wit but more bumbling physically, reminiscent of the Second and Fourth Doctors. Even though he was taken, unconscious, from the TARDIS, he still managed to grab a color-coordinated umbrella, which will become his number one prop.

    This is the first time I can remember a cold open in Classic Doctor Who.

    Likes:
    New Title Sequence and Logo
    The Rani disguising herself as Mel to confuse the Doctor into repairing her machine
    The Doctor’s use of mixed metaphors
    best use of a quarry since Destiny of the Daleks
    Mel did okay, being separated from the Doctor for a bit of the story
    the CGI seemed pretty good for the 80s

    Dislikes:
    The new theme music and the ambient music
    Why was she going through all this trouble to turn the planet into a time machine when she already has a TARDIS?
    so much OTT acting by the Doctor and the Rani
    I had to look it up, but apparently a “Rani” is a term for an Indian queen, so is it cultural appropriation for an English actress to be cast in that part?

    My 7 year old daughter watched the last part of this with me and had some keen insight. (I may start watching them with her from now on.) She wanted to know why the vines (veins) on the giant brain were moving, and if that is the brain of a giant alien, then where is its body and is it still alive? She also wanted to know why the bat people had eyes on the backs of their heads, and why did the explosions turn the green aliens directly into skeletons?

    Not too bad for the first instalment of a new Doctor, but not the best either. I give it 3.5 spheres of annihilation out of 5.

    Tanz Sixfingers

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C148 Time and The Rani