Number : Season 24, episode 1 of 4.
Which One : Sixth into Seventh.
Cast : The Doctor : Sylvester McCoy
Mel : Bonnie Langford
The Rani : Kate O’Mara
Ikona : Mark Greenstreet
Beyus : Donald Pickering
Faroon : Wanda Ventham
Sarn : Karen Clegg
Urak : Richard Gauntlett
Lanisha : John Segal
Written By : Pip & Jane Baker
Produced By : JNT
First UK Broadcast : 7 – 28 September 1987.
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Sixth Doctor regenerates into his seventh incarnation, after being attacked by the Rani. Forced to land the Tardis on planet Lakertya, the Doctor is captured by the Rani and tricked into working for her, whilst in the midst of post-regenerative stress.
Whats good : Reasonably solid episode, nice SFX, the Tet-traps are decent monsters and the Rani is a welcome break from Ainley’s overused Master.
Whats bad : The script was written for Colin Baker. The regeneration sequence is also horribly done. It’s quite clearly not Colin Baker and no explanation is given as to why the Sixth Doctor regenerated. McCoy’s horrible ad-libbed post-regeneration clown act.
Review With Spoilers : Time And The Rani in itself, is not actually a bad episode of Doctor Who. It is definitely one of McCoy’s better stories.
What maybe detracts from its overall scoring with most Who fans, is the really clunky transition from Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor – to Sylvester McCoy’s; Seventh.
Baker refused to return, having been fired at the end of the previous season. So the part of the Sixth Doctor was played briefly by Sylvester McCoy; who regenerates soon after being turned over by a Tet-Trap, which has gained entry into the crashed Tardis.
The Rani is the principle villain in this one. She has pinched many Earth genius’ from different time periods and is using their collective intellect to perfect a super weapon. Which will harnass the power of a passing “dark matter” asteroid.
She doesn’t make the Doctors post-regen-stress easy, either. By taking the form of captured companion Mel and persuading the confused Doctor to work for her.
The biggest issue with Time And The Rani is that it was written before a Doctor was chosen, so did not include any leanings towards the new Doctor’s character.
“You don’t understand regeneration Mel, its a lottery and I’ve gone and drawn the short plank!” The Doctor
This left McCoy to wing his performance and with his children’s entertainment background; so what we got was a very annoying jibbering jester type approach to the role. In the vein of Troughton’s post regeneration stress routine, although Troughton could be forgiven though as his was the first regeneration in the show.
It took till Remembrance Of The Daleks – in the following season, before these aspects of his character were dispelled enough for a darker, more broody interpretation to take shape.
The SFX deserves a nod here too, as Who had gone all CGI with new opening titles and some nifty new early digital effects showcased. Including the Rani’s deadly bouncing time bubble traps.
The Tet-Trap’s are also good (for man-in-suit type monsters), with their 4-eyes in every direction look. The cliffhanger in which the Doctor gets trapped in the Tet-trap cave is also a bit hair-raising.
As a standalone story, Time And The Rani stands up, bar it’s various issues. It is easily one of the better McCoy episodes, which unfortunately – wasn’t too hard.
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