Number : Season 22, serial 3 of 6.

Which One : Time Lord duo – The Master and The Rani, terrorise a 19th century Earth mining village.

Cast : The Doctor : Colin Baker
Peri : Nicola Bryant
The Master : Anthony Ainley
The Rani : Kate O’ Mara
Lord Ravensworth : Terence Alexander
George Stephenson : Gawn Grainger
Jack Ward : Peter Childs
Luke Ward : Gary Cady
Tim Bass : William Ilkley
Edwin Green : Hus Levent
Sam Rudge : Kevin White

Written By : Pip and Jane Baker

Produced By : JNT

First UK Broadcast : 2 – 9 February 1985.

Length : 2 x 45 minute episodes.

Plot : The Doctor visits a period 19th century mining town and discovers that the inhabitants, all have similar red marks on their necks.

They have been taken under the hypnotic control of The Master and the Rani, who are extracting chemicals from their brains and turning them – into “Luddite” savages.

Whats good : Good, strong Baker period story. Strong location work. The Rani. The Rani and The Master’s treacherous dynamic.

Whats bad : The unexplained return of Anthony Ainley’s Master. Silly cliffhangers – the Doctor tied to a cart and pushed down a hill. Some of the “oop North” accents – are a tad overdone.

Review With Spoilers : The Sixth Doctor, well and truly has full hands here, with not one (but two) renegade Time Lords; in an interesting period piece – in Mark Of The Rani.

The Rani is more than a cerebal match for The Master and an interesting dynamic, is played out on “Team Evil – Time Lord”, as the two plot, argue and bicker – over should kill the Doctor first.

Anthony Ainley’s Master is brought back, following the previous [final] appearance in Planet Of Fire; in which the Master, was seemingly destroyed. When questioned by the Rani, as to being burnt to a cinder. The Master mumbles something about being “immortal”.

Planet Of Fire was intended to be Ainley’s last appearance, as his contract wasn’t going to be extended. Nevertheless, The Master is back, with his female equivilant in tow – The Rani.

And if the writers and producers worried, that the Rani character, was not strong enough, to carry an episode alone (hence bringing back the Master). Then its pleasing, to see Kate O’ Mara turn in a dastardly and commanding performance – as the First Lady Of Time.

So good in infact, that it leaves very little need for the Master to be in this – at all. The Rani impresses by stealing both the show from Ainley – and Baker. No easy feat, when taken alongside both Ainley and Baker’s ability to chew scenery.

“Oh, I know why you’re here. To destroy the Doctor. You’ve never had any other. It obsesses you, to the exclusion of all else! You’re unbalanced. No wonder the Doctor always outwits you….!” Rani [to the Master]

For a Colin Baker story, there is more good here – than bad. Set in the 19th century mining village of Killingworth and featuring a typical Who nod to real historical characters; inventor George Stephenson (obviously influenced by his adventure with the Doctor) and Lord Ravensworth. Some of the actors make a hilarious job of butchering their North East accents.

Some of the set-pieces here, are a tad overdone and more Harry Lloyd slapstick; than serious Sci-Fi and lack any real peril. The Doctor tied to a mine cart whizzing down a hill and hanging off of a chain over a mine shaft – springs to mind.

Pacing seems to suffer, at times too – in terms of running time. Near the end of the first episode, the Doctor is hanging from a chain over a mine; whilst being beaten by Luddites – a natural cliffhanger. Before actually finishing on a rather innocuous conversation between the Master and Rani – hardly a classic Who cliffhanger.

We also have a full and thoughtful original electronic music score, here, instead of the usual brief musical stock flirtations – that pepper a serial of Who.

Memorable scenes include; the dumping of the Tardis, down a mineshaft by the Luddites, the dell – full of the Rani’s landmines, and the Doctor’s dealing with the Rani and Master problem, by unleashing a T-Rex – in the Rani’s Tardis.

It’s one of the better Baker adventures and everything seems to come together, on Mark Of The Rani to make it one of the best stories of season 22 – aswell.

It speaks volumes for the Sixth Doctor’s arrogance and supreme self belief, that he needed two Time Lord villains – to square off against, rather than one.

Worth a watch, if only for the Rani’s show-stealing performance and some bizarre action set-pieces.

???⚪⚪ (3/5)

Old Doctor Who

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