The Mark of The Rani part 1

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  • #29514
    Craig @craig
    Emperor

    After a couple of weeks of votes and debate, ‘The Mark of The Rani’ has won out over ‘Vengeance on Varos’ as this website’s favourite sixth Doctor story (the UN has so far declined to comment).

    I will miss Sil’s laugh and I urge everyone to check out Varos as well. You won’t be disappointed.

    However, to get back to business, something is amiss in a 19th century mining village! Miners are being gassed in the washhouse and transformed into thugs. The Doctor and Peri arrive in Killingworth looking for the cause of a time distortion.

    Really, don’t live in any place called something like Killingworth!

    #29527
    Anonymous @

    @craig – At least you know what to expect in a place called Killingworth. It actually seems quite tame compared to Midsomer 🙂

    One of the miners doesn’t have the strength to lift a ‘Toby’ (a jug of ale for those who are wondering what it means). What a wuss!

    There’s a bath-house but no sign of Bette Midler. Oh right, it’s not that kind of bath-house 😉

    “By whom” – The sixth Doctor’s a Grammar Dalek 🙂

    The miners are indulging in a bit of towel flicking. OK, maybe it is that kind of Bath-house after all 😀

    Uh oh! A scarecrow. This, being Doctor Who, isn’t going to end well.

    The Rani really does need to get audio installed on her scanner.

    I can understand why the Sixth Doctor is snappy and abrupt. I think I would be too if I had Peri hanging around. She seems to be  a tad annoying.

    I quite enjoyed that episode but I’ll save my thoughts on Colin Baker’s Doctor until part 2.

    #29535
    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Colon’s triple ‘Malfunctioning?!’ outrage is unconvincing and crap. I dub thee ‘careless conflict’, typical of JNT in this era.

    Peri is dressed as a jaundiced Snow White. Don’t be surprised if 7 or so dwarves show up…

    The miners have been turned into chavs. You can tell because they’ve been marked with a bingo dabber.

    The greatest mystery in the history of the show: Why did the Master dress as a scarecrow & how long did he stand in that field for?

    z

    Collective noun for a group of geniuses – A genii?

    The Master just killed a dog (nice tissue compression action). He must be really evil…

    Josh looks like David Walliams…

    So the Master has gatecrashed the Rani’s story. I hope she whups his ass at some point, otherwise what’s the point of him being here? He’s robbing her of her menace. At least there’s a sort of reality to it (everything can go t*ts up in real life too), but it has the effect of making me empathise with the Rani. She has become the hero of the story (one who casually experiments on humans)…

    Poor Colin just literally covered his face in sh*t…

    The Master might not be good at walking in straight lines but he’s very good at drawing them.

    Why does the Master think that throwing the TARDIS down a mineshaft will destroy it?

    #29538
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    There used to be a joke that the credit sequence was the only time the Doctor smiled in CBs tenure. It’s not quite accurate, but a scowl, condescending stare or smirk was the norm.

    We open in ye’ olden times, with men doing hard graft in t’pit. The one thing I will congratulate this production on is the choice of locations. It’s shot around the Ironbridge Gorge near Telford, the location of a lot of historical museums and a superb Vicorian village. Growing up in Staffordshire I’d visited it as a schoolchild and found myself recognising places I’d been. It’s actually a good visit still, so I’ll put a link to the attractions.

    Accents place us in the NorthEast of England. Do we need sub-titles for foreign viewers? My father grew up in the area, so I’ll happily translate. I’m only half kidding. I love the accent myself, but when the series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was exported to the English speaking world like America, requests for subtitles became a thing.

    Enter the man of the moment, with Peri. Here he is throwing an outlandish strope (as per). I heartily concur with @wolfweed s “unconvincing and crap” line. The continued sniping between the Doctor and Peri became very tiring very quickly. Peri appears to have evolved from her near death experience of Caves of Androzani to petulant princess, with a costume to match. At least she’s not wearing one of those plunging leotards. Dad and adolescent schoolboy friendly they may have been, but wandering about Telford in the winter in one of them would have resulted in death, I would imagine.

    In the bath house, the Miners treat us to a demonstration of the Ancient and Noble Art of towel flicking, before mysteriously going on the rampage. The mini riot is convincing enough to anyone who has been in Newcastle on a special drinking night out. That’s every night, for anyone wondering. 😉

    Peri’s poor choice of footwear not withstanding, her ensemble in the muddy spoil heap actually compliments the Doctor’s in terms of outlandishness. Perhaps they were having a competition? It’s a nice try Peri, but no cigar.

    More incomprehensible violence, and the Doctor goes to the aid of a horse. It’s left to Peri to help, and draw his attention to a couple of apes who are damaged. The Doctor is delighted to hear George Stephenson is about, with an added opportunity for Peri to indulge his massive vanity. But just who is the shadowy figure spying on them? And chuckling. With a scarecrow and Peri the Princess with her shoes, perhaps this is going to be Doctor Who does The Wizard of Oz? We also have a suspicious old crone who runs the bath-house. I’m betting a suitably period Victorian dwelling is about to land on her.

    It’s the Master!! Who is showing a bit of interest in the old crone. The Doctor and Peri continue to bicker, with Colin being condescending, and Peri whinny. Peri is smug?! Hell – pot kettle black.

    The Master is a dastardly dog killer. Oh, and a bloke. Anthony Ainley is reasonably OK at this point because he just had to look menacing, and deliver a few lines. He sets the rowdy Miners on the Doctor, who attempt to throw him into the pit – allowing a glimpse into the process of writing this new format.

    It’s an obvious cliff hanger (or pit hanger in this case), but it occurs too early in the episode. Pip and Jane Baker obviously originally wrote as a four parter, and the episode was rewritten to this format. A couple of territories tried to make it a four parter, but it wasn’t easy with the obvious edit points way out of whack.

    Colin’s face acting, hanging from chain, is hilarious. He looks massively constipated. It’s Terrance Alexander to the rescue. Lord Ravenworth (real historical character alert) one of the patrons of Science and engineering of this time.

    Our suspicious hag is obviously more than she appears, with the ability not to attract falling farmhouses. The Master has a screwdriver-like device which does wood!Look, learn and weep Doctor. The hag is confronted, and pulls of her face! It’s Kate o Mara – The Rani!. Yet another time lord exile. Apparently feeding unconscious Miners maggots.

    The writers, Pip and Jane Baker have an obvious love of melodramatic dialogue. This is matched by a flowery way with prose, as anyone who has read any of their novelisations will attest. I’m afraid that script editor Eric Saward couldn’t be arsed to reign them in, and the exchange between the Rani and Master gets progressively worse.

    I admire Kate for trying to keep it straight, but she’s got this dialogue and Anthony seizing the opportunity to go for Panto with real gusto. Soon, she’s at it herself, and you half expect her to start slapping her thigh. Look at Ainley go! He looks like he’s twirling his moustache even when he’s isn’t!

    It really does start to go a bit wrong here. Colin gets VERY SHOUTY (a thing he did) which brings back thoughts of Brian Blessed, and Panto again. Putting two and two together, he realises that there’s trouble in’t bathhouse. He goes black face.

    “How do I look”, he enquiries of Peri. Her response should have been “Marginally less ludicrous than normal, Doctor”.

    After being gassed by the Rani, she wakes him up and calls it as it is – this latest incarnation Doctor is a bit objectionable. However, Pip and Jane go for broke here:

    “You are indeed a worthy opponent.” Jesus wept. This is what we’ve come to? They’re joined by the Master and we’re reaching cringing levels, and then Peri pulls of an inept rescue.

    What a cliffhanger as the doctor rushes, curiously well directed, down a twisty path. To be met by the Miners who want to recreate the cliffhanger that never happened.

    I’m praying for a surprise regeneration. It’s a shame that the visually impressive locations, the interesting choice of period and location have really been made redundant by some atrocious writing and the enormous drag factors of three leads who, when in competition, play it to more ludicrous levels.

    #29539
    toinfinityandbepond @toinfinityandbepond

    wolfweed  didn’t Jon Pertwee do a fair bit of standing in a field dressed as a scarecrow?

    must be a time lord thing

    #29561
    Arbutus @arbutus

    I have a longer-than-usual post on this story, mainly due to @phaseshift’s challenge that those of us who supported the story should put our mouths where our money is (or something like that). While I don’t love everything about this episode, I do think that it is one of the era’s stronger ones, and the usual Master/Doctor dynamic, which had gotten pretty wearying by this time, was greatly improved by the addition of the Rani. I liked the way they chose to introduce her as a character, with the assumption that she was well-known to both the Master and the Doctor. I liked the Doctor’s understated, metaphoric face-palm when he woke up and recognized her: “Brain regeneration is what I need.”

    I like the atmospheric opening, the “historic village” setting, and the music, an unusual style for this era of DW. @phaseshift, as a non-Brit, I can tell you that the accents were confusing at times, but I could follow them well enough. Interesting that people wanted subtitles, I don’t think that would have occurred to me! As always, I enjoy the historicals as the settings are always well done, and (in most cases) the guest actors playing the historical figures are usually enjoyable. I don’t know how aware the British audience would have been of these characters from history, but they were relatively unknown to me, as the Luddite riots were only a brief footnote in my nineteenth century history classes.

    Agree with @wolfweed about the Doctor’s triple “malfunctioning”. This triple word repetition was of course Six’s version of a catch phrase, and it got old very quickly, as it usually felt artificially shoehorned in. The Ainley/Baker interactions were never well written in my view, lots of annoying melodrama on the Master’s part, and smug rejoinders on the Doctor’s. On the other hand, the Doctor’s interactions with Lord Ravensworth show how the character could work when he wasn’t being given OTT dialogue. There was a bit of a Pertwee/Brigadier dynamic happening which worked well.

    The quality of the Doctor/Peri dialogue varied wildly. On the one hand, the squabbling was always irritating. On the other, we had exchanges like this: “How would you like to meet a genius?” “I thought I already had.” Peri’s voice always bugged me, too nasal and whiny, but we are reminded here that she is meant to be a botanist, educated, not a total ditz, with her little discussion about hedgerows and birds. She proves useful when the chips are down, coming into the bathhouse to find the Doctor, but I wish she was a little mouthier when under threat!

    Kate O’Mara is simply awesome. As @wolfweed says, it’s hard not to sympathize with her when the Master starts throwing his weight around, even though her works is completely amoral. It’s great to see this smart, competent, evil female character who views the Doctor and the Master as a pair of irritating buffoons: “You and the doctor are a well-matched pair of pests!” In wondering what the Master is up to, she assumes: “Probably something devious and over complicated.” And, in response to the Master’s heavy breathing and insanely bulging eyes as he talks about his plan that will “encompass the whole human race!”, she dismisses him with a curt “You’re unbalanced.” She also goes on a rant about how humans are carnivores who spare no sympathy for the animals that they eat. Is she a vegetarian?

    Some random thoughts:
    The rani’s disguise – did anyone really wear a thing like that on their head?
    The miners seem pretty dense, but I like the miner waving the rock at the Master: “This hard enough?”
    Oh for the days when the Doctor could be truly threatened by a bunch of miners with shovels!
    And this line of the Master’s was (perhaps unintentionally) hilarious: “I’m indestructible, the whole universe knows that!”
    @fatmaninabox    The Sixth Doctor was in fact, an English language Dalek. Perhaps that’s why I have a soft spot for him despite the undeniable problems with this regeneration!

    #29564
    Whisht @whisht

    ok – I’ll own up – I’ve not seen this before.
    Not sure what I was up to the first time around (I was hardly the outdoor-football-playing-type) so must’ve been…. reading??

    Anyway – apart from the flaws (brilliantly highlighted above so I won’t repeat) I kinda enjoyed this.

    Yes – you heard me right. Why? Well because not long ago I watched the Black Orchid. And in Mark of the Rani we have an episode that I thought was (until the end) well judged in terms of pace. Starts leisurely, Romantic (great music background of quasi-period brass on synth) and soon ratchets up the pace.
    And something effing happens!
    In fact something effing happens a few times! Hurrah!!

    I like that the Rani* underplays Ainley and points up the obvious stupidity of the (“The”) Master (his plans being “Something devious and over complicated”).
    *btw is it the “Rani” (there are many Rani) or “The Rani” (there is one ‘Rani’)? Its seemingly said both ways in the episode.
    oh and btw#2 – “Mark of The Rani” – or “Lovebites”? I’m surprised they didn’t crowbar in a gag for this (they did for other gags) – maybe episode two…

    But…. yes, Baker is nasty toward Peri who we empathise with (no matter how whiny) which makes him unnapealing; Ainley is in Panto which suits the Princess costume Peri’s wearing.

    And at the end it all goes a bit Frank Spencer… or actually Jim Dale (he was Doctor Nookey)

    #29569
    Anonymous @

    yep, I’d heartily agree with those above who like the music. I think the score is tremendous particularly at the beginning as the villagers, replete with mud, grime, confusing accents and surrounded by pristine forest, are stomping toward bath house before or after havin’ a ‘Toby’ (thank you @fatmaninabox). The camera pans out to show us delightful autumn colours and then we get a glimpse of ye washerwoman with that ‘thing’ on her head (yes, @arbutus, no clue what that old rag was meant to do except make us assume she needed a bath -as well-  was permanently in mourning or maybe…she’s The Baddie?)

    Personally, Colin is in fine form: totally verbally abusing the annoying Snow White (to borrow from @wolfweed) which does get tiring -but I liked it. Colin’s good with abuse! I can see how the Rani might have her ‘menace’ compromised (as wolfweed said) but I think it was a nice touch to have the three present and to see the guys outdone by a gal. And not just any gal: Kate O’Mara.

    I liked the trio’s dialogue -though occasionally vapid/ cringing, I enjoyed the moments discussing “post-modern Impressionism”: “snuff the candle”; “he gets dizzy if he walks in a straight line” and to Peri: “who’s this brat?” Perfectly timed!

    When asked what the Rani is doing, Peri doesn’t exclaim: “He’s going to kill us, Doctor” but instead: “He’s going to pervert the course of History!” As students all over Oz would say: “um aaah, you’re in trouble”.

    @whisht I think you’re right about addressing Rani; it’s interchangeable as Colin greets her with: “ah, Rani, thought it would be you” type of stuff whereas in later episodes it’s “The Rani”. Quite confusing.

    The Master and Doctor try to outwit each other with stunningly verbose verbal daggers so lines like: “when you two finish arguing, and after I destroy the world, you might like to get a room, get strapped down and tied up for real” would have added icing to that panto, riding crop/thigh slapping (ouch) dialogue.

    As for the very nearly done-in Doctor in the first actual cliff hanger, I liked that because normally…. well, they occur at the end….So we got two (I know I’m not doing a sterling job of supporting my ‘side’ here but I get points for trying surely?) …cliff hangers. Bonus.

    I love the “you’re so smug” line -so insert (for Colin’s sake): “you always think this song is about you, ’bout you”, particularly when he addressed the ‘thugs’: “I must say, thank you gentlemen for helping me up” only to discover  they’re doing the exact opposite.

    My favourite part had to be Colin impersonating the Australian bobsledding team, which, with fewer riders isn’t a bobsled, but a ‘boblet’.  How marvellous!

    Kindest, purofilion

    #29644
    janetteB @janetteb

    Finally finished watching episode one. I am not going to have the usual difficulty in watching this story one episode a week I can tell.

    This is not only the first time I’ve watched this but the first full CB episode I have ever watched. Despite its numerous flaws as others have covered, I found it better than expected. (I had very low expectations) It begins well with a lovely period setting and music. I do like the historical stories and this is a very interesting period historically though I have a few issues with the representation here which I will come to. Firstly however a few comments about the characters. Colin had some good moments in this story. The arrogance which seems to be rather a trademark of his acting was less evident than I expected. (I was watching this in a very poor format however as I realised when I sat down to watch this story that we don’t have any of the C.B stories in our Who collection) I feel at times that his Doctor might have been more acceptable if he wasn’t dressed as a clown. The miner’s costume was a decided improvement. However at the end when he is bobsledding towards death there was not the usual need for the reassuring reminder that he will survive becasue the character is still weilding the sonic and roaming the universe in the blue blox which just went hurtling down the mine shaft.

    The  historical characters are good, so good that at times it feels like two different tv shows intercut. The ham acting of the leads seems to have no place within the historial framework. Colin has plenty of competition when it comes to “ham” acting. The Master of Pork irritates me. He is such a pantomine villian and his presence really lowers the tone of the story. The Rani is a far more interesting and complex villian and as has been said, quickly becomes the character which whom one empathises even though she is totally immoral. (especially after that pro vegetarian speech.) Peri is irritating. She is whiny, slow, and cowardly. I don’t think she would make the grade as a modern companion.

    I have a few comments to make about the depiction of the Luddites but I might save them to the next post as I have a bad feeling that my browser is about to crash.

    Cheers

    Janette

     

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