The Mark of The Rani part 2

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  • #29653
    Craig @craig
    Emperor

    The Doctor is saved by George Stephenson and proceeds, in true Colin Baker fashion, to abuse him despite thinking of him as a genius.

    The Master and The Rani continue their devious plans, whatever they are. Can The Doctor stop them?

    I love Stephenson, everyone else I’m not so sure about. Or as they say on the interwebs, I’m a bit meh about this whole thing. May just be me though.

    #29676
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @craig

    I think in context, “I’m a bit meh” should be considered a ringing endorsement. 😉

    We rejoin the story at the introduction of, what I’m obliged to @whisht last week for describing as the Frank Spencer cliffhanger. As the Arctic Monkeys once sang“And I’m so tense, never tenser. Could all go a bit Frank Spencer.”

    Happily, or perhaps tragically, we have more or less a repeat of the cliffhanger that never happened. A historical figure to the rescue, and it’s the introduction to George Stephenson.

    I’ll agree with @craig actually, Gawn Grainger puts in a nice performance as George. His enthusiasm and focus on mechanisms (his immediate attraction to the strange bonds) immediately puts him in “strange genius” territory.

    Equally, I’ll pay Colin a rare compliment as the team gathers at George’s workshop. His rare moment of compassion with Luke about his father actually stands out from the rest of the episode as a bit Doctorish. It’s a pity he reverts to “arse” pretty damn quickly. Georges pride in Luke is a nice bit of foreshadowing here. “he’ll outshine me” and the Doctors raised eyebrows. History doesn’t record Luke Ward, so he’s bound to come to a sticky end.

    Oh here’s the Master, with Ainley obviously come down off the sugar rush of the last few scenes he’s been in. Underplaying it, as he takes over Luke.

    Unfortunately, Kate is still on a high, and as he returns to her, he manfully rises to the Panto melodrama again with her “You incompetent egoist”. What a trooper that man was. Actually because I’m laughing so much, it allows me to ignore the painful dialogue. Seriously, you can tell Eric Saward as script editor was suffering from lack of heart in his job. As the Rani demonstrates her immoral streak with the casual disposal of her servants it’s worth pondering that with the Doctor-Peri and Master-Rani, we get two squabbling “couples” for the price of one in this story.

    <sarcasm>Let joy be unbounded.</sarcasm>

    OK, the booby trapped painting of the erupting volcano is an interesting enough idea. The Rani’s Tardis is an interesting design. But you can tell I’m grasping for pearls to cast before swine here.

    Talking of pork products, the Ham amongst our three Time Lords is only escalating. “Dilettante Doctor.”

    We’re reminded of Peri’s botany skills as aided by Lord Ravensworth, she goes to collect some ‘erbs. Oh dear, to be sent to the trap that the Rani is preparing.

    I’ve already recorded my horror at the stupidity of the Rani backstory in my run down of how the Time Lord story evolved. It was this kind of crap storytelling that really led to a denudation of the Time Lord status.

    So, poor Luke. Mind controlled and then turned into a tree. That can apparently move to save Peri. Nope – I have no idea either. I’ll just repeat it for anyone who hasn’t got it yet. I find the scenes with Baker, Ainley and O’Mara competing for the hammiest ham of porktown appalling. Just horrible to watch. I can’t work out what they are trying to do.

    I’ve reached that point when I’ve stopped caring. You know Peri is going to be suckered as she’s allowed to escort the pair of them back to the Rani’s TARDIS. The Doctor is left dangling between two Man-Trees which allows us to dwell on his truly appalling orange boots.

    Stuff happens. The Doctor has sabotaged the Rani’s TARDIS so off they go to be menaced by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Even as a voracious carnivorous predator from the dawn of time, it’ll probably choke itself to death on the ham available in that room.

    And the denouement of the story sees Lord Ravensworth ask the crucial question: “What do you do in there?”

    The answer? “Argue, mainly”. Well, quite. Self awareness is great, if you aren’t highlighting one of the main things that people in AI research were complaining about.

    Still – I’m looking on the bright side. Having recorded my thoughts on this, I need not visit it again.

    #29677
    janetteB @janetteb

    Urgh. I made the mistake of reading your review @phaseshift before watching the episode. Now I’m wondering if there is enough alcohol in the house to wash it down with when I do. I think I am going to need some serious pain relief when I do watch it.

    Cheers

    Janette

    #29679
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @janetteb

    Apologies, and I perhaps should have left it to someone a bit keener than me to kick things off.

    I wish I’d got the opportunity to anesthetise myself last night before watching it. 😀

    #29682
    Arbutus @arbutus

    Once again, I didn’t have any huge problems with this. Stephenson and Ravensworth were nicely portrayed throughout, and I really do enjoy the Rani. The Ainley Master I mostly tolerate, but he was at his best here because there was less of the evil cackling than we frequently saw. I always thought the sight of the Doctor hurtling down the hill tied to a wagon was pretty hilarious, but certainly there was never any sense of real peril there.

    I enjoyed the Doctor’s meeting with Stephenson, you can see right off that they are peas in a pod in their ability to focus on a fascinating detail to the exclusion of the real issues around them. Interesting contrast here with the Rani, who is a scientist of a different calibre. As the Doctor says, “Like many scientists, the Rani just sees us as walking heaps of chemicals.”

    Will-under-the-influence puts in a creepy performance, with his eyes staring slightly and his tone of voice just a bit off. As I say, I found the Master okay throughout most of this, as he mostly keeps things low key. I enjoyed him calling the Rani an “intellectual microbe”! I also liked how she called him on his rant about how often the Doctor had gone out of his way to thwart the Master’s plans, pointing out that this time, it was the Master who went out of his way to involve the Doctor!

    By now, the arguments of the Doctor and Peri have mostly devolved to mild squabbles, and they actually seem quite affectionate in their own way. The Doctor is quite protective of Peri, and her nagging often feels more like an affectionate attempt to bring him down to size, or back to earth, or both. I liked the way he very casually says, when offered the gun, “No, thanks, I’ve given them up.” And his avoidance of the trap in the dell, through his instinctive sense that something “doesn’t feel right” is nicely low key. I quite like the Rani’s cool response to the Doctor’s outrage after Luke is turned into a tree, but must agree with @phaseshift that the tree moving to save Peri is a bit ridiculous.

    Peri is actually the weak link in this for me, and it’s frequently when there’s danger that I find her most annoying. She becomes very whiny during the interview with Lord Ravensworth, and irritatingly stupid in refusing the offered escort. While I have often felt that Colin Baker’s Doctor suffered from the writing, I think that Peri’s suffers equally from Nicola Bryant’s interpretation. She tends to come across as overly emotional even when it isn’t required, with her wobbly voiced approach to the part, when a little more toughness of tone would have made her more likeable.

    I enjoyed the fate of the villains, and the ending was brief and amusing, with a minimum of confusing “explanations”. I liked Lord Ravensworth’s attitude on being asked by Peri if he had questions: “Would there be any point?” Please don’t give up on it, @janetteb, I’m looking forward to hearing your promised comments about the Luddites!

    #29683
    wolfweed @wolfweed

    It’s not a good endorsement of a story when the elements that please are stuff like the fact that the trolley looks like a sound system or that the oxygen masks are cool.
    Even when I originally viewed this on transmission, the thing that was my favourite was the same – The Rani’s TARDIS. It’s butch ’80s with added dinosaurs in jars (they make me think of Francis Bacon). Plus it’s got a Stattenheim Remote Control.
    z

    Suddenly we’re confronted by the stunning revelation that Gallifrey has cats…

    I’m not sure if it’s gone all fairytale or panto… Luke the Tree just groped Peri!
    The TCE never looked so ludicrously rude as when Colin held it here. And he’s prepared to use it!

    The tampering with the Rani’s TARDIS is a nice nod to The Time Meddler…

    The Rani is very enigmatic, probably because she doesn’t get to shine. The story goes nowhere & seems almost like an extended Prelude to a more interesting story around the corner. That wouldn’t turn out to be Time & the Rani though… Dimensions In Time makes you realise the Rani’s essence -she’s a Dominatrix, with little regard for her slaves. Sounds like a character worthy of being given a decent script…

    As for Colin and Nicola, they are more likeable in other stories. If you’re still trying them out I’d recommend Revelation of the Daleks & ‘Mindwarp'(best ‘ending’ ever!).

    #29684
    Whisht @whisht

    Well, I watched it.

    And its still not as bad as The Black Orchid in that at least there were distractions.

    Now, fair enough the distractions were unperilous-peril, and mild arguing and a side-order of ham, but… stuff happened.

    That’s not to say that I’ve developed a new sympathy for Colin Baker’s Doctor – the way he treats people is too-often small and mean, regardless as to whether they’re whiny or psychopathic; as @phaseshift says its actually something to be remarked upon when he treats Luke with some compassion. Really, that shouldn’t be a remarkable thing with the Doctor.

    But stuff happened, I was diverted and now its time for tea more beer.

    😉

    #34469
    Marinus lost his keys again @marinus-lost-his-keys-again

    Tis a bit late but I think I should add my two cents. After all, I’m one of those who are noted as big Colin Baker “apologists” : P

    And I mean it. I do really like the man and think he’s a fantastic Doctor. I love a character with a big ego who still is a decent person at heart. It’s why my favourite episodes of Mash are those which focus on Winchester not being a dick to people.

    Besides Colin Baker, you also have Peri and well, she’s probably one of the most jawdroppingly attractive companions of the classic era, if not the most. I have nothing against Bonnie Langford, but I think many many viewers found her replacement of Nicola Bryant to be just as sad as the fact they had to listen to the Valeyard for so many episodes in a row, not to mention the real tragedy that audiences at the time didn’t know, namely what Trial of a Timelord actually replaced.

    I will never forgive Michael Grade for denying us the second televised appearance of the Celestial Toymaker, nor a chance to see 1986 not that high budget attempts to create a video game environment for the Villain to mess around with, as envisioned in a script from 1984. I don’t know why but I just have the feeling it would look gloriously outdated even by the time it aired and for some reason I think it’s a shame we never got to see that. You can get away with audio dramas and novelisations of most dropped story ideas, but this is something purely visual.

    And after all that I should probably get to something resembling a point. Well:

    Not the best choice for the first Sixth Doctor story. While the end line of “Argue, mainly” is one of my favourite Sixth Doctor moments, the Master doesn’t exactly play off the Rani very well, and you have the rather silly tree costumes trying to convey a much much more disturbing visual then they can actually hope to portray. It’s not the worst Sixth Doctor story (hello The Two Doctors, how are you ?) but it’s a bit of a weak start in my opinion.

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