Doctor Who #666: Time and the Rani Part 2

"More hasta less vista."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Sep.14 1987.

IN THIS ONE... The real Mel catches up to the Doctor.

REVIEW: Part 2 continues the better things Part 1 began, in particular the cool effects  - Mel in the spinning ball is pretty well done and the door to the Rani's base has scale - and the humor this new Doctor brings. I know the reputation of the early 7th Doctor is that it's all malapropisms and playing spoons, but they say that as if it were a bad thing. Over time, yes, perhaps, but this early? It's not overdone and remains amusing. And just look at Sylvester McCoy playing those spoons! He's doing a lot more than playing a traditional instrument, he's showing off great dexterity doing it, giving an impressive performance worthy of a magic show. And that's what makes it Doctorish.

The episode also frees the Rani up to be herself again after the Doctor and the real Mel meet up. Obviously, both have a reason not to recognize the other, but once they prove their identities, I like their dynamic. Or rather, I like the Doctor's attitude towards his companion and the world - Mel's more or less the same as she was in the previous season, except that she screams even more and has learned judo. I like the Doctor's sadness, his initial disappointment with his new self, his empathy for the countless victims both past and potential, out there. He shows that same side to Rani-Mel, but there, it's also part of the wrongness he senses in her. So it's nice to see this softer, dramatic side to his persona isn't just a function of the Rani plot.

I'd also like to commend Wanda Ventham's Faroon for one of the most emotional performances in all of classic Who over the death of Sarn. It's rare for a story's first victim to get such a eulogy, and is perhaps at odds with the story's general comedy of errors atmosphere, where Urak the Tetrap might shoot the Rani because he thinks she's Mel and the Doctor, thinking the opposite, spins Mel on his shoulders. So in some places, the story does overreach. The music is exciting, but hyperactive, those sharp hits on the keyboard over-egging the pudding. The Tetraps, humanoid bats with 360-degree vision are a neat idea, but in the stark lighting of the quarry, look like silly furries or bad kaiju from Ultraman. The glitter guns are interesting and different, but ultimately seem like they're "of the 80s", i.e. a period of the program that was glitzy and cheesy. Still, these are minor complaints.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - OMG! I'm Medium-Highing one of the lowest-rated stories in all of Doctor Who! Well, I'm still having fun meeting a new Doctor and the effects are pretty great. I'm waiting for it all to come crashing down.


Zundian said...

Are you watching the special edition by any chance? I recall the original effects as pretty dire.

Spoon playing, Spoonerisms, some needs to get out of the cutlery draw.

Siskoid said...

There is no special edition for this release, nor any enhanced effects feature.

snell said...

"...bad kaiju..."

I'm sorry, that phrase is self-contradicting...

Siskoid said...

And if the Tetrap was 50+ feet tall, I wouldn't complain.

jdh417 said...

Slightly off-topic, there's yet another best Doctor poll going on at another website.


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