Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: The Mark of the Rani

Doctor Who: 
The Mark of the Rani 
By Pip and Jane Baker

“You disappoint me. A scientist and you're not thinking objectively. Davy, Faraday, Telford and others. Over twenty men of genius. Have you no conception of what we could achieve if we control them? Harness their genius, and this planet could become the platform for the most devastating power in the universe.”

Promising to take Peri to Kew Gardens the seem to have landed anywhere but.  It appears they have landed in Killingworth in the 19th Century at the beginning of the industrial revolution.  The problem there is that some of the miners have become extremely violent and those that are have a strange mark behind their ear.  This string of violence has George Stevenson worried about his industrial meeting with a bunch of that era’s genius’s. 

That is the least of The Doctor’s problem as it appears that The Master is also in Killingworth also.  It appears he survived the events from “Planet of Fire” and is up to his menacing deeds trying to change the course of Earth’s history yet again. The Master is not the only Time Lord around Killingworth either. The evil female Time Lady The Rani is around also taking the chemical in the brain that induces sleep.  She is stealing that from humans to give to her slaves on Miasimia Goria.  That’s double the trouble for The Doctor and Peri as they must contend with both renegade Time Lords and rid them from causing havoc on Earth.

When we think of season 22 of Doctor Who what do we think of?  Colin Bakers first full season as The Doctor, yes we do. The Sixth Doctor’s stories with Daleks and Cybermen and a meet up with the Second Doctor absolutely.  The controversy over how violent it became and the new episode format to 45 minutes why yes those come to mind but forgotten in that season that also has a real clunker in Timelash is the story penned by Pip and Jane Baker The Mark of the Rani.

Here you have a story that takes place in the past during the Luddite Rights during the hay day of the industrial revolution.  Plus you have The Master played by masterfully by Anthony Ainley and it also introduces us to another renegade the Time Lord The Rani.  While in there The Rani is gassing workers and taking a chemical from the brain that controls sleep functions.  Her aliens on the planet Miasimia Goria that she occupies need the chemical because she took it away from them and things have gotten out of hand.

Now I might be in the minority here but I do enjoy The Mark of the Rani.  No, it is not one of the greatest stories ever but it does have its charm.  For example I enjoy watching the three Time Lords trying to get the upper hand on each other.  What’s funny is that they don’t trust each other as far as the can throw them.  But at times are forced to trust each other. This can be annoying at times especially for The Rani who just happens to get caught up in this feud of the two Time Lords.

The Mark of the Rani does introduce viewers to The Rani played by Kate O’Mara.  I think she was a good character who never had the time to be developed properly.  Especially since her next appearance was in that piss poor debut story for Sylvester McCoy “Time of the Rani”.    Kate O’ Mara was very good in this story and at times you actually believed that she was annoyed with the two boys.  It would have been good to see her and Colin have a go at each other.

There is at least one really bad sore spot in this story.  You all know the scene the tree.  That’s right when Peri is about to wander into the minefield the tree grabs Peri and saves her by a limb.  Yeah that’s just really bad even for Doctor Who back in the day.

To be fair I enjoyed this story and it is quite overlooked when you think about Colin Bakers era on Doctor Who.  It is a fun romp as the Doctor has a battle of wits against two Time Lords and has to save the George Stevenson and his meeting of genius’s to keep the industrial age on track.  Plus Colin and Nicola give great performances as they both seem really comfortable in their roles as The Doctor and Peri and you can see how great their chemistry was. 

Grade B

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