It had to happen eventually. CGI has invaded Doctor Who. I’m sure the title and Tardis sequences were absolutely cutting edge in 1987, but that shiny computerised Tardis looks awful compared to the stunning model photography from the previous season. I hope they don’t rely too much on these ambitious but dated digital effects. I kinda like the new logo, but the less said about the Doctor’s creepy winking face, the better.
Doctor Who’s downward spiral into misery continues, and Time and the Rani is quite possibly the low point of the whole show up until now. It contains so much badness that I had to keep notes on all of it. Amongst the mind-boggling awfulness is the Rani putting on a wig and pretending to be Mel to fool the amnesiac Doctor. One Mel is bad enough as it is (particularly in this story where she seems to have a screaming addiction), but the Rani pretending to be her is bafflingly stupid and further reinforces the idea that this is barely pantomime level of drama. The only thing that could top it would be somebody shouting “she’s behind you!”.
Pratfalls, slapstick ‘comedy’, mistaken identity and a bizarre wrestling match between the Doctor and Mel, all make for terrible viewing. The Rani’s plan is insane, too. Apparently, amongst other things, she’s unhappy with the evolutionary direction that Earth took after the dinosaurs were wiped out, so she wants to erase the worthless humans from history. To do this, she requires genius humans pulled from history. What.
It’s a script that has a lack of thought put into it. It may be nitpicking, but at one point, the Doctor breaks out of his prison cell using a secret code. The code is the Rani’s age, which the Doctor knows because it’s also his age. Now, a sensible writer would have made it an unchanging number like the year of their birth, not their age, which is entirely relative to the year that it currently is and the timeframe that they’re both from. What are the chances that both time travellers would be operating in sync like this? It’s bad enough when villains turn up from any point in time ahead of when they previously appeared, but this is just extra lazy.
I’m struggling to find anything of value in this serial. Okay, I suppose some of the music is quite exciting, if a little overbearing. The tripwire exploding ball things are also pretty cool. And those bat-like creatures… yes, they have that “man in a suit” problem and look ridiculous, but I like that they’ve got eyes all around their head and their vision superimposes all the images together. Nice touch.
I suppose the only good thing about all these problems is that any issues with the new Doctor are sidelined. I must say, though, that going from an extroverted loudmouth in a clown costume to a small mumbling Scotsman who looks like a Batman villain is a change that will take some getting used to. At times, I struggled to hear what he was saying. I did enjoy his self-loathing and mixed metaphors, though. I wonder if they’ll remain his “thing”.