Monday, August 07, 2006


Oh dear, Dear Readers, can it really be true? Is someone somewhere in the depths of the BBC sat there laughing hysterically at the trick that they've just pulled? Are people really sat in their houses, gathering their pennies together in a desperate attempt to pool their resources and purchase the abomination to the left of us? Yes, Dear Reader, someone somewhere thought it would actually be a good idea to release Mark of the Rani on DVD. However, what makes it worse is the way in which they're pitching this to the public, under such statements as 'a Historical Epic' and 'the Introduction of a Classic Doctor Who villain'. Ladies and Gentlemen, advertising lies. Please, listen to the words of someone who more often that not triumphs Eighties Who for its tackiness, and avoid this piece of rubbish. If you want to see a better, similar story then buy The Visitation. If you want to see Who at it's most dreadful best (yes, I'm fully aware that's an oxymoron) then go to eBay, type either 'Timelash' or 'Warriors of the Deep' into the search and buy yourself a cheap VHS copy of either of these.

"Surely it's not that bad!" I hear you crying in defence, Dear Readers. The answer is, I'm afraid, that it is. What's wrong with it? Firstly Pip and Jane Baker are about the worst writers the series ever saw in the history of the programme. When a CV contains such 'illustrious' highlights as Terror of the Vervoids (yes, it was the first story I ever saw and gave me nightmares when I was four. Nowadays it gives me nightmares that it gave me nightmares), The Ultimate Foe (probably the biggest load of nonsense from a period characterised by a load of nonsense) and, lest we forget, Time and the Rani (camp, dayglo rubbish featuring Bonnie Langford and Kate O'Mara playing Bonnie Langford) I think you get the picture. If there were any justice in the world they should be locked in a cupboard marked 'Let's Not Talk About This' and left to gather dust somewhere.

Secondly, so much of the story is complete arse. There's people being turned into trees, a baby T-Rex, something to do with Luddites and Eric Saward's by now tedious tendency for tying things into actual historical events. You know what, it's that nonsensical that I can't remember what the motivation of the Rani actually is. Aside from that, you get Anthony Ainley not having learnt anything from Planet of Fire and so still coming across like a pantomime villain, Nicola Bryant's dreadful costume and Kate O'Mara trying to out-do Anthony Ainley in the 'Who Can Overact the Most' competiton (as you probably gathered, no-one in my opinion will beat Graham Crowden in my opinion). I'm going to stop as this will just turn into one long rant against the story and I don't want it to be that. What I'm trying desperately to understand is why the BBC would choose to release this, unless their trying to show fans of the new series (who the classic DVDs seem inherently marketed towards at present) that this is about as low as you can get and to be thankful for what you have at present.

However, as a result of this grievance, I offer a slight variation on an established tradition by positing CyberControl's Top 5 Classic Who Stories That Should Be Out on DVD:

5. Timelash - Oh, it's nonsense! It's such appauling nonsense that it needs to be out on DVD for people to laugh at. To my knowledge the only Who story to be that underlength that it requires the worst twist possibly in the history of narrative. It's got the (always amusing) Paul Darrow in it trying to be intense, a pointless cameo by H.G. Wells and a pathetic looking torture device made from tin-foil. Worrying thing is I've worked out a nice documentary you could add on to this as a DVD extra. Yes, I have too much time on my hands.

4. Kinda - Given my great admiration for Season Nineteen (yes, including Time-Flight) the delay of this behind The Visitation seems strange. In equal places creepy, wierd and moving, it features some great ideas, some great acting from Janet Fielding, a possesed old Imperial and one of my favourite moments in Who history: when (the now deranged) Hindle emerges from his fort and discovers one of his cardboard subjects is broken he disparingly shouts at the suggestion that the 'person' could be glued back together "You can't mend people!" Never a truer word spoken. Oh, and then there's the huge paper-mache snake...

3. Image of the Fendhal - Arguably the series' last genuinely creepy story, and certainly the last of the Seventies Gothic turn. The image of the skull with the glowing eyes still unsettles me to this day, and when it all goes a bit bonkers at the end of Episode Three it's a great pay off: a possesed woman and some large, worm-like creatures, and the idea of mankind being the breeding ground for a greater intellegence all make this an often overlooked piece of brilliance in a period approached negatively by most of the fan community.

2. The Greatest Show in the Galaxy - During Sylvester McCoy's period, when they got it wrong, they got it wrong spectacularly. However, when they got it right, they made some of the best stories since the early Eighties. This is such an example. Arguably a comment on both the programme's status within the BBC (the Doctor forced to perform three Gods of Entertainment for his survival) and on the programme's fans at the same time, it's twists and turns are great, Ace is used well and the shot where the Doctor destroys the Circus is amazing.

1. The Sea Devils - The Master watching 'The Clangers' whilst in prison! Sinister, iconic creatures with cool, Seventies guns emerging from the sea wearing dresses! Some really great episode cliffhangers, especially the one with the diving craft returning empty from its mission! This story has it all and, when repeated on BBC2 in the early 90s, hooked me into the programme. For many years I've tried to perfect drawing a Sea Devil. For many years, I've failed. However, nostalgia aside, if this doesn't come out on DVD soon I'm gonna have to buy the video.


Talk Show Host said...

Maybe I could have a go at drawing the perfect sea devil on MSN with the mouse?

Cyber Control said...

I'd like to see you have a go, they're a nightmare to get right. Still, if you fancy having a bash I can email you a photo.