27 Cool Things About "Time and
(and 23 Stupid Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
Originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 444
1. The idea that the Rani stood on a planet, aimed a hand-held weapon up into space-time, and shot the Tardis down.
2. This is apparently the work of “A navigational guidance system distorter.” Whatever.
3. “Carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice,” says the sixth Doctor, and the next time we see him, he's lying dead on the floor next to an exercise bike. Draw your own conclusions.
4. Jane Baker is one of the very few female writers to contribute to the series in its entire history. That's a very Cool Thing indeed.
5. The Rani wears a nose piercing, anticipating fashion trends by a good five years.
6. On the other hand, the Lakertian look can be best described as The Worst of the Mohicans.
7. The Lakertians are meant to be lizards. The female ones have breasts. This beats the Moffat-era Lizards With Hooters and Honkers by over two decades..
8. The word "Lakertian" is clearly derived from the word "Lacertian" which means "Like a lizard; of or pertaining to the Lacertilia [lizards]".
9. The Doctor has a Siamese cat lapel badge. Which is, yes, Cool.
10. The Rani was never a big fan of 18th century philosophy: “I had all I could take of that Kant in our university days,” she says.
11. Bar the scene where the Doctor goes into the Tardis to change his costume, there's barely any rewriting plot-wise, from when this was a Colin Baker script.
12. There's also, unfortunately, been barely any rewriting from when this story was set in a lush jungle, meaning that the line “The benevolent climate has induced lethargy. They failed to reach their full potential” is incongruously spoken in the middle of a cold-looking, barren quarry.
13. And building on the idea that Lakertians are indolent, let's just remember that they were the ones who built the Rani's Citadel and the Centre of Leisure.
14. Which makes Ikona's speech in Part Three about how lazy and sybaritic his fellow Lakertians are sound like internalised racism.
15. And, while we're at it, if they're capable of building such a monumental complex, some of it chiseled out of solid rock, why do they hang around a leisure centre containing a booby-trap?
16. Admit it, the tripwire-pinball death effect is really very well done.
17. Except during the weirdly pixelated cutaways to Mel inside the pinball at the Part One cliffhanger.
18. The skeleton with the bony crest and tail is also pretty good.
19. The Rani's bracelet looks like a giant Scorpio teleport bracelet from Blake's 7.
20. Just what part of the Rani's anatomy is the Doctor trying to grab at 9 minutes 56 seconds into Part One?
21. And why precisely does he use her chest as a percussion pad shortly thereafter during the infamous Spoon-Playing Incident?
22. Mel gets repeatedly groped, manhandled and tied up in this story. Remember, folks, it was a more innocent time at the BBC in the 1980s.
23.“Don't touch me!” says Mel. “The proof of the pumpkin's in the squeezing!” says the Doctor. Again, make of that what you will.
24.Later, a Tetrap paralyses Mel by slipping her what Bonnie Langford on the commentary track calls "a tongue sandwich".
25. As an aside, the idea of the Tetraps (and later the Silurians) having poisonous tongues actually stems from a folk myth about snakes. So it makes reasonable sense for Silurians, but less so for the Tetraps.
26. Where did the Rani manage to find clothes exactly identical to Mel's, without getting them off Mel?
27. Props to Kate O'Mara for playing Bonnie Langford playing Mel.
28. We'd just like to point out Mel's Amazing Self-Cleaning Trousers: she falls down in a quarry and gets mud all over her white slacks, but seconds later, they're shiny clean again.
29. “Why I chose you as my assistant I'll never know.” However, due to the fact that the Doctor met Mel via a time paradox, in which she is a future companion of his who came back and joined him in his past, he never actually chose her at all.
30. It takes almost 19 minutes' worth of Part One for it to occur to the Rani that maybe, if she was going to impersonate Mel, it might be a good idea to kill, imprison, or otherwise seriously incapacitate the real Mel, beforehand.
31. “She's evil... then she must be destroyed,” says the Rani. “Let's not be hasty,” says the Doctor. But considering that he goes on to spend this regeneration attempting to destroy things he considers evil, he evidently imprinted on this idea.
32. Think, as you gaze upon the ludicrous-looking countenances of the Tetraps, that the BBC's contemporary series The Chronicles of Narnia, whose effects work was several orders of magnitude worse, was nominated for 14 awards, including Best Costumes and Best Makeup.
33. The reference to computer programmer Mel being a fan of C.P. Snow becomes really quite prescient when you realise that in 1987, the fact that he worked at Bletchley Park was known to relatively few people.
34. While writing this story Pip Baker consulted his research scientist brother for the technical bits.
35. Wanda Ventham dressed as a giant hairy lizard is still better than Wanda Ventham dressed as a giant moth (as she was in The Blood Beast Terror, for you non-Brit-horror fans and others who don't get the reference).
36. Faroon is scared of Mel when she first meets her. It's never stated, but obvious when you think about it, that this is because she is a humanoid female like the Rani.
37. PSA for any Nu-Who fans who might be reading this: Wanda Ventham is the mother of Benedict Cumberbach. Paying more attention to this serial now, aren't you?
38. “Try looking in the mirror, the face of evil.” Well, if one went back to January 1977 and looked in the Daily Mirror, one might indeed find Doctor Who: The Face of Evil. Are we making too much of this?
39. The Doctor's age is 953 in this story. Since that information comes from the Rani (and it's her own age as well), this suggests it's accurate, and that 53 years have passed between “Revelation of the Daleks” (when the Doctor gives his age as 900) and “Time and the Rani”. This could either mean that the trial recess between Mindwarp" and "The Terror of the Vervoids" lasted half a century, or that maybe the Doctor was just lying about his age.
40. Most bats eat fruit or insects, so it would have been rather better to have shown the Tetraps feasting on mangoes than on some bloodlike substance. Oh wait, forgot, they're in a goddamn quarry.
41. How exactly does the “hologram” of Mel seen in Part Three work?
42. Bonnie Langford is capable of screaming to match a precise musical tone. It's one talent that, by Part Three, you're wishing she'd kept to herself.
43. The Doctor's giant headphones would not look remotely out of place on a present-day hipster.
44. This is a particularly bad serial for puns, but we will admit that “every dogma has its day” is pretty funny.
45. Two wrongs might not make a left turn, but three left turns do make a right.
46. The Rani states her intention of returning to the Cretaceous to realise the potential of the dinosaurs. She'd better watch out for that freighter with all the "Earthshock" Cybermen aboard headed on a collision course with Mexico, then.
47. At that, the “potential of the dinosaurs” to do what, exactly? Judging by the activity around the local bird-feeders, the dinosaurs are doing just fine in many regards. That's also not a very kind thing to say about the complex and interesting Silurian/Eocene/Earth Reptile civilisation at that.
48. We're with the infotext here: Simply interrupting the countdown will mean that the Rani's rocket will miss the asteroid, so why does the Doctor go to the trouble of blowing up the Citadel?
49. The Rani's collection of geniuses appears to include only two women.
50. When the Doctor hands over the killer insect antidote, Ikona removes the stopper and pours the liquid onto the ground. Faroon states “Ikona believes that our people should meet their own challenges, if they are to survive.” However, as there are only fourteen Lakertians left alive on this barren rock of a planet, he more likely believes that a swift demise from an insect's sting is preferable to a slow, lingering death through starvation.