The Twin Dilemma isn’t Sue’s first exposure to Colin Baker. No, that came two days earlier with I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! Before that, Colin was just some actor who shouted at me at a convention once (at least we have something in common now) and, according to ITV, a former Dr Who.
Me: He was also in The Brothers, you know.
This is what Sue thought of Colin after three days in the jungle:
Sue: He’s really, really nice. I want to give him a big cuddle. He looks good for a 69-year-old. I’m glad his team aren’t winning any food, though. He said he wanted to lose some weight, and we all know why he wants to do that (beyond living longer, of course). He wants to be in the 50th anniversary special. Anyway, I don’t think we’ll see him eat any testicles until Nadine and Helen are voted out. He just needs to sit tight.
Sue: Ooh, new credits.
Me: Yes, Peter Davison’s face didn’t really work when Colin took over.
Sue: It’s colourful. Very Top of the Pops. And Colin looks very friendly in these titles. Tom looked miserable in his. The Twin Dilemma. I bet you’d fancy a dilemma like that, wouldn’t you, Neil? Which Cheeky Girl would you like to sleep with?
Me: What is this? 2003?
The story begins in a futuristic home.
Sue: It’s Planet of the Bowl Cuts. I still feel bad about cutting my friend Tucker’s hair like that. No wonder she didn’t speak to me for ages.
The titular twins, Romulus and Remus, are playing a game of backgammon crossed with chess. Hey, it’s the future!
Sue: Is the programme trying to appeal to its core audience at this point? You know, by setting it in a chess club for geeks?
Their father, Sylvest, berates them for being rude to their mother.
Sue: They need to spend an afternoon on the naughty step.
But these twins are mathematical geniuses.
Sue: A pair of Adrics? Are they mad? They’re terrible. They make Matthew Waterhouse look like Daniel Craig.
On the TARDIS, the Sixth Doctor is getting used to his new body.
Sue: I like this. It’s a quick, no-nonsense regeneration. The Doctor usually spends an episode in bed or he acts really weird for a bit. There’s no mucking about, here.
Sue likes the new Doctor’s features almost as much as he does.
Sue: Colin is quite handsome. His face has a lot of character. That was the trouble with Peter sometimes – he was too pretty to be that interesting.
The Doctor: A firm mouth. A face beaming with a vast intelligence.
Sue: (as the Doctor) I just hope I can sing like Michael Ball, too.
The Doctor heads for the TARDIS wardrobe room, where he appears to have a nervous breakdown.
Sue: It’s a very good performance. Colin is really going for it. His laugh is very creepy.
When he’s calmed down, the Doctor pulls out the dreaded coat of many colours.
Me and Sue: Noooooooooooooo!
Meanwhile, the twins are playing an exciting game of Equations.
Me: According to Jonathan Morris on Twitter: “In BBC Micro Mode 7/teletext, each block shape is generated by a normal ASCII character, so to generate the shapes seen on screen, Dave Chapman typed in: MON NOM BOG OFF YOU TWIT ASS FACE DR WHO RULES OK SO DOES DAVES PROGRA (and then it repeats itself)”.
Sue: And people think I’m crazed and obsessed?
An elderly man named Edgeworth appears out of nowhere. He manipulates the twins into leaving with him.
Sue: An old man with white hair kidnapping young children. That would be funny if it wasn’t happening for real in the studio next door.
The Doctor is dressed to impress.
Sue: It clashes a bit.
Me: A bit? A bit? A BIT?
A broach completes the Doctor’s new look.
Sue: At least he likes cats. He’s okay in my book if he likes cats. It’s a shame he’s stuck in that bloody costume, though. Colin would have looked wonderful in a black suit. Not a cheap one, mind.
Peri takes the opportunity to change, too.
Sue: That’s almost as bad! Still, anything would look good next to Colin right now. He looks like a court jester.
Suddenly, this court jester has both hands wrapped around his companion’s neck.
Sue: It’s all gone a bit Benton. It’s not for kids, that’s for sure.
Me: So, what do you make of it?
Sue: It’s a mission statement, I suppose. This is the programme saying “He’s not Peter Davison”. In fact, he’s as far from Peter Davison as it’s possible to get. It’s a very brave thing to do.
Me: He tried to kill Peri!
Sue: He’s poorly.
Me: Oh, that’s alright, then.
Sue: Is this the local St. John’s Ambulance Brigade?
No, it’s the Star Cops Special Incident room and Sylvest is reporting the twins’ abduction to Lieutenant Hugo Lang.
Sylvest: I found zanium on the floor. It looks serious.
Sue: Zanium is one crazy metal.
The chief cop is Fabian. She quickly takes charge of the situation.
Fabian: Elena, check it out, will you?
Sue: I wonder how many injuries they’ve suffered thanks to those oversized badges. You could do yourself some serious harm with the pointy ends. Or maybe they double up as weapons when they arrest people?
The Doctor is still acting very strangely.
Sue: He needs to find his safe room.
Me: The Zero Room?
Sue: That’s the one. Just pop him in a cupboard for a couple of hours. He’ll be fine.
Sue seems to be enjoying the Doctor’s breakdown.
Sue: The only thing that lets this episode down is the direction. It’s flat and over-lit. It’s direction-by-numbers.
Me: Who directed it, then?
Sue: I don’t know… Peter Moffat?
Sue’s Director Detector now operates at both ends of the scale.
Sue isn’t impressed with the Jacondans, either.
Sue: Crap Klingons, that’s what they are. This one looks like he should be in the chorus line for a Broadway production of The Lion King. They’re rubbish.
Back at Hill Street Blues in Space Fabian of the Special Incident Room loses contact with Hugo’s ship.
Fabian: Elena, find out what’s happened.
Sue: Poor Elena. She gets all the shit jobs.
The Doctor decides to atone for his sins by becoming a hermit.
The Doctor: What we need is a cave, some utterly comfortless place where you and I can suffer together.
Sue: You could always find a jungle.
The Doctor: (to Peri) It shall be your humble privilege to minister unto my needs.
Sue: In your dreams, mate.
The Doctor’s mania is ramped up even further.
Sue: I know what’s going on here. Colin Baker has decided to play it like Tom Baker. The problem is, Tom is naturally bonkers. Colin is trying too hard to be wacky. Still, it’s very early days. I’m sure he’ll settle down eventually.
The planet Jaconda is under the yoke of the Mestor.
Sue: Oh dear. This week’s villain is the Hungry Caterpillar.
She giggles as the camera tracks in for a better view.
Sue: They’ve lit this thing as if to say “Look at this! Look how brilliant our monster is!” when they should be hiding it in the shadows and apologising.
The Doctor and Peri arrive on Titan 3. But before they can find a nice cave to cuddle in, they stumble upon Hugo’s crashed spaceship.
Sue: That’s quite impressive, actually.
Peri wants to leave the scene and the Doctor berates her for being such a heartless bitch.
Sue: And now he’s doing William Hartnell.
They carry the unconscious Hugo back to the TARDIS, but while the Doctor and Peri bicker over his body, the cop pulls a gun on the unhinged Time Lord.
Sue: It’s Reservoir Dogs. With a clown.
The episode ends with a close-up of the Doctor’s face.
Sue: He needs to work on his ‘I’m scared’ face. That’s more of a ‘All the sandwiches in the green room have gone’ face.
The credits roll.
Sue: That wasn’t bad at all. It’s very… different. Stick the next one on.
The Doctor continues to act erratically.
Sue: Now he’s doing Jon Pertwee’s Doctor by being a massive cock.
She can’t understand why Peri hasn’t handed in her notice yet.
Sue: Her new boss is crap. She must be gutted. She’s thinking to herself, travelling with the Master would have been better than this.
The Doctor examines the TARDIS scanner. He notices something strange and he asks Peri to identify it.
Peri: A bump.
The Doctor: A bump? A BUMP?
Sue: How did he say those lines without glancing at Peri’s cleavage? I’m impressed.
Meanwhile, Edgeworth examines the twin’s handiwork.
Sue: (as Edgeworth) These new bathroom tile designs are superb!
The Doctor and Peri find a hatchway on the surface of Titan 3. They enter it.
Sue: Colin wouldn’t be able to do that now. That’s why he’s in the jungle. If he gets voted out first, he’ll never get that call.
The twins are terrified of Mestor.
Romulus (or is it Remus?): I’ve never been so frightened in my life.
Sue: You need to get out more, son.
Sue isn’t taken with the twins’ acting.
Sue: Who’s idea was it to give short-tongued kids the names Romulus and Remus? That’s just cruel.
The Doctor and Peri are exploring a tunnel beneath Titan 3 when the Doctor suddenly chickens out.
Sue: They are pushing this a bit too far, now. I’m really going off him. He needs to get a grip.
The Doctor and Peri are captured by the Jacondans and taken to Edgeworth’s lab.
The Doctor: Some of this technology looks familiar.
Sue: Yes, it’s an old arcade machine covered in tin foil. It’s Asteroids, I think.
The Doctor greets Edgeworth as his old friend, Azmael.
Sue: Colin Baker would have been brilliant on Jackanory.
Hugo wakes up back on the TARDIS (“Why didn’t they tie him up? Anyone can fly the TARDIS these days, remember!”) and he reaches for his gun.
Sue: That’s a socket from a screwdriver set! How cheap can you get?
Hugo heads for the TARDIS wardrobe.
Sue: Of all the rooms he could walk into, he walks into that one. What a coincidence. Hang on a minute… What is he doing? Is he changing his clothes? Because he’s a bit dirty? How many cops would do that? That’s ridiculous.
When Hugo changes into his new costume, Sue can’t believe her eyes.
Sue: Is there a competition to see who can wear the stupidest clothes? That is insane. Even if he was taking part in the World Disco Dancing Championships, that would be insane. It’s much worse than Colin’s costume. Jesus.
Hugo admires himself in the mirror.
Me: (As Hugo) You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here.
The Doctor and Peri are left on Titan 3 with only a bomb for company while Hugo tries to leave the TARDIS.
Sue: Trust me, you don’t want to go out dressed like that.
The Doctor plans to send Peri 10 seconds backwards in time. That way she’ll end up back on the TARDIS.
Sue: That makes no ****ing sense. At all. They’ve been there for more than 10 seconds. That’s rubbish.
The base explodes before the Doctor can return to his TARDIS, and the episode ends with Peri in tears.
Sue: That is not a good look for Nicola.
The credits roll.
Sue: Okay, it’s started to go downhill. Some of the ideas are alright, but the direction is appalling. And it’s so cheap. The Caves of Androzano spoilt us.
The Doctor returns to the TARDIS 10 seconds into the future. This makes Sue’s head melt.
Sue: Eh? If that’s true, why didn’t another version of him appear 10 seconds later? Like… now?
But it’s not all bad news. Sue fancies Kevin McNally something rotten.
Sue: He’s very easy on the eye. But he’ll have to ditch that bloody costume when he becomes a regular companion. The good news is he knows where to find the wardrobe on the TARDIS, so it shouldn’t take him long.
Mestor is a nasty piece of work, according to Sue. And by that she means the design is ****ed.
Sue: He’s boss-eyed and I can’t understand a word he’s saying. Apart from that, it’s brilliant.
The TARDIS materialises on Jaconda.
Peri: It’s absolutely ghastly!
Sue: It’s not exactly Lanzarote, is it?
The Doctor realises that Jaconda has been invaded by giant gastropods. He retires to the TARDIS to think about it.
Sue: That’s the most sensible thing I’ve ever seen the Doctor do. If he was Tom or Peter, he would have swanned off into danger. This is a much better approach.
The Doctor is feeling sorry for himself.
The Doctor: Look at me. I’m old, lacking in vigour. My mind’s in a turmoil. I no longer know if I’m coming, have gone or have even been. I’m falling to pieces.
Sue: And a Tory MP is upstaging me.
The Twin Dilemma continues. Sue sighs.
Sue: You know, I don’t have a clue what’s going on any more. And what does the title mean, anyway? Is it that you don’t know which twin you want to murder first? Is that the dilemma?
Me: You’re struggling, aren’t you?
Sue: Look, it’s badly directed, it’s badly acted, it’s badly designed, it’s badly lit, it’s badly directed (have I said that already?), and the music is crap. Apart from that, it’s fine. Actually, the only good thing about this story is the dialogue. The Doctor has some nice lines in this.
The gastropods are half-human, half-slug.
Sue: How the hell did that happen? Someone must have been desperate. And are you sure it’s half-slug? It looks half-owl to me.
When some gastropods pass our heroes in a cave, they reek of shit.
Sue: That’s a nice touch. And appropriate, too.
Oh no! Hugo’s feet are stuck in the gastropod’s slime trail.
Sue: Take your boot off!
Hugo decides to burn his way out with his laser gun.
Sue: Just take your ****ing boot off! For the love of god.
Azmael and Mestor discuss their plans.
Sue: That guy is walking behind the slug, so why isn’t he stuck? This isn’t consistent.
Hugo is still cutting himself free.
Sue: Oh, I give up.
The Doctor reaches Azmael’s laboratory. He vaults over a table and attacks his old friend.
Sue: It’s a pantomime. I don’t like anybody in this story. This old guy, he’s probably the nicest character in the whole thing, and he’s threatening to kill children.
It’s at this point that Nicol decided to walk into the room.
Nicol: Ooh, it’s Colin Baker.
Sue: I wouldn’t hang around if I were you, Nic. This is painful. Escape now, while you still can.
Nicol legs it as the episode reaches its conclusion. The Doctor is told that Peri must die.
Sue: He still needs to work on his scared face. He looks like he’s just remembered that he’s left the gas on.
The credits roll.
Sue: I’m not enjoying this at all. There’s no atmosphere, the plot isn’t involving me, and everyone is TOO ****ING LOUD!
Mestor wants to keep Peri around. You know. Just because.
Mestor: I find her pleasing. Pleasing!
Sue: Great. Another sex pest. Poor Peri, the universe isn’t very nice to her, is it?
At least Hugo has decided to take off his stupid outfit.
Sue: Oh, it’s whatshisface from The Stranglers… Mmmmm… That’s much better.
Mestor wants to realign the orbits of a couple of planets.
Sue: Brian Cox would have a field day with this bollocks.
But Azmael has overlooked something important… If the plan were to succeed, it would cause an enormous explosion.
Sue: How did he not realise that before? That’s just stupid.
Mestor breaks into the Doctor’s TARDIS.
Sue: Even when they lock the TARDIS doors, any ****er can still walk in these days. Even a slug!
Azmael tells the Doctor that he can’t regenerate any more.
Sue: Eh? He’s a Time Lord? Was I supposed to know that? They kept that quiet. Is there a point to that?
Hugo fights off the Jacondans…
Sue: Shit, those guns will take your hand off!
The Doctor finally confronts Mestor.
The Doctor: In my time I have been threatened by experts. I don’t rate you very highly at all.
Sue: That’s the sanest thing he’s said all day.
After lots of too-ing and fro-ing, the Doctor finally kills Mestor by hurling some acid at him.
Sue: Did he just chuck salt at him?
Azmael dies in the Doctor’s arms. Slowly.
Sue: Get on with it! Just die!
Me: This is supposed to be moving. Don’t you care?
Sue: He was threatening to kill children half an hour ago, so guess what? NO! I DON’T CARE!
Azmael croaks his last breath.
Sue: ****ing ridiculous.
The story limps to its conclusion and Hugo decides to stay on Jaconda.
Sue: Is he mad? Let’s see: I can travel through the universe with a fit bird and a crazy clown, or I can live in this shit hole with a bunch of cretins and no food. For ****’s sake.
The Doctor promises to take the twins home in his TARDIS.
Sue: If these two idiots are in the next story, I will give up. Seriously, I won’t go on with this any more.
There’s just enough time left for the Doctor and Peri to bitch at each other.
Sue: There’s real tension between these two. Is that wise?
The Doctor: I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not.
Sue: That was directed at the fans, wasn’t it? That was JNT. I blame JNT. He hasn’t got a clue.
I knew that Peter Davison documentary was a bad idea.
Sue: When does JNT leave?
Sue: Please make it soon.
Sue: That was rubbish. I liked the first episode but it went downhill rapidly. I blame the director. And JNT. And the costume designer. Was she smoking crack? Crack was big in the 1980s, wasn’t it?
Me: What about Colin?
Sue: It’s too early to tell. He’s very loud, though. And I’m not just talking about his coat.
Later that night, while we were watching Homeland (it’s a bit like 24, only less believable), Sue turned to me with a concerned look on her face.
Sue: I want to change my score for The Twin Dilemma. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
Me: You have? Is that wise?
Sue: I was too lenient, earlier. I want to mark it again. I have to mark it again:
Sue: I’m really annoyed by it. What were they thinking, starting off a new Doctor with a load of shit like that? It’s not right.