Sue: What the hell is this supposed to be?
A CGI TARDIS has just been zapped by a CGI laser beam.
Sue: Okay, what has Ian Levine done this time? This can’t be real.
The TARDIS is forced to land on a planet with a pink sky. A native watches it descend.
Sue: David Bowie doesn’t look that impressed.
And then it all kicks off in the TARDIS. The Rani (“I thought she was dead?”) enters the time machine (“Who gave her a key?”) with a hairy henchman in tow (“The Master has really let himself go”). And then the Doctor regenerates and – BOOM! – we’re into the title sequence.
Sue: Noooo! There’s too much to take in! Too much change! Argh!
I pause the DVD.
Sue: Right, so what the **** just happened?
Me: The Sixth Doctor fell off his exercise bike and regenerated. What’s not to get?
Sue: **** off. Come on, what really happened?
Me: Colin Baker was understandably upset when the BBC fired him and he refused to take part in the regeneration. Either that or he was double-booked on Crosswits, I forget. Anyway, this was the best they could come up with at such short notice.
Sue: Right, so that wasn’t Colin Baker lying on the floor just then?
Me: No, that was Sylvester McCoy in a wig.
Sue: Right. It’s not a great start, is it?
Back to the credits.
Sue: I don’t like the music. The notes are going up when they should be going down. I’m not sure about this at all.
A silver-faced McCoy looms out of the vortex.
Me: Do you like Sylvester McCoy’s sex wink?
Sue: Oh ****, it’s Pip and Jane Baker again. Could it get any worse?
On the planet Lakertya, the Rani is subjugating the natives.
Sue: Is that a spot on the Rani’s nose or has she had it pierced?
The Rani has kidnapped a famous scientist from Earth.
The Rani: Einstein.
Sue: A go-go!
Sue isn’t very impressed with the Rani’s storage facilities, though.
Sue: That will not be good for Einstein’s knees. Either she’s read the plans wrong or she’s built a prison for dwarves.
In the Rani’s laboratory, the Seventh Doctor is out for the count. Seconds after he wakes up, he’s flailing around like a prat.
Sue: He reminds me of Mork from Mork and Mindy. He’s very daft. Actually, this scene is a mess. If I’d seen this go out on television as a Doctor Who fan, I would have been annoyed.
Me: Are you annoyed now?
Sue: No more than usual.
Actually, that’s not true. I’ve never seen her get so worked up about the music before.
Sue: Bring back Dudley Simpson! This music is ****ing terrible. Actually, you probably shouldn’t write that down. Aren’t you Facebook friends with the bloke who wrote this din?
Me: No, that’s somebody else.
Sue: Good. I was going to tell you to defriend him. This is ****ing awful.
A Lakertyan named Ikona rescues Mel from the TARDIS. They run into a female Lakertyan named Sarn, but as she runs off in the opposite direction, she accidentally sets off one of the Rani’s deadly bubble traps.
Me: Not impressed with the effect?
Sue: It looked all right, but why would you go to all that effort? Why not just blow it up on the ground? That’s overkill. Literally.
The Rani has disguised herself as Melanie Bush to confuse the Doctor.
Sue: Are we seeing what the Doctor is seeing because he’s been drugged, or has she actually dressed up as Bonnie Langford?
Me: It’s the latter, incredibly.
Sue: Wow. It’s a good job the Doctor wasn’t travelling with Adric when she tried to pull this off. And she just happened to have a pair of pink leg warmers in her wardrobe, did she? What are the chances of that?
It turns out that the Doctor and the Rani went to university together.
Sue: Right, I see. So the Doctor did a PhD, the Master did a Masters and a Rani must be Gallifrey’s version of a Bachelor’s degree. That makes sense.
Meanwhile, Ikona accidentally sets off another one of the Rani’s bubble traps, but Mel saves him from certain death in the nick of time.
Sue: Yes, it’s very pretty, but what’s the point?
The Doctor begins to operate on the Rani’s broken machinery.
Sue: When is he going to change out of those bloody clothes? That’s what I’m looking forward to the most.
Me: Sylvester stays in that costume for his first year.
Me: The costume designer missed their deadline. These things happen.
Sue: ****ing hell.
Mel and Ikona run away from the Rani’s hairy henchmen. Sue is drawn to the Lakertyan’s unique style of running.
Sue: I bet they don’t play rugby on this planet. They’d be useless. What’s this planet called again?
Sue: Lakertya? They should have called it Nik Kershaw. Look at his hair! He could do with some product in it as well – it’s very dry at the front.
The Doctor returns to his TARDIS to change out of his clown costume. Sue flings a cushion in my general direction but her heart isn’t in it. She’s far too happy to see the back of that bloody coat.
And then the Doctor takes a trip through his sartorial past.
Sue: Put Patrick Troughton’s costume on!
The Doctor agrees to Sue’s demands but lurking beneath the Second Doctor’s fur coat.
Sue: Oh well, it’s an improvement but a bin bag would have been an improvement. It’s a very Peter Davisony look, what with the hat and the bland jacket. I like his trousers – I have some trousers just like that – but the question marks on his pullover are a bit naff. He looks like the sodding Riddler.
Me: What do you think of Sylvester McCoy?
Sue: He sounds like he’s drunk. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s having a hard time after his regeneration or McCoy is actually drunk.
She’s less reserved about the Rani.
Sue: She’s great. I haven’t got a clue what she’s doing but she’s making me laugh while she does it.
The episode concludes with Mel encased in one of the Rani’s traps.
Sue: At least she gets a thrilling ride in a bubble before she dies. She should try to enjoy it while it lasts.
Me: And that was Sylvester McCoy’s debut as the Doctor. Thoughts?
Sue: I really hate the new theme music. A lot.
Sue: I don’t like this title sequence. What are those silver things supposed to be? Space rubbish?
Me: What about the new logo?
Sue: It reminds me of the New Adventures.
Sue: For about five years, you made me drive to Forbidden Planet in Newcastle so I could buy them for you every bloody month. That logo just reminds me of all the money you wasted.
Mel is still trapped in the Rani’s bubble of death.
Sue: Groupon do days out like this. Water Zorbing is very popular.
The Rani is exasperated by the Doctor’s erratic behaviour. At one point, she practically turns to the camera to share her innermost thoughts.
Sue: It’s turned into House of Cards now.
Me: I couldn’t possibly comment.
Meanwhile, a hairy beast is tracking Mel and Ikona’s progress through a quarry.
Sue: It’s not a Yeti, is it? Has the Rani teamed up with the Yeti? How mad would that be?
Ikona and Mel bicker like an old married couple.
Sue: I really, really hate the music. Have I mentioned that yet? It sounds like the sort of shit you listen to.
A Tetrap attacks Mel. She screams. Two of our cats get up and leave the room.
Sue: This is rubbish. I don’t think you’ve been working on the book at all. You’ve just been putting this off for six weeks, haven’t you? I don’t blame you. It’s shit.
The Rani’s citadel is nice, though.
Sue: Somebody’s been watching far too many James Bond films.
And then Wanda Ventham turns up as a Lakertyan named Faroon.
Sue: Is that Pauline Collins?
Me: You always do this when Sherlock Holmes’ mum turns up.
Sue: Oh, yes. I thought I recognised her voice. The make-up isn’t doing her any favours – she’s too beautiful to be stuck under that crap.
When Faroon finds the remains of her dead daughter, Sarn, she turns on the waterworks.
Sue: They’ve gone well over the top with the fake tears. It’s looks like she’s been sprayed in the face with a hose.
Keff McCulloch pulls at our heartstrings.
Sue: The music is ****ing dreadful! Is there an option where we can turn it off?
In the Rani’s laboratory, the Doctor is playing the spoons.
Sue: And the point of that was what, exactly? Are the spoons this Doctor’s version of the recorder? Please tell me he doesn’t get his spoons out every week. I don’t think I could take it.
And then Sue notices the Tetrap’s secret weapon.
Sue: He has eyes in the back of his head. His peripheral vision must be excellent.
Mel meets the Seventh Doctor for the first time in the Rani’s lab. They suspect each other of being impostors, and it’s only when Mel checks the Doctor’s pulse that she finally believes him.
Mel: A double pulse. Then you really are the Doctor!
Sue: He could be the Master, you idiot. Just saying.
Mel is shocked by the Doctor’s transformation.
Mel: But you’re completely different! Nothing like you were. Face, height, hair, everything’s changed.
Sue: I bet he still hasn’t got a six-pack, though.
Even the Doctor isn’t impressed with his new persona.
Sue: McCoy is quite good when he’s playing it straight. If he can tone down the comedy slapstick, he could be all right.
The Rani knocks up some orange plastic.
Sue: That’s one hell of a bandsaw she’s got there. I’d kill for a bandsaw like that.
The Doctor and the Rani place the plastic into her machine.
Sue: It sounded like they just snapped it by accident. Oh well, just pretend it’s okay, I’m sure it’ll be fine.
The Rani dims the lighting in her lab and then she removes her curly red wig.
The Rani: Your usefulness is not yet over. You have another role to play.
Sue: I thought she was going to seduce the Doctor, what with the mood lighting and her letting down her hair like that. It was getting pretty steamy. I wonder what kind of role she wanted him to play? It sounded kinky.
But the Doctor has already legged it.
Sue: And now it’s turned into a ****ing pantomime again.
The episode concludes with the Doctor surrounded by hungry Tetraps.
Sue: This is pretty bad, but Sylvester McCoy is getting better and Kate O’Mara is hilarious. But it’s not a great start, is it? Fans don’t like this one, do they?
Nicol joins us for the third episode of Time and the Rani.
Sue: What do you think of the titles, Nicol?
Nicol: It’s very eighties. It’s at times like this that I’m glad I don’t remember the eighties.
The episode recap features the scene where the Doctor overpowers the Rani with his tiny scarf.
Sue: Why would you show that again? It’s abysmal.
Nicol: Wow. That was pretty bad.
In the Tetraps’ lair, the Doctor is saved when the creatures are distracted by another food source.
Sue: Is that supposed to be blood or are they tempting them away with raspberry jam? Is the Rani running a doughnut factory?
Nicol: This pig/werewolf/bat thing would be a good love interest for the next Twilight film.
Back in the Rani’s lab, a Lakertyan named Beyus trips down the steps that lead to her workstation.
Sue: Are they having a competition to see who can fall over those steps the silliest way? And what on Earth is going on with the music now? It sounds like Psycho but this is as far from Psycho as it is possible to get.
A Tetrap attacks Mel with a massive tongue.
Nicol: See! Twilight.
Sue: She’s planking!
Meanwhile, in the Lakertyan Centre of Leisure.
Sue: Is this supposed to be a Chill Out room? I like the giant disco ball on the ceiling.
The Doctor wants to investigate but Ikona won’t let him interrogate the natives.
Ikona: We’ll be interrupting their pleasure.
Sue: Pleasure? What pleasure? They’re bored senseless. And I know how they feel.
Nicol: They should have a ping-pong table in there at the very least.
Speaking of which.
Sue: Do these hairy things ever look you straight in the eye? This one looks like he’s watching a tennis match.
The Rani unleashes her Disco Bees of Death.
Sue: This is shockingly bad. It’s insulting my intelligence.
Nicol and I both bite our lips.
Sue: Everything about this is terrible. The script, the acting, the direction, the music. Especially the sodding music. What a start for Sylvester McCoy. He must have been gutted.
Nicol: Is this his first story?
Nicol: Oh dear.
The Doctor encounters another fake Mel.
The Doctor: A hologram! As substantial as the Rani’s scruples.
Nicol: It’s not a great performance.
Me: He’s in The Hobbit!
Nicol: I’m not saying he’s a bad actor, he’s just terrible here.
Sue: Kate O’Mara is the only person worth watching in this. When she’s not in a scene, I want to look away.
On the surface of Lakertya, the Doctor and Ikona keep an eye the Rani’s HQ.
Sue: ARGH! This is the most inappropriate use of music in a television series – EVER! The way they fade it out too late – they stopped running ages ago. The dubbing in this episode is a joke. A joke!
Nicol: Calm down, Mam.
Sue: I can’t take it any more.
Nicol: It sounds like the sort of music you’d hear on an old 8-bit SNES game. It sounds like they’ve just entered Bowser’s Castle.
The Doctor is rendered unconscious by a Tetrap’s tongue.
Sue: He really needs to work on his planking skills. That’s shoddy.
The Doctor is placed into one of the Rani’s containers.
Sue: He just about fits. Sylvester must be really small.
And then we finally see what the Rani has been up to all this time.
Sue: A giant brain… That’s a bit silly.
Me: Yeah, you’d never catch the new series doing anything like that.
The episode concludes with the Doctor’s intellect being fed to this giant, pulsing brain.
Sue: That wasn’t a bad cliffhanger, I suppose. But I’m clutching at straws. I blame the music. I’m sorry, but I can’t get over how inappropriate it is.
She pays close attention to the credits.
Sue: Keff McCulloch, eh? I bet he was incredibly young and sexy when JNT hired him. There’s no other explanation for it.
Nicol didn’t stick around for the final episode. Funny, that.
Sue: There are lots of hairy monsters in this. They must have cost a fortune. What a waste of money. And why has the Rani left Easter Eggs out to melt in the sun like that?
The Rani is trapped in one of her own cells.
Sue: Just kick it, love. Oh God, this is so bad.
From this point on, Sue doesn’t have very much to say. Not unless you count tutting and sighing. Oh, and how much she hates the incidental music. She won’t stop banging on about that.
The Doctor examines the Rani’s giant brain.
Sue: Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise, playin’ in the street gonna be a big man some day. You got mud on yo’ face, you big disgrace, kickin’ your can all over the place.
Sue: Listen… Boom-Boom-Tschsk. Boom-Boom-Tschsk. Boom-Boom-Tschsk. We will… we will…
Me: Okay, okay, I get it.
And then it’s Mel’s turn to fall over in the Rani’s lab.
Sue: Those stairs are ****ing lethal! And I thought the stairs in Death on the Staircase were dangerous. I’m losing the will to live. I’d rather watch a black and white recon. I’m serious.
The brain starts counting down from 150.
Sue: This countdown is the only thing in this story I can actually follow. What the **** is Loyhargil when it’s at home?
The Doctor returns the geniuses the Rani has kidnapped to his TARDIS.
Sue: Does the Doctor ever clean the TARDIS floor? It’s so mucky.
The Rani is defeated by the Doctor (and some help from Beyus) but Sue has already tuned out.
Faroon is moved by Beyus’ sacrifice.
Sue: Oh God. They are going to play the sad EastEnders theme.
Me: Anyone can fall in love.
But the Rani hasn’t escaped.
Sue: She’s ended up in a CSO Sex Dungeon. That’s nice.
The Doctor gives Ikona the Rani’s antidote to her Disco Bees of Death but Ikona pours it all away.
Faroon: Ikona believes that our people should meet their own challenges, if they are to survive.
Sue: Ten minutes later, they’re all killed by bees.
Mel and Ikona say goodbye. You can cut the sexual tension with a bandsaw.
Sue: Let her stay. Let her introduce red hair into their gene pool. It might suit them.
Mel and the Doctor return to the TARDIS. Mel believes that her new companion will take some getting used to.
The Doctor: I’ll grow on you, Mel. I’ll grow on you.
Sue: I’m not holding my breath.
Sue: That was irredeemable shit.
No, that isn’t a typo. That’s a minus.
Sue: If it wasn’t for Kate O’Mara, I would have marked this down even more. It’s the worst Doctor Who story I’ve ever seen. And that includes The Toymaker.
We watched the ‘Last Chance Saloon’ documentary on the DVD later, and Sue came away thinking that Dermot Crowley would have been a very interesting Doctor. Practically everything else she said is unprintable.