Without even an opening title sequence
Meet Michael Grade's agent of bridge-dropping
against the Sixth Doctor and his heliotrope coat.
to kick things off, this sequence features an impressive (for the time) CGI shot of the TARDIS randomly flying around as it gets zapped with lasers. Why it's zapped with lasers, what's going on, who's doing what, that's unimportant: the TARDIS is being zapped and forced to land on an exotic alien planet
as a day-glo lizard guy watches. The Rani
steps in and gloats while one of her henchmen rolls over someone in the Sixth Doctor's outfit, revealing a guy in a wig
who then regenerates
into the Seventh Doctor right before our eyes. note
The title sequence is now finally shown, the first one to ever use CGI in the series, equally as impressive for its time as the opening scene of the teaser. Not so much can be said on the theme arrangement accompanying it, though... but the synthesizer beat's still pretty nifty.
Once it ends, The Rani then takes the Doctor off to her secret laboratory and doses him with amnesia juice, while leaving the companion Mel back in the TARDIS to stumble around the exotic alien landscape with that day-glo lizard we saw earlier. The Doctor awakens to see the Rani disguising herself as Mel and acting like Mel for... um... we're never really told why. Maybe the Rani simply wanted to be the Doctor's companion for a while.
The Doctor is very miffed to have regenerated, and even more miffed by what he thinks is regular old post-regenerative amnesia
. He refuses to do any work until his mind starts working again and goes off to pick a new outfit instead. The Rani, whose Mel disguise is working rather well, decides to go enslave some more lizardmen.
Mel sneaks into the Rani's evil base of operations (after having been Trapped by Mountain Lions
for a couple of hours) and the Doctor, still amnesiac, thinks that she must be the Rani. They quickly sort out the confusion by checking each other's number of pulses, and after a sweet Headbutt of Love
, they head off together to stop the Rani's evil plan.
Eventually, the Rani's diabolical scheme is revealed: she's been kidnapping the smartest people throughout space and time in order to create a gigantic artificial brain. This brain can steer evolution, and since the Rani really loves dinosaurs, she's going to retroactively replace Earth's population with them. And possibly some other stuff. Evil
stuff. However, her plan involves hooking the Doctor up to the giant brain together with the likes of Einstein and Pasteur, who of course all immediately proceed to not listen to the Rani. The Doctor rescues the lizardmen, straps their bombs to the giant brain instead, and taunts the Rani into activating said bombs. He drops the geniuses off back home (promising Einstein he'll show him how the TARDIS works later. He'd later have trouble with this
.) and runs off for more adventures with Mel in the TARDIS. As for the Rani, she's left (literally) hanging with bat-people as she vows her revenge. She's still not very good at her job.
It's worth noting that this story was originally intended for Colin Baker's 6th Doctor
by Pip and Jane Baker (old hands at writing for him by this point), but was sent through the re-write cycles once Colin was fired. It's notable for the final appearance of the Rani in the series (not counting Doctor Who 30th AS "Dimensions in Time"
), as well as the first appearance of the 7th Doctor.
Watch it here
- Apathetic Citizens: The Lakertyans for the most part don't seem particularly bothered about what happens to them.
- Bat out of Hell: The Rani's Tetrap Mooks.
- BBC Quarry: About 2/3rds of the episode are spent meandering over one.
- Bee Bee Gun: Those bug spheres.
- The Cast Showoff: McCoy was good at doing pratfalls and mugging. And playing the spoons.
- Characterization Marches On: McCoy's performance as the Doctor is very cuddly and goofy, and he's not yet become the manipulative mastermind that Seven would later turn out to be. However, this is his regeneration story, and he spends half of it drugged by the Rani.
- Continuity Cavalcade: While picking a new dress style, the Doctor tries on the Second Doctor's furry coat, the Third Doctor's ruffles, the Fourth Doctor's entire wardrobe, and the Fifth Doctor's cricket outfit (shin protectors and all).
- Death by Falling Over: Poor Six. Well, it's what we are led to believe. We don't even know if this pitiful excuse for regeneration is legitimate, because the opening seems more like a reprise from another story.
- The Dog Bites Back: Urak at the end.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: The not-so-pretty fate of the 6th Doctor here.
- The Expanded Universe gives other explanations, Seven, despite not being born yet caused the death so he could become Time's Champion or the Doctor was already weakened from using up a lot of his energy to save creation. The Doctor: His Lives and Times, has Fenric claim he was responsible.
- Establishing Character Moment: An arguably unintentional example, given that the character wouldn't really be taken in this direction until the following season, but the very first thing the Seventh Doctor does upon regaining consciousness after regenerating is start to organise his schedule ("That was a nice nap; now, down to business! I'm a bit worried about the temporal flicker in Sector Seventeen..."). Later series and the Doctor Who Expanded Universe would have the Seventh Doctor act as The Chessmaster who intentionally sought out particular conflicts rather than just happening to stumble across them as previously, and made a point of devising a plan for how to deal with the situation prior to arriving.
- Fake Shemp: Colin Baker was either never asked to film his pathetic death and regeneration or didn't want to, reports differ. Whatever the case, Sylvester McCoy had to wear a wig and the regeneration was done by obscuring his face with some finest quality Quantel blurring effects. Not good enough for you? Apparently, someone else with a computer agreed. The DVD release has an easter egg with a splendid CGI edit of Colin's face.
- For the Evulz: The only explanation as to why the Rani would disguise herself as Mel.
- Headbutt of Love: The Doctor and Mel.
- Historical-Domain Character: The kidnapped geniuses, if they count as characters. None of them have lines.
- The Noun and the Noun
- Prisoner Exchange: The Rani for Mel.
- Putting a Hand over her Mouth: A Tetrap does this to Mel towards the end of episode 3.
- The Quisling: Beyus.
- Really 700 Years Old: The Doctor notes that he and the Rani are the same age, 953 years old. Either "rule one: the Doctor lies" applies, or he's forgotten how old he actually is.
- Why should we assume the Doctor always uses Earth years?
- Senseless Sacrifice: Is there any actual reason why Beyus insists on staying with the brain to get blown up?
- Techno Babble: The Rani's description of how she intends to transform the planet and her giant brain into a time manipulating weapon.
- With Catlike Tread: A monster spends an episode and a half stalking the heroes, then finally gets the drop on them, pops up from behind a rock a foot away, and roars triumphantly for ten seconds.
- Xenafication: Mel shows combat skills she never does before or later, in the scene where she thinks the new Doctor is a bad guy.