Doctor Who: Mark of the Rani

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  • The Doctor, the Master and another renegade Time Lord converge in 19th century England at the height of the Luddite rebellion.Running Time: 89 min. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: TELEVISION Rating: NR Age: 794051273222 UPC: 794051273222 Manufacturer No: E2732

Description
The Doctor, the Master and another renegade Time Lord converge in 19th century England at the height of the Luddite rebellion.Amazon.com
Fans of the Colin Baker-era Doctor Who (which is somewhat underrepresented on DVD) will be pleased with this terrific and well-liked serial from 1985 that pits Baker’s Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant) against not one but two formidable foes against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution in 19th-century England. The villains in … More >>

Doctor Who: Mark of the Rani

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5 Comments
  1. The only good things in this episode is a introduction to the Rani, a female time lord rougue like the Doctor and the Master! If you are a die hard Colin Baker or fan of the series in general buy this video! It features the Master who makes his last appearence in the serial “The Trial of A Time Lord” . The outfit Peri wears is OK , but why could Lord Ravensworth give her more clothes in that era!
    Rating: 2 / 5

  2. About now it was becoming increasingly obvious that no-one working on Dr.Who (with the possible exception of Colin Baker who could have been – and wanted to be! – so much better) had a clue how to tell a good Dr.Who story. There’s a definite sense of ‘Hey, here’s a nice location, let’s string a feeble story around it!’ about this meandering tale of over-acting Time Lords (all three of them) and unconvincing historical shenanigans. Pip and Jane’s script is a stinker, the visual FX are half-hearted and the noted thesps in supporting roles (Terence Alexander, Gawn Grainer, Peter Childs) have the good grace to look seriously embarrassed. Garbage, quite frankly.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  3. While this is one of the better stories from the Colin Baker era, it’s subpar Doctor Who. The basic setup is sound and the Rani makes an interesting villain, but The Master is wasted and the story loses serious points for a sequence involving land-mines that turn people into trees, which is not only conceptually unsound, but badly handled.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  4. The final two Doctor Who DVD releases for 2006 feature the fourth and sixth Doctors in stories first broadcast in Britain in 1976 and 1985 respectively, both starring rare examples of a female `baddie’ as the Time Lord’s adversary. The Hand of Fear is certainly an appropriate release for this year as it neatly ties in with the most recent series of new adventures aired on the BBC this past spring. The Mark of The Rani comes from the ill-fated twenty-second season of the long running show and is certainly one of the highlights of that year’s much maligned canon.

    The Hand of Fear was the second story of six from season fourteen, possibly the most lauded and certainly (in terms of ratings) the most consistently popular season from the show’s original twenty-six year run. It was the third to star Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor under the Production of Philip Hinchcliffe and Script Editor Robert Holmes. Joining the Doctor for the start of her fourth year in the role was Sarah-Jane Smith, the feminist journalist portrayed so brilliantly and convincingly by Elisabeth Sladen. However, Sladen only appeared in the first two stories in this season, this being her last. The script comes from Bob Baker and Dave Martin, two veteran writers on the show who generally contributed at least one script per season from 1971 to 1979. I’m not a great fan of their stories, possibly due to a personal prejudice arising from their horrendous Three Doctors script that marked the series’ tenth anniversary. But The Hand of Fear is certainly strong, but for me it’s one of the weaker efforts in such a stand-out season. What makes this story so memorable and perhaps so fondly remembered is that it features the departure of Sarah-Jane, at the time, the longest running consecutive companion.

    Sladen is given the key role in the early episodes of this story and plays a wonderful, possessed villainess who creates havoc in a nuclear power plant. Alas though, and she admits this herself in the commentary, when not possessed, Sladen goes completely over the top and hams it up as Sarah-Jane in the rest of the story. Perhaps due to the pressure of the situation, her performance becomes quite irritating. This is redeemed almost completely in the closing moments of episode four, when having threatened to leave the Doctor, he in turn `evicts’ her from the TARDIS. Their final farewell (largely scripted by the two actors themselves) is touching and moving and well worth the price of the DVD alone. The real villain of the story, Eldrad of Kastria, is played for almost two episodes by Judith Paris, and it has to be said that she pretty much steals the entire show, both in her performance and the quite fabulous costume and make-up.

    Another female baddie show’s up almost nine years later in The Mark of The Rani, the third story from Colin Baker’s first full season as the Doctor, broadcast in the spring of 1985. Kate O’Mara takes on the role of the Rani, a villainous Time Lady, interfering with the Luddite period of Earth’s history in order to carry our scientific experiments. O’Mara had worked with Baker before on the hugely popular BBC drama series The Brothers, and the chemistry between the two actors is wonderful, although alas, they spend precious little time on screen together. The supporting cast is strong in general, but alas, the two leads (Baker and Nicola Bryant) are just not suited to their characterizations, and their on screen bickering is tiresome, as is Bryant’s phoney, whiney American accent and Baker’s bullying Doctor. Also here to spoil things is the desperately hammy Anthony Ainley as the Doctor’s other Time Lord enemy, The Master; a pantomime villain who was well past his sell-by date by this time, but was contracted to appear in all Doctor Who seasons in this era. It’s a shame that the three lead performances from the regulars are so weak, as the story is certainly strong and the wonderful location filming gives the show a very much needed senses of reality. O’Mara makes up for a lot and was so successful in the role that she was invited back two years later to help kick-start Sylvester McCoy’s ill-fated run as the seventh Doctor. She plays the part with conviction and humor, and is compelling enough to forgive the weaknesses of the scripting.

    Both of these stories have been wonderfully restored to their original broadcast quality (or possibly even better), which in the case of The Hand of Fear is possibly not such a great thing as it now becomes a little obvious how the some of the effects with the hand are done; nuances that were missed on the lower grade video tape. The extras included on both discs are fantastic – as the Doctor Who extras always are. There are behind the scenes documentaries, interviews with the cast and crew, out-takes, deleted scenes, continuity announcements, Easter Eggs, and features from other BBC shows related to these two stories. The only minor criticism would be that the “Changing Time” documentary included with The Hand of Fear covers a lot of ground that isn’t necessarily relevant to this story and might have been better used with other releases. But it’s a great little piece regardless. The commentary from Tom Baker on this disc is completely hysterical and the actor is at his comic best, even though he recalls precious little of the actual story. He is joined by writer Bob Baker and for some episodes by Sladen, Paris and Hinchcliffe. Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Kate O’Mara provide an entertaining commentary on The Mark of The Rani. Alas, in both cases, a lot of the on screen production notes and the behind-the scenes documentaries cover a lot of the same ground, so there is much repetition.

    With Elizabeth Sladen returning to play Sarah-Jane Smith soon on British screens in her own TV series, following her much lauded re-appearance with David Tennant’s tenth Doctor earlier this year, her final story from her original run is a great reminder of the bridge between the two. It’s wonderful to see her in the role again and hopefully her new adventures will be as popular as her original run.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. I’ve often felt that one of the failings of “Doctor Who” in its later seasons, and certainly with the new series, is the lack of what are called “historicals”. These are episodes that don’t feature aliens. They don’t have monsters. They just have the TARDIS Team ™, going back in time and dealing with real people. Doctor Who – The Aztecs, “The Romans”, “The Highlanders” are all examples of this.

    There were many of these to start with. After the Second Doctor there aren’t very many at all. There was one with the Fifth Doctor (I don’t recall the name), but that’s all.

    “The Mark of the Rani” is not a true historical. It does feature alien baddies (The Master and the Rani in her first of two appearances), but otherwise it’s as close as we can get to a historical.

    The story centers around the Luddites. They were people who saw technology as something to be feared, because it was take their jobs and leave them destitute. Nowadays we refer to such technophobes as… well, technophobes. They are well-known in England but generally not known in the rest of the world.

    The Doctor and Peri arrive in the middle of a minor uprising by these good folk. The Rani is there causing trouble in her own little amoral way. The Master is there… because… er… well, why the heck is he there? Best guess: Anthony Ainley had a contract. On the plus side the Rani gets in one good, swift kick that might go a long way to explaining much of the Master’s attitude later.

    The story is good, the acting is good (I’ve always admired the chemistry between Peri and the 6th Doctor, who I feel is VASTLY underrated). The sets are very good. You really get the feeling of being in 19th century coal country.

    The extras are interesting, particularly the commentary (wherein we hear Colin Baker bemoaning the fact that his children had no interest in “Doctor Who” until the new series).

    Overall, this is a very high-quality DVD, like much of the rest of the “Doctor Who” DVDs. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the series. Even if the 6th Doctor isn’t your favorite, this one is worth seeing.
    Rating: 4 / 5

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