Monday, March 15, 2010
The most common criticism of The Twin Dilemma (okay, ONE of the most common criticisms in this, one of the most maligned stories ever) is that it looks terribly tacky and, well, terrible, especially in comparison to The Caves of Androzani that had finished airing less than a week before this story in 1984. Of course, in viewing each episode and story of Season 21 in quick, successive order, it's easy to tell that Androzani is the anomaly here. The Twin Dilemma was quite obviously made in 1984 and boasts the stylistic trappings of one of the gaudiest periods of fashion, art, and design in the history of mankind.
All the sets and costumes are terrible, but it's the mid-1980s, when everyone was beginning to wear pastels and ludicrous hairdos without the slightest sense of irony. Case in point: The Doctor's costume, which was made with the intention of never having to apologize for it later, as was the style at the time. In terms of the plot, the costume makes perfect sense. The newly regenerated Doctor's mind is completely addled, causing his mood and actions to sway violently from cowardice to self pity to bloodlust. He chooses his costume during this traumatic period, and the cacophony of colours that he has chosen to clad himself in is reflective of his mental state.
However, his mind obviously settles down, if not by the end of the story, then certainly by the beginning of Baker's first full season in 1985. But he still keeps the costume long after the joke is over, but long enough for him, and the character of The Doctor, to become a joke. The costume succeeds in derailing the lead character of a show which wasn't nearly as endearing and popular as it thought it was with the fans, the press, and, most importantly, the sixth floor of the BBC. Much like the irony-free attitude of the 1980s, Doctor Who had assumed by this time that it was entitled to run forever, and that it could put anything of questionable taste on screen and have it be loved and adored by all. Little did they know that those in charge of approving the show for air had a vastly different opinion of the show by this time...
Posted by Steven at 1:04 PM