Thursday, March 25, 2010

6X2 - The Mark of the Rani 2

Doctor Who has had several directors who have directed only one story, and, in most cases, for better or worse, the results have usually been rather unique. These unique results vary from the awkward (Tristan de Vere Cole of The Wheel in Space fame) to the visionary (Lovett Bickford's sterling, and wildly over budget, work on The Leisure Hive) to the disastrous (Mary Ridge on Terminus). Sarah Hellings's only Doctor Who directorial effort was The Mark of the Rani, and her work is among the very best seen in the 1980s.

Colin Baker certainly seems to benefit from Hellings's work. For the first time, the Sixth Doctor is actually fun to watch here, bounding around the countryside with a vigour for life that was all but absent in Baker's first three stories. Colin Baker shows off the wit and charm that won him the part in the first place. His exploration of The Rani's TARDIS (a dazzling set, by the way) is just lovely, as is his efforts to free himself from being tied up to a pole amidst a minefield of plant mines.

Yeah, the plant mines and the moving tree - they're one of the things that certain sectors of fans loathe about this story, but I personally think they're an ingenious idea. And the idea of Luke being able to move his "arm" to save Peri isn't that outlandish, as it could still be the last vestiges of his humanity working to save Peri before he fully becomes a tree.

In fact, this story as a whole has been, in my opinion, unfairly slammed over the years. This marathon of Who watching and writing has yielded many surprises, even after having watched them several times already over the past few years, and The Mark of the Rani pleasantly surprised me more than most. It's an utter delight to watch, easily the most charming story in the Sixth Doctor's era, and in dire need of a reappraisal from those who have been bashing it.


Neil said...

It's very nice to read a positive review of this story!

A lot of what you say here chimes with one I did on my reviews page, Shall We Destroy?:

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