The TARDIS is diverted to England at the dawn of the industrial revolution, a particularly sensitive point in human history that could be derailed by one careless time traveler – but in this case, there are no fewer than three careless time travelers. The Master is hatching a plot – yet again – to do away with the Doctor and destroy the Earth, while the Rani, a female Time Lord with a talent for sinister biochemical experiments, uses humans as her guinea pigs. This puts the Doctor and Peri in double jeopardy as the Master and the Rani interfere with each other’s plans, and both of the evil Time Lords couldn’t be less concerned about their effects on Earth’s development.
Guest Cast: Anthony Ainley (The Master), Kate O’Mara (The Rani), Terence Alexander (Lord Ravensworth), Gawn Grainger (George Stephenson), Peter Childs (Jack Ward), Gary Cady (Luke Ward), Richard Steele (Guard), William Ilkley (Tim Bass), Hus Levant (Edwin Green), Kevin White (Sam Rudge), Martyn Whitby (Drayman), Cordelia Ditton (Older Woman), Sarah James (Young Woman), Nigel Johnson (Josh), Alan Talbot (Tom)
Broadcast from February 2 through 9, 1985
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Boasting some outstanding location filming, my favorite feature of this episode is Colin Baker’s performance as the Doctor, honed to perfection in the first straightforward script of his era. Baker’s Doctor is a much more formidable match for the Master than Peter Davison was, and even though the Rani’s motivations aren’t quite clear, Kate O’Mara gives the new character a sinister edge (which is more than can be said for her later appearance in 1987’s Time And The Rani). Even Peri gets to show some initiative and uses her knowledge of botany, a nice change from the constant argument scenes.
Also, some credit is due to the set designer, who took the basic concept of the Doctor’s TARDIS, turned it up a few notches and put it in an art deco context, and created the very cool and expensive-looking set for the Rani’s TARDIS. On the other hand, it’s never made clear why she has a bunch of embryonic dinosaurs in glass jars perched precariously upon easily-toppled pedestals in the TARDIS, other than to set up the unnecessary cliffhanger for the Rani and the Master in the second half. One thing which was sadly never followed up was the vaguely disturbing flirtation between the Master and the Rani. The Rani could not possibly have shown less interest, while the Master seemed to think she’d go for a fey, mincing, wimpy villain like himself. In one wonderful scene, the Rani comments that the Master would get dizzy walking in a straight line – a very accurate criticism of the way the Master was written in the 1980s. It didn’t take much imagination to see that the Rani established herself here as the more dangerous adversary.