Friday, 4 October 2013

The Twin Dilemma

Whilst not the worst Doctor Who tale in my opinion, this was probably the worst-considered story in the show’s history. Why do I say ‘worst-considered?’, well, the opening story for any new Doctor needs more careful thought and planning than the standard story. They need to remember that first impressions on television count, and the production team needed to put its best foot forward, which clearly did not happen in ‘The Twin Dilemma’.
The Doctor chooses his clothes. Maybe he should have left that to Peri?
Firstly, a lot of the blame must fall fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Eric Saward. To get an untried writer in Anthont Steven to write the first story for any Doctor is risky at best. Whitaker wrote Troughton’s first tale, trusted writer, Holmes Pertwee’s, Dicks’ Tom Baker and Bidmead Davison’s. It’s a wise move to have your opening story in trusty hands. So then I gather Saward did a lot of rewriting this messy convoluted script but really he should have scrapped the lot and written from scratch, would have been better.
Still, costuming was not the strong point of this tale.
SO let’s look at the new Doctor. I am a few stories along and I like Colin’s Doctor, and I understand what John Nathan-Turner was going for, but surely they just took it too far in the opening story. To make him unlikeable is one thing, but when you have the Doctor attacking his companion in the opening episode viewers are likely to recoil in horror, any viewers unsure of the series may have chosen that exact point to switch off.
Maurice Denham as Azmael
Colin Baker gets a coat of many colours, one he hated and certainly is the most ‘out-there’ costume of all. I can’t see anyone going further than that ensemble. Bright yellow trousers didn’t help, but somehow I feel like the costume works! Crazy I know. The script outdoes the tastelessness of the costume by a long way.
One of the twins with Azmael and an annoying Jacondan.
Firstly, the main protagonist is a giant slug. Is it any surprise that the effects’ team couldn’t achieve that convincingly? Not really. Also, the last story of the season is often effected by budget issues, which again impacts the sort of start Colin Baker receives. Add to that the police costumes which are dreadfully cheap-looking, the fact that the story is set on three separate planets and has a race of aliens as well, not to mention space ships and more, it’s little wonder this story looks nearly as cheap as ‘Time-Flight’. It was just stretched far too far. The Jacondans have wigs and beards made out of feathers and frankly look ridiculous.
And as for the yelling, it’s just too much. It could have been toned down by 50% and still been hard to take, but they just went all out. There is no godly way Peri would stay with the Doctor after these episodes. Are they just going to shout at each other adventure after adventure? Then we have Hugo Lang, police officer from Earth who decides to stay on Jaconda to help out despite not really talking with any of the locals or really know what’s been going on for the bulk of the story. And the less said about the twins, the better.
Mestor (centre) one of the least convincing Who-monsters EVER.
Professor Edgeworth/Azmael (Maurice Denham) however is a wonderful character and well played by the aging actor. That worked well. The ins and outs of the plot, the plan to blow up a sun to spread gastropod eggs across the universe, works less well. To go all the way to Earth to kidnap the twins for their mathematical prowess so that Mestor can work out how to explode the sun perfectly is what really makes in convoluted.
There are glimpses of good stuff in the four episodes, but sadly it does come across generally as amateur hour. It needed a lot more money thrown at it, some script reworking and a lot of toning-down.


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  2. Though this story always comes in bottom 10% every fan pole, I (dare I say it?) this story. It's one of my TOP 20 favorite Who stories!