Monday 13 August 2012

629 The Twin Dilemma Part One

EPISODE: The Twin Dilemma Part One
TRANSMITTED: Thursday 22 March 1984
WRITER: Anthony Steven
DIRECTOR: Peter Moffatt
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Twin Dilemma

The mathematical boy geniuses, Romulus & Remus Sylveste, are kidnapped from their home by Professor Edgeworth and taken to his base on Titan 3. Space Police fighters under the command Lieutenant Hugo Lang are dispatched to pursue them but all are destroyed. The new Doctor finds himself suffering from mood swings and manic episodes and decides a period of contemplation & meditation is in order so heads to Titan 3 for solitude. There he & Peri find the wreck of Lang's freighter and take him back to the Tardis where he recovers and, assuming they are responsible for the deaths of his colleagues, holds them at gunpoint.

Right let's split this episode two ways:

Firstly the twins are annoying, sci fi fans hated boy geniuses even then and even more so now. Did Doctor Who not learn from Adric? The tinkly music in their house, together with the sets and the computer graphics made me think The Adventure Game when I saw this in 1984 and still do now ("How many Argonds round the pond?"). The house set isn't as bad as I remember it being, I was recalled it was like something from Captain Zep-Space Detective. And the Aliens with Edgeworth just look silly somehow, we can do better than that.

Then we have the Doctor. We're used to the Doctor being a little rough around the edges and unstable following a regeneration but this is taking it to a different level. He's brash and loud all the way through the episode, which I can live with, but trying to strangle your companion? I'm sorry but the casual viewer just tuning in to see what the new Doctor is like will be easily shocked by that and won't be coming back. To this day my Mother dislikes Colin Baker's performance as Doctor Who mainly because she was put off him by this early episode.

Peri Finally gets to change out of the same clothes she's been wearing since Planet of Fire. What she chooses looks OK I suppose which is good because from here onwards she gets some really stupid and impractical things to wear. Which brings us to that costume. Oh my goodness, what were they thinking? I see something that bright and brash and loud and can only think one thing: John Nathan-Turner, wearer of loud a shirts and frustrated costume designer, had a big hand in it's construction. The costume is finished off with a Cat badge that I'm told changes every story. But somehow, don't ask me how, Colin Baker makes it just about work.

Speaking of which, Ladies and Gentleman, a big welcome please for Mister Colin Baker! As a young actor Colin Baker shared a flat with David Troughton, son of Patrick. He gained national recognition playing Paul Merroney in The Brothers in the mid seventies following which he married (and divorced) his co-star Liza Goddard (Terminus). (Another of his Brothers Co-Stars will show up soon enough). He had a son Jack with his second wife, Marion Wyatt, but lost him to Cot Death/Sudden infant death syndrome in 1984. From that point on he became a fund raising campaigner for Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths using his television profile as the Doctor to support the cause, with many Doctor Who conventions to this day holding charitable auctions to support the cause, and served as first a trustee then the Chairman of the organisation. Even if he did nothing else then that alone is something worth applauding. Colin Baker can be found on Twitter as SawbonesHex.

The Title sequence gets a make over for this story gaining Colin Baker's face and being distorted. There's a moment just as the logo appears when it almost look like the old Tom Baker Diamond logo! People don't like the winking on the McCoy title sequence but there's some movement here as well causing Colin's face to smile just as it becomes solid.

Two actors only with us for this episode have prior Who form. Helen Blatch, playing Police Commander Fabian (of the Yard ?) was the voice of the Time Lord computer in The Deadly Assassin while the actor playing Professor Sylveste, Dennis Chinnery, has faced the Daleks in two previous stories. He was Albert C. Richardson, first mate of the Marie Celeste, in The Chase and Gharman in Genesis of the Daleks. Doctor Who fans The League of Gentlemen named their mishap prone vet, Dr Chinnery, played by future Who writer & actor Mark Gatiss, after him.


  1. Yes the Twins are annoying, but they aren't in it as much as you recall when you sit back and watch it again.

    The Doctor's regeneration works very well I think. Had it been a season apart I would agree with you. However, we had him foreshadow the regeneration felt different this time due to the spectrox toxaemia. The usual regenerative trauma combined with fighting off the effects give us an unstable Doctor, at least in the short term.

    I expect Ralph will follow shortly to join in the Turn and Burn vs Phil battle that will be called The Sixth Doctor era!

  2. This is a great episode!