Thursday 16 August 2012

632 The Twin Dilemma Part Four

EPISODE: The Twin Dilemma Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Friday 30 March 1984
WRITER: Anthony Steven
DIRECTOR: Peter Moffatt
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 6.3 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Twin Dilemma

The Doctor pleads for Peri's life and asks to assist in Mestor's plan. Azmael reveals that Mestor is going to use tractor beams to drag two minor planets into Jaconda's orbit but the Doctor realises that they will sucked into the Jacondan sun causing a huge explosion which will spread Mestor's Gastropod eggs through the Universe. He & Azmael confront Mestor. Mestor is tricked into possessing Azmael allowing the Doctor to destroy Mestor's body. The Doctor & Peri take the twins back to Earth leaving Lang as the new Master of Jaconda.

No that didn't get any better. Suddenly what looked like Azmael's plan to save Jaconda now becomes Mestor's to destroy it and he's suddenly got huge planet dragging tractor beams. More gunge flowing from orifices as Mestor dies and both Mestor (#3, "I find her pleasing!") and Lang (#4) get an opportunity to lust after Peri.

This story is a mess. It's such a Turkey that you could serve it up with cranberry sauce & sausages wrapped in bacon at Christmas. One friend of mine maintains that "In a weird parallel universe, it would have had the same production crew as Androzani and been hailed as a classic, I think. Graeme Harper would have turned of all the lights in Mestor's throne room and pumped in so much smoke!". No. It's gone wrong waaaay before the director got involved. The script is at fault, especially how the Doctor is portrayed right the way through. This post regeneration crisis makes him out to be an unlikeable so and so and would probably have turned most viewers off. If you want to see post regeneration manicness done well watch The Eleventh Hour, Matt Smith's first story which does pull it off. Otherwise the two other tactics, keep the Doctor in the Background out the way letting the companions do the work (Spearhead from Space/Castrovalva/Christmas Invasion) or hit the ground running as you mean to go on (Power of the Daleks & Robot) are much better tactics.

The other problem is this regeneration story is at the end of the season. As per usual there's no money left and the unions are threatening strike action so it's never going to look good. And entrusting the script to set a Doctor up to someone who's never worked on the show before isn't a good move. I've watched this four times now (Broadcast, Video Release, DVD release and for the blog) and thankfully it can now join Space Pirates, Underworld, Meglos & Time Flight in the "I don't need to ever watch this again" pile. I'm not the only one to think this either, Twin Dilema is frequently voted worst story ever and I can see why. OK it's because not enough people have seen what's left of the Space Pirates but.....

The story was novelised by script editor Eric Saward, whom, is said to have written the final draft of the televised story, in 1985. The cover was to originally feature a painting of Colin Baker but due to a misunderstanding over fees to the actor it was replaced by one of Mestor. Twin Dilema was scheduled for video release in May 1992, alongside Claws of Axos, but the recovery of Tomb of the Cybermen bumped it off the release schedule and turned it into a Woolworths exclusive released the same day as the other two stories. A general release followed sometime later. It was the first Colin Baker story released on video, but by that time there was already a Seventh Doctor story on the shelves. Doctor Who - The Twin Dilemma on September 7th, 2009 and was the last Colin Baker story to be released making the sixth Doctor the first, bar the one off appearance of the Eighth, Paul McGann, to be fully available on DVD. Since then all of the Fifth Doctor's stories have been released and we are, at time of writing, one story shy of being able to own a complete run of Seventh Doctor episodes.

This story marks the end of Doctor Who's trek round the early evening BBC weeknight schedules. It was announced that when Doctor Who returned next January it would be restored to it's traditional Saturday teatime slot and for the first time shown as 45 minute episodes.

On the 13th April 1984 Richard Hurndall, the actor that played the first Doctor in The Five Doctors, died. Rumours persist that he passed away before he received his pay check for his work on that story but given filming took place a year previously I think we can discount that!

1984 is the last year that a season of repeats was shown in the summer: On the 6th & 13th July The King’s Demons was repeated episodically, while the 20th saw the broadcast of a compilation version of The Awakening. Then from the 14th to 17th August The Five Doctors was shown again split into a 4 part episodic version.

During the autumn of 1984 the BBC gave Doctor Who some real science fiction competition for the first time since Blake's 7 finished when their adaptation of The Tripods began on 15th September 1984. Intended to last three series, one covering each of the three original books. Actors involved from Doctor Who include John Scott Martin & Pamela Salem, in the first series, and Edward Highmore, John Woodvine, Bernard Holley & Bruce Purchase in the second. Veteran Who director Christopher Barry directs several episodes. The third series never materialised (as we'll see....) but the first two are available on DVD.

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