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Doctor Who: The Twin Dilemma by Anthony Steven (DVD review).

May 3, 2019 | By | Reply More

There are two plot threads to follow in the sixth regeneration of the Doctor (now actor Colin Baker) as he has become rather unstable with panic attacks and nearly strangling Peri Brown (actress Nicola Bryant). He does find a new set of tasteless contrasting coloured clothes along the way. This time, unlike his previous regenerations (don’t forget the Tom Baker regeneration nearly ended up looking like an early Viking), this time it kind of sticks.

Oddly, I’ve kind of gotten use to that coat now. I blame the state of this regeneration on the spectrox poisoning and it hadn’t cleared his system. Anyway, the Doctor decides he needs to be a hermit for some time and decides they should go to Titan 3.

Meanwhile, the twins Remus (actor Andrew Conrad) and Romulus (actor Gavin Conrad) Sylvest are mathematical geniuses who work together. Although they are kept safe, it doesn’t stop Professor Edgeworth (actor Maurice Denham) from materialising and controlling them before teleporting them away. On board the XV733 spaceship controlled by aliens, Edgeworth is contact by Mestor (actor Edwin Richfield) who reminds him of getting the best out of the twins. They in turn have recovered and manage to get a signal out to the Earth Force security who sends a spaceship after them. Alas, it is attacked and destroyed on Titan 3, although there is one survivor, the badly injured Lieutenant Hugo Lang (actor Kevin McNally).

The Doctor and Peri take him back to the TARDIS and in the brief time he is awake tries to attack the Time Lord. After Peri convinces the Doctor to treat him medically, they leave Lang unconscious in the TARDIS and investigate a concealed building that shouldn’t be there. It’s when they are captured that the Doctor identifies Edgeworth as a fellow Time Lord, Azmal, whom he last saw two regenerations ago. They find themselves left behind when Azmal and his alien crew take the twins away to go to Jaconda, scrambling the transmit controls. As the Doctor tries to get the right combination, Peri discovers that a bomb has been left behind, too. The Doctor succeeds in teleporting Peri back to the TARDIS and then it explodes.

Of course he survives. No spoiler in that. It’s when the Doctor takes them all to Jaconda and then persuaded to help rescue the twins that Mestor’s plan is slowly unveiled and its more than just shifting two outer planets into an out-of-phase state with Jaconda that some sense is made and the Doctor isn’t happy. The rest is spoiler.

There are some odd questions with big holes in them. They hide as two slug-creatures go past and yet none of them are with Mestor in the throne room or seen ever since. They also deposit a slime deposit as they go along but Mestor doesn’t. Considering Lang gets his boots stuck in this solidified slime, why doesn’t he just step out of them to get free? Lang is also one of the few people who doesn’t query the odd size of the TARDIS or how it transfers from planet to planet.

The audio commentary is between cast members Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Kevin McNally with a reminder that the story was made in 1984 and the Conrad twins had a slight lisp, although I have to confess I didn’t spot it. McNally liked Colin Baker’s new coat, saying it fitted in with the story. Baker, in turn, explains that John Nathan-Turner wanted a totally tasteless coat and its expense meant it was kept throughout the three years. The cat badges the Doctor wore changed with every story, with the latter ones based on Colin Baker’s own cats. Scriptwriter Anthony Steven was a bit slow in understanding deadline with Eric Saward doing most of the work on the last two episodes.

As the last story of that season, it was tight on budgets although, looking at the aliens, you do have to wonder at that. Colin Baker points out that John Nathan-Turner was a very good talent scout often picking out good actors before they became famous. All three of them reminisced about the use of the BBC canteen where members of assorted shows grouped and networking took place. Nicola Bryant pointed out the problems of her struggling to beat the script for Americanisms when they weren’t there.

The late Peter Moffatt was acknowledged for how great a director he was, getting things in the can in plenty of time while filming. Kevin McNally was also surprised he was never asked to become a companion. Colin Baker also points out that with regeneration stories that the reason they aren’t always regarded as being particular strong plots was to save swamping the new actor to the part. It’s also his last commentary, having done the other stories he starred in over the years previously.

‘The Star Man’ running at 6 minutes interviews title sequence designer Sid Sutton who was given the task to update them with Tom Baker, carrying over to Peter Davison and Colin Baker, making it a lot more colourful there. You see some of the work and he credits cameraman Terry Handley for bringing all the various effects together.

The costume design through the regenerations is covered in the 12 minute ‘Looking 100 Years Younger’ with Colin Baker and comedian Amy Lamé and how effective they were.

The 18 minute ‘Stripped For Action – The Sixth Doctor’ is noted as the longest run of the ‘Doctor Who’ strip with artist John Ridgeway with a selection of writers all influenced by Steve Parkhouse who started the run but not here, followed by Alan McKenzie (as Max Stepbridge) and Simon Furman. Colin Baker also wrote one story which was released as a graphic novel.

The 10 minute ‘Breakfast Time’ set 6:30am with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant although the year isn’t given but definitely 1984. These days, I suspect they would have been on at a more sociable hour. I liked Baker’s interpretation of regeneration as different time streams although it doesn’t explain why there’s only normally thirteen. Looking at the clock there, Colin Baker is also there at 7:15am discussing villains he would like to meet. Finally, some q&a but this time Baker is back in civvies, presumably ready to make his exit.

The 10 minute ‘Blue Peter’ piece goes through the regenerations before interviewing Colin Baker prior to his first episode which places it on a Thursday, considering that Janet Ellis says next week. Age has its uses.

Finally, the ‘Photo Gallery’, running at 8 minutes also has Colin Baker shown in a clean Peter Davison coat. It does make me wonder if Mextor was the first cross-eyed villain on the show.

Oh, don’t steal veggies from Mestor, it might cost you your life.

GF Willmetts

April 2019

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC. 1 DVD 99 minutes 4 * 25 minute episodes with extras. Price: I pulled my copy for under £ 6.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: BBCDVD2598)

cast: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Maurice Denham, Kevin McNally, Edwin Richfield, Gavin Conrad and Andrew Conrad

Category: Doctor Who, TV

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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