Time and the Rani
|144 – Time and the Rani|
|Doctor Who serial|
The Doctor uncovers a plan to kidnap Earth's geniuses
|Writer||Pip and Jane Baker|
|Script editor||Andrew Cartmel|
|Incidental music composer||Keff McCulloch|
|Length||4 episodes, 25 minutes each|
|Date started||7 September 1987|
|Date ended||28 September 1987|
Time and the Rani is the first serial of the 24th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 7 September to 28 September 1987. It was the first to feature Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, who regenerates from the Sixth Doctor at the start of the story after Colin Baker was dismissed from the role.
Whilst in flight, the TARDIS is attacked by the Rani, an amoral scientist and renegade Time Lord. The TARDIS crash-lands on the planet Lakertya. On the floor of the console room, the Doctor begins his sixth regeneration. In his post-regenerative confusion the Doctor is separated from his young companion Mel Bush and tricked into assisting the Rani in her megalomaniac scheme to construct a giant time manipulator. Lost on the barren surface of the planet, Mel has to avoid the Rani's ingenious traps and her monstrous, bat-like servants, the Tetraps. She joins forces with a rebel faction among the Lakertyans, desperate to end the Rani's control of their planet. The Doctor must recover his wits in time to avoid becoming a permanent part of the Rani's plan to collect the genius of the greatest scientific minds in the universe, of which she has captured many including Einstein, in order that she can create a time manipulator, which would allow the Rani to control time anywhere in the universe, at the expense of all life on Lakertya. The Doctor manages to foil her plan and free the Lakertyans of her evil control. The Rani escapes in her TARDIS, but it has been commandeered by the Tetraps, who take her prisoner. The Doctor takes all the captured geniuses on board his TARDIS so that he can return them home.
Although this was the first story to feature the Seventh Doctor, it was written before McCoy's casting and therefore not directly tailored to his portrayal of the character. As Sixth Doctor actor Colin Baker declined to film a regeneration sequence, Sylvester McCoy instead wore his predecessor's costume and a blond curly wig and filmed the entire sequence himself. A number of spin-off media have provided additional explanation for the Doctor's regeneration including the Virgin New Adventures novels Timewyrm: Revelation, Love and War by Paul Cornell, Head Games by Steve Lyons, all of which speculate that the Seventh Doctor's 'essence' drove the Sixth Doctor to pilot the TARDIS into the Rani's tractor beam to become Time's Champion and prevent himself from becoming the Valeyard, and the Past Doctor Adventures novel Spiral Scratch by Gary Russell, which features the Sixth Doctor sacrificing much of his energy to prevent a pan-dimensional being from destroying creation, leaving him in a weakened physical condition before the Rani's attack.
The Seventh Doctor tries on several earlier Doctors' costumes: the Second Doctor's fur coat, the Third Doctor's smoking jacket, the Fourth Doctor's coat and scarf, and the Fifth Doctor's cricket outfit, as well as other costumes. He also wears the Sixth Doctor's patchwork coat for much of the first episode, the first example of a Doctor wearing his previous self's clothes for a prolonged period rather than quickly changing after regeneration.
It is never explained how the Rani escaped the predicament in which she had last been seen in The Mark of the Rani (trapped with the Master in her TARDIS and a rapidly growing Tyrannosaurus rex embryo). The novelisations of Time and the Rani and The Ultimate Foe, both by Pip and Jane Baker, both claim that the rapidly growing dinosaur snapped its neck on the ceiling of the Rani's TARDIS and died instantly, while the novel State of Change reveals that the Master escaped the TARDIS by separating the console room from the rest of the ship, forcing the Rani to cannibalise other controls in her TARDIS to pilot it prior to the events of the novel, although the canonicity of this claim is unclear. Big Finish Productions have also presented fandom with an explanation in their audio release The Last Adventure.
This story's working title was Strange Matter. The Loyhargil, lightweight substitute for strange matter, is an anagram of "holy grail". Amongst the famous Humans the Doctor mentions towards the end as he explains to Mel the severity of the Rani's plans are Elvis and Mrs Malaprop (a fictional character). This is a reference to the Seventh Doctor's frequent use of malapropisms throughout this story. Ken Trew created the Seventh Doctor's costume, based on a 1930s golfing design.
The story features a pre-credits sequence where the TARDIS crash-lands on Lakertya. This is only the third time in the series history that there was a pre-credit sequence. Castrovalva (1982) and The Five Doctors (1983) were the first two stories to have a "cold opening". Only one more story of the original series, Remembrance of the Daleks would feature a pre-credits teaser, although this practice became commonplace from "The End of the World" onwards (the 1996 TV movie featured a short sequence incorporated into the title sequence).
This story was the first time the Doctor Who title sequence was computer-generated. Many of the effects, like the bubble Mel is trapped in, were realised in the same manner, mainly using a new version of the Quantel Paintbox computer the DW production team were in possession of since the early '80s (its first use was in the 1980 serial The Leisure Hive).
Keff McCulloch arranged the new opening theme. It was used until the end of the regular run of the series. A new logo for the series was also introduced with this story along with a new opening credits sequence that moved away from the "starfield" motif introduced in 1980. The new theme arrangement marked the first time since the First Doctor's era that the theme's "middle eight" section was regularly heard during the opening credits (the previous two arrangements used the middle eight during the closing credits only). As with the opening sequence from the Sixth Doctor era, the Seventh Doctor's opening does not use a static image of the Doctor, but rather one with limited animation: the image of the Doctor starts as a scowl, then fades to a winks followed by a smile. McCoy wears makeup that gives his face and hair a silver/grey appearance. Episode four mistakenly uses an early version of this sequence, which gives the Doctor's face a shadowy look which producer John Nathan-Turner felt was not prominent enough.
Broadcast and reception
|Episode||Broadcast date||Run time||Viewers
|"Part One"||7 September 1987||24:44||5.1|
|"Part Two"||14 September 1987||24:36||4.2|
|"Part Three"||21 September 1987||24:23||4.3|
|"Part Four"||28 September 1987||24:38||4.9|
Reviewing Time and the Rani, Tat Wood criticised the story's dialogue and plot, but praised the direction as "visually impressive". A 2014 poll held by Doctor Who Magazine ranked Time and the Rani as the third worst episode in the show's run, behind only "Fear Her" and The Twin Dilemma.
Script editor Andrew Cartmel has said that there were many things he disliked about the script which lacked depth, "This was a story which wasn't about anything—and, frustratingly, it was Sylvester McCoy’s debut."
|Author||Pip and Jane Baker|
|Series||Doctor Who book:
|128 (initial printings erroneously have it numbered 127)|
December 1987 (Hardback)5 May 1988 (Paperback)
A novelisation of this serial, written by Pip and Jane Baker, was published by Target Books in December 1987. The novel features a longer finale for the Sixth Doctor (and reveals that the regeneration into the Seventh Doctor was caused by "tumultuous buffeting" when the Rani attacked the TARDIS), while the Tetraps seem to speak English backwards.
Time and the Rani was released on VHS by BBC Worldwide in July 1995. It was released on region 2 DVD on 13 September 2010, and on region one DVD on 14 June 2011. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 99 on 17 October 2012.
- From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the four segments of The Trial of a Time Lord as four separate stories and also counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this story as number 148. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
- Time and the Rani at Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who The Handbook - The Seventh Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 40. ISBN 0-426-20527-8.
- Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James (1998). "Time and the Rani". Doctor Who: The Television Companion. London: BBC Worldwide. p. 502. ISBN 0-563-40588-0.
- Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "Time and the Rani". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- "Time and the Rani". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Time and the Rani". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- Wood, Tat (2007). About Time 6: Seasons 22 to 26 and TV Movie. Illinois: Mad Norwegian Press. pp. 165–180. ISBN 0-975944-65-7.
- Doctor Who Magazine Issue 474
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- Time and the Rani reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
- Time and the Rani reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide