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The Twin Dilemma
Okay, a few things out of the way first. I first saw Colin Baker in DW Monthly in a pic. I thought, this guy looks gay and there's nothing wrong with gay but he looked...pretty fem...and there's nothing wrong with that either. But to me he just didn't look like THE Doctor and to me the Doctor was not fem. At least not in any of his previous regenerations or whatever. That's how I felt at the time. I was proved wrong because I think he was a good Doctor. I also think he had the worst luck of any actor playing the Doctor because of many reasons. I think he had the worst scripts (at least up to TIME AND THE RANI and PARADISE TOWERS), I think he was saddled with a script editor who was in over his head and who ran out of ideas, saddled with a producer who also had few ideas left and was more concerned with promotion and drawing in big name guest stars, and with directors who knew less about the show than all of them did. When Colin asked, during TRIAL, what his motivation was supposed to be, no one could answer him and that's bad. Yet, on screen, he really tries...and tries hard. He's almost never terrible...at times, he's bad but not terrible or horrible. I'd say TIMELASH marks his worst performance but most of the other stories show him in great form.
Colin impresses right away in this story. I also don't...and I have to get this out of the way...I don't understand how any fan of DW can find SO much fault with this story. Yeah, it has faults. Yes, some of the actors are inexperienced but, folks, this is DW, none of that is new. Some people compare it to CAVES and say there's such a big difference in story and execution...well, gang, this is the same show that has THE AZTECS surrounded by THE KEYS OF MARINUS (at least one of the brain monsters in the jar has antenna that remind me of Mestor) and THE SENSORITES.
Truth is: THE TWIN DILEMMA is very much a traditional DW story. I also can't understand how, and this is a strong statement: how anyone who does not like this story likes any DW at all in any great chunks. Well, perhaps chunks is the wrong word. The story has two kids in it. Okay, that's new. But is it? DW is really a show that was made for children. Everyone gets crazed when I write that but it's true. There's always a bit of child in almost every DW story, except maybe CAVES but it is. They are mathematical geniuses (like Adric) and can effect stuff (like Adric). A Time Lord (although we didn't know at first he was a Time Lord) is using their or planning to use their math to effect stuff (like the Master in CASTROVALVA and come to think of it, LOGOPOLIS). There are cheesy space ships (oh come on, you can cite some of those yourself, SPACE PIRATES, ARK IN SPACE, SHADA, etc) and everyone complains about the Space Police set. It, at least, looks like an office. Again, check out SPACE PIRATES for stuff like that or even WHEEL IN SPACE. There's a woman in charge as in EARTHSHOCK and possibly others I've missed.
The Doctor is mean. Okay, take a look at Hartnell and even Pertwee. Pertwee in THE DAEMONS, THE MIND OF EVIL, and a few others is constantly putting people down. In fact, at times, he's more brusk than Hartnell ever was. Tom's Doctor also had some moments against others. Of course, this Doctor goes far over the top...and tha'ts a good thing...because he's in regeneration crisis. Frankly, the best thing about this story is that: the regen crisis. Colin is up to the task, playing a manic Doctor who is conceited, worried he's a danger to the universe, pointing at Peri, insulting her, taking revenge on her when she says, "Yuck" to his outrageous costume, nearly strangling her, and rightfully chastizing her for wanting to leave the area when their might be survivors of the spaceship crash in the area.
Peri, for her own, gets her own back. She's much more brash here and much more likable as she tries to cope with a Doctor who's just changed and a situation that's almost unbearable and her fear at first, is well acted. Ditto the later anger she has when the Doctor criticizes her. I like that she gets her own back at him...only to be interupted by Hugo pointing the gun at athe Doctor and the cliffhanger...I really think it was a mistake to, next season, go for the 45 min episodes. THIS Doctor works best with the 25 min mark to be honest.
The Doc's costume. When I first saw it in the magazine my reaction was much like that of Peri's. YUUCK. It was terrible. Still, the costume didn't make the entire series, it was just a little part of it. This story, seen in its entirety the first time round, made me like Colin a lot and even the jacket a bit.
Again, Colin does a great job in this and he's---unlike Peter---instantly IMO---the Doctor. Despite his "fits" and his meanness, to me, he was the Doctor right away and handled that well and took charge. When he talks about the crushing boredom of eternity and laughs in a manic way...it's scary and thought provoking all at once. What is going on in the back of the DOc's mind when he's hiding it all away in his more saner moments? Is he bored living so long? How does he really feel about his companions? Then he contemplates becoming a hermit and living like a monk in a retreat like state. In THE STRANGER, the Doc...I mean the Stranger is doing just that and I think he has a female called Miss Brown that's looking for him to come out of retirement or something. I liked the first STRANGER or two...
Anyway, the twins. Yeah, they're new actors but IMO they're not terrible. They do the job. And that's what this story does: the job and to be honest, it entertains and is not as miserable about the villains as say, CAVES or RESURRECTION OF THE DALEKS. Also: who crashed the ship? Mestor or Azmeal-Edgeworth? One thing on my mind was: and it shouldn't have been: if they could have two kids again and who could effect mathematics, why didn't they just bring back Adric or have him stay in the first place or maybe these two could use the math to bring him back. I know I was obsessed. Truth be told, Adric's death affected me greatly and it left a bad aftertaste in the show for me and I always hoped against hope that somehow, some new Doctor or team could rescue him, seeing the fault in the other Doctor's logic and inaction. Alas, it was not to be ever (and no, I don't count THE BOY TIME FORGOT at all).
I can go into this later but for me, this story is probably the best of the Colin Baker stories, in fact, it's probably better than his entire first season following. I also liked MARK OF THE RANI. And the Dalek story sort of grew on me. The rest...well, we shall see...