Doctor Who Reactions: "The Twin Dilemma" (SPOILERS)

(Taking a break from the adventures of the Tenth Doctor - I need to steel myself before the horrors of "Love & Monsters" and "Fear Her", so I decided to reach back and watch something that was better-written.)

 

1)Of course, the main thrust of this is getting to watch Colin Baker overact his cotton socks off in the throes of a regeneration gone wrong, as well as seeing poor Peri's justifiably negative reaction to seeing this whole mess. This was an interesting idea - presenting the public with a new Doctor that comes across as quite unpleasant and then having him win them over. It might conceivably have worked if properly handled, but in the event, it wasn't.  This story was tacked on to the end of Peter Davison's last season, and Baker has complained that since the viewers had to wait months for his second story, the image of his Doctor as an obnoxious fellow was left in the public's mind for far too long.  That said, there is a certain amount of amusement value in watching his histrionics, as he swings from blustering bravado to cartoonish cowardice.  However, the famous scene where he turns on Peri is genuinely scary, and one wonders how she was able to continue traveling with him after that.

 

2)Ah, the costume.  You know, my opinion about the costume has changed a bit over the years. I remember that when I first saw it, I loved it, which tells you something about my dress sense in those days.  Now, having had many years to think about it, my feeling is that nothing inherently wrong with the idea of the Doctor having an incarnation with particularly bad or excessively flashy dress sense. It's just that the outfit as worn was too obviously a "costume" and not clothing that an actual person - even one with no fashion sense - might have chosen.  The funny thing is, I think it would've taken only a small amount of tweaking to make the outfit acceptable. I liked the cat badge, though,

 

3)I gather that getting Maurice Denham for this was something of a coup, as apparently he was something of a "name" in those days.  Watching this today, I couldn't help feeling that, like Harriet Jones, "he looks tired".  It was interesting to see the Doctor meet up with an old drinking buddy, however.

 

4)The twins, the twins, the twins...whose idea were they? "I know, let's put two Adrics in, and to make it more fun, let's hire kids who make Matthew Waterhouse look like Laurence Olivier!" Oh, and if they were so vital and dangerous, why were they left alone, and unguarded?

 

5)Mestor was goofy-looking, and his plan was crap. Also, the Bird People were not the show's finest hour, either.

 

6)On the commentary track, the actor who plays Hugo points out that he had to spend most of Part Two asleep, and he points out that when he takes a coat from the wardrobe, it's very tacky and just happens to be the one that Peri hid his power pack in.

 

7)Cliffhangers:

Cliffhanger #1: Hugo threatens to kill the Doctor!  Resolution:  He passes out before he can do it.

Cliffhanger #2: Peri overacts because she thinks the Doctor got blowed up real good !   Resolution:  It turns out he wasn't.

Cliffhanger #3: The Doctor overacts at the thought that Peri's life is in danger!  Resolution:  It turns out that Mestor thinks she's cute. 

 

8)Some Fun Quotes:

  • "Poor, pusillanimous Peri - what a pitiful performance!"
  • "I thought you were the danger to the universe."
  • "Brave heart, Tegan."
  • "Excelsior!"
  • "I'm a knight errant, not an errant fool!"
  • "It worked. It actually worked."
  • "How I hate these hit or miss performances."  Us, too, Doc.
  • "Whatever else happens - I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not!"  Yeah, how'd that work out for you, Doc?

 

Overall  The post-regenerative stuff was better than I remembered it being, but the story itself wasn't up to much.

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"This story was tacked on to the end of Peter Davison's last season, and Baker has complained that since the viewers had to wait months for his second story, the image of his Doctor as an obnoxious fellow was left in the public's mind for far too long."

I think the idea was, with JNT repeating so much of the past, he wanted to concoct the NEXT Doctor before he left the show (just as Derrick Sherwin and Barry Letts had done). Only, he wanted it at the END of the season, instead of the beginning of the next one. Had BBC habits changed so much? Was Season 21 SO horrific and hopeless and downbeat that he really wanted something lightweight and upbeat to finish it out with and give it a little balance? If so, It's a shame that the Doctor was SO unstable, his outfit SO horrific, the "adventure" it accompanied SO underwhelming... I'm sorry, what was the question?

Oh yeah, but the biggest problem was, JNT-- DIDN'T leave!!!  Why?  WHY???

In America, WE had to wait almost a year after Peter Davison GOT KILLED so painfully before we could see "THE TWIN DILEMMA".  Stupid, stupid, stupid distributor!!!!!  Also, over here, Colin's stories were spaced out ONE per MONTH-- in between William Hartnell's stories, which had never been seen here before.  And from casual viewers I've talked to, most of them GAVE UP on Hartnell by the end of his 1st story!!!  (I'm not kidding.) A little perspective to place this in, hmm?

"the famous scene where he turns on Peri is genuinely scary"

Yeah, that was going too far.  "Impossible. I have a built-in instinct that prevents me injuring innocent people."  "YOU DON'T!!!"  "What???"

"I gather that getting Maurice Denham for this was something of a coup, as apparently he was something of a "name" in those days.  Watching this today, I couldn't help feeling that, like Harriet Jones, "he looks tired".  It was interesting to see the Doctor meet up with an old drinking buddy, however."

I've seen Maurice Denham as Inspector Japp in THE ALPHABET MURDERS.  No kidding. There's a film that's so off-kilter, one suspects it MIGHT have worked better IF Peter Sellers had starred in it... instead of, DEAR GOD, Tony Randall. (The ONE really, genuinely brilliant moment in the entire film, is right near the end, where the whole thing goes back to something that happened at the very beginning of the film.  The film had been such a chaotic, silly mess, by the time that happened, you just didn't EXPECT that the writer was actually paying attention to the plot.)

I always suspected that Denham's character might have been intended to be the SAME one played by George Kormack in "PLANET OF THE SPIDERS"-- and it turns out, I was right.  But they changed their minds, and for that, I'm glad.  I'd hate to think that someone as wonderful and insightful as Kam-Po Rimpoche / Cho-Je should have gone so terribly wrong.

"Mestor was goofy-looking"

Hard to believe "Captain Hart" was under that get-up, hmm???  (He also played villains on THE AVENGERS way back.)

"I thought you were the danger to the universe."

"I'm a knight errant, not an errant fool!"

"It worked. It actually worked."

"Whatever else happens - I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not!"

I like these.  Especially the 3rd one.

I REALLY wish JNT had left RIGHT HERE (and taken that rotter Saward with him), and let some brave soul take over and steer the show in a new direction.  It needed it. As I said, I actually like this story, but there's not another one I like this much until "THE TWO DOCTORS", and then "REVELATION OF THE DALEKS" (both of which have elicited quite polarized opinions among most fans-- LOVE, or HATE, but nothing in between).

Both Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are much nicer people, and better actors, than they EVER got a chance to show on this series.

I think  there were alot of lost opportunities in this period in the show's history. If the show had been supported the way the current show is, it needn't have reached the point of being cancelled in the first place.

It's been suggested that Colin's 2nd season (the one we never got to see) would have seen him & Peri evolve into much nicer people, the way they were shown in "THE MYSTERIOUS PLANET".

But then, you had not one but TWO higher-ups at the BBC, both of whom had a PERSONAL dislike of the show, and who as a result, did everything they could to SCREW it over-- in the hopes that ratings would plunge, and they'd then have an excuse to cancel it. I mean... it wouldn't do for them to have YANKED the #1 biggest money-maker worldwide for the corporation off the air, JUST because THEY, personally, didn't care for it... right? 

(It actually reminds me of what went on in my own life right about that time. At the place I worked, they hired this new "designer" fresh out of college (he didn't even have his degree yet), and put him in charge of my department (above MY boss, who'd been there for 15 years).  As soon as he realized that I KNEW he was incompetent, he spent every moment he could trying to HAVE ME FIRED. He got especially worried about his job when he saw I was learning the computer drafting system FASTER than he was.)

The guy at the blog, Philip Sandifer, really tore this story's production a new one. And I'm afraid I agreed with almost every point he made. I can see why so many people despise this, and how it appears as if every single behind-the-scenes decision made about it was possibly the worst ones imaginable.
 
Despite that, somehow, I always liked this one.  Crazy.  Ah well.  Here's what I posted in response...
 
 
 
Alex Wilcox:
"if Saward did indeed rewrite it as much as is reputed, could this be his trying to follow the model of the previous introduction and saying, ‘I can do better than Bidmead, with more regeneration trauma and big monsters!’ Because surely this is Peter’s opening story of an unstable Doctor, all-powerful maths and boy geniuses, re-written to take its brain out and stick every cliché in?"

Fascinating observation. I did get the part about out-doing the previous regeneration trauma, but somehow missed the rest. A pity. Both Pertwee & Tom Baker got over it after only 1 episode (though both didn't "settle in" to their new personas properly until their 2nd stories).


Andrew Hickey:
"Davison may well be the better actor, but Colin is by far the better *Doctor*. He managed to carry the show pretty much single-handed and give the role utter conviction, at a time when all around him everyone was in "who can be the biggest arsehole and wreck the show the most?" competition."

EXACTLY what I've been trying to tell people. All that "love" for a "nice guy" like Davison's character is missing the point that that ISN'T the Doctor!!! Colin is more what you'd get if someone deliberately tried to make Hartnell a total A**H*** and he didn't have being old and borderline senile as an excuse. This also goes a long way to explaining why I enjoyed the first 3 seasons of the revival so much. Eccleston IS Hartnell as a young man (figuratively speaking), while Tennant IS Davison "done right" (which of course is my way of saying Davison NEVER was-- except maybe in "FRONTIOS").


Sean Daughtery:
"It reminds me of the best of Hartnell or Pertwee's era, and even of occasional flashes of it during Tom Baker and Davison's runs."

While watching the "FANTASTIC VOYAGE" segment of "THE INVISIBLE ENEMY", the clone Doctor was so rude to Leela, I yelled at the TV, "My God-- it's COLIN Baker!!"



Tommy:
"I suspect it was even a narcissistic martyr complex. A Munchausen Syndrome approach of setting himself to fail to look like the victim of impossible odds, or like the 'mender' of self-inflicted damage."

You've used these terms so much I had to look them up. Oh my God. The 1st applies directly to my father. SCARY.
 
 
In 3 years, I never really liked Davison's Doctor. And, however it came together, the bulk of his 3rd season-- made after he announced he was leaving by the end of it-- seemed like a deliberate attempt to put him thru non-stop HELL and "prove" that he wasn't up to the job. And then they took 4 whole episodes to kill him, painfully. As if someone really, really hated the character, and wanted him to suffer and die the worst death of any Doctor ever.

So when he turned into Colin Baker, it just felt "right". Except, the wild, manic, insane excesses of his regeneration should never have extended beyond this story. Had anyone sane been involved in the writing, he would never have actually attacked Peri, he would have apologized for all his unstable behavior, and by the end credits, he would have ditched the "clown suit" in favor of what he wore at the press release photo-shoot. (Pale blue shirt & BLACK jacket.) And, the next season he & Peri would have gotten along from the start, and he would have had enough sense to save Lytton.

My favorite bit in the whole story:
"I've even lost my dress sense."
"Oh, stop feeling sorry for yourself."
"SELF-PITY is ALL I have LEFT!!"

I have always enjoyed Colin's run-- even the BAD parts-- more than Davison's run (even the GOOD parts). A shame JNT didn't leave at the end of Season 21. (Or 20. Or 19.)

By the way, I enjoyed Maurice Denham, but I'm glad they changed their minds and decided not to make him be "Kam-Po", as that would have ruined that character for me. I've also seen him in a couple of very unusual Agatha Christie TV stories, as well as playing Inspector Japp in the positively awful feature film, "THE ALPHABET MURDERS", which somehow manages to make "TWIN DILEMMA" look like Shakespeare by comparison.
Here we go again.  I posted a lot of comments abot this at the blog last month, but tonight, I finally got around to watching it again, so naturally I reread the blog, and posted a few more thoughts.
 
 
 
Tommy:
"The Doctor, after a string of violent events, regenerating into someone more unstable, ruthless and cold is believable to me. But it’s scripted so horrendously that it’s just false and obnoxious. His nasty moments feel patchy, artificial, and contrived. Associating contrived amateur histrionics with ‘drama’. There’s no sense of balance to bring the viewers on side. The ‘you’re not supposed to like him, that’s the point’ excuse is complete bunk. You need to admire even an amoral hero to follow the story, otherwise Goodfellas wouldn’t work.
I like Colin’s Doctor, but only when his stories let me."

That really says it. Just watch this again tonight. What a schizoid experience. There are genuinely moments in here that are a joy to watch. Colin shows so much potential. And then they keep having these "WHAT THE FUCK???" moments. Repeatedly.

Crazy but true: while Philip ripped this to shreds on character moments, over at PageFillers, there's exactly one review, and it spends just as much time ripping it to pieces even more, for its total lack of scientific sense and logic. GOOD GOD. So you have a plot that makes no damn sense at all, hidden under a violently offensive character malfunction.

And in the midst of that, you have moments of absolute nirvanna. What this show desperately needed at this point was a new producer and a new story editor. And much, much better writing.

And by the way, does anyone else think it was just a complete waste of time for someone like Edwin Richfield to be completely buried under a costume like that, where you can't even hear his real voice? Why? WHY???

Oh, and personally, I thought Peri & Hugo had a lot of obvious onscreen chemistry. It's surprising he didn't end up as a regular... or she, staying with him.

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