PodKast Goes Time and the Rani Crazy (No, Really. Oh, okay, no we didn’t…)

Time and the Rani

We’ve been promising it for weeks, and at long last we’ve finally bit the bullet and given much-maligned classic Doctor Who serial Time and the Rani the detailed rewatch and discussion it deserves. Christian, Brian and James are all dying to tell you just what they thought of it… if they can get round to it.

After all, we’ve far more important things to talk about, right…?


PodKast theme tune by Russell Hugo. 

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40 thoughts on “PodKast Goes Time and the Rani Crazy (No, Really. Oh, okay, no we didn’t…)

  1. Very harsh comments on the Smith era. Especially regarding A Good Man Goes To War. I loved that episode, near to perfection.

    1. To an extent I agree but I can see where they’re coming from. The arcs were very intricate, and I love that, but this gave them the side-effect of often being too intrusive. Series eight was an improvement in this area but we’re yet to return to the arc standard set so high in series three and four.

    2. Well Brian’s comments rather stunned me, I though I was the bad Kop in the podkast! Though I can’t defend Good Man goes to War in any way. It’s beyond indulgent rubbish, one of the worst slices of Doctor Who I’ve seen. Production values are high, but the story can’t deliver what it intends, it doesn’t deliver, and the character motivations are terrible. As always I disclaim this with “if you loved it, I envy you as I’d rather have enjoyed it than hated it” but it really is a low point for the show for me, sadly followed by equally terrible in different ways Let’s Kill Hitler…
      #passiveaggressive People say “well if you *clearly* hate the show, why watch it???!!!!!” I say if I had stopped watching it, I’d have missed one of the most brilliant Who stories I’ve seen, The Girl Who Waited – so that’s why we suffer ones we hate, because round the corner there can be one that blows our pants off.
      We’ll have to talk about A Good Man Goes to War, the fact you love it near perfection fascinates me being so contrary to my position. That’s pretty interesting how a story can divide like that

      1. Talk about it? Happy to! And I loved The Girl Who Waited as well so at least we can agree on that. Let’s Kill Hitler was tripe that couldn’t live up to its potential, arguably for biting off more than it could chew, so we’re in agreement there too.

        I guess part of what I loved about A Good Man Goes To War (and remember that my Doctor is 11 which may have some influence here) was…
        1. The way it displayed the Doctor as so powerful the very mention of him can raise an army. We don’t even see him at all for the first twenty minutes! Now I don’t think that the Doctor should be portrayed as godlike and this episode is one example of when that happened so how can I like it for that? Because it’s the episode that finally calls him up on it. We get a lot of build up to when he wins a major victory at Demons Run against the Kovarian Faction of the Silence. But then it goes wrong when baby River still gets kidnapped. He’s got too cocky and he’s paying the price for it with a big defeat. Is it his darkest hour? No, that was in the barn as the War Doctor. But in his then-current incarnation it was.
        2. The opening scene with the Cybermen. If it wasn’t for The Pandorica Opens it would be their best usage in the revived series, or even this side of Earthshock. Rory has finally manned-up and is less of a pushover than he had been before.
        3. The Headless Monks are incredible. I’d rank them highly, just below the Silents and Weeping Angels, as among Moffat’s best original creations. The scene with their Attack Prayer being heard from off screen stands out as among NuWho’s creepiest moments to date, especially how they kill Dorium in cold blood. See also their recruitment of “The Fat One”.
        4. The Paternosters make their debut. I know you don’t like them much and neither do I but on their first appearance they were a fun novelty. (Am I cheating a bit with this one?) It wasn’t until The Crimson Horror that I fell out of love with the three of them. It helps that they’re not a main focus of the story this time round.
        5. The reveal of River Song’s identity. I know many of us had called it beforehand (See also: Missy) but that doesn’t take away from the brilliance of the reveal (See also: Missy). The way it’s done, with barely a word said between Smith and Kingston, is excellent. A great moment to end a great episode.

        Your move, McLean.

        1. 1. The problem with this, as explained elsewhere, is his army is ultimately disappointing, filled with faces we’ve never seen before and faces we’ve only just encountered, as such it feels a bit of a wish washy attempt to build this idea of the Doctor bringing together strong allies to fight a formidable foe. It doesn’t lead up to what the audiences expect. And yes, is it his darkest hour? Not by a long shot: build up a story with such words you better pay it off. There was no feeling of that darkness at the end of the episode, just well, disappointment. Amy’s reactions were those written by a male who doesn’t either get women, or knows he’s in a place when he can’t write women as they should be given that might be a bit dark for his darkest hour storyline.
          2. Terrible opening gambit. It has the bluster of fan fiction. He’d have been converted before he’d opened his mouth. He’s not the Doctor, start positioning companions as you would the Doctor, for fan service, and you belittle the Doctor and more worryingly, his enemies. The Doctor can make such ballsy movies, his companions can’t. RTD nailed this with Rose’s opening gambit in Christmas INvasion with the Shadow Proclamation.
          3. Headless monks seemed a bit daft, reduced to standing there as the Doctor appears and starts eulogising before them. A common error many writers are stuck with, but you want to make some major villains, don’t give them the “standing doing nothing as the hero stage swans” on their first episode.
          4. Paternoster. Not their biggest fans, the lesbian subtexts seemed like they were written for teenagers. Strax was fun, give you that. 🙂
          5. River. Terriblely predictable and utterly distracting from what should have been about Amy, but of course, can’t have River not spotlighting when possible, so here we got what we all already knew and had to pretend we were amazed by this wild writers card. This should have been about Amy’s grief, if they’d done that then this would have been a dark hour for the Doctor, a true failure, but its side marked by River’s BIG revelation, the Doctor goes, Amy seems okayish, a few phone calls there after to see if the Doctor has found her stolen new born child, in the mercy of the enemy, she doesn’t seem that bothered really. Probably has some washing to do. #malewriting.
          There we go! 🙂

          1. 1. I’ll give you that one, I think the idea worked better than the execution but I still found t to be satisfying enough as it avoided the obvious trap of making them more of a focus than they deserved. The Doctor is still very much the focus of what’s occurring on screen. His army do get the job done at least. Compare to his rag-tag team of associates in The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End who prove to be pretty inept without him: Rose can’t even communicate with them. Sarah, Donna, Martha, Wilfred and Jackie almost get themselves killed, often repeatedly. Harriet Jones and Jack Harkness get exterminated. Gwen and Ianto get trapped. Rose distracts the Doctor and thus causes a regeneration. Until the Doctor shows up they’re all beyond useless and add nothing beyond padding out a story that’s already the most indulgent that Doctor Who has ever been. Although I should point out that I like that story as well.
            2. True but it seems that all the modern companions need a moment where they must “become the Doctor”. This was Rory’s moment. Rose’s was in The Christmas Invasion, as you have said. Donna took “becoming the Doctor” to the extreme in Journey’s End. Clara’s had both Death in Heaven and Flatline. Some prove to be better at this than others.
            3. Having them be just standing there fits in with my initial comment. We see them at full force later on and the damage they do to their victims is portrayed exquisitely.
            4. Not their biggest fan myself. The lesbian subtext doesn’t seem necessary but that was played down on this occasion, compare to The Snowmen, The Name of the Doctor and Deep Breath. They’ve always been a bit iffy but they were vaguely good on this first appearance. Their best story, if it counts, I think is the prequel to The Snowmen entitled The Great Detective. I do love Strax, better than the other two and even the whole.
            5. Yeah, it should’ve been about Amy. I choose to see her response as being brave and taking it in a stoic manner. My sister, who is basically Amy (minus the Scottishness), saw it that way too. Just felt I ought to point that out. But Amy’s very brutal revenge on Madame Kovarian in The Wedding of River Song seemed to me like a good way to bring closure on that issue.

          2. Well I’ll bow out of a long discourse on this, but I hope people find both sides interesting. I think as a general rule, Moffat took the show into a baby abduction story the show couldn’t play true, and thus it was ultimately diminished. A Good Man Goes to War for me, is an exciting idea that is just poorly executed. Many as with Moo, are bound to disagree, though I personally find it one of the weakest bits of writing I’ve seen from Moffat, it drives to thrust forward with its heart, but then awkwardly stumbles when such a tact opens some real emotion situations where upon it runs away, its tail between its legs. At least there are no children in it!

          3. Well put James.
            Personally I loved it. 10/10. A+ Near to perfect. One of Eleven’s finest, even if not his best (which remains his debut The 11th Hour, an opinion that’s not especially controversial).
            I’m quite happy to disagree over it because I don’t want us all to be mindless ‘robots’ with no differences in our opinions. That would just be so dull and pointless.

            The respect you and I have shown each other, James, is why I’m here on Kasterborous. Everyone is always polite and respectful, compare this to other sites and you’ll see a very different story; check the comments on any of Doctor Who related post on, say, Facebook to see this in action.
            So, to my fellow Kasterborites, thanks for that. This is a good and entertaining place to air views and opinions and I say let’s keep it that way.

          4. Sorry to drag this discussion out even further, but I’d like to know what you think of the explanation for River’s Timelord regenerative ability. As I recall, it was because Amy and Rory consummated their marriage while the Tardis was in flight. For me, this was a huge WTF moment, along with the idea that Amy and Rory should be happy that River is their daughter and shouldn’t be too concerned that they’ll never raise their daughter themselves. I’ll always remember this story as the one that made my view of Moffat’s writing drop considerably and Let’s Kill Hitler made it drop even further.

          5. Totally agree with everything you say about this story, James. I can’t stand it for all the things you say – Amy in particular is a real problem for me here. I really was not a fan of the ‘omnipotent’ Doctor. It was around this time that I completely gave up on Smith (sorry, Moo!), though being a true fan, it didn’t even cross my mind to stop watching! As you say, I might have missed a story that blew my head. Didn’t though.

          6. The first half of series six was a bit of a mixed bag and for someone who didn’t like that particular story I can see how that might have had a negative effect. The second half of that season was better, generally speaking. It’s where we got Night Terrors, The God Complex and The Girl Who Waited. I liked series 6 a lot overall but the second half of it was a lot better than the first. The arcs in it were good (sorry Ranger!) and hold together well if you inspect them carefully but they were resolved poorly. Moffat’s good but Let’s Kill Hitler and The Wedding of River Song… JUST NO!!! Not his best efforts. His personal contributions weren’t great that year (save the one divisive epic under discussion here) but the other writers mostly made up for it and Moff The Great & Powerful can redeem himself by pointing to his work in series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 as well as the 2013 specials. Particular emphasis on The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances, Blink, Time Crash, The Eleventh Hour, The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Angels Take Manhattan, The Snowmen, The “…of the Doctor” Quartet and Listen.

            I agree with the podKast on this: How series 6a should have ended was the reveal of Amy as a flesh ‘ganger with AGMGTW acting as the 6b premiere. Better yet, lose the split altogether. The arc would’ve been easier to follow this way and I think the 6th series as a whole (and Matt Smith with it) would have been better received as a result.

      2. That’s the thing isn’t it? This show, more than any other, opens itself to being divisive. Every time the TARDIS materialises you never know what genre(s) this week’s instalment will be. Action/Adventure? Horror? Thriller? Black Comedy? Light Comedy? Or a mixture of all the above? It could be literally anything and when that happens divisions are going to be an unavoidable certainty.

  2. Time & The Rani is something that we should be pleased to have if we consider the backstage scenario at the time. Had it not introduced us to a new Doctor then the show would have ended with The Ultimate Foe and never lasted long enough to get to Survival. The end result was utter crap but… still… I’m glad it exists because of what it led to rather than the thing itself. Sylvester’s not good in the show yet but he will get better.
    T&TR is on the same level as The Twin Dilemma, Time-Flight, Dimensions in Time and Kill the Moon. The worst Doctor Who ever is Love & Monsters, I don’t think that’s an especially controversial opinion.

    From worst to best I’d rank Seven’s TV stories:
    Time & The Rani
    Delta and the Bannermen
    Silver Nemesis
    The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
    Happiness Patrol
    Paradise Towers
    Remembrance of the Daleks
    The Curse of Fenric
    Ghost Light

      1. Fear Her is the reminder of the classic on true formula that parades through Doctor Who: Doctor Who + Non-Empty-Child = InTheBin. It’s a harsh but understandable formula: children can’t be killed on television, insert children in, you undermine the whole tension of a show thats about being a little bit scary and a little bit tense. And I’m not convinced kids are that bothered about seeing kids. So yes, Fear Her, Forest of the Night, Caretaker and Kill the Moon are examples of where the show hits an issue.
        I don’t mind Love and Monsters as I alluded. I think its misunderstood in a lot of ways; a ballsy low budget attempt to squeeze an extra episode out second unit, and bar the silly beginning, I’ve seen far worse. Elton is a nice enough character, Kaye is fun. Kids DID love it, so it has its place, just not for everyone. I can’t say I’d rush to rewatch either, so not saying I’m a fan!

        1. To be honest, I think that Fear Her is underrated. Is it terrible? Of course it is; what a stupid question! But is it, as perceived wisdom tells us, the Worst Doctor Who ever? Not even close. To say it’s worse than Time-Flight, The Twin Dilemma, Love & Monsters (sorry James!), Time & the Rani, Kill the Moon… Just no. It’s better than all of them (that’s not saying much admittedly).

          1. But why does everyone diss Fear Her so much? It’s not my favourite, but I watched it again a couple of weeks ago and it was OK. The child actor did a reasonable job with a hard part (better than the child who was sick in Capaldi’s Tardis), the Doctor’s Olympic run was a bit of harmless fun (and given the actual torch relay not that bad actually – ‘heroic’ Beckham on a boat, anyone?! Complete sick-making), the young ‘monster’ was OK. Yes there are faults, but I really don’t think it merits the abuse it gets. Plus – cat! have I mentioned I love cats? 🙂

            Forest of Night, however, deserves all the abuse it gets, even though it has a beautiful tiger in it.

          2. I think everyone “disses it” because of, to slightly-misuse the phrase, mob mentality. All you need is a few people who didn’t like it to pipe up and suddenly that’s it. I don’t like it but it’s not completely unwatchable if you treat it as harmless fun. It’s head and shoulders above some of the other entries from series two such as New Earth, The Idiot’s Lantern, Love & Monsters, Army of Ghosts/ Doomsday, Tooth & Claw… but series two was an astonishingly bad run of stories save for The Christmas Invasion, The Girl in the Fire Place and The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit so that certainly doesn’t help it out!

          3. Woah there! That’s fightin’ talk mister! 🙂

            I wouldn’t put it above Tooth and Claw and Army/Doomsday. About on a par with New Earth, definitely better than Lantern and waaay better than Love and Monsters! I really want to like Planet/Pit – it has all the ‘right’ ingredients, but for some reason I just can’t warm to it. At the end of the day, apart from the Doctor, I couldn’t give a monkey’s if the whole lot of them died. And if you’re not engaged with the characters, something’s wrong.

          4. Tooth & Snore more like. Boring!
            AoG/D has the whole Ten & Rose love arc come to the front in a scene that still makes my blood boil with rage. Really? Rose?! He can do so much better than her!!!

          5. He can do so much better than her!!!

            Well, quite – there’s me for a start!

          6. The Impossible Forest of Crap is terrible. Crap beyond all hope of rescue. It gets what it deserves.

          7. But faeries with gravity make trees that make people forget that trees are in your house and in the ocean and on mountains and on roads to prevent a solar flare. Then your sister returns home from not being home because of ??? I give up.

  3. T&TR is, at the very least, quotable. Here follows the selected highlights!

    The Rani: Leave the girl. It’s the man I want.

    The Doctor: That was a nice nap. Now, down to business. I’m a bit worried about the temporal flicker in sector thirteen. There’s a bicentennial refit of the Tardis to book in. I must just pop over to Centauri Seven and then perhaps a quick holiday. Right, that all seems quite clear. Just three small points. Where am I? Who am I? And who are you? The Rani! Stay back!

    The Doctor: A bad workman always blames his fools.

    The Doctor: Absence makes the nose grow longer.

    Mel: I’ve had enough of this drivel.
    The Doctor: All right, compromise. Let me feel your pulse.
    Mel: Don’t touch me!
    The Doctor: Ah, the proof of the pumpkin’s in the squeezing.
    Mel: You don’t even talk like the Doctor, you miserable fraud.
    The Doctor: Let me feel your pulse. Pulses, I should say. Two of them. One for each heart.
    Mel: You’re a raving lunatic.
    The Doctor: Yes, perhaps I am, because if you’re the Rani, I’m dicing with destruction.
    Mel: And if I’m Mel?
    The Doctor: Mel? The worst she’ll do is give me carrot juice. Carrot juice? What made me think of that?
    Mel: Well, perhaps the real Doctor told you. It was his favourite drink.
    The Doctor: Favourite? I hate it.
    Mel: Oh.
    The Doctor: Ah, caught you out, haven’t I?
    Mel: But if you’re the real Doctor, then why do you look like that?
    The Doctor: I’ve regenerated, and I’m suffering from post-regenerative amnesia, as far as I can remember. Fair exchange is no mockery. You feel my pulses, I’ll feel yours. I’ll lean across here with my arm behind my back, if you want proof I’m a Time Lord. Come on.
    Mel: A double pulse. Then you really are the Doctor.
    The Doctor: That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. Now yours.
    Mel: I know about regeneration, of course.
    The Doctor: Mel?
    Mel: But you’re completely different. Nothing like you were. Face, height, hair, everything’s changed.
    The Doctor: Yes. And I’ve become more of a fool too, it seems, Mel. Doesn’t bode well for my seventh persona, being so completely taken in by the wretched Rani.

    Beyus: A harmless asteroid?
    The Doctor: It’s composed of strange matter, Beyus. A devastating force. With the right trigger, that harmless asteroid, as you call it, could incinerate your planet and anything else in this corner of the galaxy. And what does the Rani keep behind there? Oh, all good things come to a bend.

    The Doctor: Here’s a turn up for the cook. A rock that talks.

    The Doctor: The delay in lift off means the rocket will miss the asteroid.
    Mel: Are you certain?
    The Doctor: Absolutely. A miss is as good as a smile.

    The Doctor: Well, time and tide melts the snowman.
    Mel: Waits for no man.
    The Doctor: Who’s waiting? I’m ready.
    Mel: You’re certainly going to take a bit of getting used to.
    The Doctor: I’ll grow on you, Mel. I’ll grow on you.

    1. Those are awful!!! But my personal favourite deserves an award for being stupid:
      The Rani: In the aftermath of the explosion, helium-2 will fuse with the upper zones of the Lakertyan atmosphere to form a shell of chronons… In the same millisecond as the chronon shell is being formed, the hot-house effect of the gamma rays will cause the primate cortex of the brain to go into chain reaction, multiplying until the gap between shell and planet is filled.

    2. At least you can understand that last one: “I’ll grow on you, Mel. I’ll grow on you.” I may be reading too much into it but I always saw that as providing a contrast to the previous incarnation’s final line in his post-regeneration story “I am the Doctor whether you like it or not.” Colin’s effectively daring the audience to keep watching but Sylvester recognises the error and is now begging for their forgiveness.

  4. Once again, the PodKast has encapsulated perfectly an idea I agree with. The idea that an arc can damage portions of every episodes. Also, the Moffat tendency of competing with Doctor Who: the darkest hour stuff, and creating a forgotten Doctor that did not exist. To be fair, RTD did that with proposing Rose as the best companion ever; she wasn’t allowed to be good, she had to be the best.

    I still like the 11th Doctor’s era, but less so on rewatches. Smith is great, but much of the writing in that era sucks. Eleventh Hour, the Girl Who Waited, the Doctor’s Wife – who can hate those things. I would definitely take those over Time of Angels / Flesh of Stone (I feel the Weeping Angels only did well in Blink, and should’ve been a one-off – they thrived on their mystery and simplicity) and certainly over the very convoluted Pandorica / The Big Bang (rebooting the universe and the Pandorica being a macguffin of everythingness that had no purpose).

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