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DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
The Twin Dilemma


Starring: Colin Baker
RRP: £19.56
Certificate: PG
Available 07 September 2009

Having been forced into regeneration in The Caves of Androzani, the newly reborn Doctor awakens in the TARDIS with a frightened Peri. This new Doctor is an imperious egotist and what’s worse the regeneration hasn’t gone well, leaving the Doctor unstable. In this erratic state the Doctor decides to withdraw to the solitude of Titan 3, a solitude which is broken by the nearby crash of a spacecraft...

The Twin Dilemma is the first story with Colin Baker as the Doctor aided by Nicola Bryant as Peri. The four-part show was originally transmitted between 22nd and 30th March 1984. The story was written by Anthony Steven and directed by Peter Moffatt.

Being the first show of a new Doctor it was important for the story to stamp the Doctor's new persona on the show. What possessed the Who’s producers to portray him as a dangerously unstable character, with little or no dress sense, has bemused fans since its first showing. Colin Baker is a fine actor and as his later portrayals of the Doctor, in his audio adventures, has shown that he can be as charismatic and entertaining as any of his predecessors.

The story make little sense as it deals with Mestor, the ruler of a race of giant gastropods, who intends to destroy the planet of Jaconda in order to spread his progeny throughout the stars. In order to succeed in this strange desire he steals a pair of genius twins to work out the necessary mathematics. It makes you wonder how he had been able to do this every other time. The Doctor steps in to help the ruler of Jaconda, Professor Edgeworth, who turns out to be another Time Lord, Azmael.

The show does boast some effective special effects, especially in the area of makeup, but some of the acting is pretty dire, most especially from the two young men who play the twins.

The extras are okay, but not as extensive as some of the more recent releases. First up is the full length commentary with actors Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Kevin McNally. Overall, it meanders a little and does not feel as cohesive as some of the others that Colin Baker has been involved in, still they are always useful for getting some behind the scenes information.

The extras proper kick off with The Star Man (6 min, 05 sec) which is an interview with title sequence designer Sid Sutton, explaining how he went about designing the new titles, with some of the rough footage. Next up is Look 100 Years Younger (11 min, 47 sec) with Colin Baker and Amy Lame discussing how the various costumes of the Doctors have helped to define their characters, including a faked up picture of Colin dressed in a rather spiffy three piece suit which is in many ways superior to the gaudy monstrosity he was forced to wear.

The comic strip of Colin Baker's era is discussed in Stripped for Action - The Sixth Doctor (17 min, 47 sec) which produced some superior stories, as did the Big Finish audio plays. I have always been of the opinion that, although they had some good stories, neither Colin Baker nor Sylvester McCoy was well served by the series. For those who remember the strip, the show looks at the genesis of Frobisher, a new companion for the Doctor. The feature has contributions from John Ridgeway, Simon Furman, Alan McKenzie, Gary Russell and Alan Barnes.

The extras are wrapped up with a few more short pieces including an interview with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant on Breakfast Time (9 min, 55 sec) which is the usual stuff which is produced to promote the show as is the Blue Peter interview (10 min, 03 sec) with Janet Ellis.

As per all the other releases you get the Continuity Announcements (3 min, 14 sec) a Photo Gallery (8 min, 06 sec), subtitles, Production Notes, PDF material and the Coming Soon reel for The Keys of Marinus (1 min, 12 sec).

This turned out to be a less than auspicious start to the series and the Doctor's costume would always be an albatross around Colin Baker's neck. All you can feel is: "What were they thinking?"


Charles Packer

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