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"I've had enough of this drivel!"
So have we, Mel. So have we.
Without even an opening credits sequence to kick things off, this sequence features an impressive (for the time) CGI shot of the TARDIS randomly flying around as it gets zapped with lasers. Why it's zapped with lasers, what's going on, who's doing what, that's unimportant: the TARDIS is being zapped and we're supposed to care. The TARDIS is then forced to land on an exotic alien planet as a day-glo lizard guy watches. The TARDIS is then opened up and the Rani steps in and gloats while one of her henchmen rolls over someone in the Sixth Doctor's outfit, revealing a guy in a wig who then regenerates into the Seventh Doctor right before our eyes
The Rani then takes the Doctor off to her secret laboratory while leaving the companion Mel back in the TARDIS to stumble around the exotic alien landscape with that day-glo lizard we saw earlier. The Doctor awakens to see the Rani disguising herself as Mel, acting like Mel and generally being Mel's somewhat annoying self for... um... we're never really told why. Maybe the Rani simply wanted to be the Doctor's companion for a while.
Eventually, the Rani's diabolical scheme is revealed: she's been kidnapping the smartest people throughout space and time in order to create a gigantic artificial brain to... do more vague things. Evil vague things. So the Doctor decides to throw a wrench into everything by sabotaging the brain, rescuing the people the Rani kidnapped and finally running off for more adventures with Mel in the TARDIS. As for the Rani, she's left (literally) hanging with bat-people as she vows her revenge. She's still not very good at her job.
It's worth noting that this story was originally intended for Colin Baker's 6th Doctor by Pip and Jane Baker (old hands at writing for him by this point) , but was sent through the re-write cycles once Colin was fired. It's notable for the final appearance of the Rani in the series, as well as the first appearance of the 7th Doctor.
Watch it here.
- Apathetic Citizens: The Lakertyans for the most part don't seem particularly bothered about what happens to them.
- Bat Out of Hell: the Rani's Tetrap Mooks
- BBC Quarry: About 2/3rds of the episode is about meandering over one.
- Bee-Bee Gun: Those bug spheres.
- The Cast Showoff: McCoy was good at doing pratfalls and mugging. See the Characterization Marches On example below.
- Characterization Marches On: McCoy's performance as the Doctor is different, to say the least, to the way fans like to remember him. However, this is his regeneration story.
- The Dog Bites Back: Urak at the end.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: The not-so-pretty fate of the 6th Doctor here.
- Fake Shemp: Colin Baker was either never asked to film his pathetic death and regeneration or didn't want to, reports differ. Whatever the case, poor Sylvester McCoy had to wear a wig and the regeneration was done by obscuring his face with some finest quality Quantel blurring effects.
- Fix Fic: The Past Doctor Adventures novel Spiral Scratch turns the Doctor's Bridge Drop into a Heroic Sacrifice.
- For the Evulz: The only explanation as to why the Rani would disguise herself as Mel.
- Headbutt of Love: The Doctor and Mel.
- Historical Domain Character: The kidnapped geniuses, if they count as characters. None of them have lines.
- The Noun and the Noun
- Prisoner Exchange: The Rani for Mel.
- The Quisling: Beyus
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: The Doctor notes that he and the Rani are the same age, 953 years old. Which makes his later claims to be 900 in the new series either lies, or else he's forgotten how old he actually is.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Is there any actual reason why Beyus insists on staying with the brain to get blown up?
- Techno Babble: The Rani's description of how she intends to transform the planet and her giant brain into a time manipulating weapon.
- Xenafication: Mel shows combat skills she never does before or later in the scene where she thinks the new Doctor is a bad guy.