The Twin Dilemma: Doctor Who: Season 21
The Twin Dilemma SYNOPSIS:
A man names Edgeworth has kidnapped the Sylvest twins, boys who have the ability to affect the physical world with their combined Mathematical genius. The Doctor is in post regenerative crisis, suffering from a Time Lord form of manic depression and after attacking Peri sets the TARDIS down on Titan Three where he intends to live as a hermit.
Edgeworth takes the twins to a safe house on Titan Three after escaping Earth Star Corp fleet. A squadron of pursuing fighters having been destroyed by Mestor, his Gastropod master. The manic Doctor and Peri stumble across the base and the Doctor recognises Edgeworth as Azmael, one of his former Time Lord teachers and President of Jaconda. Azmael imprisons the Doctor and Peri there and his Jacondon colleague destroys the base.
The Doctor and Peri escape Death and together with Hugo Lang who they rescued earlier from his fighter wreckage they travel to Jaconda and find out the Gastropod plan to use the twins to engineer an invasion of gastropod eggs throughout the galaxy. But the Doctor is still unstable and even with Azmael's help they may not be able to defeat the all powerful Gastropod leader Mestor and free Jaconda.
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The Twin Dilemma DETAILS:
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The Twin Dilemma CAST & CREW
Colin Baker (Sixth Doctor)
Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown)
Maurice Denham — Edgeworth
Edwin Richfield — Mestor
Kevin McNally — Hugo Lang
Dennis Chinnery — Sylvest
Gavin Conrad — Romulus
Andrew Conrad — Remus
Seymour Green — Chamberlain
Oliver Smith — Drak
Barry Stanton — Noma
Dione Inman — Elena
Helen Blatch — Fabian
Roger Nott — Prisoner
John Wilson — Jacondan Guard
Production Staff for Serial 6S:
Writer - Anthony Steven
Director - Peter Moffatt
Script editor - Eric Saward
Producer John Nathan-Turner
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The Twin Dilemma REVIEWS
From the hot mud strewn sandy plains and hillocks of Androzani to the rocky plains of titan 3 and sandy hillocks (quarry) of Jaconda.
Yes the 6th Doctor has arrived and perhaps a story too soon. Colin Baker is finally in the house, well the Tardis anyway. This is JN-T's first big mistake introducing a new doctor in the last story of the season in one of the worst stories of all time, funny how we went from absolute classic to absolute crap in one story. Not only this but introducing us to a new Doctor that is so unlikeable and frustratingly hard to even feel sympathy or mystery for you end up hating the hero through the story and at the end - "I'm the Doctor whether you like it or not" "not' is what a lot of viewers thought and a lot of fans and collectively switched off.
Now this isn't Colin Baker's fault as you say Grob. His performance and lines leading up to and in between his infamous post regeneration madness attacks is actually very good. He's convincing as an energetic new doctor not sleeping or writhing about in pain like previous incarnations but bounding into action straight away with no side effects. Why oh why they had to decide to introduce regeneration side effects is beyond me and why then they had to make them last so long and through out the story is ludicrous because it basically so totally destroys your faith in the character you couldn't care less what happens to him. Besides we've done regeneration gone wrong with Davison.
This isn't being 'unpredictable' it's just shoddy writing. Even if they combined his 'trauma' just to part 1 and not had him trying to strangle poor Peri maybe it would've been acceptable. When Baker does these bits he does tend to soar into OTT land, especially for his cliffhanger facial 'poses' but when he's normal he does it well. Only he acts as the normal, good old Doctor for about 15% of the story and he really hasn't had a chance to find his character yet. Davison recorded 3 stories before doing his first one, Baker the first had 6 to 9 months working with the production team to figure out how to play him. Plus Colin does have a terrible and appalling script to work off that doesn't help him or Nicola in the slightest.
Not to mention his costume, yes well done JN-T it is totally tasteless but also totally unbelievable. Can buy the green shoes and even the yellow striped trousers but the coat is awful, dare say heads would turn as the Doctor walked by but so would stomachs. It is possible to have something 'tasteless' that doesn't burn the retina but JN-T is running the costume department now as well so things are going to start falling apart
Writer Anthony Steven's story is just shit and about two thirds re-written by Saward which isn't saying much for Saward, can only imagine what it was like before hand but the dialogue is shocking. Plus with the Doctor's constant fits, Nicola Bryant looks like she doesn't know why she just signed on for this series and her performance seems to become really forced and bad. Why would Peri hang with this abusive cowardly joker? One can only assume because she feels she owes him something after saving her life. Just instead imagine a whole season of the 5th Doctor & Peri it would've been awesome!
The story is non existent and doesn't make sense. The Jacondans look good for an avian race but there's nothing developed about them. Neither is anything told of the gastropods maybe a throw away line.They really seem irrelevant to the goings on and no mention is made of where this Mestor came from or why he has such supreme mental powers. If he was powerful enough to destroy a fleet of spaceships then why does he have such a hard time reading minds? He's about as threatening as a packet of cereal and looks like that's what he was made up out of. As for what his ploy was, it's so far fetched and illogical that surely any master criminal would've taken a look at the blue prints screwed them up and started again.
The sets are over lit which is a shame because most of these have been made out of tinsel and shredded cardboard and this shows, the Titan one even "wobbles" a lot when the actors move around on it. Speaking of actors why couldn't they hire any that could act? The twins must be some of the worst actors to appear on the pwogwam, did Uncle Terrance have twin nephews? They are shocking as is the Jacondan peasant and even Kevin McNally's Hugo Land looks like he could do something but decides to ham it up like "because the lead actors are getting away with it". why they even waste five minutes on a scene with the twins Dad in it is a mystery. He is irrelevant and adds nothing to the plot. Had they shown exactly how their brilliant, mathematical powers affected the real world - that may have been interesting!!
Also poor Maurice Denham - he is a true British acting veteran and apparently had wanted to do Who for ages and imagine his changing look of joy to crestfallen, when he got this script!! Why is he a Time Lord and yet another teacher of the Dr? Do they let Timelords come in and stand for elections on Jaconda? Like much of this story, it's never explained!! Like how the gastropods suddenly appeared and took over there seem to be far too many elements brought in and never really explained. Plus there's no money and it shows and as for the uninspired direction of Moffat...
Why they couldn't really sit down and wait for 9 months before rushing an ill conceived Doctor in a really bad story is beyond me and Colin you were enjoying becoming the Dr too much to say maybe we shouldn't rush things and maybe focus more on me being the Dr. being an alien doesn't mean alienating the audience. To think they ditched two other possible Davison scripts, one where he meets the sontarans and rutans and one written by Peter Ling to rush this Dr in, think it wouldve been better to let the public wait and wonder for 9 months and NOT use this writer. For the Saward written scenes at the very beginning before the new costume appears only I'll give it a 0.5/10
There is so much wrong here that its amazing it even went to air. The Twin Dilemma is badly thought out, appallingly produced, terribly, badly acted and shows utter neglect and contempt the production team have for their viewing audience. This is where - certainly for the next three years - the series went down hill in every single capacity from the choices of what constituted quality television in the eyes of the producer, script editor and leading actor.
THE TWIN DILEMMA IS BADLY THOUGHT OUT As with Patrick Troughton taking over from William Hartnell, Peter Davison had the unimaginable task of taking over from Tom Baker. Tom was outstanding in the role which he played for seven highly successful years. It is testimony to Peter Davison's skills as a leading actor that Doctor Who was able to carry on for another three years and have the ratings increase from 5.5 million people watching to 9 million people. Then, to treat him so appallingly to send him on his way in the second-to-last story of the season is incredibly insulting. Likewise giving Colin Baker top billing in the closing credits and Baker's face in the end title sequence. It robs the viewers of what should have been a fitting gesture of thanks and appreciation for not just the fifth Doctor, but Peter Davison as well.
So instead of ending the series with Caves of Androzani - and thus season 21 on a huge high note in terms of acting, production and story climax we have a four part story that ends the season in such a way that alienates the viewer to such a degree that there will be little point in returning to the series the following year. The point of allocating the final story of season 21 to the new Doctor - according to JNT - was to show the viewers what the new Doctor would be like so they didn't have to wait another nine months for the following season.
If this is the case, why was the decision made to a) make the Doctor so unlikeable? and b) cast Colin Baker? For the entire four episodes of the Twin Dilemma the Doctor is unlikeable, vile, self loathing, violent and a total coward. As an actor Colin Baker is two dimensional, over the top, and almost unwatchable. He is not leading actor material. He is at best a competent guest actor (as Arc of Infinity showed) but he cannot sustain a series. He hasn't got the charisma to hook viewers in. For what reason would the viewers at home want to tune in again the following year to see a Doctor who has strangled his assistant, behaved appallingly towards other characters, acted violently towards them and taken delight in their deaths?
Why would we watch this person who treats others - and us - in this manner? The Doctor is supposed to be the absolute OPPOSITE of this. Sure you can put this down to "regeneration trauma", but after four episodes of this you have to wonder at what point people started switching off due to how totally unlikable the leading character had become. Also to add insult to Peter Davison, the character he created to keep the series going is called "feckless" and "effete". And those words are just spat out angrily by Colin Baker in a totally insulting and disgusting manner.
THE TWIN DILEMMA IS APPALLINGLY PRODUCED It comes at the end of the season which - typically - the end of seasons stories have been the ones to suffer from a lack of money and resources. This story has crappy model shots, foam interior cave sets and music recycled from Resurrection of the Daleks; loud, badly composed and horrid to listen to. So there is a great way to start a new era with a new Doctor. The Twin Dilemma is directed by Peter Moffat, Doctor Who's most unimaginative "point and shoot" director. No tension, no atmosphere, no budget. It looks tacky. Its brightly lit. It has no depth. It is totally unwatchable.
Then there is the writing. It is chock full of cliches from Hugo Lang managing to find his pistol that the Doctor hid in the Tardis wardrobe in the first place he looked, to Peri's watch stopping at the critical time when the Doctor needed it most. Oh; and talking birds and slugs - yeah we really care about them. Twenty years later Russell T Davies was 100% correct; why should be give a shit about the Zog people from the planet Zog if there is no one to identify with?
Lets take a look at another aspect that fails - the costume of the Doctor. As a character the Doctor is supposed to blend in with his surroundings - that is how he gets involved, does his work, then departs without a goodbye or anyone seeing. How is that possible with this eyesore that Colin has to wear? The Doctor is now - whether he or us want him to be or not - the centre of attention. And since the leading actor has to wear it it means that in order to compensate for it the design of the sets has to be equally garish and overlit. Likewise with Peri's costumes. If she wears something of a soft pastel colour or muted coloiur she will blend into the background. Now, her costumes are shocking patterned creations made from deckchair material. It all looks attrocious. As does Hugo Lang Space Cop in his tin foil ensemble. Lets not forget that the drama that was Caves of Androzani has now been forgotten with a story that offers us Astro Sheriffs, Space Cops and Talking Slugs that are ripped off from the Tractators.
THE TWIN DILEMMA IS BADLY ACTED The premise of the story about two twin boys being kidnapped to have their mathematical prowess exhorted is a very bad idea. Why? Cos where in the hell is any director or producer going to find twin boys that are capable of pulling off two acting roles that are central to a story? These boys cannot act! The story is written around them! Next to the new Doctor they are PIVOTAL to the drama. Again, where can you find twin juvenile actors to play these badly written parts on the acting salary Doctor Who offers?
THE TWIN DILEMMA SHOWS UTTER CONTEMPT FOR THE AUDIENCE ON BEHALF OF THE PRODUCTION TEAM They treated Peter Davison appallingly. They wasted four episodes that were quite rightfully Davison's - remember that season 20 also robbed him of four episodes as well. They cast an actor who hasn't got the ability to play the leading part. They have changed the very essence of (no pun intended) WHO the Doctor is. The Doctor has gone from someone you could admire and respect because of how he treats others to a boorish, compassionless, mean spirited clown. The story has nothing to recommend it - its not even B movie material. There is no one that audience can identify with and no reason the audience should give a shit about returning to the series next year. And THAT is its greatest failing.
I think it's fair to say that everyone (including JNT and Saward) would admit that they made a mistake here. You can see what they were trying to do though.
Every incumbent Doctor has been the opposite to his predecessor in one way or another. Troughton was able to string sentences together and concentrate for more than 30 seconds in a row... ok, maybe harsh, but he was also more of a quick thinker, whereas Hartnell sort of stumbled into solutions. Pertwee was the charming James Bond action man type - contrasting Troughton's more cerebral "scarecrow". Baker had more of an alien eccentricity to contrast Pertwee's dashing gentleman. And Davison had the hard working lovely guy to contrast Baker's more distant aloofness. So I guess the natural contrast to Davison's nice guy is to make the Doctor an arsehole? How wrong they were. And I think by part 4 they'd almost realised this when the Doctor shows some genuine concern for Peri... although finishing the story with "I'm the Doctor - whether you like it or not" was not the right thing to do.
Dr Who is and was still a show for kids... it's meant to be a "family" show which basically means it has to appeal to kids. Turning a nice guy bad is a concept that can work, but it's got to be done right... and probably can't be done to the central character unless he's being possessed by someone. Maybe if Mestor inhabited the Doctor's body on his regeneration, that would have worked... but making the Doctor outright nasty - to the point where he tries to strangle the girl he's just sacrificed his own life to save - isn't right... it's like making Noddy a nazi... ok, that could be interesting... but no die hard Noddy fan would watch!
The right thing to would have been to make the new Doctor more opposite to Davison's human side - make him kind of more mystical... which is I guess what they did with McCoy with the "more than a time-lord" stuff that they were working toward... or maybe the best thing to have done would have been to hand over the reigns to someone else. JNT (and for the most part Saward) had taken the show from the basket case that was season 17, seen the changing of the most popular actor to ever play the role, and made into a show that could produce quality deep stories such as Caves, Resurrection and Frontios... they could do no more, and maybe it was time to step aside while on top, and let someone else steer?
At the end of the day, I blame JNT and Saward more than Baker for the terrible debut of the 6th Doctor. Sure, Baker could have toned things down a bit, but he did what was asked of him. The man can act - and the snippets where he gets verbose are bordering on entertaining... but the picture they painted for him was ludicrous.... look what they got him to wear for christ sake! I can only think that the thinking behind that was inspired by what was the most popular tv show at the time - The Cosby Show. It boasted an over-acting lead who wore horrible jumpers... maybe Who could be the same?
Looking back at it now, The Cosby Show is just as shit as Twin Dilemma.
Yes, somewhere underneath the disaster that was "Doctor Bad" was a story... and I guess as a concept it wasn't such a bad story. It's your standard conquering the universe premise - using mathematical genius to control some planets, spinning them into the sun and spitting eggs of gastropods all over the universe to conquer... or something... it's never really well explained. Partially that's because we're so frustrated by watching the Doctor threatening to become a hermit or cowering in fear behind Peri - who actually does do really well opposite her manic lead. But the explanation of the plot is also lost in some really bad story telling... why on earth you'd get a guy who's never written for Who (and I don't think had written Sci Fi) to write such an important story is a mystery... did they want it to be a fuck up?
I guess Maurice Denham is very good as Azmael (who was another fuck up of Anthony Steven - he was meant to be the hermit that Pertwee and T Baker spoke of - Steven made him a guy that Baker played in a fountain with???)... and I don't hate the twins as much as everyone else... their Dad is shit, but the kids aren't too bad. The cat people (are they the forerunners of the Mog from Spaceballs? They're not quite men and they're not quite Mogs!) aren't too bad... but because they're surrounded by shit they kind of blend in and become a bit shit... but I don't mind them too much... and Mestor... well... he could have been OK too, but by the time we get to a showdown with him, I just couldn't care very much any more... and the Doctor trying to defeat him by throwing acid on him? That's not what that Doctor would do. Any of them.
I don't blame the Director at all for this... sometimes you just can't polish a turd.
The concept of Mestor and his plan with the twins isn't too bad - it could have been expanded to be kind of an ongoing arc, which began with the Doctor being inhabited by Mestor thus explaining his erratic behaviour and then carrying over to the next season... that would have given us a reason to tune in again next year. Telling the audience you're cockspank and they'd better like it, isn't a way to get the audience to tune in.
I wasn't going to give this a zero because I don't think it's as bad as Gunfighters or Nimon... and it may not even be as bad as Edge of Destruction which I'd given 0.5... I think I might have been generous there... but well... this is twice as long as that... twice the pain... writing this has made me think it is a 0... but typing the word Gunfighters has made me say 0.1/10