Season: 24, ep. 1 (1-4)
Writers: Pip & Jane Baker
Director: Andrew Morgan
Producer: John-Nathan Turner
Companion: Melanie “Mel” Bush (Bonnie Langford)
Summary: The Rani has shot down the Doctor’s TARDIS and during the crash, the Doctor regenerates. When it crashes on the planet Lakertya, The Rani kidnaps the new Seventh Doctor with the help of a Tetrap, a bat-like monster with a poisonous tongue. It is revealed that The Rani has kidnapped various geniuses to feed data into a humongous brain.
Review: A regeneration episode has two purposes. First, it has to establish the new Doctor’s persona. Second, it has to present a new crisis so we can see how the Doctor approaches it. Sadly, “Time and the Rani” fails at both. The Seventh Doctor would really not be established until Ace arrives in “Dragonfire”. The concept of the humongous brain is silly, even by Classic Doctor Who standards. The Tetraps are ridiculous and very clumsy monsters who feel like they stepped out of a sentai show.
So, is there anything positive? Certainly. McCoy does his best to make his new Doctor endearing, and his pratfalls are amusing. Kate O’ Mara is far and away the true star. She captures The Rani well, especially when she impersonates Mel.
To wrap this up, I’d say it’s not the worst Doctor Who story. It’s a notch below average. But if you want to see what the Seventh Doctor was all about, skip it.
Overall Rating: 4/10
Continuity: This is The Rani’s last story, unless you count the god-awful “Dimensions in Time” charity special, which most Whovians who were around to see it try to forget. During the obligatory costume change. McCoy tries on outfits belonging to the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and finally Second Doctors before settling on his famous sweater-vest outfit.
Trivia: This is the only serial in the Classic period that starts with a cold open, rather than the new opening credits. This is probably because it did not start off from a previous episode, like all the other regeneration episodes did.