We're waiting for Judge Eric Profancik to regenerate.
"I am the Doctor whether you like it or not."
Once upon a time Colin Baker was my favorite Doctor. I think I picked him over the others because he's one of the least liked Doctors, I somewhat enjoyed his acerbic personality, and his hideous coat was cool (20 years ago). Alas, he's no longer my favorite Doctor, usurped by the brief brilliance of Christopher Eccleston (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). Colin's tenure was a short one, rife with controversy, and it started out unlike any Doctor…
Facts of the Case
The Doctor (Colin Baker, Brothers) has just regenerated, surviving his adventure in the caves of Androzani. And like his last regeneration, it is not going smoothly. This time his mind misfires, causing swift changes in personality and behavior. Confused and bearing the brunt of the Doctor's unpredictable behavior is his companion, Peri (Nicola Bryant). During his first mental fit, the Doctor believes Peri is an enemy and tries to strangle her. He quickly stops and realizes he needs a place of solitude, to meditate and gain balance for his new body. He pilots the TARDIS to a deserted asteroid.
But the asteroid is not deserted. On the asteroid, Mestor (Edwin Richfield) controls Edgeworth (Maurice Denham), who has kidnapped twin boys named Romulus and Remus. Mestor wants to use the boys' mathematical genius to take over the universe.
As the Doctor battles for the stability of his mind, he finds himself battling Mestor for the stability of the universe.
Though this is the Sixth Doctor's first story, it's the last one released on DVD. At this point in time I don't believe it necessary to talk about Colin's troubled seasons, his outfit, and the other well-traveled tales of his toils. Anyone reading this should be well versed in the hiatus and know plenty about the unique nature of his tenure. Still, we should still discuss a few well-known yet relevant nuggets about "The Twin Dilemma," the placement of the episode and the Doctor's regeneration.
In the first and only occurrence for the franchise, Colin Baker starred in an entire episode at the end of the season. Normally the Doctor regenerates in the last minute of a show, namely the last episode of the season, and the new Doctor takes over next year. In the transition from Peter Davison (All Creatures Great and Small), Colin had an opportunity to whet the appetite of Britain and have them crave more during the break. Why was that? Was it because of the extraordinary change they were going to make to his personality? Whether or not that is the case, Colin's Doctor is the surliest, meanest, most disagreeable incarnation of the beloved character. He's an egomaniac, he's cowardly, and he's an attempted murderer…in this story. True, most of his worst traits soften or disappear over his two seasons, but in "The Twin Dilemma," the Doctor is a positively unlikable chap. Certainly it was a decision from high above, but it makes you pause and wonder when these finals words of the story were written:
"And I would suggest, Peri, that you wait a little before criticizing my new persona. You may well find it isn't quite as disagreeable as you think."
Were these words always in the script, or were they added toward the end of shooting? Did they purposefully make the Doctor so unlikeable or did they realize they had gone too far and had to backpedal a bit? It's interesting when you think about it, knowing that Colin will calm down yet still be the nastiest regeneration of all.
But in all truth, you've already pondered such trivialities. It has been over 25 years since this story aired, so all manner of minutiae has been examined. At this point in time we don't need to discuss the stories; we need to discuss the disc. That's the deciding factor in determining if this release will be on your shelf or not. And in another moment of truth, if you've bought any classic Who disc, you already know what to expect. Video is a full frame transfer that shows its age. While the Restoration Team has worked their normal wonders, it's hard to escape the fact you're watching a 25 year old, cheaply made, British television show. Colors are accurate albeit drab, blacks are sometimes strong, yet more often a touch gray, and details are lacking. It's a blah treat for the eyes, and so it goes the same for the ears. Audio is a Dolby 2.0 mono mix that does nothing to excite. Dialogue is always clean and understandable, music is lackluster, and sound effects fizzle. But that's not the disc's fault; it's all in the source.
The Restoration Team does try to fill their discs with plenty of quality bonus materials, but in this case the lineup is a touch weak. It's hard not to be as this is the last DVD for all of Colin Baker's time. The first and best feature is the audio commentary featuring Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, and Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl). It's a deliciously dry, honest, and self-deprecating look at the story from every angle. It's a great listen as the three are brutally honest yet still having fun and loving the story. Next is the text fact track that does its usual good job and giving you technical details on the story. Both "commentaries" are worth viewing. Now we move on to the featurettes, and this is where things get a bit spotty.
• "The Star Man" (6:04): This is an interview with Sid Sutton, the man who redesigned the introduction to the show. He created the "star" intro that first appeared at the end of Tom Baker's era.
• "Look 100 Years Younger" (11:47): Colin Baker and comedian Amy Lamé discuss the outfit of each Doctor. It's cheeky fun and insightful as they discuss how the outfit became more of a costume at the end of the Classic Era.
• "Stripped for Action: The Sixth Doctor" (17:47): An examination of the Sixth Doctor's adventures in comic books.
• "Breakfast Time" (9:54): An uncomfortable 1984 appearance by Colin and Nicola on the morning show of the same name.
• "Blue Peter" (10:02): A much better and relaxed appearance by Colin on the children's show of the same name.
Rounding things out, per usual, are the continuities (3:13), a photo gallery, PDF material, and an Easter Egg.
While none of the featurettes are bad, there's not much meat to them. Additionally, the first two while good aren't solely focused on the Sixth Doctor.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Back in my college days, when my fellows Whovians and I would watch Doctor Who, I came to notice the name Alec Wheal during the closing credits. It was for no other reason that his name is "different" and stood out in the credits. From that point I would cheer each time I saw his name and thus created the unofficial Alec Wheal fan club. My friends eventually joined in and we all cheered when his named appeared; and we were later saddened when his name no longer was in the credits. With that said, during the audio commentary Colin Baker gives a shout out to Alec during the credits. I'm glad to see the love for Alec, and I hereby welcome Colin to the unofficial fan club.
It's all quite simple, and no Whovian needs me to tell them my opinion on this story. What you need to know is how is the disc and if it's a mess to avoid. In a word, no, it's not. It's not a bad disc. It's not a great disc. It's just an average disc. Transfers are acceptable, and the bonus features have some strong points but in totality aren't the best lineup we've been offered. There's nothing in the disc to deflect you if you want to purchase, so feel please to add this to your collection, you closet Colin fans. Buy it and tell the late Mary Whitehouse where to shove it!
Doctor Who: The Twin Dilemma is hereby found guilty of a pwesenting a weally wong wegenewation.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
Review content copyright © 2010 Eric Profancik; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.