DVD Extras include:
Proper Interaction"The Mark of the Rani" valiantly tackles both of the major story structure problems of this season, conquering one better than any other story this season, and achieving a bit of a truce with the other. I will continue to automatically refer to the 25-minute international versions of this season's episodes, especially since it really highlights these challenges in the writing.
First of all, it's just great to see the Doctor and Peri get one quick scene in the TARDIS, and then come out to the scene of the main action so fast. It takes a bit more time for them to begin interacting with the guest characters, but they get quite good interaction and lots of it before the first half-hour episode is over. Great stuff. "Attack of the Cybermen" (story no. 138) may have disguised its lack of opening interaction for the Doctor and Peri excellently, but "The Mark of the Rani" has conquered this problem much more directly.
We should also note that the guest cast is full of good, understandable, normal people that the Doctor can get on side with and try to help. This may seem a simple consideration, but it's surprising how often other stories of this era can forget to connect with this important element of the heroic template. Lord Ravensworth leads the charge in this area, being the chief screen presence for intelligent local folk. The more historically famous George Stevenson takes a bit of a back seat, suffering a similar lack of initial close-ups as Mike Yates endured during his first appearance in "Terror of the Autons" (story no. 55).
It's also nice to see so much location film being used all through this story, and to see director Sarah Hellings taking advantage of that method of working to get a lot of really creative and exciting sequences for the adventure. Good stuff.
The Master upstages the Rani quite often in this story. Fans and viewers probably have split opinions on whether or not this should be so. The Master seems pretty well motivated in this one, focusing on the ambitious plan side of things..... But I'll save further discussion for the in-depth analysis version of this review.
As another rogue Timelord, or Timelady, the Rani could easily have all the same typical motivational challenges as the Master, but I think writers Pip and Jane Baker have successfully differentiated her, elevating her scientific curiosity above her ambitions and her morality. Nice twist. She doesn't quite appear to have her lifestyle figured out any better than the Master though.
The Logic of the EscalationsThe premise of the story clearly belongs to the Rani, and our second 25-minute episode is well-occupied by her plot investigated, escalating tensions and conflict between all the major characters until a really good, unique cliffhanger is delivered.
Part Three proceeds to develop some good plans for escalating to a new, more ambitious plot. However, the logic of the story is starting to dissipate. At any rate, Part Three still works, maintaining mystery and leaving many important elements of the plot unresolved for the final 25-minutes. Again, the arbitrary cliffhanger itself doesn't grip.
Having read the novel first, I had assumed the cliffhanger would have come at a tense moment a little further into part four. Yes, a better cliffhanger, but that also would have emphasized a huge structural mistake. Keeping spoilers to myself..... Though Part Four contains a number of tense sequences and decent challenges, the logic that leads from one story beat to the next isn't all that well thought out.
Part Four does deliver a lot of unique sequences, nicely using the location filming to excellent effect. Structurally, I think these bits should have come sooner, while setting up some more on-plot story beats to conclude the adventure.
And so, this story ends up finding its way into similar anti-climactic territory as the endings of most of its neighbouring season 22 stories. However, with the Doctor being uncharacteristically violent at the end of just about all other stories this season, beginning with "The Twin Dilemma" (story no. 137), perhaps we should be thankful that he has a final fix here that is both proactive and more in character.
The final portions of "The Mark of the Rani" just don't escalate too well, but it does do much better than most of its surrounding rivals, and of all of season twenty-two's stories, this one has done the best job of keeping the Doctor and Peri involved with a good cast of well-fleshed out characters and providing them interesting challenges all the way through.
"The Mark of the Rani" has become available on DVD and VHS video.
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