Thursday, March 8, 2007

DWM Preview! The Twin Dilemma

The first Doctor muttered something about his old body wearing thin, the second protested that the Time Lords couldn't change his appearance without his approval. The third Doctor claimed, as he lay dying that where there is still life, there's hope and the fourth declared "It's the end, but but the moment has been prepared for." The fifth Doctor's "life" came to a close with the baffled "It feels different this time" as he went through the whole process again and emerged as different in character as his predecessors, and likewise will retained that air of je ne sais quoi that all five have so far possessed.

The period immediately after regeneration is never a happy one. Somehow the Doctor never finds time for the rest he needs but is catapulted straight into danger, be it Daleks on a far distant Earth colony, Autons in Essex, Robot KI in rural England or the wicked Master in the make-believe world of Castovalva. The first Colin Baker story, The Twin Dilemma, takes place and what he is up against are closely guarded secrets, but rest assured, the answers will be every bit as exciting and worrying (for the Doctor) as the previous post-transmutation tales. In Castrovalva, Peter Davison's Doctor informed us all that the regeneration would be more difficult than usual. By The Twin Dilemma's standards, that regeneration was easy!

Unlike Romana, the Master or Borusa, the whole process seems to affect the Doctor in the severest way. Is this because his life is terribly dangerous? Has he been away from the safety of his home planet, Gallifrey, for too long? And what will happen now he has no Zero Room, that place of safety within the TARDIS that helped save his life last time?

As before, the Doctor has help from a friend to see him through this difficutl stage. After Ben and Polly, there was good old stoic Lethbridge-Stewart to help him. Then for the third transformation the Brigadier was joined by the erstwhile Sarah-Jane Smith, and the fifth Doctor had the aid of Tegan, Nyssa and Adric to pull him, literally, together. Now he only has Peri Brown, the plucky American student who is a relative newcomer to the Doctor's life. Can she, alone, hope to cope? Perhaps a Time Lord or two might help? After all, whether it being the High Council, K'Anpo or the Master, Time Lords seem to have had a hand in his regenerations before. And what role will the TARDIS play? The Doctor claimed he couldn't have survived his first change without it. The third Doctor was brought back home to Earth by it and the fifth Doctor used the properties of its Zero Room to provide shelter.

Some, if not all of these questions may be answered in The Twin Dilemma, as Colin Baker enters the fray quickly and fiercely - and both he and Peri clad in "totally tasteless" outfits that would not raise an eyebrow in their intended destination of Vesta 95, but we all know how reliable the TARDIS can be. Facing not only the aftermath of Androzani and an all-out space war, there is also Joconda, the planet of the walking dead! The story also, as its title suggests, involves a set of twins (played by real life twins), as well as Diana star Kevin McNally as Hugo, Martin Potter (last seen as the evil Eirak in Terminus) as Edgeworth, and ex-Blake's 7 supremo Paul Darrow as the mysterious Minister.

Sadly, The Twin Dilemma, is another one of an alarming number of stories affected by a force greater than the Daleks, more persistant than the Cybermen and twice as unpredictable as Turlough - yes, the BBC Unions. As this preview is written, The Twin Dilemma ought to be going into the studio during February - a whole month later than originally scheduled. Location filming will, unusally, take place after the studio work, leaving very little time for post production work such as the special and visual effects, editing, sound dubbing, music scoring, etc., befor transmission in late March. Let us hope that producer John Nathan-Turner and director (The Five Doctors helmsman) Peter Moffatt succeed in their aims and the story will be produced in time.

If not, it will presumably be held over to the twenty-second season, like Warhead of the Daleks was.

Whatever its outcome, The Twin Dilemma is all set to start the sixth incarnation of the Doctor off in splendid style and should be yet another strong contender for this year's season poll winner - but haven't we said that about quite a few stories this season?

- anonymous, Doctor Who Magazine # 89, April 1984

Pictures: A portrait of Colin Baker; Nicola Bryant as Perpugilliam.


Bored, the young Gallifreyan picked up the print out from the fault locator and tore it in half. Taking one half he folded it into a crude butterfly shape and tied a length of string around the middle, then one end to his index finger. Crossing the circular chamber to the Arcalian green-coloured flight seat, there he found a white cat with black-brown patches curled up happily. He flicked his finger and the paper butterfly danced in front of the cat’s face.

Its eyes widened enough for it to review the situation, and then twisted itself into an upright position and reached out, trying to catch the fluttering object with one paw. He ensured it stayed just out of reach most of the time, but allowed the cat to briefly catch it every often. The cat tried to bring the paper shape to its mouth. It was purring happily, and with its open mouth made a noise very similar to the gentle hum of the machine around them.

“Look, are you actually going to earn your keep tonight or should I let you play with the blockhead quadraped gargling phlegm?” demanded the smooth voice behind him.

He sighed and tugged the string from his finger and let the object fall into the cat’s grasp once and for all. The Gallifreyan turned to face the scruffy shape working under the circular, mushroom-shaped console in the middle of the tiled floor. “The feline demisticus does not gargle phlegm Drax,” he tutted. “They have a subsection of vocal chords for precisely that purpose.”

The chubby-featured Drax peered through a fringe of grey hair and grime. “Theta, just get me the tool box and I might count you as actually turning up for this session.”

“Session indeed,” his sandy-haired companion tutted, crossing to the portal that lead deeper into the time ship. “The Prydon Academy was happy enough to accept me at the start. This sudden obsession with grade point averages and extra curricular activity... Rassilon’s Rod, Drax, you’re a year younger than I am and I have to kowtow to you, it’s ridiculous.”

Drax was already concentrating on the inner workings. “What’s ridiculous is you being allowed off world on diplomatic treaty missions. Your idea of diplomacy is to sabotage a perigosto stick and then help the owner when they sprain their ankle. And how can you travel around in time ships so much without learning a single thing about how they work?”

Theta returned, holding a tool box. He deliberately stopped to play with the cat again. “Believe it or not Drax, when confronted with the wonders of the universe out there, the complicated delicacy of the synchronic feedback checking feedback... circuit... is not highly prioritized.”

Drax muttered something under his breath regarding his friend’s mental state ever since he was struck violently in the head by a wild animal in the wilderness. Theta sniffed loudly and dropped the tool box on the floor beside the mechanic. “Remember, Theta, they let you in to make up the numbers because attendance was down.”

“And they did the same for you.”

“I’m going to graduate.”

“The day you do will be the same day flutterwings start to swim.”

“That’ll be more likely to happen than you getting even a doctorate if you don’t help me.”

Theta sighed and shuffled through the tools for the thermal lance. “Why do we have to fix this time craft nowadays? You used to deal with skimmers as a speciality with time craft as a sideline, remember? I like skimmers. What was the time we worked on a skimmer, hmm?”

“The time you crashed one playing truant with your friends visiting Paradise Island.”

His companion began to giggle.

“It wasn’t funny.”

Theta broke up laughing. “Yes it was!”

There was a frantic hammering at the door. The two Gallifreyans glanced up. “Who could that be at this time of night?” Theta puzzled. “I’m not expecting anyone.”

“Go and answer it then!” Drax snapped, returning back inside the console.

Tutting, Theta leapt to his feet and crossed to the far wall, patterned with interlocking narrow hexagons. As he approached, a neat segment slid into the curving wall revealing the complicated industrial interior of the time ship. He tapped at the keypad marked DOOR and the metal plate before him extended forwards on four telescoping poles.

A familiar bearded face appeared in the gap of the doorway. Theta grabbed him as he dived inside, just managing to catch him. “Dear, dear, my friend. What is it? You look terrible – has Runcible the Fatuous tried to talk at you again?”

“No jokes Theta,” the newcomer gasped. “It’s Azmael!”

Theta’s brown eyes grew warmer. “He’s back?” he asked, wonder in his voice.

“If you’re going autograph hunting, Theta, you’re sacked!” shouted a voice from under the console. “Do it in your own time.”

“Shut up, Drax!” snapped Theta’s friend. “This is serious. Azmael got into some sort of argument with the High Council... it’s a massacre! Morbius has taken control, and the whole citadel is under martial law. Haven’t you been watching PRV?” he cried incredulously.

“I am familiar with the medium,” said Theta defensively. “Drax, however, finds it distracting.” He looked ill. “What will they do to Azmael?”

“He’s dead, Theta,” said his friend gently. “That’s what the riots are about. They’re coming after everyone that supporting his decision to leave. And you’re the one that organized the protest march in the Panopticon.”

“My dear friend, that was an excuse to avoid cybernetics tutorials,” Theta said quickly, already perspiring with fear. “And I didn’t organize it.”

“You took credit for it,” Drax pointed out gravely. “And we all attended.”

“What are we going to do?” croaked the bearded newcomer as, through the open doorway, an explosion was heard over the distant klaxons.

A feverish look was in Theta’s eye. “Well, we do what Azmael did. Escape.”

“Leave Gallifrey?” exclaimed Drax. “Are you insane, Theta?!”

“They’ll never think of it. They’ll be searching here and now, not out in the universe. Drax, this ship is ready to go. We can borrow it – just a quick jaunt until things die down.”

Drax seemed to have difficulty breathing. “They’ll never let us back!”

“Would that be so bad?” Theta suggested brightly. “You get the ship ready for launch, I’ll head back to the Academy, see if I can find Larna and the others!”

“They’re probably already dead!” his friend snapped, gnawing on a thumbnail.

“Either way,” said a new, deeper voice, “they’re not coming.”

The trio froze as they looked at the tall, gaunt figure standing in the doorway holding the orb-stick that glowed a lethal orange. “Good idea, doctor,” the spectre jeered. “One of your best. The guards will storm the docks any minute.”

“Your family connections can get you out of trouble, Anzor,” Drax babbled. “Let us be, eh?”

“And let the doctor here out of the realms of his responsibility?” Anzor was amused. “Not this side of the Void. Now, take this time craft out of here before I galvanize the lot of you.”

Theta tried to keep his voice steady. “Anzor...”

“Shut up,” his nemesis spat, and lashed out with the orb-stick. Energy tore through Theta and he was lost in pain. As he fell to the floor, his friend leapt to his defense and received the same treatment. But the delay was costly.

The Chancellery Guard now under the control of Acting President Morbius had arrived.

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