Monday, 22 December 2014


She's back - and Scottish!

First off: Seriously! What is it with Doctor Who and Scottish Time Lords/Ladies? Not that I'm complaining. We have a Twelfth Doctor, Master and now the Rani is Scottish too. At least they've earned the right to complain about stuff now.

But we are not complaining about this last installment in the Sixth Doctor trilogy as his adventures with Peri, after being reunited with her in The Widow's Assassin, continue. The Rani Elite ends the trilogy in a very showstopping way by going back to the Rani's roots. From her behavior, mannerisms to her schemes and morals (or lack thereof), this story is probably the best one I've heard in a while.

The star of the show is of course the Rani, played now by Siobhan Redmond (don't ask me to pronounce it), who has regenerated after the passing of Kate O' Mara. This new Rani is as cold and merciless, as dry and corrupt as the Kate O' Mara version. A notable difference with this Rani is a very Master-like dislike of the Doctor, not surprising after he foiled her previous attempts. If you loved Kate O' Mara's Rani, then you will most certainly love Redmond's version. Plus she has a Scottish twinkle in her voice now. No attack eyebrows, but a rather whimsical accent.

This story carries on the thread laid out in the previous stories; the concept of mind manipulation. This is an important element for Peri I believe as she is the most severely affected by this phenomenon. It comes as little surprise that she is scared to death at the thought of someone messing with her head and it is portrayed as such brilliantly by Nicola Bryant. While Peri doesn't actually do very much in this story, it is the emotional moments where she speaks about her life with the Doctor and what changes it's brought in both her and him that makes her shine throughout this piece.

One of the things I worried about was how the writers were going to handle having the Rani meet the Sixth Doctor when she has already met his seventh incarnation. Traditionally, Time Lords tend to meet one another more or less in the right chronological order (which is odd considering the nature of time travel), but The Rani Elite intentionally decides to make the plot center around that which is genius to be frank. The Rani is expecting the 'little chap with the umbrella' when she first sees the Doctor, but has no qualms about taking on Six. If it should create a paradox in her past/his future...then so be it. This is exactly up the Rani's alley. She is a scientist. She isn't concerned with taking over the world, she doesn't want to kill the Doctor, become his friend, steal his lives. The only thing she is interested in is her experiments. That is the core of the Rani's character. She is only interested in furthering her own scientific curiosity and doesn't care what or who she has to step on to achieve it.

The supporting cast aren't bad, but they aren't that good either. I'll be honest, they are there to either be the Doctor's 'guide' or the folks he's meant to save. They feel very stationary which surprisingly doesn't get in the way of the story as there is a lot going on and the focus is mostly on Six/Rani. That wasn't me shipping them by the way. That's just how I wrote it.

The setting for this story is somewhat usual as well, including the name of course. This story has some weird ideas running through it that actually comes into play at certain stages, but I won't say when or how, but it is rather clever, even if it does feel like it was specifically put into the story just to serve that one purpose.

I had a couple of worries about the post-reunion fight with the Doctor and Peri and that this incident with Peri and Kiv would be handwaved away. It seems to be heading that way, but they do touch upon the subject in this tale as well, leading me to believe that instead of one large explosion, we'll see cracks forming that build up to this confrontation. Unlike the Classic Era, Big Finish really plays up the realism and character development of their characters so I'm willing to wait and see what they have in store for us.

Another thing that makes this story severely freaking awesome is the music! I need to mention this. I know I don't talk about it much and I know Big Finish does a great job with the music normally, but The Rani Elite featured some of the eeriest, creepiest - freakiest! - background tunes ever. It's very reminiscent of Night Thoughts and Dark Water. This fits in well with the Rani and her rather dubious schemes.

Lastly, I'd like to thank and congratulate Big Finish on giving us a really great Rani story and honoring the memory of Kate O' Mara to the highest degree by casting Siobhan Redmond as her successor. A truly fine actress that does the legacy of the Rani proud. Kudos!

Rating this story: 9/10. Looking forward to more Rani misadventures in the future.

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