Thursday, 29 October 2015
REVIEW - PLANET OF THE RANI
After Siobhan Redmond did such an outstanding job taking over the Rani helm from the late Kate O’ Mara, it was only a matter of before Big Finish revisited the Rani. Only this time, they decided to take us to the legendary planet we first heard about in The Mark of the Rani. But did the story live up to standards?
I’m undecided on that front. It took me four listens to finish this story and even after all that, for every marvel I find, two annoyances pop up. Siobhan Redmond’s Rani is NOT one of them. I love her take on the Rani – actually…I love the Rani as a concept itself. She’s not out for universal conquest. She’s just a morally flexible scientist interested only in her inhuman experiments. The way Redmond just exudes this cruel – almost sadistic objectivity in her interactions with those around her is fantastic.
I didn’t find anything wrong with Colin’s performance (as usual), but I did find myself a little annoyed at his Doctor in this piece. The backstory for the Rani’s plans seem very plot convenient and I didn’t really understand it (way too technobabbly for me). It also seems to come out of nowhere, like one of those one-time ideas that is very important to this story, but afterwards we’ll never hear from it again. I know a lot of stories have that ingredient, but the way this story shoehorned it in just to give the Doctor a sense of responsibility felt very poor.
Oh my god! Poor Constance. She had such an exemplary introduction story. How did her treatment and characterization in this piece slip past the writers/script editors? She is so naive it is unbelievable. She makes Amy/Abby look like a seasoned veteran. In Amy/Abby’s case, it was cute, here it’s just stupid-naive. It’s as though the concept of something going awry is completely alien to her. She lives in World War II for heaven’s sake. Not only that, but she is captured, imprisoned, dominated, captured (again), has small chance to redeem herself near the end of the story, but by then I just couldn’t care less. This is not the Constance Clarke I listened to in The End of the Line and Criss-Cross.
And wow! Annoying supporting cast. The audience-surrogate character (Pazmi) is set up in episode 1 as a fairly interesting character, only to whine/complain/angst at every little thing that happens. Now hear me out: I admit she does have legitimate reason to whine/complain/angst. If you’ve listened to the story, you know why, but just because she can, doesn’t mean we have to have every scene she’s in be a pity-Pazmi-party. Beyond being broken by the plot, there is virtually nothing interesting about Pazmi.
I think the problem with this story is it tries to do too much. From the first episode, this story felt like it was going to be Doctor Who meets Prison Break, but Episode 2 resets the plot and starts a brand new one, but links it to the previous episode by dragging the characters along. This story would’ve worked better if the Doctor and Constance had landed on Miasimia Goria and discovered the Rani had already escaped as opposed to spending a whole episode showing us how she did it.
The villain for this piece didn’t impress me either. They came across as childish and irritating. Ironically, the “villain” of this story is the only one that really receives character development. How f**ked up is that?
Even after writing this review, I find myself on the fence. Is this a great story that just doesn’t appeal to me personally or is this just a wasteful story with a couple of great characters woven into it?
Rating this story: 5/10.Maybe next time.
Note: If you liked this review, please like and share it. If you’re interested in getting into Big Finish or want suggestions on which stories are great, check out my ranking of them here