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DWMR205_planetoftherani_1417

“Oh, for goodness sake…how many of these electronic letters have gone unanswered?”
“I wouldn’t worry…most are unsolicited interplanetary spam.”
“Spam? That’s what the GIs brought with them…”

The Doctor’s email account is filled with outdated requests for his appearance at a parole hearing for his old adversary The Rani. She’s turned her prison stay into an experimental laboratory, and she’s made good use of The Ablative…an Academy experiment created by The Doctor himself.

Will The Doctor be the cause of 900 deaths? And is he already the cause of a major tragedy on the Rani throneworld of Miasmia Goria?

“Kanu only thinks he’s a god.  But if he thinks he’s a benevolent one…so be it.”

With a mutated cockroach progeny and statuelike underground zombies, there’s a veneer of the expected mystery in space and patina of science fiction to be found here.  But it masks a far more prosaic core.

“The Doctor thinks I am amoral. Perhaps I cannot tell good from bad. But I have learned hope…and despair.”

Elements of Mark of the Rani and her dinosaur egg rub shoulders with items from Day of the Daleks, but much of it is subsumed under a sense of Catholic guilt (it’s The Doctor who can ultimately be held responsible for the existence and abuse of The Ablative, however youthful and arrogant a mistake it may have been) and yuppie fears of parenting (how many secretly worry in these days of prevalent ADD, autism and the Aspergers-style social ineptitude and anomie of the overpraised, homeschooled and internet-raised that they’ve birthed a monster?) and aging (the concerns of legacy, and passing on of knowledge, riches and suchlike).

It’s a bit high handed and queasy, particularly for the traditionally more political (or straight up escapist) realm of science fiction – aren’t these sort of themes better suited for melodrama and soap opera?

Siobhan Redmond once again essays the role of the late Kate O’Mara with an appropriate degree of scientific arrogance and detachment, and loveable “Old Sixie” Colin Baker delivers his standard ineffable performance.

Miranda Riason’s Constance Clarke appears to be developing into a stalwart companion, but contrarily also something of minor annoyance with all her militaristically derived forthrightness.  Even so, this works well enough in tandem with Baker’s Doctor, resulting in a few mildly amusing moments early on.  That noted, in solo bits, she tends to be overly earnest, sharing some kinship with the bitter and businesslike Liv Chenka of the Eighth Doctor Adventures, but with far less of the depressive overtones.

Overall, Constance appears to be revealing herself the sort who’d bust in on your dinner party, criticize the settings and storm into the kitchen to direct the meal: perhaps improving the efficiency of the dinner, but more than a tad offputting for both guests and staff.  There are moments of warmth to be found throughout, though, particularly in bits of banter between herself and The Doctor, so only time will tell how the character continues to play out.

http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/planet-of-the-rani-877

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