The Twin Dilemma

Episodes 4 Sweet, effete
Story No# 137
Production Code 6S
Season 21
Dates Mar. 22, 1984-
Mar. 30, 1984

With Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant.
Written by Anthony Steven. Script-edited by Eric Saward.
Directed by Peter Moffatt. Produced by John Nathan-Turner.

Synopsis: In the first adventure of the sixth Doctor, he and Peri become involved in the hunt for two kidnapped twins, whose mathematical genius is being put to destructive use.

Reviews 1-20

One To Avoid, I Think by Tom May 29/1/98

"This has been a timely change!"

Oh dear. The Twin Dilemma is one of my three least favourite Doctor Who yarns (with Time Flight and Time and The Rani). Little is done right in the whole production. While Colin Baker has explained he wished his Doctor to be very alien, and that the character would mellow gradually. Yet I am not impressed by his performance here. It was an admirable idea to make him unstable, yet Baker dosen't bring conviction to this idea performance-wise. What they should've done was to make us empathize with what the Doctor is going through, yet when apparently sane here, he is unreasonable and erratic. Baker's larger than life performance overshadows Niccola Bryant as Peri.

Only Maurice Denham comes out of this with some dignity, despite being allocated a ridiculous costume. The plot isn't that bad, but insanely dull in transition to screen. The special effects are risible and the music is inanely bad. Another problem is that too much "action" takes place within the TARDIS, and lines such as "The sound of Giant Slugs!" "Thou craggy knob!" and "May my bones rot for obeying it!" shred it's credibility, and what did we do to deserve those twins? There are virtually no redeeming features of this inanity. It's neither done as a comedy or drama and this indecision is suplemented by inexperienced scripting and abysmal production values. 2.5/10

A Review by Paul Cornell 21/3/98

As I say in The Discontinuity Guide, I was shocked to find that I rather like this story... despite all the gaping flaws in plot, design and acting. It looks to me like there's a vestigal original story by Anthony Steven in there (and that's a man, who, like Anthony Read, enjoyed a vast reputation outside of Doctor Who circles), completely rewritten (or, to be fair, written, since Steven was dying: funny the effect Saward has on his writers...) by Saward. Certain lines are lovely, some should have been cut at first draft, and both sorts on occasion don't sound like Saward. Thing is, there's actually a fabulous plot sitting under all the rubbish, and the fact that we don't actually get to it until episode three suggests to me that Steven's involvement is greater towards the story's end, Saward having to pad like mad at the start.

It's meant to be a rite of passage story, with the initially nasty Doctor learning ethics from his experiences in the four episodes, but though the lines are there, there's either not enough of them, or they're not given due emphasis, leading, disasterously, to the whole 'nasty Colin' business. (Pip & Jane, bless them, don't bother with that at all in Mark of the Rani, and Holmes' re-formating of Colin's Doctor in The Mysterious Planet is a delight). The rite-of-passage, played up as any reasonable script-editor could have done, would have been wonderful, especially with such a great, Who-ish, uncynical (albeit scientifically stupid) plot.

Saward fumbles Steven's easy passes: he knows the twins are important, but he can't give a convincing reason why, whereas it's clear (from the maths and from other odd lines), that Steven was given Logopolis or Castrovalva to learn Who style from, and is thinking about something like block-transfer computation. (Possibly, he's missing the context here so much that he thinks that that would be obvious to any Who viewer.) Again, a good script-editor would have guided him through Who style and either cut the twins altogether or made use of them. The fact that the above mess happens to coincide with design horrors, terrible casting choices, and a couple of fan bugbears (silly aliens and annoying kids), and that it went back to back with Caves of Androzani, and that this is the point where (with the rite of passage idea) the team were trying an experiment, only leads me to conclude that it was a vast anti-serendipity that sunk, ultimately, Doctor Who (for this is the second key point, after Mary Whitehouse's intervention, where Who was hobbled.) The public even came back for Attack of the Cybermen part one, were appalled, and went away forever.

Besides, it's got one of my favourite actors, Kevin Macnally, in it.

Defending Dilemma by George Potter 8/4/98

Colin Baker's first full serial as the sixth Doctor seems to be considered a kind of leper in the shows history, either ignored or actively ridiculed by fans throughout the online community.

I think it's time to change that. I love the serial. It's included on my Top Ten list and, yes, I'm serious.

The story has it's problems. I am grateful to Paul Cornell's excellent review for informing me that script-editor Eric Saward rewrote the original extensively due to writer Andrew Steven ill health. Saward-- though a competent writer and experienced veteran of the show-- has never been a favorite of mine. There are several glaring shifts in tone that jar when compared to the work of masters like Robert Holmes and Chris Boucher, who seemed able to combine drama and comedy with smooth precision. The effects are indeed below average, and the central concept rather muddled when compared to the similar math based Logopolis and Castrovalva.

Still, there are wonderful elements. The twins themselves, played with a snobby air of brilliance, change believably from lonely, mischievous geniuses to adults who can almost admit they may need some help. Kevin McNally provides excellent support, and the costume and production design in the early scenes portray an intriguing futuristic cityscape. The direction and editing are slick, and the lighting is interestingly textured.

But the aspect that lifts The Twin Dilemma above the admitted flaws is Colin Baker himself. In his flagship outing as the Doctor, Baker manages to claim the role as thoroughly and completely as Tom Baker in Robot. Coming after the blandly charming Peter Davison, the sixth Doctor was like a shot of cold water to the face of this then fifteen year old fan. Here was the Doctor as I'd always wanted him to be: strong, arrogant, refusing to fall apart despite the betrayal of his body, mind and persona. Here was a Doctor with flaws. I'll never forget the scene where, overwhelmed by a wave of paranoia, he threateningly lectures Peri on the "true" meaning of her name, then attempts to strangle her! This is a moment of sheer melodramatic tension, beautifully realized by both performers. Of course, The Doctor regains control before any damage is done, but we have now know an important fact: this Doctor is no innocent. Baker's amazing command of voice and expression portray this conflict in no uncertain terms. That is acting, a special effect no money can buy.

From this point on, the sixth Doctor learns control. Compare the quicksilver moods and turbulent emotions he displays in the first episode to the state he has attained at the final confrontation with the villain. Calm, cool, icily arrogant, able to smirk at his foe and claim a superior mind. And, watching him, seeing nothing but confidence and the slightest contempt in his eyes, you believe him. He is The Doctor. Mind and reason have beaten unpredictable emotion. Just like that confused fifteen year old watching the television, just like our poor human race, this Doctor must control himself.

A Review by Michael Hickerson 10/4/98

"I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not."

The one line pretty well sums up not only The Twin Dilemma but the entire reign of the sixth Doctor. Indeed, Colin's Doctor was the shortest lived and arguably the most controversial in the shows history. It was here the the show attempted to grow and change, much to the anger of long time, "traditional" fans and the shaken heads of the casual fans.

And in any argument about the relative merits of this era, The Twin Dilemma always comes up... and The Twin Dilemma has suffered some grave injustices over the years.

I am sure that at the time it seemed like a brilliant idea to have one story to introduce the new Doctor before going on hiatus. In retrospect, it's not so good since that one story is the only chance most viewers had to draw impressions about the sixth Doctor and decide whether or not you'd tune in again in the fall. Indeed, if a re-generation story is sub-par, you at least know that next week, you can give the new Doctor a chance to redeem himself in the next story. Instead, The Twin Dilemma leaves you with a bad feeling.

The other major injustice is that it follows Peter Davison's farewell story, the brilliant Caves of Androzani. I've tried an experiment where I watched some of the lesser classics of Who (Logopolis, Android Invasion, Day of the Daleks, etc.), and after Caves and they seem pretty sub-standard by comparison. Caves raised the bar so high that it's rarely been met or exceed since. The Twin Dilemma pales by comparison.

But viewed in isolation, it's not such a bad story. I'll even go so far as to admit I've got a soft spot for it my heart. I'll even admit that in some sick way, I really enjoy this story.

Colin Baker gives us a tour-de-force performance, coming in and stamping himself all over the new persona of the Doctor. Unlike the horrible Time and the Rani, where we know next to nothing about the new seventh Doctor by the end of episode four, we have a pretty good idea of who the new Doctor is. He's unstable, he's alien, he's interesting. One of my favorite scenes is the often bashed scene where the new Doctor tries to strangle Peri. It's wonderful because Colin makes it like a car wreck to watch-- you know you should look away, but your eyes are still drawn to the scene.

I often find that fans praise Robot for being a good introductory story because it really introduces us to the new Doctor but bash this one. Why? They both achieve the same thing. Twin Dilemma takes a longer route, allowing for more character exploration, but in the end, it serves the purpose.

Not that I will go so far as to call this a forgotten classic. But it's not as bad as it's reputation. And if you really want to enjoy it more, watch it without having viewed Caves of Androzani first. It works wonders for the story.

Doctor Who Mythology by Ari Lipsey 17/5/98

Well, it's "official." The Twin Dilemma was rated the worst Doctor Who episode in Doctor Who Magazine. This is a grave injustice. Did these people never see The Power of Kroll, or sleep right through the beginning of Season 24? There's been a lot of myths surrounding this story, so I'm going to clear some of them up.

Myth: Making the Doctor act in an insane, manic and selfish way was a dumb idea from a dumb script editor.

Fact: It was a brilliant idea. Eric Saward decided he would begin to change some of the "set" ideas in Doctor Who. Three serials before, he changed the Daleks from the all-powerful galactic emperors to weak degenerating aliens who can't even invade a weakly defended space station without difficulty. Now the Doctor goes under a revamping. The idea is original. It took people by surprise, myself included. But looking at the final product it works really well. The truth is people were not ready for it, and Saward was ahead of his time.

Myth: Colin Baker does not play the role of an erratic Doctor very well.

Fact: The role of the Doctor is pivotal in this episode. Colin Baker comes off great, especially the scene in which Peri teaches him about compassion. He's better in Mindwarp, but the Doctor's alien nature is definitely conveyed.

Myth: The Twin Dilemma offers the worst array of performances in Doctor Who's history.

Fact: Criticizing the acting in The Twin Dilemma has always struck me as odd. There are very few serials where there are not suspect performances in Doctor Who. Sure the Twins are the worst, but their voices are far more irritating than their acting ability. Aside from that, there aren't any other bad performances. Colin Baker is somewhere between good to great, but the real star is Maurice Denham's Azmael. It may just be the best performance of the Season 21 (the only contest might be with Christopher Gable's Sharaz Jek). The rest of the performances are alright (Lang, Noma, Peri, Mestor). No one comes through as thoroughly unbelievable. And guys, Fabian was only in two scenes, and she wasn't bad.

Myth: The music's crap, the effects are crap.

Fact: The music is never intrusive, and fits really well in Azmael's final scene. This may be the best scene of the Baker era. The effects are fine. The ship looks as real as anything in Doctor Who, and the take off from Titan 3 is well done. Mestor could have had some moving eyes or antenna, but there have been worse effects.

Myth: The dialogue just plain sucks.

Fact: Rangy yes. Suck no. The clangers have been pointed out already, but the great lines rarly see the light of day. The whole final scene with Azmael is well written, as is the charming final scene of the episodes. The twins first scene, when they talk about their mother is also well-written.

A Review by Cody Salis 20/5/98

Colin Baker's first adventure.... OK, Ari and Micheal defend the Doctor, I feel that some of what they said is true. Again I am not knocking Colin Baker, I just feel that they could have done the first adventure of the 6th Doctor better. Yes, the Doctor has human failings like the rest of us and as Micheal said in his review that "The Doctor has to control himself". I could not agree more.

As the story progresses, we see more of the persona of the Doctor calming dowm. As for the rest of the characters (Mestor, the twins, and Azmael) Mestor was a good villian, even though he reminded me of the Daleks a bit with his line, "If you will not do as I say, you will have death by embolism"! Ari mentions that the costume of Mestor could have been better with the antenna and such. I agree, but I thought that the costume was good enough for when the story was done.

As far as the twins go, they reminded me of Adric times two. Always not listening to Azmael and not wanting to work for Mestor. But when the Doctor hatches a plan, they finally agree to do it. And Maurice Denham does an excellent job as the Doctor's friend Azmael.

As to how they could have made the story better.... They should have by used the post regenerative stress as Peter Davison did in Castrovalva: not anger and paranoia, but confusion. 6.75/10

A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 14/6/99

It isn`t hard to see why The Twin Dilemma fails in the way it does. One way of describing it, would be 'experimental'. Doctor Who was never afraid to branch out into new territory, but to try and make The Doctor completely inaccessible to the viewer was crossing over the line.

It would appear that the production team were trying to emulate the Hartnell Doctor, by characterising the Sixth as alien. Unfortunately, they don`t succeed. In retrospect Colin Baker`s portrayal is actually quite good, and he gets some of the nuances of the character, such as the arrogance down to a tee. In other aspects he completely fails, when bringing across the unstable side for example, his performance is barely credible.

Nicola Bryant doesn`t fare much better either, as Peri is nearly always overshadowed by The Doctor. The twins are terrible, Kevin McNally is bland as Hugo Lang, a character with potential. In fact the only real star of the tale, Maurice Denham turns in a nicely underplayed performance as Azmael.

The Gastropods were a nice idea, but were wasted, and were also too reminiscent of the Tractators from Frontios. Much more effective are the bird-like Jocondans, both in appearance and depiction. The script is also overlong and padded, some of the ideas seem ludicrous, although not unbelievable, and the story should have been cut down to three episodes.

The fourth episode, however is actually the best, as the first real hints of Colin Baker`s Doctor come to the fore, when he stops wallowing in self pity, and sets about rescuing Peri, and defeating Mestor. In short, The Twin Dilemma should never have been chosen as a debut story for a Doctor, and certainly shouldn`t have closed a season.

The Twin Dilemma? Arghh! by Steve Scott 25/1/00

Whether you like it or not, my friends, this one most definitely happened. I hated it on first viewing - but I was only a 13 year old fanboy at the time, so please bear with me. Having only the vaguest of memories of its first broadcast, I seem to remember loving this new Doctor after the last one, who never said anything! Now that I'm 20 I can look at this story and think "weeell, it's not THAT bad". One or two people have cited this as the beginning of the end for Doctor Who, but I disagree (somebody has to). The Twin Dilemma is no worse, story-wise, than both Time and the Rani (a waste of time) and Robot (dull as ditchwater). So why the fuss about a run-around with a silly title?

Colin Baker's "large" portrayal of the Doctor is uncomfortably confined in the magic rectangle - there are times when he's a little too theatrical for such a small space. His Doctor is, and would be, my favourite, and you really need to look closely to see that he isn't as unsympathetic as you might think. The death of Azmael is beautifully played by two very accomplished actors (Maurice Denham's taciturn octogenarian renegade is, incidentally, nicely counterpointed with the younger, egotistical Doctor), the Doctor's quiet mourning for his old friend conveyed splendidly. Other moments include his concern for Peri at the end of episode three, and a joyous exchange between Doctor and companion at the end of the story - you all know the line so I won't bother quoting it. Perhaps the new Doc is addressing his audience as well? As for the implication that the fourth Doctor got rat-arsed with his old friend, well, given all we know about the Great Tom, presumably it happened in Soho!

I'm not sure that the experiment with a more bombastic Doctor works, largely because the story itself is actually very poor indeed. Given a better set of scripts without Saward's contrived Doctorly outbursts, and you'd probably have a story with a much better reputation. As it stands, there are really far too many TARDIS scenes (and thus too many rows between the Doctor and Peri) to pad out the tale, and after episode two they become plain tedious. There are some excellent performances in here, somewhere....Kevin McNally's Hugo has great potential as a companion, even with the spangly dressing gown. Mestor is clumsily designed and played, but his eventual demise is excellent - perhaps the Doctor should have thrown salt at him instead as it would be a Doctorish way of dealing with him. The twins are annoying (as child prodigies have a tendency to be) and the Jacondans are, with the exception of Barry Stanton's wonderfully melodramatic Noma, a little on the dull side. A pity, because they look rather good.

Had The Twin Dilemma opened the 1985 season, then no-one would compare it (unfairly) with the magnificently-acted Androzani. As it stands, it is more of a coda for season 21, something a debut story should never be. The Sixth Doctor's deliciously pompous arrival ("You were expecting someone else?" - fabulous!) should have closed a season that saw Doctor Who redeem itself after the lethargic, self-indulgent rut of 1983 (which is, in my opinion, were the decline really began). It was nice, however, to see on BBC2's Doctor Who Night no link being made between the new Doctor and the show's near-cancellation.

Still, even if Colin Baker's "unlikeable" Doctor was as vehemently rejected by Joe Public as some would suggest, the big drop in viewing figures came when they finally got round to mellowing him down!

Is this some kind of joke? by Ken Wrable 13/4/00

Oh dear. The Twin Dilemma is truly excruciating, surely one of the poorest ever efforts put out in the good name of Dr Who. It's doubly unfortunate that a story this bad follows, and stands in starkest contrast to, the excellent Caves of Androzani, and that this was chosen for Colin Baker's debut appearance as the Doctor. It's like an act of deliberate sabotage to any chance he might have had to make a success of the role.

In fact, on watching this again recently, I came to this conclusion: if John Nathan-Turner and co felt they really had to make this, couldn't they have at least have renamed the main character, changed the TARDIS set and put it out as some sort of spin-off, which could then have been quietly buried? Wouldn't it have been more noble to actually let the Doctor die at the end of Caves, and to let the series end there? Or at least put it into limbo until they could commission some decent scripts from Robert Holmes or Chris Bidmead or anybody with some kind of feel for the series?

And why is this one so bad? Well, where to start really: how about a hackneyed and uninvolving plot, a godawful cliched villain, a script that's more worthy of the under-tens slot on children's BBC, some costumes straight out of amateur pantomime, a pair of gratuitous twins with no discernible dilemma and worst of all an overbearing and uncompassionate Doctor. OK, he's just regenerated and is going to be unstable for a bit, but this is just preposterous - since when is it acceptable to show the Doctor using physical violence against his companions? Why doesn't Peri just sling him out of the TARDIS?

The Twin Dilemma is as much of a turning point for Dr Who as The War Games, or The Deadly Assassin, or Logopolis. Trouble is, this time it represents a near-terminal turn for the worse. For the next few years, watching Dr Who became akin to an act of masochism, enlivened only by occasional sparks of inspiration to remind one of how great the series used to be.

A Slating... Oh, alright. A Review by Alan Thomas 1/6/01

This is probably the worst Dr Who story ever made. Words cannot describe this utterly embarrassing experience. I feel sick every time I watch this. This is the lowest of the low. Colin Baker puts in an admirable performance despite such a poor script. I have trouble describing the story. In short, it stinks. The idea of the Doctor being dangerously unstable is not all that well conceived. A bit more thought on the part of the writers would have made this much better than it turned out to be.

The sets and costumes are gaudy. The 6th Doctor's costume is a hideous sight, as are Peri's new suits that seem created simply to compete with the 6th Doctor.

Trying to say anything good about this story is difficult as it is of an unbelievably poor standard. The acting is apalling. The twins are so pathetic it is hard to understand why they were cast. The direction is very poor, and it is hard to believe that this complete and utter tripe followed The Caves Of Androzani. Dr Who had started dying. Would it ever recover? Thankfully, it would. But with stories like this, it's hard to believe that it had a chance.

P.S Does anybody like this story? If so, please e-mail me, because I'd like to know!

Brain...hurts... by John Wilson 21/1/02

After the series showed us how good they could get in The Caves of Androzani, they disappointed us all with this stinker. The Twin Dilemma is your run-of-the-mill monster story featuring some ridiculous-looking monsters (based on slugs and birds), twin geniuses who are as interesting as spoilt milk (and badly portrayed to boot), and a B-movie villain.

Someone should have told Producer John Nathan-Turner and Script Editor Eric Saward that you don't really endear a new Doctor to an audience by having him first dress in a horrible costume, and then try to strangle his companion to death in a fit of post-regeneration madness. It's ironic really. Even though the Sixth Doctor era was one of my least favorites of the series, Colin Baker turned out to be one of my favorite Doctors (second after Tom). Colin's portrayal would be a more alien Doctor (sometimes a little too alien), who could be arrogant, vain, childish, loud, and berating. All of these qualities were interesting to see in the Doctor. Unfortunately, these were the only traits Baker was allowed in this story (bar Azmael's death scene).

Bad dialogue is plentiful, such as Commander Fabian's "May my bones rot for obeying it" (delivered in monotone, no less). The Doctor is given most of it, though: "Thou craggy knob!", "The sound of giant slugs!", and probably his best comeback of all time, "Watch it, Mestor!"

Still, if anything salvages the story from being completely unwatchable, it's the performances of Baker, Bryant, and Maurice Denham as the Doctor's old mentor, Azmael. And the last scene set in the TARDIS console room.

What a wardrobe! by Joe Ford 17/4/02

The most Universally derided story ever, renound for its terrible dialogue, apalling effects, excruiating acting and cheap sets. I'd love to join the masses, I really would, but I have a secret confession I must make…this is the first Colin Baker story that I saw and I really liked it! Five years ago, aged sixteen, armed with nothing but my sanity and a remote control (which I frequently used to fast-forward to exciting bits during duff stories!) I was introduced to the world of the sixth Doctor and for this Who fan things would never quite be the same again…

Let me get the negative aspects out of the way first. I would never claim this was a brilliant story. Mestor is without a doubt the daftest looking Doctor Who villan ever. Who on earth conceived that costume…a boss eyes slug with huge phallic antennea whose costume comes down to his feet like a skirt. The fact that this isn't the cheapest looking monster in the shows history is a true testiment to Doctor Who's budgetary restraints.

And then there are the twins. Womulous and Weemus! The Conrad lads deserve an award. For delivering the most monotonous, flat and undramatic dialogue ever commited to television! Such choice lines like "Our genius has been abused!" and "I don't know where we are or where we're going but I do know one thing. We're prisoners!" are delivered as though they are arguing over whose doing the washing up!

And of course the sets. Tin foil wrapped Titan Three, gas mark 4 for 40 minutes. Stoopid fake slime trails leading up to Mestors throne. That giant frog thing that keeps getting into shot because frankly he's not as silly looking as Mestor (but only just!).

So it's cheap, it's tacky, so why on earth should I waste my time? Four reasons. Colin Baker. Nicola Bryant. Kevin McNally. Maurice Denham. They alone drag the story to an easy seven out of ten.

Ignore the green ringed twins and concentrate on the private drama between the Doctor and Peri. She is shocked, at first by his regeneration itself and then by how psychotic, unstable and theatrical this new Doctor is. He is out of control, trying desperately to regain some sanity and keep a hold on his violent streaks the regeneration has thrown up. He tries to strangle her, verbally abuses her and yet she still wants to help him. She wants to make him better again. Watch her face as Titan Three is blown (isn't that a great cliffhanger?) to smitherines. Watch his face when he finds out she has been kidnapped. Already we are treated to more complexities of character than we got during the last three years.

Colin Baker does OTT it at times but for any overdone moment there are ten great moments. "Lieutenant!"-"Leftenant!", "You would have left one of your own kind to die!", his reaction to the fate of Jaconda, "Peri you're alive!", "Nonsense, you and me together, what an infalliable combination!", "I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not!". There are clear signs that we have an actor who really cares about the part and wants to show us new complexities. The fact that Baker and production don't make this Doctor completely safe at the end is very brave indeed. I applaud that.

Nicola Bryant is just as good, often overshadowed by the new Doctor but never forgottern. No companion has gone through what she does here and she gets through admirably. This is just the beginning of a turbulent relationship. And a really COOL one too.

Maurice Denham brings great subtley to his role as Azmael, good thing too since his stuck with the two brats from hell. His moments with Baker are quite charming and I am thankful for his inclusion as he brings some real weight to the second plot. His death scene with the Doctor is beautifully done.

As for Kevin McNally, why didn't he stay on!!!!? It makes me so cross, he's a terrific actor! He would have fitted perfectly into season twenty two! I could have seen a pleasant love story between him and Peri developing climaxing in him disgusted that he couldn’t save Peri in Mindwarp and leaving the Doctor because of it. Sorry, I get carried away but you see what I mean. He was a good character and he was wasted. A shame.

I will admit this isn't the first story I would watch with my mates but on my own, knowing what it leads to and what it has just left behind I enjoy it as a guilty indulgence. To be honest I swim through all the dreck just for the final scene. Which is simply excellent.

"Thou Craggy Knob!" by Terrence Keenan 4/10/02

Conventional Fan Wisdom (CFW) states that The Twin Dilemma is a poor Doctor Who story, if poor is a euphemism for, say, flaming elephant shit.

I'm not a big believer in CFW. I will sometimes see if I can rip apart beloved stories or champion hated ones. My comments on Human Nature on one of the groups I belong to caused people to want to give me cement shoes and toss me in the ocean. My praise of Transit on that same group had people asking me what medication I was on.

Reviewing The Twin Dilemma was a challenge not to be missed.

Let's start with Colin Baker. It's his debut, if you didn't know. (Call me master of the obvious.) And, well, I don't know. It could be me, but I think Colin should have toned it down just a bit... The man puts on a scenery and co-star chewing performance that would impress the great Hollywood divas. Ham does not even begin to describe Colin's performance. He makes Graham Crowden in Nimon look like Gary Cooper. How the rest of the cast kept straight faces while Colin overacted is beyond me. Why Peter Moffat didn't shoot him full of thorazine is a mystery for the ages. However, after a while, Colin's acting becomes a performance art. And that's just the first couple of episodes. By the end, Colin manages to dial it down a bit, and his final scene with Maurice Denham is wonderful.

Nicola Bryant is actually quite believable, playing a confused and upset Peri who is trying to come to terms with this loudly dressed, diva of a Doctor. Maurice Denham is the best of the guest cast as Azmael. The uni-browed Kevin McNally does a decent job with a one note character. The less said of the rest of the cast, the better, especially the twins themselves.

This could have easily been a two part story. The first two episodes are basically "The Colin Baker Show." The actual plot, when it arrives, is okay, and scientifically plausible (In the JNT era? Pshaw!). However, the hangover of the first two episodes infects the last two.

Well, it's time to pass judgement on The Twin Dilemma....

And... despite the hammy acting, in spite of the cross-eyed gastropods, and a serious lack of clothes sense, and two twins with the range of a ficus tree, and people with grey face paint and feather dusters on their heads... I can't help but like The Twin Dilemma, on a so-bad-its-good, Plan 9 from Outer Space level.

Or, if you must, think of it as an example of when things go utterly wrong with a TV serial.

A Review by Richard Radcliffe 9/3/03

What is it about this story that provokes such hatred? Is it the inaccessible Doctor? Is the script at fault? Is Peri at her most whiny? Is the Gastropod the worst monster ever seen in Who? Was expectation so high after Androzani that the next just had to fail? Whatever reasons are given for The Twin Dilemma's failure - and the above are as equally valid as any - the proof was in the eating, or rather the viewing in this case. And Twin Dilemma had been put off much too long. It appeared on our TV screen in all its technicolour brilliance.

Could it really be the worst story ever in Doctor Who's long, illustrious History? I don't think so, but it's quite near the bottom which ever way you look at it. You can also see, totally, why it is always voted so low. It's gaudy in every aspect - and gaudy isn't good.

Who you like to blame for this story is a matter of perspective. Colin Baker received much of the blame, before his audio reassessment that is. I prefer to place it on the makers - and that has to be Anthony Steven (the writer), Eric Saward (script editor) and John Nathan-Turner (producer). Colin Baker is innocent! And include Nicola Bryant in that statement too.

The Doctor's portrayal is left of centre throughout. It is blamed on the unstability of the regeneration, but saying that most of the 6th Doctor traits are there right from the outset - particularly his TV persona. I thought it was great! I remember at the time being rather shocked at this manic Doctor, but it was such a vast contrast to the previous 5th Doctor, and that was refreshing. I loved the way he asserted his authority on everything. I liked all the quotes that he used. I even liked his outfit, and I still do. The very fact that the 6th Doctor wears what he wants, that it clashes with everything around it, is so 6th Doctor. That arrogance and supreme confidence - a trait to aspire to. Whilst the whole idea of presenting the 6th Doctor as inacessible was on reflection a flawed idea, at the time it was wonderfully different and challenging.

I also am a big fan of the 6th Doctor and Peri combination. There was much too much bickering, but I liked both their characters - and the way they interacted with those around them. Peri is forced to compete with the Doctor in this story, and you just can't - nobody can really. The outift she wears has a go, and is my personal favourite of all she wore, but doesn't hold a patch to the Doctor's. You actually feel sorry for Peri in this story though. The trauma at the hands of someone she trusted is extreme, but the combination of the 2 right from the start was promising.

And so the blame does not lie with Baker or Bryant. It must therefore be the production of the thing which is so atrocious. My wife commented that it was like someone had just invented colour television. As if the Doctor's costume wasn't tasteless enough, there's the rest of the outfits and sets to stand next to it. Hugo Lang is a case in point. He goes to the TARDIS wardrobe, to change from his ripped clothes. What does he choose to wear? The most gaudy, glittery, explosion of colours you can imagine. The Doctor's costume was mild in comparison to this! The Space Security force with their nurse-like uniforms are even worse - that bright sickly sea-blue. Yukk! The rest aren't much better. But the bad taste extends to the sets too. Tinfoil consoles, brightly lit cells - it's all here - the story looks like an explosion in a paint factory. It's tacky.

The script is bad in the extreme. Like the worst B-Movie it goes nowhere, but there is no kitsch appeal here. The actors are terrible (apart from Maurice Denham as Azmael). The twins of the title are laughable, and that's in "shake-your-head-and-wonder-how-they-got-the-parts" kind of way. Doctor Who was often embarassing, but rarely to this level.

You can't get away from the fact that Twin Dilemma is a terrible start to the 6th Doctor's era. It is one that affected the perception of this Doctor for the best part of 15 years. He started the race with a broken leg, this Doctor - and he is only just recovering from that accident.

The Twin Dilemma is not the worst story that Doctor Who has ever produced, in my opinion. It's not even Colin Baker's worst story (Mindwarp is). Looking down the list of duffers I can see quite a few worse (Dominators, Time and the Rani, Leisure Hive spring to mind) - unfortunately it looks like I still have those ones to watch. Being a Doctor Who fan can be hard work at times. 5/10

Hitting the ground running by Tim Roll-Pickering 28/5/03

Season 21 concludes with Colin Baker's first story, establishing the new Doctor before the season went off air. Both in 1984 and again in 1992, when the story was the first appearance by Colin Baker on video, this story was the only chance in nearly a year to see what this incarnation of the Doctor is like. This makes the wisdom of keeping the Doctor potentially unstable throughout the story questionable, but it does also mean that the viewer is left wondering and gradually sees the important familiar elements of the Doctor's concern for injustice and strong stance against tyranny win through, even they are at times clouded by the Doctor's occasional breakdowns and moments of anger. It is a bold strategy but the Doctor comes through on the right side at the end and still manages to maintain his true independence and alieness. The contrast with the Davison incarnation is immense and the result is that Colin Baker really hits the ground running and gives a strong performance even at this early stage. It is easy to see the roots for some of the criticism of this charecterisation, but at the same time it can also be seen why there are so many strong fans of the approach at the same time. In no way should this approach be considered a failure. Even the coat doesn't seem too out of place in this story and it becomes clear that the Doctor chooses it at random and then sticks to his choice out of stubbornness - a trait many humans share! As a debut story this tale more than does its work in introducing the new Doctor and making it clear to the viewer that he is here to stay.

There's a secondary plot which owes far more to the space fantasy genre of Flash Gordon and the like than the more hard headed realistic approach that Doctor Who had generally tried to follow, at least throughout the las four seasons, But this traditional approach works since it provides a simple and familiar backdrop that doesn't overshadow the new Doctor. There is some talk about mathematics but most of the science in this story might as well be magic at times but it doesn't matter. This is a familiar story of a journey to the heart of a corrupt empire to overthrow the tyrant and set an oppressed people free. Setting it in a science-fiction futuristic environment is just a backdrop to all this. There are a lot of defects in the script, most obviously the way that Azmael's use of an alias becomes utterly incomprehensible once he is credited throughout by it and even called this by Mestor in a private conversation, but the story as a whole is reasonably sound.

The guest acting honours for this story easily go to Maurice Denham who gives a brilliant performance as Azmael/Edgeworth who brings a strong sense of dignity to the tales as well as providing a good contrast to the more volatile Doctor. It is surprising to see an actor of Denham's calibre in the story but he enhances it no end. Otherwise the acting is mixed from the good such as Kevin McNally (Hugo Lang) to the weak such as Gavin and Andrew Conrad (Romulus and Remus). Productionwise the story is a relatively straightforward affair with some mundane sets, though the make-up for the Jacondans is brilliant, especially given that many productions would have simply made these characters identical to humans, whilst the Gastropod costumes are good even though the creatures seem a little too immobile to physically conquer a world (but the story gets round this through developing Mestor's mental powers). The result is a story that isn't the greatest but which allows the new Doctor to hit the ground running and eventually show his true colours. This story has a terrible reputation but it is actually highly watchable and recommended. 7/10

"I am the Doctor... whether you like it or NOT!" by Keith Adams 13/10/03

Hmm, well here it is - The Twin Dilemma - recently voted by DWM readers as the worst Doctor Who stories of all time. Deciding to do a complete rewatch of the Colin Baker era the whole way through from start to finish meant having to watch this story again. My initial thought was: YUCK! Not again! So, well, having just finished watching it, here's my thoughts on, apparently, the worst story of all time.

First off, let it be known that I don't consider this the worst story in the Doctor Who cannon. That title falls to either Happiness Patrol or Delta and the Bannermen, both of which are nothing short of cheap rubbish.

While watching this story, I had to keep reminding myself that viewers at the time had just lost Peter Davison, the current Doctor in one of the best stories Doctor Who had produced that season (Caves of Androzani). Caves of Androzani had set an incredibly high standard, so high in fact, that this story feels tacked on at the end of the season, made with the last few quid left in the Doctor Who kitty. Caves should have been the closing story of the season, finishing on a high note and allowing viewers the chance to come to terms with the loss of Davison. Twin Dilemma could never have hoped to be as good as Caves.

The Twin Dilemma is a cheap story. The sets, costumes and acting all feels very hobbled to gether and like it had no money spent upon. One only has to look at Azmael's laboratory - the consoles are covered in silver glitter, the dangling constellation looks flimsy. Look at the guns used in the story - plastic toys. Look at the Gastropod costumes - never has "it's a man in a suit" felt a more appropriate description. Look at the costumes worn by the police force - cloth drapes, look at that hideous costume found by Hugo Lang in the TARDIS's wardrobe - no wonder Peri hid the power pack for his plastic toy pea shooter in that thing - she probably thought no-one would want to put it on. I could go on critiscing the cheapiness of this story, but I won't - better direction could have been employed to hide the fact that the costumes and guns weren't up to scratch - note the shot of two Gastropods moving through the dark tunnels - this is the way the story should have been shot - darkly lit - to accompany the way the new Doctor's persona was shifting, and off course also to conceal the fact that money was limited.

Money aside, moving onto the plot. Well off course, the main feature of the story is the Doctor himself and the regeneration. Never has a regeneration produced such an erratic as this before, well, maybe not since Power of the Daleks. Regeneration stories generally have a bit of an erratic feel to them, usually because the writers have no clue what the new Doctor is going to be like, how the actor is going to play the Doctor and what style the new stories will take. Take a look at Robot and Spearhead from Space for classic examples of poor entries in the DW canon. Regeneration stories also always have the Doctor behaving erratically - and never more so here. But I've always loved Colin Baker's performance as the Doctor, he dared to make the character different from before, putting his own unique stamp on the show - he's loud, arguementative, bombastic, unpredictable, but yet, still, big and lovable at the same time. Unlike so many of the regeneration stories, the Doctor we get in Twin Dilemma, is, by and large, the set character for the coming season.

Twin Dilemma probably suffers as being the regeneration story which most centres around the Doctor, the actual plot of the Jacodans, Gastropods, Azmael and the twins are forgotten about on many occasions - at times feeling like the background noise on what is really going on - the Doctor trying to sort his head out. The actual plot regarding the Gastropods is interesting, but is largely crammed into episode 4 - so there's no place for surprises or for the audience to figure things out - it's all just handed to the viewer with a "oh, and by the way, here's what was happening while the other stuff with the new Doctor was going on" style. The story, although looking good on paper, becomes a bit flimsy towards the end, leaving too many unanswered questions, major questions such as: why did Azmael take the twins to Titan 3 - why not take them straight to Jaconda? (The Doctor mentions this, but never quite figures out why either) What exactly was the point of Azmael's plan - surely it is Mestor's idea to bring the 2 smaller planets into Jaconda's orbit, but yet, it episode 4, Azmael tells the Doctor that he cannot allow him to tell Mestor of his plan... what plan? it's Mestor's plan to play with the planets not yours... what can the Doctor tell him that he doesn't already know... sloppy script editing I think. Another question: why did Azmael change his name? seems pointless and I feel sure that there was a good reason - we just never got told it... *sigh*. Oh, another question - where did the twins get acting lessons? methinks they lied on their CVs that they ever had acting lessons...

Okay, well, I guess that's maybe a lot of negativity that can be said about the story, but on the flip side, there are good things which make it all not bad. The main ones of which are Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant - the relationship which would become so cemented in later stories is really beginning to gel in this story - Baker's Doctor effortlessly works with Bryant on screen and I think it was a brilliant pairing. Credit is due to Baker and Bryant for handling their performances so well - the material they've been given is weak, but good screen presence carries the two characters through the story - it's clear how much Peri cares for the Doctor, despite his trying to kill her and constant nastiness. People have complained that the lurch in the Doctor's attitude in Twin Dilemma was a bad thing - but I feel it was justified - the events of Caves of Androzani obviously had quite an effect on his mind and I think this also comes across in the portrayal. Azmael is admirably played and it was a shame that he had to die at the end. For a few moments at the end of episode 4 I thought to myself that Hugo Lang could have made an interesting travel companion for the Doctor, the trio of Lang, the Doctor and Peri working well in many places - it could have been an interesting partnership, rather than just brushing Lang off at the end of the story when he was no longer useful. There were other nice touches to the story - the Jacodan make up was good (bar the tinfoil noses).

I think overall Twin Dilemma feels like a rushed hastily added addition to a season that had adequately reached a conclusion with Caves of Androzani and I can't help feeling that if more time had been spent working on this story, it would have been more polished and better presented. I also can't help but feel that perhaps many viewers did not tune into Attack of the Cybermen because of the weak start Baker's Doctor was given. And on both counts that is a shame. All said, this story does not deserve to be called the worst story ever, because for that it would have needed Ken Dodd or Shelia Hancock to be in it... oh I wonder what could that mean...

A Review by Adrian Sherlock 1/8/04

Watching Dr. Who with an open mind becomes more difficult as you get older. When Davison arrived in 82, I was already complaining about what was right and wrong, but still open minded enough to be blown away by the genius of Kinda and Snakedance, the thrills and drama of Earthshock and Resurrection of the Daleks, the startling quality of Caves of Androzani, not to mention the nostalgic fun of Five Doctors.

But what do you think when The Twin Dilemma arrives? I want to make this quite clear. The first five Doctors were so amazingly good overall that my confidence in the series was pretty much unshakable in 1984. I thought the series could do no wrong and I had no idea how badly that belief would soon be tested. But I can tell you that I taped Twin Dilemma and watched it dozens of times over so that I could get good and familiar with the new Doctor by the time his first full season arrived. My intitial reaction to his costume was that it was so wild and outrageous that I totally loved it. I also liked the story overall and was moved by the death of Azmael, a great character.

However, the cowardice and violence of the new Doctor, trying to strangle Peri, truly shocked and unnerved me and I later met a lot of fans who were really put off by this. His acting was also extremely over the top and quite forced and would later become rather tiresome.

I eventually succumbed to the more objective view that this was a terrible story and it essentially set in motion a chain of events which led to the downfall of the series. But, now the dust has settled over the old Dr. Who I can see that I can enjoy this story and Colin's era without guilt, if I just open my mind and accept him and his era for what it is, instead of clinging to fan baggage about the "right way" to do Dr. Who.

Twin Dilemma is pantomime with a black heart, it is insane, outrageous, daring and startling TV. It is so compelling because so much happens that throws you, shocks you, makes you laugh or feel saddened, and it pushes boundaries in all directions. And Colin does repent in the end, by the cliffhanger of part three he has rediscovered his compassion and his ability to care for Peri and by the end, we see him in a genuinely touching scene with Azmael. Overall, then, this is must see TV at its outrageous and unrpedictable best. Not your normal cosy Dr. Who, but spellbinding all the same.

Dr. Who has always been as much about pantomime as any other elements, but the panto is the part the fans try to disown. I say embrace it and love it for what it is. Twin Dilemma, like Timelash (not to mention season 17!!) may be pantomime, but what a pantomime. This panto has a hero who is far from a simple, one dimensional hero. Colin is no goody-goody in a white hat, but a complex, deranged character in search of his sanity. And if some silly sod at the BBC hadn't sacked him, this may just have evolved into a series of black comedy that would have been world class. Revelation of the Daleks certainly proved where Colin was headed when the powers that used to be decided to derail the train and ruin the game plan. A great pity. He'll never replace Davison as my favourite Doctor, but as Davison's replacement, Colin Baker remains a geuinely compelling and highly entertaining interpretation of the Doctor. And the Twin Dilemma is an unforgettable debut.

A Review by Simon Blake 4/10/04

I don't know when UK Gold started showing Dr. Who omnibuses (omnibi?) every Saturday and Sunday morning from 07:00, but I've been watching them since catching the tail end of Image of the Fendahl several months ago. It's been a rollercoaster ride, for sure, experiencing the Key to Time, the new logo/theme tune, the Davison era in its entirety (although I didn't catch every one), up to Androzani yesterday and now, this Sunday morning, The Twin Dilemma.

Which is what brings me to you. I've got up early at the weekend and watched around 40 Dr Who stories in the last few months, and with Discontinuity Guide in hand it has been a truly enjoyable and nostaligic experience. Until today. Because it was today that I realised the reason I stopped watching Dr. Who in the first place, and The Twin Dilemma was it. But why?

I can't really blame Colin Baker - even twenty years on, his actual performance seems rather good, nuanced and unpredictable. He comes across very well as a truly alien Doctor, something only previously achieved in the other Baker's best moments.

I can't blame Nicola Bryant. I rather pity her having to carry off a cliffhanger - nobody looks good when they're crying, especially if they're not really crying. And she's a great deal less annoying and whiny than many other companions would have been in her position.

I certainly can't blame Maurice Denham, who carries his part with grace, and I can't really blame those godawful twins, who actually weren't as bad as all that, given the thin material they were given to work with.

No... I firmly blame the production team. Having pulled out all the stops and outdone themselves on Androzani, it seems (or at least, seemed to me at the time and again this morning) that they deliberately decided to take everything that was good about the series and set fire to it in the garden for a giggle.

And if that were not insult enough, they made their intentions and their attitude clear with that final line - "I AM the Doctor, whether you like it or not". And even as the theme music cut in, my mind was filling in the next bit... "and if you don't like it, you can go screw yourselves!"

And funnily enough, that's exactly what most of us did, more or less.

I'm not a rabid fan of the show. Don't get me wrong, I could list the order of the segments of the Key to Time and tell you what they were disguised as, I just couldn't list the directors of each story. And because of that more-than-casual interest but less-than-encyclopedic knowledge, I've often idly wondered what killed the show. Sure, I knew about Michael Grade hating it, and the budgetary constraints could not have helped when the US was turning out glossy product like Star Trek: The Next Generation. But today, 3rd October 2004, I feel I've seen the answer. Contempt killed it. The only surprise is that it took so long to die.

A Review by Brian May 26/10/05

Oh well, I suppose I had to get round to this story sooner or later. Sigh.

But it's not the first time I've reviewed The Twin Dilemma. Another time, another website - my concluding comments were as follows:

"The Twin Dilemma has no redeeming features. It has all the hallmarks of a story that should never have been made. It is hardly a tale that should introduce a new Doctor. Avoid it like the plague."
(, 28/3/00)
Harsh words indeed! So, five and a half years on, has time mellowed this passionate critic?

Yes, but only slightly. I wouldn't heap such fiery vernacular like the above a second time round, but that doesn't mean I'm going to start calling this story an underrated classic, or a forgotten gem, or any nonsense like that. It's still a struggle to watch, but there's some sparkle among the dross. However I'll get to that later. There are plenty of negatives to be accentuated. The script is rubbish. It's tedious. Dull. Worst of all, it's incredibly slow. It's an excruciating slog, padded to the extreme. There are lots of stupid and illogical ideas e.g. how can sending Peri ten seconds back in time return her to the TARDIS? The climax is rushed and simplistic, and there's a five minute - possibly longer - pointless post-climax wrap-up. The direction is lifeless (the scene close to the end when Hugo confronts and ushers the Chamberlain and guards out of the TARDIS is one of the most unnecessary and badly done scenes ever!). The design is loud and garish, with a vomit-inducing colour scheme. The Gastropods are disgusting and the Jocondans are boringly realised (and seem to be wearing Avon's de-studded leather tunic). Mestor's disintegration is gross, a far cry from the horrific but spectacular final end of the vampires in State of Decay, the scene it so ineptly tries to emulate.

And how about those twins? From the brothers Conrad I don't think I've seen more cringeworthy, lifeless, lame excuses for acting. They're dire, although to be fair, it's obvious they're inexperienced, so someone at executive level should take the blame for casting them. But it's not just the kids - Dione Inman as Elena and Helen Blatch as Fabian are just as awful, but at least they're not in it that much. There are some good characters and performances, but I will leave them for the time being; I'm aiming to clear all the negatives out of the way, so I must now discuss the new Doctor.

I understand what John Nathan-Turner and Eric Saward were trying to do - and can admire them for it. To create a more aloof and alien Doctor than the compassionate, human incarnation that the just-departed Peter Davison personified. The intention was to re-create the crotchety, irascible anti-hero in the vein of William Hartnell's early presentation of the character. But they went overboard in the first episode, especially with one particular moment that deserves condemnation - the Doctor's attempted strangulation of Peri. It's shocking. It's inexcusable. Guys, it's still a children's television show, for God's sake. Okay, realistic and often downbeat drama was brought back to Doctor Who. Fine - commendable in fact. But this is something different altogether. This is not the way to portray an alien Doctor. The man who put his curiosity ahead of the safety of his crew (The Daleks), or who apparently tried to kill a caveman (100,000 BC) was dramatically effective and intriguing. Given it was the beginning of the series, the ambiguity was justified. But not now, 21 years into an established - and heroic - character. The Doctor has never been perfect; he's been guilty of self-interest (The Claws of Axos), and more alien aloofness (Pyramids of Mars), but he was always a role model for children. This scene is too much. And no, those in charge cannot use the Doctor's post-regeneration instability as an excuse. A similar scene could be acceptable in 1990s' fiction, when Doctor Who had become more adult, but not in 1984, when it still went out on BBC1 at a family-oriented timeslot.

Colin Baker's first full episode as the Doctor is very patchy, and he's quite obnoxious at times. The strangulation scene aside, the attempts to (deliberately) alienate the viewer from the Doctor make uncomfortable viewing. The Doctor virtually condemning Peri to a miserable existence as a hermit's disciple is one example; his berating her after rescuing Hugo ("You would have left one of your own kind to die!") is unconvincing in its moralising. By the time of the cliffhanger, with Hugo about to shoot him, the majority of viewers are probably rooting for the policeman! Thankfully Baker is much better come the second episode, his arrogance and alienness are much more palatable. He has a great moment when levelling his accusations against Edgeworth, showing us glimpses of a truly heroic Doctor, but it's in the final episode that he really gets to shine.

Nicola Bryant is excellent as Peri. Like Ian and Barbara in season one, we're meant to sympathise with her being stranded in the unknown with a total stranger, her plight all the more haunting considering she willingly stepped aboard the TARDIS to travel with a nice, kind man who suddenly changes on her. After the travesties of episode one, she finally manages to get the better of him on occasions, and by the end of the story they are firmly equals.

Baker and Bryant aside, there are two performances of note. Kevin McNally is wonderful as Hugo, creating a genuinely warm, likable and memorable individual, with loads of rough charm; he certainly would have made a great companion. Maurice Denham as Edgeworth/Azmael is the other highlight; he convincingly portrays a tortured soul, out of his depth and doing the wrong thing, but unwillingly so. His death scene, which also serves as his redemption as he and the Doctor are reconciled, is wonderfully touching. It also brings out the best in Baker, hinting that his arrogance is merely a defensive front, and there is a truly compassionate man beneath the veneer.

But unfortunately that's all that's good in The Twin Dilemma; enough "redeeming features" for me to alter my opinion of early 2000, but not by a great margin. It's certainly not a vehicle to introduce a new Doctor - I won't budge on that. The script is poor, the dialogue insipid - "Thou craggy knob!" is stupefyingly bad, and the twins get to say things like "One thing's for sure. This is a spacecraft! And we're prisoners!" and "Our genius has been abused!" So you can't totally lay the blame on their performances - with dialogue like this they never stood a chance. It's unpleasant to watch - quite literally so thanks to the design. And worst of all, it's incredibly boring. Despite a promising start for Colin Baker as the Doctor, some of his actions are inexcusable, although this is more the fault of the producer and script-editor than Baker himself. There''s lots of sadism prevalent; just one of the many factors that cements The Twin Dilemma as one of the pivotal stories in the slow death of Doctor Who in the 1980s. 2/10

A Review by Benjamin Bland 24/2/06

The Twin Dilemma is one of the Doctor Who stories I don't own, unfortunately. It was on UK Gold the other day and I recorded it. I'm glad I did. I'd forgotten how good it was, seriously. The Twin Dilemma is probably the most slated Doctor Who story ever but I love it. Ok it's all a bit silly, giant gastropods for example. But Colin Baker performs brilliantly as the Doctor in his first performance in the role. All those who slated him for this must be mad. He gives the new Doctor a new life, that's all. Isn't that what regeneration is all about?

Now back to the actual story of The Twin Dilemma. Of course having two mathematical geniuses in it called Romulus and Remus does happen to be a bit contrived, but it's not as if it's any more ridiculous than some other things we've seen in Doctor Who over the years. The Twin Dilemma is more than an average Doctor Who story, The tremendous performance of Colin Baker in this story makes it above average on its own. No other Doctor has ever captured the essence of the word change as Colin Baker has in this story. He is completely the opposite of Peter Davison's Doctor and much as I loved the fifth Doctor (he's my favourite), I have to admit that without Colin Baker's unique portrayl of the Doctor the whole legacy that is Doctor Who would have been a lot different.

Just a quick word now for Nicola Bryant. She's often criticised by many because the only reason she got the role of Peri was because she could do an American accent. In this story she performs very well in her role of companion. She seems genuinely upset and shocked at the new Doctor's personality and change. I mean, let's face it she only joined the TARDIS crew because she fancied the Doctor, Peter Davison's incarnation, and now she seems truly shocked to be stuck with this new Doctor, this completely different Doctor.

Overall, despite the extremely unscary giant slugs and the people who seem to be dressed up as a cross between and owl and a cat this is one of the better Doctor Who stories in the years after Peter Davison bowed out as the Doctor. If you here anyone badly slating this story and urging you never to even bother watching it, please don't listen to them. You'd be missing an intensely watchable, fun and well-performed Doctor Who story. From me this gets an 8/10.

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