Doctor Who: Something Borrowed

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Christopher Morley looks back at the Sixth Doctor's entry in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Puffin e-short collection, Something Borrowed.


As we continue our re-examination of the tenure of the ''Marmite Doctor''- let's face it, you either love or hate the Sixth- it's time to join he & Peri at a high society wedding on Koturia!



They're there on an invitation from one Lord Evris Makshi, whose life the Doctor saved at some point in his past from some very disagreeable robots, and an old foe is close at hand, seeking the chance to do a little practical research into the phenomenon of "phasing".



Just what is it? In a sense its similar to regeneration, & it happens only at the height of love among the Koturians. Even if one of the partners in the impending marriage isn't a native......can you tell where this is going? If you took notice of her immoral methods in The Mark Of The Rani, probably so.


Uniquely Something Borrowed unfolds from the companion's perspective- Ms Brown serving as narrator in a sense! And typically her expectations as to what to expect this time out are rather scotched.
"It was typical. The Doctor promised me champagne and cake, and instead I got flying lizards."
Only these aren't just any old flying lizards. They're pterodactyls! And the Doctor has encountered them before.
"I don't recall them being quite so pocket-sized during my last Late Jurassic trip."
Once they're taken care of, there's nuptials to attend. And weddings on Koturia are very special indeed.
"This place is considered the height of romance. Anyone who's anyone tries to have a wedding on Koturia."
Including Evris' son Jonos, who's intending to make an honest woman of his lovely Lania! But she's not who she's claiming to be, and her old classmate sees right through it. He has after all previously scotched her Industrial Revolution era scheming.
RANI: I thought that last mad scheme of yours had finished you for good.
MASTER: You jest, of course. I'm indestructible. The whole universe knows that.
RANI: Is that so?
MASTER: Really, my dear Rani, you and I should be friends. I'm one of your greatest admirers.
RANI: Oh, don't bother with flattery. I know why you're here. I saw the Doctor.
MASTER: Then you know why I need your cooperation.
RANI: Cooperation? I want nothing to do with you.
MASTER: You'll change your mind when you hear my proposition.
RANI: I am not interested in your pathetic vendetta one way or the other. Now clear off and let me get on with my work.
MASTER: If only it were that simple. However, I'm afraid you've very little choice. Either you collaborate or I bring this little venture to an extremely untimely end.
Of course back then the Rani was looking to reverse the mistakes of an earlier experiment on Miasimia Goria- seeking to increase the mental awareness of the alien natives, she turned them massively aggressive and sought to rob humans of some shut-eye by extracting a vital sleep hormone. Things have moved on a bit and she now wants some measure of control over her own regenerative process!

The Doctor has of course seen Romana exhibit some control of the process during her own first facelift/personality change while she travelled with the man he was two selves ago. Little wonder then that he's immediately suspicious of the Rani's motives, which she sets out pretty clearly........
"Most Time Lords are at the mercy of fate after death. But imagine if we could definitively control the outcome! These people are the best lead I've found. They not only control their transformations but also improve in mind and body."
Tragic though that she should seek to use her undoubted intellect for such misguided purposes, no? "She's a clever woman- a very clever woman." And in a brilliant act of foreshadowing, the woman formerly known as "Ushas" hints that her foe will one day live to regret his lack of interest in her attempted work here lest he come to regenerate any time soon. Which of course he does, in Time And The Rani with Colin Baker nowhere to be seen.



And given his poor treatment by the BBC you can perhaps see why he refused to return to don the dreamcoat one last time. As Topless Robot recalled of the whole sorry business:
"According to him (Baker), he was dismissed from the show and then asked to do a regeneration in the same breath by JNT ( John Nathan Turner): wouldn't you feel a little insulted? Instead (and I hate to break this to you if you never realized it, but it must be done) Colin did not appear in the opening of successor Sylvester McCoy's first episode, "Time and the Rani" -- that's McCoy in a frizzy blonde wig with special effects all over his face. It's actually pretty well-done considering the circumstances, but it's still a shame Baker doesn't have a proper onscreen torch-passing death or any real last words (unless you count "Carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice" from the previous episode)."
Luckily this injustice is corrected, sort of, in Gary Russell's Past Doctor Adventures novel Spiral Scratch in which his bang on the head from the TARDIS console is presented as the culmination of an attack by the Lamprey as opposed to an implied fall off an exercise bike, with the Rani's attack simply quickening the Doctor's death.

There's a bonus if you're a fan of the Buzzcocks, too- as well as the overall title of the novel, each chapter's individual moniker is a nod to them! In order, we have I Need, Real World, Something's Gone Wrong Again, Who'll Help Me Forget, Are Everything, 16 , Moving Away From The Pulsebeat, Whatever Happened To?, Nostalgia, Sixteen Again, Noise Annoys, Harmony In My Head, A Different Kind Of Tension, Thunder Of Hearts, Time's Up & Everybody's Happy Nowadays.

Well, presumably everyone except Colin himself, you'd think?

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