The Twin Dilemma (1984)

The Twin Dilemma is one of my least favourite stories and it was voted the 200th Best Story in the DWM Mighty 200 poll. It’s the opening story for Colin Baker’s Doctor and whilst many will remember this story for the Doctor trying to strangle Peri in the first episode. It was an unusual move to put Baker’s first story at the end of season 21. Normally a new Doctor opens a season but for some reason John Nathan-Turner decided to give Colin Baker’s Doctor the final slot in Season 21 instead of the opening of Season 22. It’s strange to say that Peter Davison’s outfit actually suits Colin Baker more.

The Doctor that we see at in Episode 1 is a world away from Peter Davison’s Doctor as well as the Sixth Doctor we hear in Big Finish plays. His mood swings in the first episode ventured on pantomime villain. His over reaction to trying to kill Peri and then deciding he should become a hermit and Peri is his disciple. His anger at Peri for potentially letting another human die was quite uncomfortable to watch. Its one thing to do it in a joking manner but the way that Baker delivered this line was something different. Whilst most of the first episode is about the new Doctor and Peri there is a B plot which starts. It involves twins Romulus and Remus (like the twins who founded Rome) who are taken from their home after they were abandoned by their dopey father. The kidnapper in question if Edgeworth who it later turns out is a friend of the Doctor or at least an earlier incarnation. The idea that a friend of the Doctor’s has turned bad and is working for the enemy leads to the usual ending where that person looses his/her life and the Doctor then feels sadness and pity. I did like the character of Edgeworth. I found the character as played by Maurice Denham to be a likeable character even when he was pretending to be bad and harsh to Romulus and Remus.

There was quite a lot about this story that really bugged me. First of all were the characters. Apart from the Doctor, Peri and Edgeworth the rest were irritating and I wanted them off the screen straight away. The only thing Peri did wrong was at the end of Episode 2. What was that face Peri was trying to do? A ferret? Unfortunately that puzzling question totally robbed that cliffhanger of any emotion. It certainly wasn’t her trying to cry (I hope). I also really didn’t like the character of Hugo Lang (played by Kevin McNally). I found him smug and uninteresting. The way he pretended to be hard and tough was more of a joke than anything else. Romulus and Remus were horribly written. The two actors (Gavin and Andrew Conrad) were left with bland characters, horrible haircuts and totally inappropriate outfits. They didn’t come across as genius twin brothers but irritating smart arse brats. However the biggest and boldest problem with this story was Mestor. No one in their right mind can take the character of Mestor seriously. It looks like a giant slug has got drunk and it’s gone a bit funny around the eyes.

First episodes are rarely a good indication of what a Doctor will be like. It’s a good thing that his first full season was a lot better because this story is truly dreadful and it’s not surprising that it was Anthony Steven’s only contribution to Doctor Who. He created characters that were totally wrong for this story. A poor opening story for the Sixth Doctor.

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