Inspired by Bigger On The Inside as it looks at the game applications of Doctor Who adventures, taking it from the top... I thought I’d look at the bottom of the barrel.
After The Caves Of Androzani came in at number 1 in Doctor Who Magazine’s Mighty 200 poll of stories from An Unearthly Child to Planet Of The Dead, its immediate followup The Twin Dilemma came at 200. It’s almost poetic.
But even in the real clangers, there are always ideas. The Twin Dilemma has potentially interesting threats in the creepy kids and the alien kidnappers, a regeneration crisis (which is a nice idea, but a bum note for introducing a new Doctor - it was when the Tenth Doctor slept through most of his debut adventure, and it’s worse here when it means the Sixth Doctor goes mad and gets violent) and so on. The kids not being creepy would have made their situation more easy to sympathise with, which might have helped... but their being creepy really made them stand out.
And just above it at 199, Timelash is a fascinating mess full of good ideas buried in its dubious plotting, garish design and wonky direction.
The Timelash itself - exile to an unwelcoming point in history, used as a “humane” way of eliminating enemies. A big enough idea to hang a show on. It could have been a two-way connection, with resources being taken from the past as well as people being sent there. The devolving villain, and his way of hiding behind a Wizard Of Oz facade - he even has a nice visual design, unlike the hand-puppet cobra people or the body-popping blue androids. Though the direction doesn’t play it up - I imagine it looking like Poltergeist - the idea of going into a tear in space and time hanging on to a rope is a classic barking mad Doctor Who moment. The Doctor being a legend for his actions in a previous visit - although in a moment of lunacy this is the result of a previous visit that wasn’t actually part of the TV series. (Was it meant to be Peladon, I wonder...)
And the throwaway idea of an unwilling time traveller knocked off course and managing to make a friend, before the Doctor arrives to take her away. Played from the historical character’s point of view, that could be a great hook for a Doctor-lite episode. Finding someone thrown through time and space, someone who needs help, maybe someone hunted by enemies from their home as well as friendly time travellers trying to rescue them...
A group of ordinary young people are out late one Friday night, walking back from a night at the pub, when they see a flash of light and hear a thunderous blast. Going to take a look, they find someone falling out of a glowing rip in the air. She’s wounded, semi-conscious, and strangely dressed. And all she manages to say before passing out is “they’re coming...”