Doctor Who: The Twin Dilemma Review

DW The Twin Dilemma

How to ruin a Doctor Who story: either have a crap plot, cast child actors who are so awful that they were clearly only hired because they were twins, cut the budget but try and realise the script anyway rather than alter it, or write The Doctor to be a complete selfish crazy person who is thoroughly unlikable and have him strangle his own companion in a fit of paranoid rage. How to make a properly awful Doctor Who story: do all of the above, at the same time. Welcome to The Twin Dilemma!


The Doctor has regenerated, but something has gone terribly wrong. He is paranoid, erratic and violent, and his taste in clothing is generally awful… though maybe that bit wasn’t part of the post-regeneration crisis…

Meanwhile, a race of giant Gastropods has taken over the planet Jaconda. Their leader, Mestor, now intends to cause an enormous explosion in order to spread his people’s eggs throughout the galaxy, and he kidnaps juvenile twin geniuses from Earth to work out the necessary mathematical equations.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

DW The Twin Dilemma 1

Okay, so… who actually has the worst outfit in this scene?

The Doctor (Colin Baker) – The Doctor has managed to regenerate, despite the potentially permanent fatal effects of spectrox poisoning from Androzani. It didn’t go as smoothly though, and it has left him quite mad… and quite dangerous.

Peri (Nicola Bryant) – Peri isn’t sure what’s going on with The Doctor, changing before her eyes, but she knows its only happening because he saved her life, and so she’s going to stick with him no matter what…

Professor Edgeworth / Azmael (Maurice Denham) – Azmeal was a teacher at the Time Lord Academy, and a former mentor to The Doctor. He eventually left the planet and retired to rule compassionately over the planet Jaconda… that was until Mestor showed up…

Mestor (Edwin Richfield) – Mestor is the leader of the Gastropods, and wishes to spread his seed across the universe by blowing up Jaconda’s sun. He lacks the required knowledge to calculate such a feet though, so he needs a pair of genius minds…

Romulus and Remus Sylvest (Gavin and Andrew Conrad) – Two twin mathematical geniuses who are kidnapped by Mestor and forced to calculate exploding Jaconda’s sun in such a way to spread the Gastropod seed…

Hugo Lang (Kevin McNally) – A member of the Interplanetary Pursuit Force, Hugo Lang has been given the task of finding the kidnapped genius twins before their talents are used for evil…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW The Twin Dilemma 4

I mean… they could look worse? … maybe?

The Doctor acting erratic after his regeneration, but in a more extreme way than the previous post-regeneration story, has potential, if it only lasted the first episode or so before he began normalising. Sadly that’s not what happened here, but I thought I’d mention that it wasn’t a terrible idea from the get-go (though I wouldn’t push it as far as choking Peri, but there you go…)

Erm… Hugo Lang isn’t a terrible character, I guess. Pretty generic and his costume was stupid, but not bad… Also Azmael isn’t bad either, and the idea of The Doctor old favourite teacher retiring peacefully onto a planet is a nice one. His sacrifice by using his last regeneration was … good. I think?

…errrr… Nope, that’s about it.

The Bad:

DW The Twin Dilemma 2

Azmael ponders which twin is the worst one, a question that may never be answered…

For the whole story The Doctor acts like a super-arrogant arse, occasionally dipping into scary violent or cowardly git. There’s no assurance he’d ever get better, and it’s no wonder so many fans began tuning out. What a stupid move! They should have had him come out in a regular costume and act more Doctor-y in the final scene, not continue to wear (the admittedly now classic but still not very good) costume and tell the audience, directly to camera, that he’s The Doctor now “whether you like it or not!” and then give an obnoxious wink! Bizarre move.

The Gastropod looks stupid, acts stupid and is generally stupid, though at least his wanting to spread his race’s seed was… a bit different of a reason to destroy a whole solar system, I guess?

The twins are terrible, can’t act a lick and act like cocky twats to boot. Again, who thought have two mathematical genius kids in a recurring role was a good idea? Especially as the odds of finding one good child actor was low, let alone a twin pair of them!

So… yeah. Basically if you don’t have a scene with an unlikable Doctor in it, you have one with twins who can’t act or an unconvincing alien “menace”. Then there are the scenes where you get more than one of them! So many bad ideas somehow came together and at no point did anyone stop and think it may not be best… Shocking. The very fact that this story comes straight after all-time classic Caves of Androzani may be the biggest gulf in story quality between two stories ever…

The Continuity:

DW The Twin Dilemma 3

Why is this a thing that happened?!

Apart from the direct pick up from “Caves of Androzani” and some old outfits in the TARDIS wardrobe, there isn’t really anything connecting this to anything else. You won’t be surprised to hear that no other story has continued the ideas, characters or races from this story…

Overall Thoughts:

The Twin Dilemma is often bottom of “Top Story” polls, including several Doctor Who magazine polls and user polls as Gallifrey Base. I, personally, wouldn’t place it dead last (that belong to either Paradise Towers or one of the Eleventh Doctor missteps that I have yet to revisit…) but I’m pretty sure if we’re talking just TV here it would make it to my bottom 10, probably my bottom 5. It’s just not good, and rather than so bad it’s funny, it’s so bad it’s frustrating. Unless you have to watch every Who story ever, I’d avoid this one…

1 Star Watch

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