Doctor Who – The Twin Dilemma

Doctor Who Story 136 – The Twin Dilemma

Written by

Anthony Stevens

What’s It About?

The Doctor has regenerated. And a couple of kids have been kidnapped. And a mollusk wants to take over the universe or something.

I Am The Doctor Whether You Like It Or Not.
The Doctor lounges. Peri looks on in confusion.
This Doctor doesn’t give a tinker’s damn what you think. And neither does Eric Saward.

In my writing class this semester we were told that it is best to not antagonize your readers from the outset. Essentially, do not tell your readers “This is what it is and just deal with it if you don’t like it.” Or something along those lines. While there may be instances where this is used to establish tone, it must be used very strategically and wisely or else it will turn readers off to your work.

It seems that Anthony Stevens or Eric Saward or JNT should have followed this advice. While I understand the desire to create a darker Doctor to contrast with the previous Doctor, while I understand the desire to get back to a Hartnell-esque Doctor, “The Twin Dilemma” does not present such a Doctor. There does not seem to be any consistency in the opening episodes to convey a Doctor who truly has an alien outlook and morality (as the Doctor claims in episode four). To enact egregious violence against a female companion is troubling and claiming that the regeneration-went-wrong-and-anyway-I’m-an-alien-and-I-do-my-own-thing is no way to truly explain this. In order to convey an alien worldview and morality there needs to be deliberate planning and consistent portrayal. What we have in “The Twin Dilemma” is shock as pseudo-character contrast. Five would never assault a companion, therefore Six will. And given that most of this story (and subsequent stories) portrays Peri and the Doctor bickering like a hateful married couple (lacking the charm and humor of Basil and Sybil Fawlty), the assault feels more like domestic abuse than bad regeneration. To cap the story with “I am an alien” and “I am the Doctor whether you like it or not” is truly disturbing and antithetical to what the show has developed as its core outlook. Even the Hartnell era never put the Doctor in position of domestic abuser. Quite the contrary, he was overprotective to a fault.

This is a shocking and horrifying first step in the Colin Baker era.

My Rating



5 thoughts on “Doctor Who – The Twin Dilemma

  1. I remember getting this DVD thinking “It can’t be that bad, can it?” and being shocked at how terrible it was, I mean there are some McCoy eps I really do not like, but this is probably one of the worst. I’m glad Baker’s doc is so good in Big Finish, because the show did his character few favors.

    1. Based on what I have seen so far, this was a major misstep, but he seems to be getting better. But I’m a fan of the Sixth Doctor stories in Big Finish, so that may be the Sixth Doctor canon for me.

    1. I’ll admit that the violence in this story was the main reason I hated it. The story itself isn’t particularly bad. There are some interesting ideas in it, and I can’t help but wonder if block-transfer computation was a mild influence on it. And Edgeworth is a fairly interesting character. Why couldn’t we have seen more of his story and what shaped him? But when a story makes me hate every moment the Doctor and his companion are on screen, I think there is a problem.

Leave a Reply to Stephen K. Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s