It’s difficult to find anything good to say about this season twenty four opener, but here goes. The Rani’s bubble traps look quite good, and… err… You see, ‘Time and the Rani’ is perhaps the worst Doctor Who story the McCoy era produced and probably the worst ever. I say probably only because I’ve yet to see other clangers such as ‘Timelash’ or ‘The Twin Dilemma’. In my growing Doctor Who video and DVD collection it is perhaps equal only to ‘The Chase’ in its extreme crappiness. Perhaps the worst thing that could be said about ‘Time and the Rani’ is that there is very little to say about it.
The plot, concerning the Rani gathering together the greatest minds in the universe (for a purpose so tedious I won’t even begin to explain), is un-involving, one-dimensional and just plain rubbish. The performances, particularly by the lead actors, are either completely over the top or wooden, the Tetrap monsters are about as scary as a pet hamster, the dialogue is ridiculous… I could go on. To be fair to the writers, Pip and Jane Baker, apparently they wrote this serial without knowing who would be playing the Doctor, so had to be as generic in his characterisation as possible. Less forgivable is the completely over blown dialogue they write. Why they feel the need to do this is unclear. Perhaps they are trying to cover up deficiencies in the plot.
Sylvester McCoy gets off to a bad start as the Doctor. His performance throughout this serial has a certain pantomime quality to it, complete with spoon playing and over the top physical movements, and you never get the sense that he (or any of the other performers for that matter) really believe in any of it. Probably due to the poor script. The Doctor McCoy plays in this adventure is completely different to the mysterious and dark traveller we get in later McCoy stories such as ‘Ghost Light’, with his performances improving greatly from him playing the role much straighter. It goes without saying that Bonnie Langford as Mel is awful, and in my opinion the reason many fans have a big problem with season twenty-four is because of this one character. Thankfully this would be her last season with the show. The Rani is played by Kate O’Mara, and although she appears to be having a great deal of fun, she comes across as not especially villainous. This is the only Rani adventure I have seen – I’m still yet to see ‘The Mark of the Rani’ – and, assuming this is the same Rani we get in her debut adventure, it is difficult to see how this character could ever earn a second outing. The idea of a female Master is a nice one, but Pip and Jane Baker have written this character like a pantomime villain.
‘Time and the Rani’ was the first Doctor Who adventure I watched as a small boy of four years old. Unbelievably, it was also the story that got me hooked on Doctor Who and as a result good film and TV science fiction in general. Looking back on it now, however, it is perhaps fortunate I was so young when I first saw it, for I fear that if I was only three or four years older ‘Time and the Rani’ would have turned me off Doctor Who for life.
In summary, whereas I can usually find things to enjoy even in bad McCoy adventures, such as ‘Silver Nemesis’, which is so bad its good, ‘Time and the Rani’ is so bad its bad. Doctor Who had reached its lowest point, and after this awful McCoy debut adventure, things could only get better.
Just when you think the Colin Baker era has been put out of its misery, up turns Time and the Rani. I can only imagine that these season 23 scripts got stuck in heavy traffic on their way to Wood Lane because for the life of me I can't think how else this brave new start got commissioned. Time and the Rani sits bestride seasons 23 and 24 much the same way Robot does in seasons 11 and 12; a tale that is a comfortable reminder of the old regime whilst also pointing to the future. But this is 1987 rather than 1975 and the last thing that the audience needs is to be reminded of the previous era. Nor is this a hint of things to come; Pip and Jane's scripts represent the final throw of the dice for a storytelling style that's binned before Cartmel even has a chance to utter the word 'Masterplan.'
Time and the Rani needs Colin Baker, not because he would have improved this serial any but because the Sylvester McCoy era does not deserve to begin here. Rightly or wrongly, the tabloid press is a good barometer of public opinion and this one serial gives the whole era a silly, lightweight label that is unfair on both the series and its lead actor in particular. I would contest that Sylv is not a bad actor during Time and the Rani, but he is saddled with some horrendous Pip and Jane inspired dialogue that he does his level best to wrestle with. Importantly, Sylv is trying to make his Doctor likeable and he succeeds. Freed from the constraints of alien-ness that had blighted the character for over two years the seventh Doctor is a much-needed breath of fresh air. The bad bits come from script rather than actor and as for the costume change bit at the end of part one - it wasn't big and it wasn't clever back in Robot and it's not bigger nor cleverer here.
The bad bits don't end here though, oh no. The Rani's disguise as Mel is a truly awful idea in concept and execution, while part four descends into a typical mix of silly science and technobabble that is the trademark of a Pip and Jane script. Bonnie Langford remains startlingly miscast and never seems comfortable playing against this alien backdrop. Tellingly, aside from JNT's continuing presence in the producer's chair, Bonnie and Pip and Jane are the only survivors from the previous season and are the three worst things about Time and the Rani.
Despite all this Time and the Rani remains watchable. It has an energy and sense of fun long since sacrificed at the altar of Saward, and breezes along at a fair old pace. The effects work is as good as it got for the series, and unlike the previous season you can see where the money was spent - up on the screen where it counts. The Tetraps look good, a high standard of monster design that would remain in place right till the end of the series' life, while the bubble traps surely represent a more effective, but less spectacular use of the series' effects budget.
Like a football manager who's team is on a bad run of form, Time and the Rani is indicative of the mythical corner being turned, of lessons being learned and results slowly improving. Doctor Who had got as bad as it was going to get the year before; the fight back started here.
Time and the Rani is utter crap, I would never deny that. The script is ludicrous, full of scientific mumbo-jumbo that would have Eienstein (who makes a brief appearance) baffled. It is poorly structured and has some seriously poor cliffhangers and the 'wow' moments are kept to an absolute minimum. The acting is as far from Oscar worthy as you could possibly get and the lines some of these well known actors are force fed make you want to die of embarassment.
I find this story immensely pleasurable from the word go. Every time I re-watch I find myself enjoying its barmy atmosphere. Its almost as if everybody knew they were onto a stinker so decided to make it as bad as possible in every way. On these terms the story is a forgotten classic, a comedy that rivals anything from the Williams era for laughs (and is even better than The Chase for post pub watching!!!).
Funny? Oh yes it is! Scarily enough the Rani's Bonnie impressions are actually very good (and wet your pants hysterical!)...her little asides ("Pretentious is the word") never fail to get me going. Kate O'Mara gives a performance so camp that it knocks Benik, the Security Chief and Lady Adastra out of the pool! Its a daft script so it deserves a daft performance and O'Mara's treatment of the character doesn't diminish my love the character one jot. Just watch her delayed reactions as the Doctor ties her up at the end of episode ("Arraaagh!") or her grandiose villany dialogue ("I have the Loyhargil! Nothing can stop me now!"). Get stuffed Zaroff..the Rani is now the best OTT baddie!
D'you what the funniest thing about this story is that Pip'n'Jane (bless them) actually thought this effort was a serious and dramatic way to start the season. Its more like The Nutty Professor on speed with a dose of LSD for good measure!
Poor Bonnie, all she wants are good scripts so she can show the world what she's made of and she's made to trip over, fall unconscious, scream, get tongued by a Tetrap, scream, get suspended upside down, scream, put in a bubble and bounced around a quarry and of course...scream. The reprise to episode two is brilliantly funny where Mel is supposed to scream for like three minutes without stopping and you can hear that poor Bonnie's voice is going and yet she struggles on gamely. I love Bonnie to pieces and she proved her self admirably in Trial of a Time Lord and the Big Finish plays so im now convinced it was a case of wrong time/wrong place plus crapper than crap scripts. The scenes where Mel is underwitten (such as her desperate pleas to Ikona and her reaction to Faroon's reaction to Sarn's death) are genuinely well acted and poignant.
Lets face it...McCoy is awful in this but he plays the part so loosely (and with such comedy) its impossible not to enjoy. In many ways its good that Colin escaped this story as I cannot imagine how he would have fared here. With no real character to discern here McCoy just plays himself on overdrive and its quite infectious in places...I love the first scene between Mel and the Doctor ("Theory excahnges no mockery!")...full of energy and quite sweet when they realise who they are. Unfortunately he plays up the awful proverbs (although the recent Bang-Bang-a-Boom takes the piss out of that so I guess it was worth it) and the more cringe worthy aspects of the character. Alas who could ever forget "A hologram! As substantial as the Rani's scruples!"...shiver.
And lets not forget that this story has a fully competant production. Andrew Morgan is the only person who is determined to inject some talent into this story and his direction is excellent in places. He might be lumbered with another quarry but he tries to make things interesting by shooting at high angles and setting the camera's between the rocks for some inventive shots. The special FX for the story are as good as the show ever got and the bubble traps Mel has a habit of falling into look superb. The asteriod, rocket lift off and bulging brain look good too. It really is a case of dire script/excellent production. And lets not forget Keff McCulloch who I feel gives his best music in this story, its a really freaky techno-inspired score sometimes totally at odds with the action but always very memorable. Love the piece where Ikona looks for the glitter weapon and the theme where the Tetraps jump down from the ceiling and emerge...very cool.
So there we have it, its hearts in the right place but its brain has been stuck on herione too long, a story that looks fab but you cannot take seriously. At the time it was the worst thing that could have happened. Now, many years on it is a guilty indulgence and hugely enjoyable at that.
Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Doctor Who...the only show in existence that is brilliant when it sucks.
The transition from the Sixth to Seventh Doctor feels more jarring when watching the series in sequence than it ever did on television; with no year long gap, the sudden and ignominious departure of Colin Baker means that for the first time a Doctor leaves without a proper regeneration story. Despite the circumstances surrounding Baker’s departure however, the fact remains that his replacement provided the opportunity to usher in a bold new era with a new actor in the title role. Whilst John Nathan-Turner remains as producer, Eric Saward’s replacement with new script-editor Andrew Cartmel also provided the opportunity for a fresh new start, as a new talent arises to make its mark on the series. New Doctor, new script-editor; and a right load of old wank is the result in the shape of ‘Time and the Rani’.
‘Time and the Rani’ does not start well. Since Colin Baker refused to return for a regeneration scene following his sacking, Nathan-Turner unwisely decides to take the ludicrous measure of having Sylvester McCoy lying on the TARDIS floor at the start in Baker’s costume and a wig that makes the Taran Beast from ‘The Androids of Tara’ look convincing. In a staggering display of directorial incompetence, when McCoy rolls over a garish special effect is used to bathe his face in golden light and thus try and disguise the fact that he is wearing a stupid wig. The result is a man with a golden face wearing a stupid wig. To add insult to injury, the best explanation that we get for the regeneration is that the Doctor, who has previously been forced to regenerate due to radiation poisoning, a fall from a great height and spectrox toxaemia is suddenly susceptible to slight blows to the head. Makes you realize how lucky he is not to have regenerated before, given the number of times he’s been knocked out by blows to the head, although I suppose that at least would have made the series end many years earlier and perhaps spared us this drivel. A wiser director would have simply had McCoy lying on the floor in Baker’s costume having already regenerated off camera, but instead we are graced with a sequence that is about as welcome as a turd in a water tank.
I should lay my cards on the table and this point and say that I think Sylverster McCoy is the weakest actor to have played the Doctor in the television series to date; notoriously for example, he has trouble conveying certain emotions convincingly (more on that in future reviews). He does however, have an energy and charisma that I find works tremendously well, and as his era progresses and he settles into the role, he becomes, for the most part, a highly effective Doctor. Unfortunately, however, he is faced with several problems here, the main one being that Pip and Jane Baker were told sod all about how the character was going to be played, and therefore improvised. Improvisation by the Bakers seemingly takes the form of mixed metaphors, one of the few distinguishing features of the Seventh Doctor that is displayed here, and one that only lasts for this story on television. In all fairness, some of them are quite funny; I especially like “A bad workman always blames his fools”, and “Where there’s a will…” “…there’s a beneficiary!”, but the endless string of such uninspired examples as “Absence makes the nose grow longer”, “Here’s a turn-up for the cook”, “There’s none so deaf as those who clutch at straws”, “A bull in a barber-shop” and “Fit as a trombone” quickly become profoundly irritating. Nor does it inspire confidence that McCoy’s first lines when he wakes up in the Rani’s laboratory are delivered in an incredibly over the top manner, and are immediately followed by an unconvincing pratfall.
McCoy however can hardly be blamed for some of his shortcomings here. Were I to assemble the finest actors in the history of theatre, film and television, I doubt very much that even they would be able to cope with the script provided here. Had fate been kinder, the production would, on receiving the Bakers’ scripts, not only have burnt them, they would have sent someone round to the Bakers’ house to impound their typewriter and subsequently taken out a court injunction to prevent them from ever working on the series again (which, mercifully, they never did). As I’ve noted in the past, both ‘The Mark of the Rani and Terror of the Vervoids’ pleasantly surprised me this time around, but by ‘Time and the Rani’ Pip and Jane seem to have decided to take the piss and given free reign to their worst excesses. Some of the most awful lines in the series’ history abound, with many of them falling to Kate O’Mara to deliver; “All you need understand is that these specimens are geniuses”, “Have you managed to procure the means to repair your laboratory equipment?”, “What monstrous experiment are you dabbling in now?”, “Killer insects! Come on Doctor!”, and most painfully of all “I have the loyhargil! Nothing can stop me now!” are just some of the lines that nobody in real life would ever say and that nobody in fiction can get away with.
Then there’s the plot. I say plot, but I really mean cack. The Rani worked in ‘The Mark of the Rani’ because she existed to lampoon the relationship between the Doctor and the Master; here, she is relegated to the status of a female Master, with a ludicrous and unnecessarily complex plan, which she kindly explains in Episode Four so that the Doctor can work out how to defeat her. Stupidity abounds; how does the Rani casually patch the scanner into Urak’s view? Why don’t the Lakertyans piss off out of the Centre of Leisure since it’s got a big ball of killer insects in it and move away? The Rani’s operation does, after all, seem to be confined to one small quarry (and a round of applause for that hoary old cliché, the planet of about a dozen people). Mention of the Lakertyans brings me to the production itself, in terms of acting, sets and direction. There are times when director Andrew Morgan seems to be polishing a turd; despite obviously being filmed in a quarry of some kind, the location filming works well, as does the model work and some of the sets. The realization of the bubble traps is quite good, and provides an effective cliffhanger to Episode One, and although they have their detractors, I rather like the Tetrap costumes even if the forked tongues are a mistake. Then at other times, Morgan proves that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear; the interior of the Rani’s TARDIS looks like an afterthought and makes one wish for the impressive set used in ‘The Mark of the Rani’. It also regresses Doctor Who’s effects back to the Letts era, with CSO woefully evident. And when the Rani’s giant rubber brain comes up with the formula for loyhargil, the word “LOYHARGIL” flashes on a BBC micro just to add a bit of subtlety.
Then there are the alien races, ill served both by script and direction (although, incredibly, none of the guest cast are noticeably bad here). The Tetraps have four eyes, granting them a three-hundred and sixty degree view, which is a nice idea but utterly wasted as they turn their heads when looking for things and people manage to sneak up on them. They are obviously based on vampire bats, which is another nice idea, and I do like the fact that the Rani’s callousness proves her undoing, as Urak realises that he is dispensable and promptly orders his Tetraps into her TARDIS and takes her captive at the end. As for the Lakertyans, they come off less well. Mark Greenstreet is quite good as Ikona, as are Donald Pickering as Beaus and Wanda Ventham as Faroon, but sadly make-up artist Lesley Rawstorne unwisely chooses to make them look like rejects from a New Romantics group. Beaus and Faroon’s grief over Sarn’s death is a nice (if incredibly surprising) attempt to show the emotional impact of the Rani’s callousness on others, but then at the end Ikona pours away the antidote to the insect venom, which is meant to be noble and courageous, but is instead so utterly stupid that had he done it earlier, the Doctor might have been forgiven for thinking “Sod ‘em, then” and buggering off without bothering to stop the Rani. Oh and the Lakertyans strange way of running, with arms held stiffly behind them, is an admirable attempt to convey a sense of something alien, but which nonetheless makes them look like they’ve had something forcibly inserted into them, or possibly just have haemorrhoids. I was also going to criticize the fact that Beaus is badly stunned by a very gentle fall, but as that sort of thing can even make Time Lords regenerate, I suppose it’s fair enough.
So far, so bad. But there is one last vomit stain to blight the bed sheets of entertainment, and that stain is Keff McCulloch. It is a truism that an opinion cannot, by definition, be wrong, and I should point out that some people like Keff’s work. Keff himself for example. Possibly. And yet, in this case, I am prepared to go out on a limb and say to these people, “NO! You’re QUITE, QUITE mistaken!” For Keff McCulloch is not just the worst composer of incidental music to have worked on Doctor Who, he’s also possibly the worst composer of incidental music to have worked. This man knows no restraint; from the start of Episode One, he perpetrates a brash and inappropriate score that is so intrusive it makes open heart surgery seem like a scratch. Sinister scores accompany scenes in which nothing sinister happens, and keyboards pound merrily away in the background like Emerson, Lake and Palmer on crack. The background music used in the Centre of Leisure is the epitome of bad, a plinkety-plonkety knob-rash of music subverting any tension that might otherwise exist. So diabolical is this man’s music in fact that I can’t bear to write about it any further. Until I get to ‘Paradise Towers’ of course, at which point I’ll continue to whinge about it.
So in the midst of all this effluence, is there anything at all good about ‘Time and the Rani’? Mercifully, there is. For one thing, whilst McCoy’s dodgy performance in Episode One seems like a very bad sign, he gradually starts to settle in to the role as the story progresses. There are scattered examples of this throughout; when the Rani, disguised as Mel, offers him a drugged glass of water, he despondently replies “Oh I don’t want it, you drink it, leave me alone” and he really sounds like he means it, as though the line arose naturally during filming. Blighted though he is with a script that lacks characterisation for the Doctor and provides him with lines like “I want all mirrors removed from the TARDIS henceforth!”, he still manages to convey, at several points, both the charm and authority associated with the Doctor. The scene in which the Doctor tells Mel about Strange Matter is a sign of how good McCoy can be, as the Doctor enters lecturer mode and he makes it seem entirely natural, rather than a performance. It is the first time that the Doctor settles down after his regeneration and enforced amnesia, and it feels as though McCoy has settled down too. It helps too that for all that I’ve criticized them, Pip and Jane Baker captures the Doctor’s ego perfectly, as tries on a new costume and announces, “[it] lacks my natural humility”. In fact, the wardrobe scene is one of my favourites of the story; its daft, but it stays just the right side silly and when the Doctor tries on the Fourth Doctor’s clothes he shakes his head an remarks “Old hat”, a rare example here of a genuinely amusing pun. I also find it rather amusing that in Episode Four, after the Rani has connected the Doctor to the brain, his constant stream of garbled metaphors and bad puns induces schizophrenia in the brain; suddenly, the verbal diarrhoea that the Baker’s have scripted serves a purpose and almost makes it seems as though they knew what they were doing.
Bonnie Langford is also passable here; I’ve never had any issues with her acting, and her success or lack thereof in her Doctor Who tends to wax and wane with Mel’s characterisation. Mel is OK here; her faith in the Doctor both old and new is unshakeable, and she works well with McCoy. The scenes in which she meets the new Doctor and they have to convince each other of their identities is tiresome, although I do like the bit when the Doctor criticizes her wig and pulls Mel’s hair. Mel also gets a nice character moment, as she seems genuinely upset by Sarn’s death and Ikona’s accusations. My main criticism is that Langford is given far too much screaming to do; she’s ear piercing to the point that I’m tempted to mute the television.
And finally, there is the Rani. Some ham is cringe-worthy and some is entertaining, and for me at least, Kate O’Mara’s is the latter. Apparently deciding that her only sensible course of action is to go over the top, O’Mara seems to enjoy herself enormously as the Rani, and she plays against McCoy rather well. I’m loath to admit it, but although the Rani’s impersonation of Mel in Episodes One and Two is incredibly silly, I do find it quite amusing. For all her supposed lack of emotion, she clearly can’t resist winding the newly regenerated Doctor up, as he bemoans his new appearance and she innocently asks him, “You mean you’re going to look like this permanently?” And she obviously enjoys slapping him in the TARDIS wardrobe in Episode One.
So it’s a start. It isn’t a very good one, and for the most part, ‘Time and the Rani’ is astonishingly bad. McCoy however shows promise and if nothing else, that bodes well for the rest of the season.
I am always slightly perplexed as to why this story is so widely disregarded in fan circles. Interestingly I have always found it an engagining opening to the seventh Doctor`s era. As a fan knowing all the background to all the turbulent times the series was going through by then it is always slightly spoilt. Colin Baker should have been around for another few years but was suddenly removed. Sylvester McCoy was thrown very much in at the deep end of things,but oddly enough that shows later on this season rather than in this debut romp.
To me this has always seemed a very typical piece of Doctor Who. It is a very watchable escape from reality with some very tight plotting each episode ( I cant fault Pip and Jane Bakers work in all honesty apart from some extreme dialogue that NOBODY could possibly say in an average (even in Doctor Who terms) conversation!) Visually it is very impressive with the best use of O.B filming I have seen in the series and The Rani`s bubble traps are a joy. The nature of the story the Bakers had in mind would have been better servd with a more gothic feel to The Rani`s headquaters-but that is only a small gripe as the scenes in the Tetraps lair and The Rani`s secret chamber are very atmospheric.
One of the biggest missed opportunities after this story was we had no real rematch between The Doctor and The Rani. I adored Kate O`Mara in the her debut Rani adventure in season 22 and although by 1987 the actress was working on American super soap Dynasty she was more than happy to make this return. Her subsequent support and enthusiasm for her time with Doctor Who always made this fan happy as she is one of the UK`s best actors and such an endorsement of the series is wonderful. However in spite of my pleasure in Pip and Jane`s scripts imagine if Kate had gotten a script by say Robert Holmes? Hopefully the Big Finish audios may give her a chance one day to work on something with another writer,if P&J will allow it?? ) Anyway..her rapport with Sylvester`s instantally adorable Season 24 Doctor are a delight. A good proportion of the script is purely Sylvester and Kate and it works very well on the screen. The impersonation of Mel scenes are witty and well done (although should not have been carried over virtually 2 full episodes). The final part is very action packed with plenty of good visuals and high (camp) drama. It sees Rani cleverly achieving her aim but being thwarted by the newly regenerated Doctor,who quickly turns The Rani`s handiwork back on herself. A very well constructed story.
Bonnie Langford gets plenty to do as Mel (always well served by the Bakers scripts). She is over the top at times-but that is the nature of the entire piece. Mel works better with the Seventh Doctor and her scenes with Sylvester are well executed. The rest of the cast is small and do well , Mark Greenstreet and Donald Pickering are solid (if a little bewildered) , Wanda Ventham is very effective and restrained as Faroon (in particular when she stumbles across the remains of her daughter,killed by The Rani`s bubble traps) and Richard Gauntlett is deliciously malicious as the bat like Tetrap, Urak,who is obdient to his mistress Rani but far more astute and wise to The Rani`s ultimate objectives than he lets on.
Direction from Andrew Morgan is fast paced and ambitious. The incidentals are fresh and vibrant from Keff McCulloch (far better than some of the awful and cheap sounding incidentals McCulloch put together in later McCoy stories) and the new Seventh Doctor title sequence is impressive (never been sure of the logo though??!)
This is not the lemon some like to say it is. Catch up with it again soon and you will be pleasantly surprised. If nothing else enjoy McCoy and O`Mara in this admitedley lightweight piece that still retains all the wonderfull ingredients of Doctor Who. Good Fun. Good Doctor Who.
Is there anything good that one can say about the seventh Doctor's debut season on television? After the excellant Colin Baker's performance the show took a decided nose dive for the worse. Reasons why I hated it, in no particular order, are:
1/ That music! That godawful incidental music that they used! It is useless to describe this music in written words but anyone who saw these episodes on television will doubtless remember it. It was so bad! If it had just been used in Time and the Rani, but every story from then on had the same cringe-inducing din.
2/ There were now only four stories per season, and most of these only ran to three episodes.
3/ Those guest actors! Only Slyvester McCoy would be pathetically proud to have Richard O'Brien and Ken Dodd on Dr Who. This is supposed to be a serious sci-fi show not a pantomime performance, and these actors were totally innappropriate.
4/ The Doctor's initial persona was a bit wet and wishy-washy. I understand that in later seasons the Seventh Doctor becomes a darker, more mysterious character, but alas! His debut season was enough to put me off for life.
But back to Time and the Rani. It wasn't all bad; I particularly liked the Seventh Doctor floundering around in the too big costume of the Sixth Doctor at the beginning. A nice bit of continuity there. And I (at first) liked him being so different. As Mel says, his hair...size...voice...face...everything was just so totally different about this new Doctor's appeasrance. The Rani was nicely evil, but could she really be that much of a threat to the pacifist Lakertyns? The dreadful music...oh, I've already mentioned that.
I'm trying to think of a good way to close this...ah! Pip and Jane Baker's scripts are always a joy, even in a dreadful story the characters have such good throwaway lines. There!