Planet of the Rani

Posted in Audio by - January 10, 2017
Planet of the Rani

Released October 2015

The return of the Rani to the Doctor Who universe in 2014’s ‘The Rani Elite’ was a cause for tremendous celebration, tempered by the unfortunate passing of the great Kate O’Mara. Fortunately, with a regeneration and the confident Siobhan Redmond taking up the mantle, the calm arrogance and amorality of the renegade Time Lord was once more wonderfully brought to life and simply begged for another story. ‘Planet of the Rani’ shows the aftermath of the Doctor sending the Rani to prison at the conclusion of ‘The Rani Elite’ while also deftly incorporating a seemingly throwaway line in ‘Mark of the Rani’ stating that she once ruled the planet Miasimia Goria.

With Constance Clarke at his side, the Sixth Doctor travels to Teccaurora Penitentiary to attend the Rani’s parole hearing after working through his backlog of emails. Of course, despite the Doctor’s earnest hope that the Rani has a shred of decency and goodness in her, events quickly take a more sinister turn as the Rani’s escape attempt one hundred years in the making quickly comes to fruition. Unfortunately, the manipulation and deaths of the numerous people needed to make her escape a reality are never fully realized in real time, and so the brutality and amorality of her actions comes through in a rather secondhand nature. Still, even with that momentous impact missing from the start, the escape certainly again paints the Rani as a very unique and formidable foe.

While the Rani’s constant haranguing of Constance and her English platitudes and certainties as they end up together unquestionably plays to the superiority complex of the Rani, the eventual time on Miasimia Goria quickly becomes the focus. Writer Marc Platt creates a basic ruler and adviser structure, but he wonderfully fleshes out the world with images of stone forests, sleep-deprived vegetative figures, and giant cockroach suits to effortlessly blend realism and gory fantasy. The whirlwind pacing makes these events fly by with little down time as the Rani’s continued experimentation and the truth of Raj Khanu come to light, and thankfully a story that seems to be setting up the Rani as a sympathetic figure swerves into much darker territory as events unfold.

Though the Sixth Doctor himself is not quite the centre of attention that he so often is, ‘Planet of the Rani’ is another standout success for Big Finish and all involved as the quieter menace of Siobhan Redmond’s take on the Rani continues to become much more developed. With Miranda Raison also on top form as Constance gives as good as she gets as the wonders and the terrors of the universe reveal themselves to her and as new relationships are forged, this proves to be a masterclass in showcasing and developing strong female figures while taking the time to indulge in a bit of fan service as the reality of what it truly means to be associated with the Rani in any capacity brazenly sinks in with no remorse. With regret and redemption competing themes never far from the surface, ‘Planet of the Rani’ packs an emotional punch in both distinct settings and boldly solidifies the Rani as a welcome returning antagonist.

  • Release Date: 10/2015
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