Poll Doctor Who fans on what they consider to be the worst classic series story ever made and “The Twin Dilemma” will be at or near the top of that list.
In many ways, it’s a bit unfair that “Dilemma” follows the instant classic “The Caves of Androzani.” But the simple fact is no matter how matter how much you try and gloss over the limitations of the story, it’s still one of the bigger misfires in the entire classic series run. A lot of that can be firmly chalked up to the fact that, in the end, it’s the story of a giant slug trying to take over the universe with an incredibly ludicrous plan, even by Doctor Who standards.
Adapting the script to novel form, Eric Saward seems to understand this and tries to distract you from the script’s shortcomings by beefing up Mestor as a threat, downplaying the titular twins and throwing in lots and lots of tangents and asides. The tangent and asides may be the best part of the story–one in particular that has the Doctor reflecting back on the fates of his companions was memorable for me at a young age, but that might be because it SPOILED the death of a major character–but like the script they can be hit or miss. The idea of the twins’ father being scared of them is an intriguing one as is Saward’s (controversial) attempt to explain the physiological reasons behind re-generation.
Unfortunately, those aren’t all enough to save the story or somehow make the televised version any better in the final estimation.
But like most things associated with the sixth Doctor’s era, the best part of this is the performanc of Colin Baker. Baker’s reading of the story is spot-on and almost worth the price of admission alone. The only drawback is that his interpretation of Peri is pretty much a miss. But other than that, Baker’s giving it his all.