The Trial of a Time Lord

Chase - Posted on 30 July 2009



Okay let's get this straight right now: I HATE this story. If we get that out of the way right now and understand that, we'll get along splendidly!

That aside, I'll try to focus on the good stuff first.


Okay now the bad stuff. NO just kidding.

Honestly, the good: Peri and the Doc seem closer and Peri looks fantastic. The Doc seems to have longer hair and his jacket colors seem...toned down and the jacket seems altogether different. The location work is very, very nice and the camera work is the best the show has ever seen I'd say. Glitz and Dibber make quite a pair, Tony Selby as Glitz is a good actor and Dibber is nice eye candy IMO. Dratho looks good and menacing but once it moves...

The theme tune. Not as good as the original Hartnell up to Tom variations on that theme or even as good as the last TomBaker and full era of Davison theme song...but it will do. It takes time to get used to. I once heard a FULL very long version of this and if anything it improved in length and in sound with lots of strange effects within the music itself causing quite alien music and it was very good and of course it's not on the DVD at all. It was pre2005. 

Anyway, that's the good stuff.

Bad stuff. Well see the 700 page thing in ABOUT TIME 6 about what doesn't make sense and what stinks.

Truthfully I remember that DW was taken off the air. Then a Gallifrean Embassy meeting. We had I think the first two eps or the entire thing of MYSTERIOUS PLANET as this was called. IMagine if you will what this looked like with all of DW hinging on this. DW was back and it was...worse than ever. I mean THIS is what they came back with. How could they? The original planned season sounded faulty...and it was if you read the novels...but this couldn't have been better than even that. I remember being SO dissapointed about this story and the entire TRIAL seemed...poor. It is a poor excuse to have your show on TRIAL and then come back and put your character on trial itself.

I don't even think this story and the others that follow it would have made good stories outside of the TRIAL sequence. Thing is that fans have explained all the inconsistencies and the awful plodding plot holes and the tepid story by many fantastical and inventive means. ANd that's what fans who love DW and other shows do: they explain and they make excuses and they involve themselves. I have read several great essays (one of them in LISCENSE REVOKED) about what really happened in TRIAL OF A TIME LORD and how it all makes sense in the real version. That what we watched was the VALEYARD TRIAL all messed up to make things go against the Doctor and the real stories happened slightly and in some cases majorly different. That everything we saw and see in TRIAL is FAKE. Okay. That's all well in good but when I'm watching a tv show I want to see that it is what matters.

And that's telling. Some problems I have with it and had with it then and have with it now: Time Lords are having  a trial in space on a spaceship. Why? Are they afraid of being on Gallifrey? Does that make sense? The Time Lords take the Doctor out of time and space to have him put on trial. Aren't they inteferring by doing that? And without Peri. And the Doc doesn't notice that until well into the Trial. The spaceship effect is the nicest the show ever had but I don't care about it. It makes no sense and even if it does, nice pretty pictures and effects do not make a poor flimsy story any better. At one point, the Doctor tells Peri, "You've traveled with me long enough to know that none of this really matters..."  Okay, here's the lead character telling us all that this adventure and what's happening now doesn't really matter. If he's not into it, then why should we?

Then worse of all, the Doctor tells the court, "Can't we just have the edited highlights?" Indeed. It seems they didn't listen to him. He tells us he's been through several such trials or inquiries...he has and we're reminded of them all and how boring they were then and how boring they are now. ARC OF INFINITY isn't that far away. And while we're on it, the outside of the spaceshp may look grand but the inside looks like redressed ARC sets...that looked better in ARC. The Valeyard is unclear to the nature of the trial.

Worse: the cliffhanger is just a soap opera commerical break with a zoom in on the Doc's face...wait for that in many many cliffhangers to follow...boring.

Katryca: an old fat woman who isn't interesting, isn't played by a good actress, and isn't menacing, funny, or realistic. The entire village looks too, I don't know, civil and maybe it's supposed to be but it looks...too good to be honest.

And worse than all of that: although Peri is pleasant enough in the first five minutes, it's not long before she becomes a whimpering mess again and complaining and not wanting to be there and going off alone to wait for the Doc while he goes into danger to find out what happened to the planet Earth...

oh yeah, we find out in the first ten min or so that this is Earth. I mean if you're going to copy PLANET OF THE APES and a few min later, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, you might want to get some of that right. Holmes originally wanted to keep the trial bits or that the Doc was already on trial a secret until the cliffhanger and that might have worked in his hands but having TRIAL as the first word in your main title might give it away ahead of time. Anyway, Peri doesn't seem to care what's going on and  so how can we?

The mutants or whtever they are that come out of holes in the wall..what were they doing in thre? ...are menacing for about two seconds. Then they act like retards, well, they are...and nicely stone the Doctor who tries to defend himself with an umbrella. WTF? I mean WTF? Then we switch from the "action" to the Trial and I'm already bored, befuddled, and amazed that THIS is what was supposed to keep the Doctor on tv. Oh, at one point he almost reveals his real name. Big Fin deal. 

The actor who appears in both this and CITY OF DEATH (Tom Chalbourne?spelling?) has the distinction of being in what is probably one of the if not THE best DW story ever and this, one of the, if not THE worst DW stories ever. I intended to watch two eps at a time...because it's not too bad to sit through two of these and it will go faster if I do that rather than one at a time but I just couldn't stand it today.    By contrast a black and white movie THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME   from 1932 was on a cable channel today. It has gloss, better effects, better sets, better location work, better acting, better filming, more action and more to look at and think about than even the entire TRIAL. WTF is this?


Well this was a bit better. Really. It was. One thing I noticed is how inappropriate the music is when matched to the visuals. I mean the music when we see the L1 menacing music but this robot couldn't menace a granny let alone K9. There's a bit of action here and it's okay and Peri is even a bit funny when relating how she feels about Katwhateverhername is wanting to give her many husbands and Dibber tells her that on his planet there can be six husbands. Colin has funny names for the twin blond fey boys. Speaking of the fem boys, another thing I noticed is that this starts the trend of having EVERYONE besides the Doctor being strange, weird and unbelievable. When you have the Doctor as the most normal person in the story, something's terribly wrong. The robot gets zapped or rather the twin gay guys do, the blacklight tower gets blown up by Dibber (Dibber or rather the actor who played him was a boxer and was also in many other shows and movies), the Doctor escapes with the taller gay guy Blaatazteen whatever his name is and there are rebels among the train watchers or whatevertheyare called.

The trial scenes continue to bore. Truly. They mean nothing, go nowhere, and aren't funny, entertaining, or interesting in the least. They interupt a barely passable story with unbearable dialog and well, mean nothing. The Doc kissing up to the Inquistor at least makes him look intelligent but to be honest, make the Doc look lowly from what he used to be. He also seems unsure about what exactly his "mission" is on Ravalox and who to back and what to do. That doesn't make for a great action hero.

I also noticed that the cat badge the Doc wears changes color from time to time and shape, too, it's obviously throughout the stories different badges.

So this ep was a bit better but only just. Compare this to almost any other ep of any other story except maybe INVISIBLE ENEMY, ARC OF INFINITY, ANDROID INVASION, LEISURE HIVE (which makes NO sense), MEGLOS, and ATTACK OF THE CYBERMEN part two and you can see that this is a lesser production. It just doesn't scream GOOD at you.  

Ho hum, another ep. Maybe he started doing this last ep and I just wasn't paying attention enough. Not my fault, this is, after all sub par DW. But the Doc has started to call the Valeyard by names such as scrapyard and farmyard. These enliven the court room scenes by a small amount really. They still tend to bore. They also make little to no sense and seem almost like padding (hint: they are). In addition, there are Time Lords above the Inquistor who do nothing. This is surely NOT  a way to run court room scenes. See early LAW AND ORDER seasons and MY COUSIN VINNIE for how to run court room scenes. 

It's happened before in this show and probably will again but there's about two minutes from theme song to end of cliffhanger before anything new happens. Dibber, about to be shot, stands up and starts telling the shooter how to fire the trigger properly. The L1 robot is about as menacing as...well, nothing really. It carries the Doc one way in one scene...right past villager farmer who don't take any notice and is carrying him another way in another scene as if it's moved him.

The Doc comes out of his unconsciousness by calling Peri Sarah Jane, making us recall happier and more entertaining times on the show.  Almost every character except Glitz and Dibber are getting on my nerves and at the cliffhanger Merdeen seems to have changed sides too and fires at the Doctor...well it was unexpected and a better cliffhanger than having the Doc's face look wild at the horror of "this could be the end" again.

a sub par story and a sub par episode but still not as bad as ep 1...still, why not go watch ROSE or FACE OF EVIL or something far far better than this trash?   

Okay I am enjoying this now but for all the wrong reasons. The DVD text tells us that the last part of the script has Peri throw her arms around the Doctor's neck and bury her head in his mighty,manly chest! WTF? :)

Well I don't know about this ending but it has some nice moments as the Twins finally agree and the point was driven home more in the script as it should have been in the finished production but whatever. The Doc has some funny lines to Bal and Merdeen, who has to kill, not the Doc but his former pal and co worker Grell or somesuch name.

Le'ts get this straight. There's a rebellion going on. The rebels enter, Drathro kills the fat lady (who called Glitz fat!) and the Broken Tooth guy and then lets all the others leave...and they just go...and he wants them culled later by his troops...and isn't it suspected that Merdeen is a traitor to Drathro by him? No? He's a kind of weak villain, donchathink? In any event, he knows that the Doc can shut him down and the black light stuff down...yet when he's fooled (!) by Glitz and Dibber (?! WTF?) into accompanying them outside at the height of a rebellion, he doesn't kill the Doctor---he just has the Doc tied up! WTF?

A really silly end to be honest. Also silly is the music, it's overly dramatic and highly in appropriate. It does not match the visuals again.  The scene in the grill/fan tunnel was a nice one and dramatic and interesting enough...even if short. Nice to see one of the annoying characters get goo in his face ("Dinner's on him!"). Colin has a few nice puns and some more name calling (Handrail, Tumker, "What me immature?"). Peri reminds the Doc of his same gesture in REVELATION OF THE DALEKS--of staying behind during an explosion. They do seem closer.

WTF with the bleeping? Someone's hiding something and who moved Earth? ANd Glitz talks of a highly informational net...what could he be talking about? Why bleep stuff? Why not just edit it so that it looks unedited? Anyway the more answers we get...later on...the less likely things are to make sense.

The Valeyard calls for the Doc's termination. Okay....more on this later. maybe...

Better but only barely. Roughly 2 million people abandoned DW but to be fair, they did so at the start of TRIAL, obviously the last season not having the impact on the 7 million or 8 million that watched most of it. Then it went down slightly again during this tepid story by about 1 million more! Then up again for the next story and down again, hovering around 3 mill or 4 mill total viewing. The Audience Appreciation numbers for Colin though went up and up and stayed at the highest. Who appreciated this? And for what? Maybe that DW was still on after such crap?  



It's hard to see why I hated this story so much when first broadcast. Maybe it was the fact that it was over the top, a mess storywise, character wise (even the Doctor is a mess), tone wise, and plotwise. It followed the worst opening story in years and was IMO at that time, even worse. Embarassing. And it had Sil.

That said the first ep is not too bad. The alien effect of the planet is nice to look at, even if overblown and a bit...too colorful and pink and blue and glowing. It did look alien, maybe too alien. Personally, I thnk the WEB PLANET looks more alien than this but whatever. It was okay. The monster that attacks Peri and the Doctor...well, it looks like the Doc is attacking it or making it or holding it to attack him. It looks pathetic.

Sil looks better than he did in VAROS, in fact, there are new face gills or frills around him and his color looks different. He's less repulsive and less like a man in a suit. Kiv is suitably loud and imposing and sort of impressive at times and menacing, even moreso than the less than straight foward Sil, who is subserviant to Kiv. But by the time they were both on the air for less than 10 minutes I'd have enough of both of them.

The court scenes hold nothing new and the Inquisitor cuts down on the fun by telling the Doc (and he listens to her so she must have some power) to stop calling the Valeyard using funny names. The Doc claims to remember what happened but doesn't clearly. The Valeyard calls the matrix the Matrix of Time, the Tardis does not have the Policeman Call logo message when it first appears, and we meet yet another werewolf.

Now the make up on the werewolf? I can't decide if it's good or not. Certainly it does the job but is it as good as the WOLFMAN or WEREWOLF OF LONDON, some 30 years or more before this story? NOPE. ALmost every DW attempt to do a werewolf scene fails in some way in any form, even the novels and the audios. There was an Ace 7th Doc comic that contained lycanthropy and even that, while atmospheric, didn't seem to quite get the legend right. Here, the wolfman is a bit embarassing. I had to turn down the volume to my tv set so no one knew what I was watching. Usually I do the opposite. But anyway...he's not the only thing that's embarassing.

Peri gets away from the main guard leader by kicking him. He lets her go.

Crozier seems to have brains sitting around yet he can't believe the Doc and Peri when they continually tell him that the Monster Raax (?Spelling?) attacked them without any reason to. He's also clearly immoral and insane.

The sets are mostly okay inside the cave and complex.

There's several SPACE: 1999 things on display here...again. Brian Blessed, bless him. He's ...well, he played in SPACE: 1999-DEATH'S OTHER DOMINION, one of the best stories of the entire series with restraint and reserve, opposite an actor who played a good guy/madman! He also played Maya's father in season two's opener THE METAMORPH. So his name there was MENTOR and he was using the Alphans to drain energy from their brains. The name Alphans and Mentor(s) is used in this story, too. In METAMORPH, he used musclemen as guards. Alibe Parsons plays a slave (?) woman scientist aide to Crozier and she was in about three SPACE 1999 episodes as Alphan, uhm, Alibe. Brian is the worst thing about MINDWARP and his over the top performances ruin the entire thing to be honest. Once he comes into play, the story goes downhill from there. He plays it like it is some child's stage play comedy and the entire thing seems to turn into slapstick. Colin follows suit and that along with no one's ability (not the writer or the script editor and presumably JNT) could tell him if what his motivations were supposed to be.

Now, the Doctor as evil can be a very scary and interesting thing. Here, Colin seems to play it for laughs, not scares. It's not funny or scary, it just IS. It's just there, he's menacing Peri, joining the enemies and turning against Yrcanos (spelling?) and Peri. Is it the fake Matrix info? Is he faking it to fake out his enemies? Is he mental from the thing he had forced on his head by Crozier? What? I don't think we ever learn. This is the fundamental problem with the story but added to an incoherent TRIAL, a meaningless Valeyard, and the over the top rantings of Brian, the story just falls apart big time. The scene where Yrcanos bursts out of his bonds, sort of aided by the Doctor and Peri, is just so terrible and awful, badly staged and poorly acted and staged, it's unbelievable. Then we have Brian acting with the Dog man, a genetic experiment mutant made by Crozier. If the FLASH GORDON/ 1999 stuff wasnt enough, now we get THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (and we will again in UTOPIA--I mean who made the Futurekind?).

Yeah a lot of this reminds me of FLASH GORDON and not just the 1980s movie---the only thing about that that is here is Blessed (someone should have put him in if anyone could here) but the older chapter serials (there were three) from the 30s and 40s. We have: an over the top Hawk like man who's fat and a warrior; a man with fangs; a woman who is devious and has slave girls working for her and who employs Peri; a hero who  has lost his memory and appears to be working for the enemy; a monster with fake teeth; tides that move faster than normal; musclemen as guards; and...isn't that enough really? All of that happened at various times in the FLASH GORDON oldies. But at least those had fast paced action, good music, and fairly good themes.

Okay here we have good effects, good costumes, and...not much else. The script, the acting, the plot...all seem to go limp after the first episode and to be frank, they weren't much up to par in the first ep either. And to drive it all  home, Peri tells the Doc (she's kidding him and joking but...) she wishes sometimes that he never left Gallifrey; he tells the Trial that he doesn't see much cop to watching his arrival on the planet, can't they skip to the better bits; and he doesn't understand what's happening. He also claims not to be having any wisdom as he sets into the caves and the situations.

It's no wonder that the next production shake up team in the fully on going McCoy era decided to make the Doctor one of advance notice and manipulation. It makes no sense that the 6th Doctor knows about this situtation and then goes to the planet with no plan whatsoever so that by ep2, as he's watching his own adventure, he's imagining that his bluff to get Peri over the rocks is just to get outside and escape. I thought he wanted to help ease this situation. He wanders into things with no plans, no foresight so again, it's no wonder that the 7th Doctor would be one who knew what was up before he walked into things...and I"m not sure I like that as a continual thing. Of course even the 7th Doc would forget something or make mistakes but more on that later.

Here, the Doc just goes crazy and we sort of want Yrcanos to kill him in the cliffhanger but I really wanted someone to kill Yrcanos FIRST! And Peri can't really seem to like him, let alone marry him! The story may not be a full fledge mess but it sure tries hard to be one. heck, who am I kidding. It is a mess in almost every way. I'd rather watch almost any SPACE: 1999 or FLASH GORDON ep than this thing. Only 8 eps to go and two for this crap.                  


Okay, this must have looked good on paper but I dn't see how. Things go from bad to worse here. We have a bunch of insults from character to character, groveling from Sil which makes me wonder which way I like him better...menacing ranting as in VAROS or THIS, Peri petting the dog man and causing a huge jealous rant from Yrcanos, Brian Blessed (who believe it or not cost thousands of pounds because he forgot a line and didn't care a bit), the Doctor eating Sil's minnowmarsh fish food, more pointless courtroom scenes which interupt the uh, "action", and add nothing...oh except that "this didn't happen this way"...which makes me wonder....why should we watch?

The whole thing is like a situation comedy and at times, this ep anyway, it does inspire laughs. There's a lot of time given to Kiv's operation and recovery and the Doctor helping as a nurse! I kid you not. ANd Crozier drinking tea in the operating room and I think Kiv eating in there as well. The whole operation is a bit hazy to me: was I losing consciousness along with Kiv or just weary from both Sil and Yrcanos having so much air time in the same episode? Did they take Kiv's brain out and put it in this thing, only to want to do that again? Or was it Kiv's life force?

Then we get the Alphans and the aging experiment. Yet another sub plot...and the guy who played in MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE. Was that better than this? I think the answer is YES.

Anyway, Yrancos hisses, rants, raves, makes nice comments about his dog man warrior after wanting to kill him, Peri thinks they're going to bite lumps out of each other (again, I kid you not), and there's lots of added scenes to make the ep run the length it does: thanks alot as Peri might say. Truthfully, the cave scenes LOOK good and the sets are great and as a synopsis the "action" reads like any DW and isn't's mostly the execution and the pace and the padded drawn out scenes and the courtroom's all rather boring and tedious and embarassing. What happpend to stuff like PYRAMIDS OF MARS, IMAGE OF THE FENDHAL, TALONS OF WENG CHAING, the entire KEY TO TIME SEASON, THE DAEMONS, POWER OF THE DALEKS, THE WAR GAMES, THE DALEK MASTER PLAN, even KEYS OF MARINUS and EARTHSHOCK or the logical psuedo science that makes us think like LOGOPOLIS, WARRIOR'S GATE, KINDA, SNAKEDANCE, STATE OF DECAY, FULL CIRCLE ?  How did we get this?        

Let's add insult to injury: this season doesn't know what it wants to be. It's one long season (really long but shorter if you know what I mean) and one long's not. It is really four stories split up into a shorter season. The ineptness begins at home: the story is called TRIAL OF A TIME LORD yet the video boxes have titles on them. To add more insult to injury MIND WARP, the title is split up into two words on the video but is one word MINDWARP on the dvd box. TERROR OF THE VERVOIDS is the usual title for the third "story" but it was really called THE ULTIMATE FOE which is the title usually given to the final two part story which is really called TIME INC. None of these titles appear on screen.

Added to that the arch is a room where everyone sits and watches a screen rather than say an active arc for movement such as the Key to Time season...and this story doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it any wonder that the actors don't know what to do and/or how to play the characters? It's also not one long story such as WAR GAMES or DALEK MASTER's really four  stories tied together when they don't need to be...

Again in other fan made publications the Trial, the stories, and the motives are all explained better in 'WHAT REALLY HAPPENED type articles and stories. They are so much better than what we got.   

What a mess. More of same. The story truly does not know what it wants to be. One VERY funny moment is when there is a close up on Sil who says, "Too bad it could not have been in a more attractive body."  Speaking of Peri. The rest of this mess is a ...mess.

Peri dies, bald and with Kiv's mind in her body, her mind and spirit gone. She talks like Kiv and she says stupid things and doesn't really act like Kiv did at all to be honest. It was as if Morbius took her over instead...HEY Anyway, the Time Lords are suddenly so concerned with things that they intervene directly and use a forcefield, take the Doc out of time, set up Yrcanos and Tuza to kill for them and be killed for them, I think. The Doc was supposedly acting all along and freed Yrcanos, Tuza and the dog man (who dies). But he was too late for Peri. What an undignified way to go. I bet Nicola was happy to be out of this mess of a series.

Then at the end, the Doc accuses the Time Lords for doing stuff but he's the one on Trial. He has almost no time in this story to mourn for Peri...but more on that later.

This insipid morbid story with almost nothing to recommend it is just an embarassment. ANd it just gets worse and worse. No wonder the rating stayed low. 

Okay it's a murder mystery but we know that Lasky and her lackies are up to something so they are the ones doing the murders. Yes? Maybe. There's no real reason for anyone else to do it. As a murder mystery it's not up to cop really so storytelling really goes out the window for this. See the HUGE THINGS THAT DON'T MAKE SENSE in ABOUT TIME 6.

That said, this episode isn't that bad. I mean it's entertaining enough and sets up a typical DW story and scenario. The Doc is sent a distress whom we do not know and he has to find out. He turns up and someone there knows him already and knows when he shows up things are bad and murders will happen or rather disasters and death will. There are aliens on a giant spaceship. Someone stated that the Mogarians look like the MYSTERIANS from that Japanese CLASSIC movie but I don't think they look a lot like them but what is strange is that the Mysterians had a robot giant named Mogeura or something similar to Mogara. The ship sets are adequate and the tension is there...only ....'s ruined by the silly gym sequences both on the TARDIS and in the gym on the spaceship. The actors are all strong and well and good and all that but the character motivations are sketchy at best.

Still, this is not terrible but not terribly good either. Mel gets a bad entrance with the bike scene in the TARDIS and the carrot juice bits. The music doesn't help. Mel is even more hyper than Peri was and it's not suiting the story well and her jumpy enthusiasum is not....well, making her a charmer.

The trial sequences are not overtaking this episode and give us the idea that the evidence is being tampered with and changed from what the Doctor saw when he first reviewed this. Some explanation as to how the Doc can use a future adventure...and still be on trial for life...if found guilty will that change time ahead? It is as if the story ALMOST makes sense for once and just falls short of it, an explanation here or there would have helped. 

Mel's more likable searching someone's cabin and meeting Edwardes in the hold. Then there's that's not terrible and in fact, it's quite good even if Mel screams in F flat or whatever, it's a piercing scream but it does not annoy as it will in DRAGONFIRE. And it fades right into the theme stinger tune and music...a good cliffhanger but what's happening? I find cliffhangers are more exciting if I know something about what's going on. For instance a Krynoid is about to open up a pod on Sarah Jane's arm...etc.

The opening has shown the Doc to be sad over Peri...

All in all not a bad ep but still the storytelling is bitter and lacking and uninvolving...this could have been so much better unlike MINDWARP or MYSTERIOUS PLANET, both of which never had a chance. 

Alot of fast, quick scenes and...wait a sec...does the Doctor actually eat one of the Demeter seeds. It is implied that these seeds hatch Vervoids? Can that explain why he turns into Sly McCoy or did the Vervoids wait until his 10th regeneration?

  Actually this episode is not at all bad nor unwatchable. And it doesn't have Brian Blessed, bless him. There's some strange coincidences though as another person on board is known by the Doctor who may have met him before...and he's killed, too. Lasky jumps to conclusions that the Doc is a thief. We're not told a great deal but presumably will be when the murderer is revealed...hint: we're not told much later on either like for instance, who electrified the fence and why? If it was one of the three idiots who were raising Vervoid seeds...why? Didn' t they know the power would spourt the Vervoids? Did one of them want that? The Doc says...well, everyone really, says somethings that no one would ever say. I mean everyone seems to talk rather grand and I mean GRAND all the time. Who speaks like that every second? "I'm cogitating."  "lofty." etc etc. It starts to get on one's nerves and seems the writers were just putting these words in an extreme pace to show that they knew these words and maybe to teach us new words. Janet and Sarah are named after the actresses who traveled with Peter Davison; the old man actor appeared as an old man in STATE OF DECAY and the Vervoid pokes its, uhm, head near a grill and we see it for the first time...barely. The build up is good however the mystery is not. The trial scenes are back to not impressing in this ep. What else? Mel scream again at the cliffhanger and to be honest, the cliffhanger is very good and disturbingly so...having a female victim of some plague is gross but scary and threatening and very, very alien and dangerous. A good cliffhanger, the second of this story that makes an impression.

On the other side of things, this story is like a lesser version of several DW stories of the past: it is as if they took various bits and leaf overs from: SEEDS OF DOOM, ROBOTS OF DEATH, and NIGHTMARE OF EDEN, and with the black hole, possibly some of HORNS OF NIMON and THE THREE DOCTORS, all of which are better than this.

On the plus side: Mel is not as bad a companion as I once thought. She's actually quite good to be honest. She tries. She is sympathetic and brave, despite being warm and sensitive. Her joking nature with the Doctor ("You have changed") and her total recall are well presented and it's easy to warm up to her. She and Colin already have a warm rapport and it's a fun notion that the Doc doesn't want to commit to helping solve the mystery here...but we're never sure as to why and in the last ep or so, he wants to just leave to go on vacation (possibly ep 1). It's interesting to note that the Doc wears a slightly different version of his outfit in the Trial scenes as he does in this future adventure, a yellow bowtie (rather than red and the red looks better), a nice new colorful waistcoat (an improvement), and other things. He also uses the make something vanish up his sleeve trick from AMBASSADORS OF DEATH.

In any event, less huge words ALL the time, better plotting, less plodding would have helped make this story better and shaping it like a mystery WITH a mystery and clues that go somewhere would have helped a great deal. As it stands, it is just okay...barely.       

I guess I kind of would like to know. On the old site there was a counter that told me how many people actually read the reviews. I mean if no body is reading them at all, I might just stop and maybe that's what people want! :) I will (maybe) if noone is reading them  

This particular forum topic currently has 129 reads (and counting) at the time of this posting.

Thank you and wow. How do you know that? Is there a counter someplace that I am too silly to notice? either way thanks for letting me know  

Thank you and wow. How do you know that? Is there a counter someplace that I am too silly to notice? either way thanks for letting me know  

It is something I can track as the Admin... though it can't tell me who is actually reading, only that the page was viewed.




Again, not a bad episode at all. A lot of movement and action, including Mel being almost put down a rubbish bin! I kid you not, the Doctor missing the dinner gong, Honor Blackman being hit down, and the ship heading for a passable black hole. It's not SPACE: 1999 quality black hole mind you as the effects are...not as good as that show but passable, despite what ABOUT TIME 6 says. Not sure but I think the man who hijacks the ship may be the one who electrified the fence but I don't think we're ever told that. I hinge on that because I really want to know what's going on and how the killer was thinking but this is not Agatha Christie, obviously. It's also not even the Donna Noble giant wasp story, which is head and shoulders above this.

Colin gets some good quips, some so bad they might even be funny ("If only I could lose my waist as easily"  and "I didn't even hear the dinner gong" and "don't just throw in the towel yet, Mel"). He is, however, a very good Doctor.

The trial scenes: pass em all up. They go on and on and say mainly one thing: things are not what they seem and the Doc didn't sabotage the radio. Who did? And why? The Vervoids? Lasky? Janet? I don't think any of them really had a good reason to. Except the Vervoids. I guess.

The Vervoids: they look roughly like something rude: in fact, like two rude things. They look both male and female in various parts at various times. Wow. Others say they see the track suits, jog pants, and drawstrings to the jog pants but I wasn't looking that closely to be honest. They scared me but for all the wrong reasons. The sequence with Mel in the shower (I kid you not again!) while a Vervoid searches the room is VERY tense and scary, something in this era that makes you wonder! It's quite good.

All in all a good episode. I'm sure all will be explained in the finale episode of this story and we will find out the murderer and there will be co existence with the Vervoids and we will get a rousing climax...won't we?   


This episode is a mixed bag. It has several highly funny scenes, somewhat intentional and unintentional. First, the music during the Doctor's hand waving for Mel to clear off as he's being hijacked by the hijacker security officer...more on that later I guess. There are many things going on in this story: the hijacker retiring security officer who is helping the alien Mogarians resteal or retake minerals in the ship's safe that came from their own planet; the trio of scientists who smuggled the Vervoid seeds on board, one of whom is reckless, one of whom tries to steer the ship into a black hole and one of whom means the Vervoids no harm and didn't create them for slavery to farming; an old man who recognizes another man who then hides as a Mogarian, and who also knew the Doc or he knew him or something like that and where the hell was I?

Anyway during the hijacking, right after the gasing of the man who tried to steer the ship into the black hole, presumably to save humanity from the Vervoids...the hijacker has the Doc and others in a hall but he didn't see Melanie coming down the hall so the Doc stalls, turning and hand waving Mel off for her to hide. The music during this hand waving accompanies each wave and its very very funny. Another funny scene comes when the Mogarians intent on drving the ship to their home planet...don't think anything of anyone else being on the bridge...with water. Water then splashes on them and they yell as if they are dying. They are. It's very funny. 

Unlike the Vervoids' deaths. Oddly enough, despite them killing everyone they come into contact with...their death scenes are oddly moving and sad.

A GREAT SCENE: the Doctor and Mel stumble across the Vervoid's compostie heap...made out of human bodies. Mel is upset. The Doc comforts her but explains it is a matter of perspective and explains what he means by this. Truly one of this Doctor's great moments.

I always thought the ending a bit rushed but I can see here, it's really not. It all sort of makes sense.  

The DVD text tells us JNT's thoughts behind Mel: she helped the Doc defeat a banking computer scheme by the Master and they have been together for three months; she's a women's libber but doesn't draw back from using crocodile tears and falling back on her gender to rely on the men, and has annoying and irritating habits. From that it's easy to see how Mel was misused and abused and starting off from a bad place for a character. Depsite that, in this, I feel she really shines. I've misjudged her for years but keep in mind there's more of her to come.

Other incidental notes: a Vervoid appears in the Ultimate Adventure Stage play and I think one appears in DIMENSIONS IN TIME. Other story ideas being thrown around included Attack of the Mind with the Freds (Free Equal Democracy) vs the Penolopes (PenUltimate Elegance Order and Poise--okay, WTF?). The Freds seem to be vicious rodents but it turns out they are the innocent victims of the others. Another is something like PINOCHOTICA about a museum planet. Another is about a holiday world shielding a bank/money fraud scheme with Angels, ghostlike entities.

Anyway, not a bad episode. One thing: why use THIS to defend yourself, Doc? I mean wouldn't something like TERMINUS do? And if the Valeyard wanted to really hit the Doc where it hurts , why not use LOGOPOLIS where the Doc brings the Master to LOGOPOLIS knowing the crank fiend is on board? Or bring up Adric's death? get the idea and again, see more of ABOUT TIME 6 for the longest THINGS THAT DON'T MAKE SENSE...

as DW this is not terrible and has some good moments, some fun ones, a few scary ones, and introduces a companion in a not so bad way.

Oh, and almost forgot this: Mel's background was not really fully explained, at least not here. JNT's THE COMPANIONS explained it. See above: but in the next two parts, Mel is brought to the Trial by the Master. A future Mel. So she should have known the Master or have met him or have known him by name or rep. She doesn't! A very good novel, one of the only good ones by Gary Russell, I think, explains how Melanie and the Doc met and how Mel never met the Master but used the computer to stop his schemes. I also think Evelyn is in that novel and it's pretty good for it. Also something about half human Auton twins. It's pretty good.    

So now the Trial is putting the Doc on trial for genocide. Somewhere, on some book, possibly ABOUT TIME, it is read that the inquistion or probing of the Doc's incidents is never a full TRIAL until it should be called something like THE PROBING OF A TIME LORD or THE INQUIRY OF A TIME LORD...or INQUISTION OF get the idea...  

All right, I don't even have a WTF for this episode but WHAT?

I mean WHAT?

The Master's helping the Doctor. The Valeyard is said by the Master to be the Doctor or rather not be the Doctor but something like the Watcher in between the Doctor's 12th and final regeneration. Then there's the....WHAT?

Then there's the fact that...I can almost accept that the Matrix has been showing us adventures on a screen, adventures in full of a living Time Lord, not a dead one as DEADLY ASSASSIN told us it was for only the memories of dead Time Lords and I can even accept that it can be entered...but to be entered by walking through a door....WHAT? A door on a spaceship!? Okay I do have a WTFH (h stands for...). Even if I did accept that the Matrix can be entered physically by a door on a spaceship....a DOOR! On a spaceship! Even if I did accept that, this takes all the mystery, all the science out of what it was set up to be in DEADLY ASSASSIN, INVASION OF TIME, and even God help us ARC OF INFINITY. Even in ARC I can accept what it looked like and that it had power webs in it and wasn't physically entered into. But this? Here in the Trial? And everyone just seems to accept the Master's explanations.

Mel and Glitz are taken out of time. Why couldn't the court do the same with other witnesses? Why didn't the Doc suggest this? And just when was Mel, this Mel Knownasmel (actually she's a Bush, get it?--I mean her last name is known as Bush from other sources), just when was she taken from? Further down the timeline? After her time with the Doc? From after VERVOID? some of what we saw was a lie but not all. Most was true. We are told but not yet shown that Peri is still alive and the novelization of MINDWARP tells us that she's managing his wrestling career! WTFS?

Then there's...the Doctor signing his remaining lives away to the Valeyard. Why? WHAT? and if you stop and think about that, didn't the Valey...Docyard....didn't he already have the Doc's remaining lives? Didn't he in fact live through them? Does any of this make any sense?

Look, there's actually some good ideas floating around in here. That fact that the Doc might become evil in the future and then try to take on himself in the past, his own past, is actually intriguing and different enough to be shocking and surprising. But here they are presented as just the shock values that they are indeed...without any real explanation or any real drama being presented. We're given that...and other news...and then it's a nightmare into the Matrix.

The idea that the Earth is moved (MOVED!) by the Time Lords who try to cover it up is another interesting idea. But wouldn't that plot have been best served in a longer story that took place on Gallifrey where the High Council actually is...or is the High Council the Jury behind the Inquistor? Colin's great one last tirade here is a nice touch and he names checks Daleks, Sontarans, and Cybermen against ten million years of corrupt power or was it ten billion? And even though the chase into the Matrix is stupid, the first few scenes of the arrival are scary and atmospheric but again, the laughing, the church gong, the rat, the alley, the shadows are just presented as nice visuals and shock value stuff...even the hands in the water real explantion and frankly, it was much better done in DEADLY ASSASSIN, how many years ago? And despite what ABOUT TIME 6 says, FILM is much better than VIDEO. Things on film look  better. This just looks ...kind of cheap. In fact, if you show anyone the entire TRIAL, even back in 1986, I feel they would just see the cheapness. Seeing cheapness in DW is standard...even in the good stories, people would see the cheap rather than the ideas but some of them would be won over by good stories or funny stories. This though, is not funny, not exciting, and not new. Frankly, by this time, even if you just count the Colin seasons, I'm sick of illusions and hallcinations as an adventure when really it is just a fake adventure. And if you are going to a matrix adventure, this is the way NOT to do it. Present just scary things and then move on to an old Victorian (?) house with not just one old man but two.

Still, it's nice to see bureucracy trying to blur the truth and slow things down. Paperwork, signing, offices, appointments....that's nicely done in a way.

Then the Doc walks outside from the inside and hands attack him on the beach that THE CHASE was made on. So this story does have some cult so bad it's good things in common wiht THE CHASE...

oh, and wasn't the Master the one who was good at manipulating the Matrix? if so, why doesn't he help the Doctor more?

This episode, mostly a talky one, is not good. It's too static, too boring, too silly and convoluted to mean much. It gives us SOME answers but sets up more questions to those answers. Colin has some good moments and the arrival into the Matrix is well done...for about five minutes if that. Glitz is mildly amusing. Mr Popplewick is not.

Oh and the Master snorts loudly when laughing. Just once. But it's pretty funny. I guess expect a huge confrontation in the matrix next time along with a threat to actual courtroom and Gallifrey itself...with the Doc and the Valeyard trapped in eternal struggle falling down the time rift...or is that just the original script that didn't make it to the screen? Instead expect tiny pink triangles (is that a gay reference or what?) floating over slow moving old Time Lords who shuffle out after the guards have already fled!

Supposedly Chris Chibnall, who I think did have a hand in some of the best sci fantasy shows such as STRANGE, SEA OF SOULS, and AFTERLIFE (all of which ARE better..a fact...than TORCHWOOD) also made some of or all of TORCHWOOD in seasons one and two (I think?), lead a group in an attack on a tv show OPEN AIR...against Pip and Jane Baker and DW in general, claiming ep 13, and possibly 14 in particular, as a pointless season ending. Well, have you seen his TORCHWOODS?                 

or Tiring of a Fan. Anyway...

Mel gets tripped by an old man but the second time she attempts to get into the Matrix, she pushes the old man in the chest and he goes, "Ohhhh."  Wouldn't it have been more dramatic if we actually knew some of the Time Lords on the hit list of the Valeyard, who leaves a hit list in the Matrix in his office or rather the office of Popplewick. The Doc figured everything out ahead of time. It was rather obvious that that Mel wasn't Mel our Mel knownasmel but a phantom  (and we saw rather more effective phantom companions and monsters in FIVE DOCTORS and TIME-FLIGHT yet come to think of it they weren't very scary or effective there either, except it was nice to see Adric again and Mike Yates, Liz Shaw, Zoe, and Jamie!).

Keep thinking of DEADLY ASSASSIN when watching this junk and you find this comes up short. It's just not that exciting. It's been done before. The stuff that hasn't been done before...they don't explain.

Oh and isn't the Fantasy Factory the name of a production company that makes short films about...oh never mind.

The Valeyard in the first few minutes of this THIRTY MINUTE episode pops in and out like Dr. Bombay from BEWITCHED (all of which is out on DVD now) or come to think of it ---more like Endora, complete  with accompanying popping sounds. Then we have gas in the Matrix...real gas. The thing was if you were killed in the Matrix by nightmares you would die. Now the Doc can just get out of things but wishing them away and true, the Fourth Doc did that but not after a lot of trouble and suffering.

One funny part is Glitz not being hypnotized by the Master. I think I remember seeing this in a big hall or basement with Gallefreyan Embassy and left the meeting thinking what was JNT, Eric Saward and the rest thinking. This was, I was sure, the end of DW as a series. I was wrong there...

Okay I was wrong elsewhere too. The triangles aren't pink and don't really much look like triangles. But like Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow T Robot, I have sat through the worst that "they can find" and "sat and watched it all while no one monitored my mind". Enough said?

Memory does cheat. I could have sworn there was a specially filmed scene of Peri and Yrcanos waving goodbye to the Doctor. The scene would have been seen on the screen. ? I might be thinking of a similar comic book sequence in the monthly or in COLIN's own AGE OF CHAOS. Or, again, it might just be I've sat through too much bad DW. 

Colin appeared as the Doc one last time on the TOMORROW'S WORLD quiz show. You'd think they'd put that on the DVd rather than the inquistion of Pip and Jane and JNT from OPEN AIR.

What can I say about this two parter? It wasn't suspenseful, it wasn't new and different although the few bits that were were ignored and misexplained if at all, it can't compare to other DW or even other shows on at the same time. It didn't have alot of action, it didn't make sense, it didn't give us answers. It made future Mel leave with the past Doctor. It wasn't funny. Pip and Jane in the novelization of this make the "past" Doc leave the "future" Mel off with the "future" "her" Doctor. That settles one problem then.

Did Peri want to stay married to Yrcanos? One book, the novelization says yes and manage his career (on Earth?) as a pro wrestler? What? I can't believe Brian Blessed is a mountain climber but he is. And yet as a wrestler I can't...oh well. ANother book, the excellent BAD THERAPY has Peri, using an alias, somehow get back to Earth and upon seeing the 7th Doctor, floor him with a punch or a major slap.

Of course, this season ends with a cliffhanger. It was supposed to end with the Doc and the Valeyard stuck in the Time Vent corridor, fighting like Lazarus with himself in THE LAZARUS SYNDROME of STAR TREK. It might have made a more dramatic ending then seeing the Doc leave saying, "Carrot juice" three times and having the Valeyard now inside the Keeper's robes...did he kill him or was he the Valeyard/Keeper all the time? What's happening? Even at the end, we don't know...or care. Of two minds, I can't see why they didn't at least try to answer some of this in the next season but then again, would you want to go back to what was essentially a mess of a story, so convuluted that no one could unwrap it?

Mel does very little here. The Doctor does it all. I'm still confused about the Master's bits here. Or Glitz or the Valeyard or the Inquistor. WTFWTF? The Master wants to further revenge himself on the Time Lords. Oh give it up already and get over it. Besides that he does it from a spaceship? Why not go to Gallifrey itself and help the revolution? Or was that his plan using this new tape? How was the tape hidden physically in the Matrix? Was Glitz being forced to help the Master? Was the Doc actually hypno or zombiefied by the Master's Tardis? What really was the Valeyard and why did HE want to destroy so many Time Lords? Why use a lengthy trial to do that?  

Oh yeah, and what's this business about the Sleepers from Andromeda? Who were they and how did they fit into the plot? About Ravalox? And at some point, the Wirn were involved with the Sleepers. The Wirn may have spiced this s%6t up somewhat.

Let's be honest: this whole Trial business just sucked. Compare DEADLY ASSASSIN ep 2 and 3 2 with any of this Matrix Trial stuff and you'll find that it rocks by comparision while this is just static boring and uninvolving and visually uninteresting. So can the show get worse? Unfortunately the answer is YES! Next: TIME AND THE RANI and why I wanted to stop being a fan. Well, the answer is there:  TIME AND THE RANI.             

I must say that during OPEN AIR where DW fans including Chris Chibnall pan Jane and Pip and JNT I felt rather bad for Pip and Jane. Should I have?

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