The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14

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The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14
The verdict is in…
 

Part Thirteen

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Sue: Yay! Robert Holmes is back. Thank heavens for that.

The Doctor wants to know who’s been tampering with the Matrix.

Sue: It’s him! The Valeyard bloke. It’s obvious.

Two capsules arrive on the Time Lords’ space station. One of them contains Sabalom Glitz…

Sue: Excellent.

The other contains Melanie Bush.

Sue: Is his mate dead? I liked him. I don’t understand this. How did they get here? How can Bonnie be here if he hasn’t met the Doctor yet? And is he staring at her like that because he can’t work out whether she’s a boy or a girl?

The Master is responsible for Glitz and Mel’s presence in court…

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Sue: I ****ing knew it!

Me: You never said anything.

Sue: I didn’t want you to take the piss. It had to be him. It’s always him.

The Doctor isn’t exactly thrilled to see his old enemy.

The Doctor: He has no concept of what justice is. He’d see me dead tomorrow.

Sue: What’s wrong with today? Why wait?

The Valeyard wants to adjourn the trial.

Sue: There’s something very fishy going on. I bet the Valeyard is the Doctor’s brother, or something stupid like that.

The Doctor questions Glitz about their recent encounter on Ravalox. Glitz admits that the Sleepers of Andromeda were siphoning secrets from the Matrix and the Time Lords traced the leak back to Earth.

Mel: That’s it, Doc. Now we’re getting at the dirt.

Sue: **** me. That was terrible. I know it’s Christmas, but that was pure panto.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14When it emerges that the High Council messed with planet Earth to protect their sordid secrets, the Doctor doesn’t contain his fury:

The Doctor: Power-mad conspirators – Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen – they’re still in the nursery compared to us. Ten million years of absolute power, that’s what it takes to be really corrupt!

Sue: Great speech. That’s Colin’s finest moment in the series so far.

And then the Master drops an extremely large bombshell…

The Master: They made a deal with the Valeyard, or as I’ve always known him, the Doctor, to adjust the evidence…

Sue: EH? What did he just say?

The Master: The Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Sue: Wait, I’m sorry, WHAT? Stop the DVD. You’ll have to explain this to me.

I refuse. There’s no point. I don’t understand it, either.

The Valeyard escapes into the Matrix.

Me: Good twist?

Sue: ****ing mental.

The Doctor gives chase and he finds himself in a Victorian courtyard…

Sue: Nice set.

Me: They’re on location.

Sue: Really? At night? Oh yeah, so they are. I’m impressed.

The Valeyard has the Doctor over a barrel.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Sue: It’s proper Doctor Who, this. Scary and unpredictable.

Glitz joins the Doctor in the Matrix (“Just like the Terminator, but with more clothes on”) and the mercenary follows the Doctor to The Fantasy Factory.

Sue: That sounds rude. I hope it isn’t a Victorian brothel.

But before they can enter this establishment, Glitz is harpooned.

Sue: NOOOOO!

Back in the courtroom, the Master has more beans to spill. To paraphrase Brian Blessed: “PERI’S ALIVE!”

The Master: As a queen, set up on high by that warmongering fool Yrcanos.

Sue: WHAT THE ****? She married Brian Blessed? Is that a joke? Is the Master taking the piss? I don’t believe that for one second.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Glitz survives his attack and he and the Doctor enter the Fantasy Factory.

Sue: Oh, it’s Eddie Yeats. A posh Eddie Yeats. That makes my head hurt even more than the stuff with the Valeyard. Which I still don’t get by the way.

The Valeyard is playing with the Doctor.

The Doctor: He wants to humiliate me first.

Sue: How do you humiliate a man who wears a coat like that?

The Doctor signs his remaining lives over to J.J. Chambers.

Sue: He’ll regret that when they make him regenerate later. What an idiot. Why would he sign his lives away like that? That makes no sense to me.

The Doctor enters a waiting room, but on the other side of the door he finds a windswept beach.

Sue: He finally made it to Blackpool.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Grabbing hands emerge from the sand to ensnare the Doctor.

Sue: Just when you thought it was safe to go to the beach, a generation of children are traumatised. It’s good, though. A proper, scary cliffhanger for a change.

The credits roll.

Sue: Wow. There was a lot to take in. It looked great but I don’t get the Valeyard thing at all. Is he the Doctor or not?

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Part Fourteen

Sue: I’m really looking forward to this one. Regenerations are always exciting. It’s a shame, though. Colin is leaving just as I’m getting used to him. I don’t understand why he… WHAT THE ****?

The words ‘Pip and Jane Baker’ have appeared in the title sequence.

Sue: Where’s Robert Holmes gone?

Me: I’ll explain later.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Glitz rushes to save the Doctor…

Sue: If Bonnie was his companion at this point, the Doctor wouldn’t stand a chance. She’d get pulled into the… Oh, he was rubbish, too. Is that it, then? Does Sylvester McCoy take over now?

The Sixth Doctor is still alive, but if the Valeyard has his way, he won’t be for very much longer.

Valeyard: With you destroyed and no longer able to constrain me, and with unlimited access to the Matrix, there will be nothing beyond my reach.

Sue: It sounds like Jekyll and Hyde to me. But I thought the Master was supposed to be the Doctor’s dark side? We don’t need another dark side running around.

The Doctor and Glitz are rescued by the Master.

Sue: The Master doesn’t want any competition. It’s his job to be the evil side of the Doctor. Everybody knows that. I actually like the Master in this story. He has a decent motive for a change. He isn’t trying to take over the world or anything stupid like that.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14The Master places the Doctor in a catatonic trance.

Sue: The Master is flashing the colours of the Doctor’s coat directly into his eyes, all at the same time. Now he knows how we feel.

The Master’s TARDIS, which is now disguised as a statue of Queen Victoria, materialises in the courtyard…

Sue: How cool is that? Why can’t the Doctor’s TARDIS do that?

Me: Do you really want to get rid of the police box?

Sue: No.

Me: Well then.

The Valeyard hurls some exploding quills at the Master and Glitz.

Sue: This is a bit of a mind-****. Thank heavens we didn’t get 14 episodes like this. My brain would have melted.

Mel suddenly appears in the Matrix. She persuades the Doctor to follow her.

Sue: She’s an illusion, you fool. She can’t be the real thing because she isn’t over-acting.

The Doctor follows Mel into the courtroom.

Sue: It’s just an illusion.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Me: Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Ah-ahh.

The Doctor accepts the court’s guilty verdict.

Sue: Can he still regenerate if it’s just an illusion? It’s a bit tense, this.

The Doctor is led away and then see the real courtroom watching this fabrication unfold on the screen above them.

Sue: It’s really good, this. Pip and Jane are doing alright.

The Doctor is led to his execution on a horse and cart.

Sue: The sound of children singing nursery rhymes always freaks me out. I would have been a terrible primary school teacher. I don’t think the Doctor is going to get out of this one. I think Bonnie is too late.

The Doctor: It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

Sue: It’s a good way to go.

Mel intervenes and the illusion is shattered, much to the Doctor’s (and Sue’s) disappointment.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Sue: Colin is very good in this story. He’s pulling out all the stops for his last episode, bless him.

The Master and Glitz make a deal…

Sue: Why didn’t they get their own series?

The Doctor wants to draw the Valeyard out.

Sue: Why don’t they just switch off the Matrix? They could put the Time Lord version of Norton Anti-virus on it, or they could defrag the hard drive. There must be easier ways to deal with him than this.

The Doctor and Mel explore Popplewick’s office…

Sue: This would be really difficult to follow if you hadn’t seen the Matrix before.

Me: The Deadly Assassin, you mean?

Sue: No, the Keanu Reeves film. It makes a lot more sense if you’ve seen that.

Glitz finds the prize he’s been searching for…

Glitz: Phase three, four, five and six. All the secrets of the Matrix.

Popplewick: Not all. The primitive phases one and two have been relegated to the archives.

Sue: That’s a dig at the BBC for losing the black and white episodes, isn’t it? Was Ian Levine still hanging around the show at this point?

The Doctor unmasks Popplewick. He was the Valeyard all the time.

Sue: Excellent effect. But this makes no ****ing sense. If he’s the Valeyard, why doesn’t he just vanish like he did earlier?

Mel finds a megabyte modem. Sue laughs out loud.

Sue: To be fair, that would have been really fast in 1986.

The Master’s meddling has overturned Gallifrey…

Sue: Is this where the Time War starts? It is, isn’t it? This is really it. This is why we aren’t on Gallifrey itself. The planet is going to explode.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14Valeyard: There’s nothing you can do to prevent the catharsis of spurious morality.

Sue: Who talks like that? What does that even mean?

The Matrix screen in the courtroom explodes…

Sue: The Doctor was too late. I didn’t expect that.

Valeyard: You blundering imbecile. You’ve triggered a ray phase shift!

Sue: I don’t understand a ****ing word of this.

The Valeyard defeated, the Doctor returns to the courtroom.

Sue: See! They’re all dead. Oh. They were having a nap. Sorry, my mistake.

Inquisitor: All charges against you are dismissed, Doctor.

Sue: So what happened to the Master? What was that all about? Am I missing something? This can’t be over yet.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14The Inquisitor has more good news for the Doctor:

Inquisitor: The young woman, Miss Perpugilliam Brown, is alive and well and living as a warrior queen with King Yrcanos.

Sue throws at cushion at the television.

Sue: Pur-lease! What load of bollocks. For ****’s sake.

The Doctor and Mel leave together in his TARDIS.

Sue: How is that even possible?

Me: I know. She’s a walking paradox.

Sue: Does she create a hole in time? Does she explode? Will it make him regenerate? Is it a trap? This can’t be over yet.

It isn’t. We return to the courtroom…

Sue: Here we go.

The Trial of a Time Lord 13-14The Keeper of the Matrix is none other than…

Sue: Who’s that supposed to be? Oh, it’s him. But…

The credits roll.

Sue: I thought that was Colin’s last story? You lied to me again!

She reaches for a cushion.

Me: I didn’t lie.

Sue: EH?

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The Final Score

Sue: It has a lot of problems. It didn’t make any sense for a start. The ending just wasn’t big enough after 14 weeks of build-up. The twist with the Valeyard sounds good, but what does it actually mean? It looked great, though, and the acting was excellent. I want to like it a lot more than I do. I feel cheated.

5/10

If you want to treat The Trial as one story, Sue’s marks average out to 6.5 out of 10. You can round it up or down, it’s up to you.

EDIT: It’s been brought to my attention that my maths are all wrong (What can I say? Nicol is on holiday) and the average score is actually 6.71. If we are rounding up, the Trial averages out at a 7. Many thanks.

We’re off to watch Ed Stradling’s brilliant Trials and Tribulations documentary now, mainly so I can prepare Sue for our Colin Baker retrospective on Sunday. There’s still enough time to send her a question – you have until midnight on Saturday. The best question will win something really nice. Thanks.

The experiment continues…
 

Coming Soon

The Colin Baker Years (and some important news about the blog) will arrive early on Christmas Eve.

Until then, here’s another gift from our dear friend, Simon Harries:

 

If you don’t own this story, why not buy it on DVD? If you use the link below, we get a small cut, which will help pay for the site’s running costs. Many thanks for your support (UK residents only).

Doctor Who – The Trial Of A Time Lord [1986] [DVD]

Price: £13.80

3.9 out of 5 stars (79 customer reviews)

 

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Discussion

  1. GCG  December 21, 2012

    These were the first two episodes I ever recorded and kept on VHS. I watched them over and over again. 26 years later, they still baffle me.

  2. John Miller  December 21, 2012

    Great review. It’s a pity everything fell apart when the way it did. If you REALLY want to see something scary though, watch the DVD extra where the DWAS appear, along with Pip and Jane.

    • David Brunt  December 21, 2012

      … and young Master Chibnall in his best sunday school suit.

      • Frankymole  December 21, 2012

        He has a point that a Who story shouldn’t involve running up and down corridors. Like “42″ did…

        • Dave Sanders  December 21, 2012

          And Cyberwoman.

          • Dave Sanders  December 21, 2012

            And Dinosaurs On A Spaceship.

            Oh sod it. Look Chris, Doctor Who has ALWAYS been about the corridors. Blake’s 7 was just the same, except it was usually one great big corridor called ‘outside’, in exactly the way The Ultimate Foe is. And ALL of Torchwood, come to that.

  3. Jazza1971  December 21, 2012

    Did you ever explain to Sue about Robert Holmes?

    • Neil Perryman  December 21, 2012

      Yes, she’s seen the documentary.

      • Warren Andrews  December 21, 2012

        Good way of doing it, by letting those who were there explain it.:)

      • Dave Sanders  December 21, 2012

        I genuinely thought you didn’t have the heart to tell her. What was Sue’s response?

  4. John S. Hall  December 21, 2012

    Considering the reasons why everything fell apart when it did — Robert Holmes dying, Eric Saward abruptly resigning and refusing permission to use his 14th episode — I’d say that Pip ‘n’ Jane did the best they could at the twelfth hour in attempting to resolve all these dangling plot threads into one vaguely coherent tapestry.

    While I like some aspects of Saward’s episode, I do think that its ending would’ve been too easy of an opportunity for the BBC to cancel “Doctor Who” at this point.

    • Ratbag  December 21, 2012

      The major problem I have with Pee N Jay’s contribution is their dialogue. It’s LUDICROUS, even by Who standards. As Sue says, who talks like that?!

      • DPC  December 21, 2012

        Nobody.

        But if managers had their way, we would

        ahl tawk wike dis 4ever.

        It seems more interesting to try to elevate than to be lazy and dumb down, but it’s all good… education is overrated; real money comes from marketing anyhow.

  5. John S. Hall  December 21, 2012

    Of course, what baffles me is that they had EIGHTEEN frickin’ months to get this season all set and polished, and it STILL came down to the last minute to cobble things together… :/

    • Warren Andrews  December 21, 2012

      Not strictly true. They had the same lead up time to start the season – not 18 months.

      And it did start with good intentions however misplaced they were. Saward getting in some writers he was excited by and respected, two of whom proved unworkable leaving him with only two, one of whom died.

      The show had to re-find itself after all this.

  6. John S. Hall  December 21, 2012

    And I know that I’m extremely rough on Eric Saward’s tenure on Our Show, but one thing I will give the man credit for is bringing Robert Holmes back into the fold.

  7. Simon Harries  December 21, 2012

    Ah cool! Meant to remind you about the vid and you had it there all the time :-) Part 13 promises so much, and I remember being so excited at the age of 15 when this was first transmitted. In particular chatting with my two Who-fan pals on the Monday morning afterwards, how it was getting to be just like the Deadly Assassin, with the spooky voice echoing across the beach… Then part 14 turned out to be a madcap run-around packed with meaningless bafflegab, trying too hard to tie everything up too fast and failing. Imagine what an episode of Yes Minister written by Pip and Jane Baker would be like – I daresay even the sublime Nigel Hawthorne would have struggled.

    • Dave Sanders  December 21, 2012

      That final plaintive ‘oh *bleep*’ is just divine.

  8. Sean Alexander  December 21, 2012

    Considering Part 13 was shipped by taxi to the Bakers while Robert Holmes’ lawyers stood on guard, this is about as good as the ‘grand finale’ could have ever been. But it makes absolutely no sense and is a damning indictment of the deicision to leave JN-T and Eric Saward in charge after the postponement of Season 23.

    And the final words ‘Carrot Juice, Carrot Juice, Carrot Juice’ are perhaps the ulitmate insult to Colin Baker, who was treated shabbily by all at the Beeb (Including, sadly, John Nathan-Turner himself) and never had a chance against declining viewing figures, Michael Grade and a ridiculous costume.

    After all this, you’d think things couldn’t get worse. But you’d be wrong.

    • Ben Herman  December 21, 2012

      Neil, I do not know if you even have a ghost of a chance of convincing Sue to listen to any of the Big Finish audios. But if you ever do convince her, it is amazing just how incredibly Colin Baker is on them. You reall get to see (well, hear) just how good he could have been if he had been given quality scripts to work with in the mid-1980s. I recently reviewed a couple of his best stories, “Davros” and “The Reaping” on my blog. Great stuff. And, of course, the stories he did with Maggie Staples as Evelyn Smythe are excellent. They are a really effective Doctor/companion pairing.

  9. Warren Andrews  December 21, 2012

    People slag off Pip and Jane Baker (justified for some awful dialogue) but they were the best people to finish the story in impossible circumstances and I think they did brilliantly in getting a semblance of a plot together. They’re experts at problem solving – just a shame that someone else can’t write the dialogue. And having read Saward’s episode, we didn’t lose anything – the trial stuff has no more relevancy, it’s all Doctor vrs Valeyard. Saward and Levine can moan all they like but a happy ending was the best for the season.

    Robert Holmes only wrote as far as the courtroom scenes – everything that follows in the Matrix is purely down to Saward (he created Popplewick etc). It’s the best job Saward did at mimicking another writers style.

    • Chris  December 22, 2012

      For me, the ideal writer to write the last two episodes would’ve been Philip Martin – as I can’t believe he’d have gone along with the ridiculous retconning of Peri’s death and would’ve at least tried to convince JNT not to undo the brilliant shock ending of Mindwarp.

      For me, at least, the “real” ending is the one we saw. Kiv really did take over Peri’s body, and Yrcanos really did blow away everybody inside the lab. The retcon makes no sense at all – and we only have The Master’s word for it that Peri survived. He could be lying just as easily as telling the truth.

      • John Callaghan  December 22, 2012

        And for the sake of balance, I’ll declare that I prefer the happy ending given for her.. I also think that the drama of Mindwarp’s ending could have been exploited in Trial 13-14, by having the Doctor (unclear how much of it all was true) trying to save Peri from her likely but uncertain doom. That’s what he does, after all.

        The best fate for Peri of all is the DWM one (and somewhere else, although I don’t know where) – Yrkanos becomes and all-in wrestler and she is his manager!

        • Errol the Hamster  December 22, 2012

          I think that’s from the novelisation.

  10. Mike  December 21, 2012

    Valeyard: There’s nothing you can do to prevent the catharsis of spurious morality.

    Sue: Who talks like that? What does that even mean?

    I don’t care what anyone says, I LOVE that line. I can’t explain it or even understand it but I think it’s the best thing Pip & Jane ever wrote. In fact sums up the whole episode (perhaps the whole Trial) – there’s a lot of good ideas, atmosphere and performances but the substance is lacking. Shame, the whole thing has makings of a great story.

    • Ben Herman  December 21, 2012

      “There’s nothing you can do to prevent the catharsis of spurious morality” is the 1980s answer to “Nothing in the world can stop me now!”

      • BWT  December 22, 2012

        And a damned site better than it’s 2000s replacement: “Oh, F*ck off!”

    • DPC  December 21, 2012

      I often freely defend P&J, but even I cannot stand that line.

      “Spurious morality” is absolutely fantastic…

      But “Catharsis” has far more to do with an emotional release than – what I’m assuming to be – a physical explosion leading to corporeal death.

  11. Gavin Noble  December 21, 2012

    I think episode 13 is the best episode of Colin’s era – it just works so well. Episode 14 under the circumstances is a decent effort. I think the five episodes written by the Baker’s in the Trial season are all pretty enjoyable really.

    Such a shame that Colin’s era ended the way it did – he was really starting to get into his stride and Mel works much better with Colin than McCoy. An all too brief era of Doctor Who but overall – as a whole – I think the Trial season is reasonably good entertainment – if you watch it in one marathon session. Over 14 weeks with a week between episodes it was impossible to keep interesting and to remember everything.

  12. mike Zeidler  December 21, 2012

    A megabyte modem is *still* fast. The average UK broadband customer has a 10Mbps download speed, which works out to 1.25MBps, or just slightly faster than a megabyte. :)

    • DPC  December 21, 2012

      Nice! :D

  13. Frankymole  December 21, 2012

    Although “The Ultimate Foe” really fits the Valeyard, who has been created to be the final, most skilled opponent that the Doctor cannot hope to beat (i.e. himself), this title was only used on the target novelisation. And you didn’t call “Frontier in Space”, “The Space War” or “…the Silurians”: “The Cave-Monsters”. Why not use the title that this was actually commissioned under by the BBC? “Time, Inc.”?

    “The Ultimate Foe” was a working title for the Vervoids segment.

    • Neil Perryman  December 21, 2012

      Whatever.

      • Frankymole  December 21, 2012

        Fair enough :) I still prefer the Target titles anyway – “Doomsday Weapon” is so much better than the television equivalent!

        • Dave Sanders  December 22, 2012

          ‘Doctor Who And The Megabyte Modem’. No, I don’t think so.

        • John Miller  December 22, 2012

          Yes. But going by original BBC titles the Hartnells are “100 000 BC”, “The Mutants”, “Inside the Spaceship”, “A Journey to Cathay” etc. And what do you call the Mcgann Movie? Rightly or wrongly, episodes 9-12 are called “Terror of the Vervoids” and episodes 13-14 are called “The Ultimate Foe”.

          • BWT  December 22, 2012

            Nah… call them by their more interesting (and accurate) names: “Vaginas on a Space Ship” and “Spurious Morality”…

          • Dave Sanders  December 22, 2012

            The TV Movie’s script title was ‘The Enemy Within’, like Terry Nation never left the building.

            My preferred title for it is ‘Anemia Throughout’.

    • Errol the Hamster  December 21, 2012

      It wasn’t only the Target where the title was given for these episodes. DWM also called the last episodes ‘The Ultimate Foe’ in their season survey results, published in the Summer of 1987. The book of those episodes wasn’t published until Autumn 1988.

      • Frankymole  December 21, 2012

        Cheers. I’m going on the GB thread where Richard Bignell answered the question about which episodes were known as The Ultimate Foe before transmission. The earliest post-transmission usage applied to episodes 13-14 that anyone could find was the novelisation (the hardback was published April 1988). Someone remebered DWB calling all 6 episodes “The Ultimate Foe”, so it seems the magazines had some funny ideas compared to the BBC!

        The thinking is very interesting, as Richard relates it: “The earliest reference I can find to Parts 9-12 being referred to as Terror of the Vervoids is in DWB 42/43 published in December 1986. In there, they have an interview with Nigel Robinson in which he talks about the forthcoming Trial books – “Each one will have a subtitle, which aren’t actually confirmed but most probably the first one will be called ‘The Mysterious Planet’, the second ‘Mindwarp’ and the third one may be called ‘Terror of the Vervoids’ but that’s not a final decision yet. The latter will cover the first four episodes starring Bonnie Langford and the final two episodes haven’t, as yet, got a title…there are at least three alternative titles floating around at the moment.”

        “I think that given the communication they had with the BBC, Nigel would have been aware that Pip and Jane’s story had been made under the title of The Ultimate Foe, but he then made the decision that the name better suited the novelisation of the final two episodes and given that those story titles had never been on screen and were unknown by the general public, it didn’t really matter what he individually named the books (hence the made up Terror of the Vervoids). “

        • Errol the Hamster  December 22, 2012

          For the record, it was issue 126, July 1987. It gives Eps 9 – 12 the title ‘Terror of the Vervoids’ and Eps 13 – 14 ‘The Ultimate Foe’. I think that’s the earliest example of them being referred to as such in DWM.

          • Frankymole  December 22, 2012

            Thanks Errol! Some good archaeology there.

  14. Dave Sanders  December 21, 2012

    “The sound of children singing nursery rhymes always freaks me out…”

    Aha! It’s ‘Adventures With The Wiphire And Steel’ next, isn’t it?

  15. Dave Sanders  December 21, 2012

    Much as I’d like to see it myself, I think JN-T was right on the money this time in not going for Saward’s ending at the time. Pip & Jane’s playfulness is what this 80s version of the Matrix wants more than Eric B7 season four, and once you know how P&J saved everyone’s bacon in one weekend, you’ll forgive Trial 14 for just about anything.

    Most of all though, just as David Maloney got the Matrix ‘right’ with his selection of disjointed nightmare images shot on film, they make just as credible a stab at it here – the two things that make it work were finding exactly the right location, and shooting it all on video to give it an artificial atmosphere. It’s the one time 80s lighting directives are a positive boon.

    • Dave Sanders  December 21, 2012

      The Ultimate Foes is in many way a nightmare version of that other quintessentially mid-80s BBC fantasy: The Box Of Delights. Just add Troughton.

    • DPC  December 21, 2012

      Yup.

      Saward’s pt 14 had some line about circumference discombobulation or whatever that would have made P&J blush in embarrassment… and that obvious ‘open ending’ that would have closed the show forever… ironically, JNT’s vetoing of that ending allowed the show to continue, to let Michael Grade praise it some 20 years later (and the show in 2005 had a lot of crude moments as well, along with a Doctor (Eccleston) who I liked because his persona has more than just shades of Sixie within him…)

      P&J did indeed save the season, and considering the limited time, the final 2 parts flow effectively well – especially in how much #14 has to do.

      I opted to look it up: “Unless someone wants us to think we’re not orbiting this circulation of a
      circumference in a peripatetic mode.” Nothing P&J have ever written, save for arguably the “catharsis” bit, comes close to that…

      • Wholahoop  December 21, 2012

        I don’t necessarily agree that the show would have ended with the Saward ending and it’s a moot point as we will never know I guess. I do think it would have made the regeneration even more likely though

        • Wholahoop  December 22, 2012

          And to be fair, according to the version of the script I have seen on t’interweb Mel asks herself if she actually just said “Unless someone wants us to think we’re not orbiting this circulation of a circumference in a peripatetic mode” to which the Doctor replies that he would ruptured his larynx if he had tried to say it. So maybe ES was having a dig at certain purveyors of unnecessary verbose vocabulary? :-)

  16. P Sanders  December 21, 2012

    Agreed the season doesn’t really hold together but Pip & Jane did the best they could. It really is an insane situation. I know the BBC are dramatising the origins of Who in 1963, but the story of the hiatus and the Trial season would be equally gripping – though perhap so insane nobody would believe it…

    Baker did get such a raw deal. Watching this season now without the burden of expectation you can see how he was really coming into his own – angry bluster replaced by egotistical charm. By Vervoids it’s a pleasure to see this Doctor getting stuck into the plot and another season with Six and Mel could’ve been fun.

    Intrigued to see what Sue makes as a casual viewer of Season 24. Again now I can see much to enjoy as the series tries to find its feet again after several body blows.

    • DPC  December 21, 2012

      Absolutely agreed!

      Mel was made for Sixie, Sixie’s persona now being solidified and consistent… it was a joy.

      How little it would last…

      I’m more interested in how Sue responds to seasons 25 and 26… actually, I’ll include 24 into the fray as I’ve a few stories from when I’d watched on initial viewing… I could surmise that, based on her commentary for seasons 22 and 23, there might be a few similarities… even if I became of fan of Sixie’s era early on… his era was the most original and most daring since, well, season 1 (1963) and remains the most daring and risk-taking to date.

      • Bernard  December 23, 2012

        i can’t see your point. What was daring? The music, sets, FX, acting and drama are all mostly at a level below the previous years of the show. The series is bogged down in badly used old continuity. The companions do nothing. The Doctor is very old school and not meeting the needs of an 80s audience. The plots and guest characters are either poorly concieved or over the top. I can’t see any freshnees in his 11 stories. They take uncalucated risks in terms of the colour scheme and also the Doctor’s character but these risks are not backed up with anything of substance or lasting merit. I loved old 6ie at the time and still do, but even I will admit it’s easily the worst era of Doctor Who from a production and creativity viewpoint.

  17. Ben Herman  December 21, 2012

    As far as undoing Peri’s death and having her marry King Ycarnos off-screen, Colin Baker has said he has a theory about why that happened. He asked the production team if Peri was really dead, or if it was yet another piece of falsified evidence in the Matrix. Because Baker felt if Peri was really dead, then there should be a scene of the Doctor properly mourning her. JNT or Saward then came back to him and said, nope, she really is alive, it was all a lie. It later occured to Colin that they did this because it was easier for themto do that, wave it away, then to go to the effort of trying to then write a emotionally authentic scene showing the Doctor grieving. It was just simpler for them to retcon it and move along.

    • Chris  December 22, 2012

      My understanding is the real reason JNT feebly attempted to retcon Peri’s death is because he truly thought the show was on the verge of permanent cancellation (which would make Peri the Doctor’s final long-term companion). As it happened, the show dragged on for three more years before being taken off, but JNT didn’t know that: he thought The Trial would end up being the series’ swan song and Peri’s demise the final send-off for any companion. For the same reason, he initially approved Saward’s downbeat ending but then reneged – because he didn’t want the entire 23-year-old serires to end on such a downbeat note.

      However, Philip Martin wrote and Nicola Bryant acted Peri’s death as real. It was never conceived as a Matrix lie, so as far as I’m concerned, it isn’t a lie. Peri really did die. The entire narrative thrust of Mindwarp, the entire plot that Philip Martin devised builds towards that ending – you could almost say the entire storyline only exists to deliver that jawdropping denouement (Peri is really the de facto protagonist here, rather than The Doctor). If you think about it, the only reason to believe she’s alive is The Master said so. That’s it, that’s all. There’s no filmed footage of her surviving. Nicola wanted to be killed off, not married off, JNT requested it, and Philip Martin delivered it. There’s no reason to accept the retcon as true, because nobody involved in the creation of Mindwarp – Saward, Baker, Bryant, Blessed, Ryecart, Jayston, Bellingham, Alibe Parsons, Nabil Shaban, Martin, Ron Jones – was operating on the assumption it’s true, they were operating on the assumption that the true ending was Peri’s/Kiv’s death. Everything they did, every single creative decision they made – the writer, the director, the entire cast – was made under the shadow of Peri’s ultimate demise. JNT was literally the only person who wanted Peri to survive – and he only wanted it because of an eleventh hour change of heart. Had the series not seemingly been on its last legs, Peri’s death would be as canonical as Adric’s.

      So as far as I’m concerned, the “real” ending is Peri’s death. The retcon is simply the Master’s confabulation. The Master is a liar and mischief-maker anyway, and this time out he’s working against the Valeyard, so why wouldn’t he do whatever he could to harm the Valeyard and help Colin’s Doctor?

      The retcon is too stupid for words. That would imply the Doctor never returned to Thoros Beta to repair his relationship with Peri – maybe she didn’t WANT to live out the rest of her life as a “warrior queen” with Yrcanos! Why would she? It’s easily the stupidest send-off for a companion ever (or at least, tied with Leela’s). Therefore, Peri MUST be dead – if she’s alive, that makes the Doctor utterly callous for stranding her on an alien world forever. He would never do that in a million years – so she’s got to be dead.

      • John Callaghan  December 22, 2012

        Actually, the only ending that makes sense is this: Crozier has Peri’s mind on tape, which is then implanted into a new body, with a fictitious past to prevent memory rejection. That’s the real reason we never see an origin story for Mel…

        • Dave Sanders  December 22, 2012

          No, the ONLY ‘only’ ending that makes sense is Sue saying afterwards, “that was bollocks.”

          • John Callaghan  December 22, 2012

            *Someone* please do a fan video of the whole courtroom pulling back to reveal it’s a Matrix fantasy, with the Inquisitor watching… and then pulling back again to reveal Sue watching from the sofa, saying “can’t we keep these repetitive scenes to a minimum?”

      • Ben Herman  December 22, 2012

        Colin Baker must have felt the same way about the lack of follow-up. He wrote the Doctor Who graphic novel “The Age of Chaos” which implies that the Sixth Doctor subsequently dropped in to check up on Peri and Ycarnos over the years to see how they are doing. In his story, the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher return to Krontep, this time having an adventure with Peri’s granddaughter Actis. Here’s a brief run-down on it…

        http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/The_Age_of_Chaos_(comic_story)

        If you can find a copy, it’s a fun story. It’s interesting to see how the Sixth Doctor is portrayed when Baker had the chance to write the character himself. Certainly he’s a lot less abrasive & adversarial than on television. And it’s clear that Baker would have loved to have had an alien shapechanging penguin as a companion in the TARDIS, if only the budget had permitted it!

        • Bernard  December 23, 2012

          The problem with that graphic novel is the terrible artwork and also Peri is seen only in silhouettere when she is revealed at the end.

          • Ben Herman  December 23, 2012

            Eh, okay, Barrie Mitchell is not the world’s most dynamic, flashy artist. I guess he has a very traditional style. Perhaps if one of the regular Doctor Who Magazine artists, such as John Ridgeway or Lee Sullivan, had illustrated Age of Chaos, it might have been more exciting. But I thought it was still pretty good. Different tastes, I suppose.

            I’ll still take Age of Chaos over The Twin Dilemma or Timelash any day of the week!

      • Bernard  December 23, 2012

        Maybe but iPeri’s survival is canon.

  18. Wholahoop  December 21, 2012

    Was I alone in thinking the Valeyard was a projection like the Watcher and Cho-Je? Or do other people have lives?

    • John Miller  December 22, 2012

      When I watched it back in the day, I thought the Valeyard would be revealed to be an old mate of Hedin and/or Borusa. Certainly not that “amalgamation” stuff.

  19. BWT  December 22, 2012

    The Doctor: “He has no concept of what justice is. He’d see me dead tomorrow.”
    Sue: “What’s wrong with today? Why wait?”

    Because he has to gloat. And that’s usually good for an episode or two…

    Sue: “Oh, it’s Eddie Yeats. A posh Eddie Yeats. That makes my head hurt even more than the stuff with the Valeyard. Which I still don’t get by the way.”
    Yes, Eddie/Onslow/Twiggy is the best thing about this segement – he is sublime. I always liked him.

    Sue: “He finally made it to Blackpool.”
    I’ve been to Blackpool. In the middle of August. That was Sue being kind, it was freezing. And…

    Grabbing hands emerge from the sand to ensnare the Doctor. Sue: “Just when you thought it was safe to go to the beach, a generation of children are traumatised. It’s good, though. A proper, scary cliffhanger for a change.”
    If that had happened to me in Blackpool I’d have been extremely thankful. However, it didn’t and I can still smell the B&B I stayed in…

    Yes, I love these final two episodes – especially the mindfuckuppery of the Fantasy Factory, the surrealism of the office/beach, and, as mentioned earlier, the wonderful Mr Geoffrey Hughes. It really was better than anyone could have hoped for under the circumstances of it’s creation…

  20. Ollie  December 22, 2012

    Whatever anyone here says The Trial of a Time Lord is on the whole shite and Colin Baker is far too fat and unattractive to effectively portray the Doctor…

    Enter the REAL MCCOY….

    Merry Christmas to my dear Neil, Sue and all the readers. MWAHX.

    • John Callaghan  December 22, 2012

      Despite the fact I’m a veritable god in human form, causing tears of awed joy in those who behold my noble brow, I once again feel I should speak up and declare that there’s nothing wrong with looking normal. I don’t think he’s too fat and unattractive, as it happens, but even if he was he’d still have a place on my screen.

  21. Tim  December 22, 2012

    This is the most fussy thing I’ve ever written, but I saw this season recently and loved it, so:

    You can’t get the average by adding 6+8+7+5 and dividing by 4 to get 6.5. You need to do a weighted mean, as the lowest of those scores is for 2/14 episodes and the other three are for 4/14.

    The average is ( (6 x 4)+(8 x 4)+(7 x 4)+(5 x 2) ) / 14. Or (24 + 32 + 28 + 10) / 14. Or 94 / 14, or 6.71.

    So she like the season .2 points more than expected!

    Sorry

    • Neil Perryman  December 22, 2012

      Wow, I was miles out.

    • John Miller  December 22, 2012

      It is needlessly fussy. If you’re that obsessed, what’s wrong with simply doubling the first 3, then dividing by 7? 12+16+14+5=47. 47/7=6.71

      • BWT  December 22, 2012

        God, my brain hurts…

    • Dave Sanders  December 22, 2012

      I an reminded of an Eddie Izzard line: “Captain Kirk, we’re going to die in point two of a second.”

  22. John G  December 22, 2012

    “She’s an illusion, you fool. She can’t be the real thing because she isn’t over-acting.”

    Ouch, harsh but fair, I think. Bonnie is rather irritating in this segment, as Sue earlier observed with the “getting at the dirt” line, but in fairness this was the first thing she filmed for Who and it’s not as if she had much character to work with…

    Overall, I think these two episodes work surprisingly well, given the chaos behind the scenes at the time. Holmes is back on form in part 13, and it is very sad he did not live long enough to complete the story. Pip and Jane, considering the time pressure they were under, actually do a creditable job for the most part on the concluding instalment, creating a nicely bizarre atmosphere and piling up the twists, even if some of these are laughable (I particularly dislike the Valeyard’s pointless survival at the end, which feels like an incredibly unsatisfying full stop to a 14-episode story arc). It’s not exactly an ideal way for Colin’s tenure to end, but it is at least quite entertaining even if ultimately it makes little real sense.

    Anyway, another thoroughly enjoyable post and some great reactions from an increasingly bewildered Sue. She will certainly have plenty of juicy material to work with in Season 24, but I trust the pair of you will have a much-deserved Christmas break first…

    • Warren Andrews  December 22, 2012

      Bonnie says on the Time and the Rani commentary that she didn’t realise that she was the only companion to not get a proper intro story until it pointed out to her. She said that put things into perspective for her. She said she was always trying to find a hook for the character and look for extra but there wasn’t anything there. She said she was clueless how to play the character much of the time. She was badly served by most of the directors, who just left her to it (Ken Dodd had a similar complaint – saying he was so nervous on Delta and the Bannermen but nobody said anything to him so he didn’t know if what he was doing was right or wrong – as a director Chris Clough is a much better producer:))

      Bonnie is terrible in the episode 13 trial scenes but then so is Selby. Everyone is projecting to the BBC Canteen and beyond. That awful courtroom set encouraged stagey performances. Bonnie is much better in episode 14 where the Vervoids dynamic with Colin starts to take shape.

      • Chris  December 22, 2012

        A sign of how clueless the production team was at this moment in time (and why I can’t blame Bonnie for anything) is that Mel is introduced in a story about deadly killer plants immediately AFTER the “botany student” companion exits the series! If ever there was a story tailor-made for botanist Peri, it’s Vervoids, yet it’s the first story made AFTER Peri’s gone. That shows how nobody had a clue what they were doing by this point, and if Peri is still largely a cipher for them after three years, what could Langford be expected to do with the even more cipher-ous Mel?

  23. Mister  December 22, 2012

    As for Peri and Yrcanos. It’s more believable then Leela and Andred. At least you saw some kind of connection between the two.

  24. Ryan Hall  December 22, 2012

    Can you imagine what Frobisher would of looked like in the tv show back then…..proberly best not…but i think that character would of been brillant to see on tv and even brought some popularity back to it…but i guess the hatred for K9′s character JNT had kinda ment it would of been the last thing he would of wanted anywere near the tv show at the time.

  25. Longtime Listener  December 23, 2012

    So far nobody seems to have raised the big question that’s concerning me – does throwing a cushion at the television count towards the running total, or is it only spouse-to-spouse missiles that qualify?

  26. Jesse  December 23, 2012

    Glitz: Phase three, four, five and six. All the secrets of the Matrix.
    Popplewick: Not all. The primitive phases one and two have been relegated to the archives.
    Sue: That’s a dig at the BBC for losing the black and white episodes, isn’t it? Was Ian Levine still hanging around the show at this point?

    I’m kind of stunned at how bizarrely credible this idea actually is. Six phases for six Doctors with the first two “unavailable”. And the Matrix secrets do seem to be kept on videotape, don’t they?

    • Bernard  December 23, 2012

      i thought that was actually quite obvious., But its been strangely overlooked in any review i’ve ever read in the last 25 years. It implies the Doctor’s history was a valuable commodity which is quite a new Who concept.

  27. Bernard  December 23, 2012

    i can’t fault an episode from which I nabbed my gallifreybase handle: Megabyte_Modem.

  28. Paul Mudie  January 3, 2013

    Considering how demoralised the creative team must have been at this point, I suppose we should be amazed and grateful that this season’s finale wasn’t a TOTAL wreck. However, I still find Mel hard to watch, Peri’s departure was horribly undermined, the existence of the Valeyard leaves some very sticky continuity problems that Steven Moffat (or his successor) will have to make sense of, and worst of all, the sixth Doctor’s era will always feel unfinished.

    • Robert Dick  January 4, 2013

      He/Whoever doesn’t *have* to make sense of it. After all these years I can’t imagine they’ll give it a second thought.

      • Paul Mudie  January 4, 2013

        I could be wrong, but I suspect Moffat is too much of a fanboy to just sweep it under the carpet.