The Doctor weeds his case…
A visibly upset Doctor prepares to mount his defence.
Sue: I can’t believe they killed Peri. The bastards.
The Doctor: My excursion will be into the future.
Sue: I thought the last one was set in the future? It didn’t look very historical to me.
She doesn’t get it. Not yet.
The Doctor’s evidence revolves around the intergalactic liner Hyperion III…
Sue: That’s a very nice shape for a spaceship. Very curvy.
The final passengers are checking-in, including Professor Lasky, who’s lost her luggage.
Sue: Oh, it’s a Bond girl. One of the really famous ones.
Me: So famous you can’t remember her name.
An elderly gentleman named Kimber thinks he recognises one of the passengers but the man strenuously denies it.
Me: Do you recognise the man with the beard from Brookside? Actually, I think he was in it before I met you, when you didn’t watch it.
Sue: I don’t care who he is, he can’t act for toffee.
The bearded man heads for the liner’s cargo hold…
Sue: I like the camera movement a lot, and I do like a nice two-tiered set. I think they’re still welding it together if their costumes are anything to go by.
Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, the Doctor and his faithful companion Melanie Bush are working up a sweat…
Sue: EH? Who’s that? And how did she get in the TARDIS? Have I missed something? Is the Matrix lying again?
I pause the DVD.
Me: When the Doctor said his evidence was from the future, he was talking about his own future. This hasn’t happened to him yet.
Sue: That doesn’t make any sense. If he has a future, it means he has to get off at the end of the trial. This is a spoiler. And I thought he would be found guilty at the end and have to regenerate. That is disappointing.
Me: This is from a possible future where he wins the trial. Probably. Try not to think about it too much.
Sue: Right… So is this like River Song? We won’t see their first meeting until much later on? Is that it? Is this where the Moff got the idea from?
Me: Wait and see. Oh, one last thing before we carry on. You do know who that actress is, don’t you?
Sue: Of course I do. It’s Bonnie Langford. I hated her when she was a child star. All that bloody screaming. I can’t say I’m thrilled about this, but I’ll try to give her the benefit of the doubt.
When we resume, a man named Edwardes is monitoring the ship’s communications when Janet the stewardess (“No, Sue, I don’t think it’s a metatextual thing”) brings him some coffee.
Me: You can cut the sexual tension in this scene with a knife.
Sue: Sod that. I can’t believe she’s put his coffee next to that expensive equipment. If I caught my students with drinks in their edit suites, I’d fail them on the spot. It’s a Health and Safety nightmare.
Back on the TARDIS, the Doctor believes that too much carrot juice has turned his vision red.
Sue: That would explain Bonnie’s hair. When the Doctor has his coat off, you really do begin to notice the extra weight. I bet they had to let his coat out between stories.
On the bridge of the Hyperion III, Commodore Travers wants to know who attacked Edwardes in the communications room.
Sue: In the future, we won’t hide our shoulder pads under our clothes, we’ll stick ‘em on top.
Travers believes it was probably an inside job.
Sue: He reminds me of an elderly Pierce Brosnan. He even sounds like an old Pierce Brosnan. Seriously, this is what Pierce Brosnan will look like when he’s had it.
The Sixth Doctor and Commodore Travers are old friends.
Sue: Another person that he’s already met and I know nothing about. It’s annoying.
Mel insists to Travers that they were responding to a Mayday call.
Sue: I like Mel. I thought she’d be a simpering mess but she looks like she can take care of herself, which is amazing because there’s nothing on her. She’s a woman trapped in a girl’s body.
The ship’s hydroponic centre contains a number of man-sized pods…
Sue: OK, so this is going to be Alien on a cruise liner. That could work.
A Mogarian takes some silver seeds from a jar labeled ‘Demeter’. Sadly, Sue doesn’t see the complete label.
Sue: Are those coins for the electricity meter?
Me: Daft Punk are DJ-ing in the ballroom later.
Sue: Very funny. I like their masks. They are quite scary. They remind me of the aliens from Babylon 5.
Me: You are thinking of the Gaim, named after Neil Gaiman, who now writes for Doctor Who. It’s a small world.
Sue: It’s just like that Kevin Bacon advert, only geekier.
Mel cajoles the Doctor into investigating further…
Sue: She smiles like a horse, I’ll give you that, but she’s very good. She’s very proactive – she can’t wait to get stuck in. I’m just a bit worried that she looks so anorexic. I’ve seen more weight on Lena Zavaroni. Something tells me that we’ll never see her in a bikini. She seems to have a nice relationship with the Doctor, though, which makes a nice change. Yeah, I like her.
Mel visits the gym…
Sue: Ah, that explains it. She’s a health nut. Aerobics was a big thing in the eighties. Olivia Newton-John, the Green Goddess, the other one.
Cathy Cale aka Pussy Galore aka Honour Blackman aka Professor Lasky is already crunching her abs when Mel arrives to lose what little fat she has left.
Sue: What on Earth is she listening to? Is it the Bontempi Workout? What a racket.
The ship’s security officer, Rudge, is due to retire after this voyage.
Sue: He is so dead.
The Doctor decides to take a non-provocative stroll around the deck.
Sue: Awww, I want to see him take a provocative stroll around the deck. Spoilsport.
A member of the crew has been murdered. The Commodore points out that whenever the Doctor appears on the scene, the corpses soon start piling up.
Sue: He does have a point. Why didn’t the Doctor just show the court that scene from Genesis of the Daleks where he’s doesn’t know if he has the right or not? That definitely would have swung it for him. This isn’t doing him any favours at all.
A scientist named Bruchner confers with Professor Lasky about the security of their isolation room.
Sue: Bruce Grobbelaar has really let himself go.
The Doctor ponders his next move.
Sue: This doesn’t make any sense. If he’s seen his own future in the Matrix, why doesn’t he remember who the killer is now? Surely he’s seen this before? It’s making my head hurt.
Mel decides to investigate the hydroponic centre. Edwardes is giving her a guided tour when he is electrocuted and all hell breaks loose.
Sue: Nice cliffhanger.
Me: I’m pretty sure that Bonnie’s scream is in the same key as the theme music.
Sue: Yeah, it’s in the key of AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
As the credits roll…
Sue: I enjoyed that. I really like Bonnie Langford’s character. Don’t look at me like that.top
Sue: So this is basically Day of the Triffids again? Are they the same killer plants as last time or are they different set of killer plants? No, don’t tell me.
The Valeyard blames the Doctor for placing Mel in harm’s way.
Sue: She’s an adult. He can’t be held responsible for everything she does. Should he go to the toilet with her, just in case she falls in and drowns? She’s small enough.
The Hyperion‘s crew suspect Mel of killing Edwardes.
Sue: What? Have you seen the size of her? She’d have her work cut out killing a fly.
But if Mel didn’t do it, who did?
Mel: The answer’s simple enough. You’ve got a killer on board.
Sue: She’s great. She’s a breath of fresh air.
Rudge investigates the isolation room.
Janet: What’s going on in there?
Rudge: Don’t ask me, I’m only the security officer.
Sue: How did he get so close to retirement without being sacked first?
The Doctor shows a handful seeds which he found in a wrecked cabin to Professor Lasky. She accuses him of stealing them.
Lasky: This man’s a thief!
Sue: She reminds me of the deaf woman in that Fawlty Towers episode. She’s very annoying.
The Doctor swallows one of the seeds.
Sue: Was that really such a good idea? He might end up with an alien plant bursting through his stomach. I know he wants to be a vegetarian but that’s going too far.
In the lounge, two Mogarians are engrossed in a computer game…
Sue: We had that exact same game. Do you remember it? Ours was on a flat table top. You must remember it, you went mental when I sold it.
Mel stops the Doctor from snacking on a biscuit.
Sue: He is so under her thumb. I love it.
The Mogarians question Travers about the liner’s change of course.
Sue: His light doesn’t come on when he talks. His batteries must be dead. Shoddy continuity again. Didn’t anyone notice?
The Doctor did. We know this because he spends the next five minutes explaining to us how the Mogarian couldn’t have been a real Mogarian because his light didn’t work.
Sue: They really dragged that out. If Sherlock did it like that, every episode would be six hours long. And how smug was the Doctor? That didn’t help.
Mel and the Doctor discuss their next move…
Sue: Actors with perms shouldn’t be allowed near CSO. There should be a law against it.
The Doctor compares Mel to an elephant.
Sue: Unbelievable. This is very badly written. It’s a shame really, because the premise is alright.
Sue glimpses a Vervoid hiding in a ventilator shaft.
Sue: Is it a flower? The bad guy is a flower?
Me: (as early Peter Gabriel) A FLOWER?
Meanwhile, Kimber is attacked and killed in his own bathroom. At the same moment, Janet arrives with some light refreshments.
Sue: She’s brought his bubbly milk.
The Vervoid turns on the shower.
Sue: Either that flower is very clever and it’s trying to keep Janet away, or it’s dying of thirst and it’s going to water itself.
The Doctor and Mel break into the isolation room – every cruise liner should have one – and they find a woman with strange growths all over her face lying in a coffin.
Sue: The make-up is excellent. It’s good, this. It’s Alien meets Agatha Christie meets The Love Boat. I’m really enjoying it. I think it’s the best part of the trial so far.top
Valeyard: Stop the Matrix. I fail to comprehend this evidence. The Doctor is on trial for his life, yet in his defence he presents us with a situation in which he is deliberately flouting accepted authority.
Sue: Just show them Genesis of the Daleks for pity’s sake. That’ll shut him up.
The trial scenes are beginning to bore her.
Sue: That interruption was completely pointless. Pointless.
Mel eavesdrops on Rudge and Janet…
Sue: She’s the world’s tiniest detective. Peri would stumble into trouble but Bonnie actively seeks it out. It’s good.
When a guard investigates a rattling ventilator grill, Sue gets her first good look at a Vervoid.
Sue: There’s something really disturbing about that face. I can’t put my finger on it…
Give it time.
Sue: This reminds me of the reception at the Crossroads Motel.
Me: You didn’t even watch Crossroads.
Sue: Not religiously, no. But I have seen it. You made me watch some DVDs once – don’t deny it – and it looked exactly like that.
Mel is attacked and placed in a wheelie bin. She is about to be incinerated with all the
other rubbish but the Doctor manages to save her in the nick of time.
The Doctor: Don’t throw the towel in, Mel.
Sue sings a comedy parp-parp version of the James Bond theme. You had to be there.
Sue: I hate it when he does that. It doesn’t suit him at all.
Finally, the Vervoids’ features ring an exceedingly large bell.
Sue: Is it just me, or are they a bit… you know… rude?
While she’s thinking that over, Sue also feels really bad for Janet.
Sue: Is she the only waitress on the whole ship? She must be run off her feet. When does she get a break?
Bruchner and Lasky argue about the ethics of their “obscene experiment”.
Sue: Yes, it is a bit rude. What were you thinking?
Bruchner goes apeshit and attacks Lasky, which shocked Sue a bit. He pushes his way past the Doctor as he runs off.
The Doctor: I didn’t even hear the dinner gong.
Sue: He is obsessed.
The Vervoids decide to take care of Bruchner.
Vervoid: We are unique, the only members of the Vervoid species. If he succeeds in eliminating us, Vervoids will cease to exist.
Sue: I can’t tell what sexual organ they remind me of the most. Plants can be hermaphrodites, so that makes sense. It’s just a shame their voices are so naff. They would be really scary if they just kept their mouths shut. You never see the aliens in Aliens chatting amongst themselves in a corridor, do you?
Lasky warns the Doctor that Bruchner has gone insane.
Sue: She’s quite good.
Me: Quite good? She’s Honor Blackman!
Sue: Yeah, she’s alright.
Me: She’s Honor Blackman!
Sue: She’s playing the part well.
Me: I know! It’s Honor Blackman!
Sue: OK, calm down. She’s no Diana Rigg, you know.
Bruchner commandeers the ship, which he then steers towards a black hole.
Sue: Nice cliffhanger.
It isn’t the cliffhanger. The Doctor has to tell the audience what’s happening first:
The Doctor: Your colleague is aiming the Hyperion III into the eye of the Black Hole of Tartarus!
Sue: The Black Hole of Tartarus. Isn’t that a Russian prostitute?top
Sue: This version of the theme music is really doing my head in. It’s this bit here – the bit when the title comes in – which I really hate the most. It sounds like This Is Your Life.
The liner is rocked by the black hole’s gravity well.
Sue: It’s turned into a really dry version of The Poseidon Adventure.
The Vervoids let off a stink bomb off on the bridge which overcomes Bruchner but it doesn’t help anyone else. But don’t worry…
Sue: Daft Punk will save the day.
Just when we think it’s over, Rudge pulls on a gun on everyone.
Sue: I’m sure that’s an upside down multi-angle screwdriver.
Rudge and the Mogarians hi-jack the ship.
Sue: Are they the ones controlling the plants?
Rudge hi-jacking the Hyperion III for the money.
Sue: His pension must be really shit, which probably explains why he didn’t take early retirement. I really didn’t expect that. I thought he would be killed doing something heroic on his last day at work.
The Mogarians are overcome when liquid is thrown into their faces.
Sue: What kind of helmets are those? Useless.
When Rudge realises that the game is up, he throws a little tantrum before running off.
Sue: That hi-jack was a complete waste of time. He was hopeless.
Rudge runs into a Vervoid and is killed.
Sue: He’s definitely on gardening leave now.
The Doctor questions a third scientist named Doland at gunpoint.
Me: I’m surprised the Valeyard hasn’t interrupted this to criticise the Doctor for brandishing a weapon.
Sue: He probably thinks he’s going to put some shelves up with it.
Doland plans to use the Vervoids as slave labour.
Sue: Oh, I thought they were going to make huge salads with them so they could cure world hunger.
The Doctor doesn’t believe that the Vervoids can be reasoned with. The plants will consume the animals.
Me: It’s just like The Happening. Only sillier.
Lasky tries to reason with her creations. They kill her.
Sue: Am I bothered? Not really.
Me: But it’s Honor Blackman!
Sue: She was completely wasted.
The Vervoids attempt to access the lounge but Janet keeps them at bay…
Sue: They’d better give her a raise after this.
Travers plunges the ship into darkness and the emergency lighting bathes everything in a red glow.
Sue: This isn’t helping. It’s making them look ruder.
The Doctor defeats the Vervoids with vionesium, a substance which accelerates their life cycle. The Vervoids wither and die.
Sue: They’re not perennials, then?
The Doctor is very sad.
Sue: He does have a nasty habit of killing things. He should turn over a new leaf. New leaf. Do you get it?
The Doctor and Mel bid Travers and Janet farewell, the only two crew members left alive, which should make for an interesting journey home.
Sue: Mel’s a bit too confident. A bit cocky. That could be annoying.
Back in the courtroom, the Valeyard seizes the opportunity to charge the Doctor with genocide.
Sue: The Doctor walked straight into that one. Of all the adventures to show in your defence, why pick one with a massive body count?top
The Final Score
Sue: There were a few too many plots going on in that final episode, but I still enjoyed it. I liked the design of the ship, the direction wasn’t too bad, and it kept me guessing all the way through. Some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy, and the acting was variable, but I liked the premise and the Mel was great.
Sue: If there’s one criticism I have with the trial so far, it’s the Doctor’s decision to show that story in his defence. He got it all wrong. What he should have done is this: he should have shown lots of clips from his past adventures. He should have presented us with a compilation of his best bits, especially all those times he’s saved the universe, not to mention Gallifrey.
Me: You want The Trial of a Time Lord to be a clip show?
Sue: Not all of it, but some of it, yes. It would show the audience how brilliant Doctor Who was and how it could be again. They really missed a trick, there.
The experiment continues…
We’ve almost reached the end of another era and I hope to post Sue’s appraisal of Colin Baker on Christmas Eve. If you have a question you would like to ask Sue about this phase of the experiment, please send them via this form before Saturday 22nd December. I’ll put the best 10 questions to the wife and the very best one (chosen by Sue) will win something nice and non-specific. By the way, we definitely have enough questions about his costume now, so we don’t need any more of those, thanks.
Please don’t post your questions on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments section of this blog as I’ll only be considering questions posted via that form. It’s the only way I can keep track of them. Many thanks.
Next update due: Saturday 22nd December
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).