A visibly upset Doctor prepares to mount his defence.
Sue: I can’t believe they killed Peri. The bastards!
The Doctor’s evidence takes places in the future and revolves around the intergalactic liner Hyperion III.
Sue: That’s a nice shape for a spaceship. Very curvy.
One of the final passengers to check-in is Professor Lasky.
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, even though the man strenuously denies it.
Me: Do you recognise the man with the beard from Brookside?
Sue: Look, 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 love a nice two-tiered set, although I reckon they’re still welding it together if their costumes are anything to go by.
Meanwhile the Doctor and his faithful companion Melanie Bush are working up a sweat on the TARDIS.
Sue: EH? WHAT? Who the hell is 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: But that doesn’t make any sense. If he has a future, it means he must get off at the end of his trial. So this is a huge spoiler.
Me: This is from a possible future where he wins the trial. Probably. Try not to think about it too much.
Sue: So is this like River Song, then? We don’t see their first meeting until much later on? Is that it? Is this where the Moff got the idea?
Me: Wait and see. Oh, and one more 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 her now, either, but I’m willing to give her a go.
A man named Edwardes is monitoring the ship’s communications array 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 with a knife.
Sue: Forget that, I can’t believe she put his coffee down next to that expensive equipment. If I caught my students with drinks in the edit suites, I’d fail them on the spot. It’s a Health and Safety nightmare.
Back on the TARDIS, the Doctor swears that too much carrot juice can turn your vision red.
Sue: You really begin to notice the extra weight when he takes his coat off. I bet they had to let it out between stories.
Commodore Travers wants to know who attacked Edwardes in the communications room.
Sue: (Laughing) In the future we won’t hide our shoulder pads under our clothes, we’ll stick ‘em on top!
Travers thinks it was an inside job.
Sue: He reminds me of an elderly Pierce Brosnan. He even sounds like an elderly Pierce Brosnan. Seriously, this is what Pierce Brosnan will look like when he’s totally had it.
It turns out that the Sixth Doctor and Commodore Travers are old friends.
Sue: Another person he’s already met and I know nothing about. It’s annoying.
Mel insists that they were responding to a Mayday call.
Sue: I like Mel. I thought she’d turn out to be a simpering mess but she looks like she can take care of herself, which is amazing really because there’s nothing on her. She’s a woman trapped in a girl’s body.
The ship’s hydroponic centre is home to several man-sized pods.
Sue: So this is going to be Alien on a cruise liner, is it? That could work, I suppose.
A Mogarian takes some silver seeds from a jar.
Sue: Are they the coins for the electricity meter?
Me: No, 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’re thinking of the Gaim, named after Neil Gaiman, who now writes for Doctor Who. It’s a small universe.
Mel cajoles the Doctor into investigating the mystery that’s currently unfolding on the liner.
Sue: Mel is very proactive, she can’t wait to get stuck in. I’m just worried that she could be anorexic. I’ve seen more fat on Lena Zavaroni. She seems to have a nice relationship with the Doctor, though, which makes for a change. Yeah, I like her.
Mel visits the gym.
Sue: Ah, now this explains everything. She’s a health nut. Aerobics was massive in the 1980s. Olivia Newton-John, the Green Goddess, the other one…
Professor Lasky is already crunching her abs when Mel arrives to lose what little fat she has left.
Sue: What the hell is she listening to? The Bontempi Workout? What a racket!
We are told the ship’s security officer, Rudge, is due to retire immediately after this voyage.
Sue: He is so dead.
The Doctor decides to take a non-provocative stroll around the deck.
Sue: Spoilsport. I wanted to see him take a provocative stroll around the deck.
After a member of the crew is murdered, the Commodore helpfully points out that whenever the Doctor appears, 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 didn’t know if he had the right to kill all the Daleks or not? That would have swung it for him. Because this isn’t doing him any favours at all.
A scientist named Bruchner tells Professor Lasky he’s concerned about their isolation room’s security measures.
Sue: Bruce Grobbelaar has really let himself go.
Meanwhile 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? Surely he’s seen this before? Oh, this is making my head hurt.
Mel wants to visit the hydroponic centre, but when Edwardes gives her a guided tour, he is electrocuted and all hell breaks loose.
Sue: Nice cliffhanger.
Me: I’m pretty sure Bonnie’s scream is in the same key as the theme music.
Sue: Yeah, it’s in the key of AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
And then, as the credits roll…
Sue: I enjoyed that. I really like Bonnie Langford’s character. Don’t look at me like that, Neil.
The Valeyard blames the Doctor for putting Mel in harm’s way.
Sue: She’s an adult. The Doctor can’t be held responsible for everything she does. Should he go to the toilet with her, just in case she falls into the bowl and drowns? She is small enough, after all.
The Hyperion’s crew suspects Mel of killing Edwardes.
Sue: Have you seen the size of her? She’d have her work cut out killing a fly.
The Doctor shows Professor Lasky a handful of seeds he found in a wrecked cabin. She accuses him of stealing them.
Sue: She reminds me of that deaf woman from 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 even so.
Two Mogarians are playing a computer game in the Hyperion’s passenger lounge.
Sue: We had that exact same game. Do you remember it, Neil? Ours was on a flat tabletop. You must remember it, Neil. You went mental when you found out I’d sold it to the rag and bone man.
Mel stops the Doctor from snacking on a biscuit.
Sue: He is so under her thumb. I love it!
The Mogarians demand to know why Travers has suddenly changed the liner’s course.
Sue: His light doesn’t come on when he talks, which means his batteries must be dead. Didn’t anybody on the production team notice that at the time?
The Doctor did. We know this because he spends the next five minutes explaining to us how the Mogarian couldn’t possibly be a real Mogarian because his light didn’t work.
Sue: Wow. They really dragged that out. If Sherlock did it like that, every episode would be six hours long. And how smug was the Doctor just then?
Mel and the Doctor discuss their next move.
Sue: Actors with permed hair shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near Chromakey. There should be a law against it.
The Doctor compares Mel to an elephant.
Sue: Unbelievable… This is very badly written, Neil. It’s a shame really, because the premise is okay.
Sue glimpses a Vervoid hiding in a ventilator shaft.
Sue: Is that a flower? Wait a minute, the bad guy is a flower?
Me: (As Peter Gabriel) A FLOWER?
Kimber is killed in his own bathroom, just as Janet arrives with some light refreshments.
Sue: She’s brought him his bubbly milk.
The Vervoid turns on the shower to distract her.
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 Hyperion’s isolation room – every cruise liner should have one – and they discover a woman in a coffin with unnatural growths all over her face.
Sue: The make-up is excellent. It’s pretty good, this. It’s basically Alien meets Agatha Christie meets The Love Boat. I’m really enjoying it. It’s the best part of the trial so far.
The trial scenes are beginning to bore Sue senseless.
Sue: That interruption was completely pointless. Pointless, I tell you!
Mel eavesdrops on Rudge and Janet.
Sue: She’s the world’s tiniest detective. Peri would usually stumble into trouble but Bonnie actively seeks it out. I like that about her.
When a security guard investigates a rattling ventilator grill, Sue gets her first proper look at a Vervoid.
Sue: There’s something really disturbing about its face… I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Give it time.
Sue: Is it just me or are they a bit… you know… rude?
As she mulls that over, Sue suddenly feels 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 debate the ethics of their obscene experiment.
Sue: (Laughing) Well, it’s definitely obscene! What were you thinking?
Bruchner goes apeshit and attacks Lasky. And then the Vervoids take care of Bruchner.
Sue: I can’t tell which sexual organ they remind me of the most. Plants can be hermaphrodites, so that makes sense, I suppose. 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, 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, I suppose.
Me: I know! It’s Honor Blackman!
Bruchner steers the ship towards a black hole.
Sue: Nice cliffhanger.
But it isn’t the cliffhanger – the Doctor has to explain to everybody what’s happening first: they’re heading for the Black Hole of Tartarus.
Sue: The Black Hole of Tartarus… Isn’t that a Russian prostitute?
Sue: This version of the theme music is really doing my head in now. It’s this bit here – the bit where the title comes in – that I hate the most. It sounds like This Is Your Life.
The liner is buffeted by the black hole’s gravity well.
Sue: This has 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 doesn’t help anybody else. However, don’t worry…
Sue: Daft Punk will save the day.
And then, just when we think it’s all over, Rudge pulls a gun on everybody else.
Sue: I’m sure he’s holding an upside down multi-angle screwdriver.
Rudge and the Mogarians hi-jack the ship.
Sue: Are they the ones controlling the plants?
Rudge is hi-jacking the Hyperion III for the money.
Sue: Well, I didn’t expect that. I thought he’d end up being killed doing something really heroic on his last day at work. I bet his pension is really shit. That would explain why he didn’t take early retirement.
The Mogarians are overpowered when some liquid is thrown into their faces.
Sue: What kind of helmets are those? Useless!
Rudge throws a tantrum and runs off.
Rudge runs into a Vervoid and is immediately killed.
Sue: He’s definitely on gardening leave now.
The Doctor pulls a gun on another scientist named Doland.
Me: I’m surprised the Valeyard hasn’t interrupted this to criticise the Doctor for picking up another weapon.
Sue: He probably thinks he’s going to put some shelves up with it.
Doland wants to use the Vervoids as slave labour.
Sue: Oh, I thought they were going to cure world hunger by making huge salads out of them.
When 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 try to enter the passenger lounge but Janet manages to keep them at bay.
Sue: They had better give her a raise after this.
Travers plunges the Hyperion into darkness and the emergency lighting bathes the ship in an eerie red glow.
Sue: This isn’t exactly helping. It only makes the Vervoids look ruder.
The Doctor defeats the Vervoids with vionesium, a substance that accelerates their life cycle.
Sue: So they’re not perennials, then?
The Doctor is very upset about this.
Sue: He does have this nasty habit of killing things. He should turn over a new leaf. New leaf. Do you get it, Neil?
The Doctor and Mel bid farewell to Travers and Janet, the only two crew members left alive, which should make for an interesting journey home.
Sue: Mel’s a bit too confident if you ask me. She’s a little bit cocky. That could be annoying after a while.
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?
Sue: There were 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 all over the place, but I liked the premise and 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 should have shown 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 brilliant it could be again. They really missed a trick, there.