Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Trial Of A Time Lord 12: Terror Of The Vervoids, Part Four


Originally Broadcast 22nd November 1986

Written by: Pip & Jane Baker

In a nutshell: The Hyperion III has been hijacked, the Vervoids are on the loose and there’s still a murderer to catch. Can the Doctor solve everything and save the day in time?

Review: Despite the rather inappropriate face, the Vervoid costume is actually pretty impressive. It’s believable, well built and flexible. At the start of this episode they move about quite a bit, even crawl into a ventilation shaft and the actors seem to be able to do it with ease. Also, on the case of costumes, is it just me or do the Mogarians remind anyone of puttys or other ‘henchmen’ from Power Rangers?

Mel seems to have something decent to do this time around as well, when she has an independent task to work on to save the day she’s really strong but, sadly, the rest of the time, when she’s not doing this the writers have to rely on her screaming because they don’t know what else she can do.

The ten minute hijacking of the Hyperion III doesn’t really add anything here other than killing a bit of time and a couple more cast members in its fall out. It is played fairly well and I did enjoy the scenes, but it did really just amount to ten minutes of time with no developments to the ultimate denouement. I really like the interaction between the Doctor and Mel straight after this has ended though, they have a fun little scene about trying to find the missing tape and it really shows the connection between Baker and Langford which is really needed as Bonnie’s only on her fourth episode. I wonder how much or little the audience had warmed to her by this point. I’m a big fan of her already but only when she’s given the right material which isn’t often. Maybe this impaired the audiences’ opinion of her?

A pretty decent effect for the Vervoids.
The plot here is actually brilliant once revealed. The plant-like Vervoids need to destroy the ‘animal’ humans because animals will, eventually, need to eat plants to survive. The Vervoids are acting out of fear. It’s a brilliant reveal and very much one the audience can relate to, even thirty years later, meaning it is one of those stories where the logic behind the monsters will always be relevant to today. It does go a little silly when we have the Doctor explaining the ‘human compost heap’ though.

Sadly before the end we need another scream from Mel in some confused directing where it appears she screams at the sight of a Vervoid, which she’s been spotting for the past three episodes so their appearance shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ignoring this, there’s some pretty effective effects work as we witness the Vervoids disintegrating and blowing away. And then we get a horrible transition shot of the leaves in the Doctors hand.

There’s some awkward dialogue as the Doctor and Mel leave the ship in the TARDIS but then we get back to the trial room with a fantastic scene with the Doctor really putting his foot in it! The ending here really does fire up the level of tension ready for the final two parts to this season-long epic and I can’t wait to get to The Ultimate Foe…

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