Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Trial Of A Time Lord 2: The Mysterious Planet, Part Two

Originally Broadcast 13th September 1986
Written by: Robert Holmes

In a nutshell: The Valeyard demands the Doctor’s sentence be death as events surrounding the mysterious planet deepen.

Review: OK, so the episode ending to part one was a little dramatic with nothing really happening on the other side of it, but it was still cool and made an impact, right? I’m expecting the same for the cliffhanger to this episode also, which had the brilliant line “I think this really could be the end” despite this being the Doctor’s past, so he can’t die. Remember, we’re in the pre-“time can be rewritten” days of the Time Lord and he’s watching an old story himself, so crisis averted and I can now sleep peacefully before the next episode.

There’s no denying this episode isn’t as strong nor as atmospheric as the first part, but it’s still exciting and contains a big dollop of humour courtesy, I think, of Michael Grade who demanded less violence (just a stoning) and more humour. Talking of the stoning, I would’ve thought if a rock hit the Doctor in the face it would leave a mark?

A stoned Doctor but don't you love the hand-on-hip acting from the guard on the left.
I’m still really impressed by Colin Baker’s performance, I actually think this is one of his strongest stories (The Mysterious Planet, not TTOATL) and Holmes writes his Doctor really well. There’s a lot of jokes and funny moments for him as well as the serious side his Doctor carried too much in his first series. The only problem with old Sixey is the Valeyard jokes, something I know even the cast despised. We’re only in episode two and they’re already grating on me! How many can there be?

Peri gets to shine more in this instalment than in the previous, standing up for her feminine beliefs, although these could have been dealt with even stronger than they are here, although Peri’s side is made pretty clear and convincingly. The strange thing about this episode is the pace, it feels like we’re moving pretty quickly, especially when all our heroes were escaping at once. The rushing around didn’t feel like the halfway mark of the story, it felt like we were approaching its end. That’s a brilliant bit of work and I just pray it doesn’t feel like the stories nearing its end because nothing happens for the next two episodes. I don’t believe that. I have faith in Robert Holmes!

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