Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Trial Of A Time Lord 4: The Mysterious Planet, Part Four

Originally Broadcast 27th September 1986

Written by: Robert Holmes

In a nutshell: The Immortal plans to destroy, possibly, the entire universe with a black light explosion just to keep himself alive.

Review: This final part of the first segment of TTOATL really pulls itself up a level after the tedious third episode. Here the stakes are raised, mainly due to some poor exposition given to the Doctor, as he has to keep telling us the importance and danger of a black light explosion. It does work, however, and the threat suddenly feels real with Colin B there to create the right atmosphere and tension. He even blatantly has to throw himself to the floor a couple of times due to Drathro’s bulky costume not being that great to bat away Time Lords with.

Glitz and Dibber also redeem themselves and become an instrumental part of the mission to stop the Immortal but it’s the death of Joan Sims’ Katryca that is the most gruesome and effective. The make-up job on her as she’s dying is brilliantly scary and makes the sacrifice a memorable moment to the story and even the twins(?) provide a strong character story here as they try to escape. I quite like them in this episode as they don’t get a lot of irritating squabbling dialogue and are, instead, looking for a route to get away and, happily, they succeed.

I don't remember that happening in the Carry On movies...
Parts of the courtroom are livening up as well now, as mysteries are beginning to pop up as the Valeyard withholds some information, although it’s not nice as the Doctor seems to be being ignored. I feel like we’re not really getting how big the stakes are from Lynda Bellingham’s Inquisitor because, after all, the Valeyard can keep threatening death to the Doctor but he doesn’t get the final word. There are a few pointless scraps here, as usual, but I really feel as if these interruptions are picking up a bit. Annoyingly, the cliffhanger was exactly the same as the one from part two, even using the same close-up zoom into Colin’s face. Shall we place bets on how many more times we’ll see this?

Finally, I have to point out the silliness of the green goop landing in Balazar’s face, which is just really childish and silly and just grates on me. It feels really out of place, especially as this episode is all about setting up the dangerous tone of the plot. Maybe this wouldn’t have felt as out of place in, say, part two or three but here it’s a no-go area.

After witnessing the first section of TTOATL, it proves the show isn’t stale and certainly shouldn’t be axed yet. I feel the hiatus may have done it good, as the whole thing has a grand scale of epicness which makes even the boring bits feel more important than they should be. I can’t wait for the next storyline, which runs across episodes five through eight. I hope it carries the same level of danger and, providing Colin has some nice dialogue, it should be another strong outing for the sixth Doctor, who continues to shine in this story despite maybe coming in for too harsh criticism over the long hiatus of the show. Roll on Mindwarp!

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