Monday, 10 June 2013

The Trial Of A Time Lord 5: Mindwarp, Part One

Originally Broadcast 4th October 1986

Written by: Philip Martin

In a nutshell: The Doctor and Peri arrive on Thoros Beta as the trial to prove the Doctor’s guilt continues.

Review: As the production team laugh at their ability to reuse the opening model shot, the second segment of TTOATL gets underway with the Doctor’s most recent adventure. At long last the Inquisitor is getting to grips with the petty annoyances of the courtroom, such as the Doctor’s interruptions, the squabbling between the Valeyard and the Doctor and the irritating name changes for the Valeyard.

It is a nice little introduction to this story and a very clever idea to have us watch the adventure the Doctor and Peri had immediately before being taken out of time and space for the trial. I also like how there are still unanswered questions from The Mysterious Planet. Nevertheless, the court scenes are interrupting too much, I want to watch either the current adventure or the courtroom scenes. Both are interesting, but cut together they pull at each other too much. I can’t get lost in one story when the other is jumping in my face. It’s taken six minutes (a quarter of the episode) and the Doctor and Peri are still walking on the beach before the adventure starts. Get a move on, Doc!

I’m not sure this is great Doctor Who, but I can’t help getting lost in it. Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are so good together, adding in little jokes here and there, such as the monsters falling in love with Peri. The two work so well, they really capture the viewer in the narrative, making even the scary bits come across as fun and fascinating. I could watch the two forever, it’s a shame they don’t have more time together onscreen.

Sil's back! You've got to love him.
I’m not sold by Brian Blessed in this episode, who just feels like he has no idea where he is. Maybe he’s stuck in Flash Gordon mode and wants to play everything the same. THE DOCTOR’S ALIVE! Meanwhile, kudos has to go to Thomas Branch for playing the dog/man, who does so with great confidence and sincerity. Doctor Who is made up of people doing silly things that they play for real and that is no more evident than here.

Away from this and Sil’s back! I love Sil and Nabil Shaban plays the part so well, especially that infamous laugh. The only problem is when we have Sil and Kiv in a long conversation with each other, it doesn’t really work and some of the dialogue gets lost along the way, I wouldn’t have picked up they were talking about Brian Blessed unless I’d known the character name before I started the episode.

The ending to part one (or five, if you will), is one of those strange ones that doesn’t really do much until you come back and see the affects in the next episode, so let’s venture into part six/two and see how the Doctor fares!

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