Monday, 10 June 2013

The Trial Of A Time Lord 6: Mindwarp, Part Two

Originally Broadcast 11th October 1986

Written by: Philip Martin

In a nutshell: Struggling with amnesia, the Doctor has to watch the events of the Matrix with no knowledge of the deadly developments to come.

Review: Something I didn’t pick up on in the previous part and, I don’t think, in Vengeance On Varos, is the make-up job on Sil. He’s one of the most convincing aliens in the series purely because of the correct mix between costume/make-up and the actor in the part. I love Sil and, even if the story isn’t right, he had to make a come back being so successful.

I love Brian Blessed, (if anyone’s seen him host Have I Got News For You you’ll think the same), but he just irritates me here. All he does is shout his lines so I’m constantly playing with the volume, trying to turn it down before he speaks but back up when someone else talks. Why was he given so many lines? I think Blessed is a good choice to be in Doctor Who, especially 1980s Who, but the way he plays it just doesn’t work.

This episode really starts to up the ante for the trial in the best way possible. The Doctor admits he can’t remember anything from the events of the Mindwarp adventure. The way it’s played is just brilliant, the stakes are really raised through it and the Valeyard tells us something bad is coming. That’s just what is needed at this almost-half point to the serial. This is where the story could start becoming old and a bit weak, but this is exactly what was needed to bring the excitement back up.

Nothing like a good bit of torture and purple water in Doctor Who!
What else really helps make this serial brilliant is the Doctor. The scary episodes are always the ones where we can’t rely on the Doctor, as it shows the audience and companion how much we need him. With the Doctor’s mind not quite right in this episode, he becomes scary and unreliable for us as a hero, but what makes this worse is we can see his reactions to it in the courtroom. It takes full advantage of the troubling situation of having to use the trial room in between the main action and uses it to scare the audience and show us how bad things really are for the Doctor and Peri.

This episode is really Peri’s story. She is stuck by herself with nobody to help her. When you can’t rely on the Doctor and you’re on an alien planet in the middle of danger, what can you do? This episode definitely makes the audience side with the Valeyard and agree the Doctor does put his companions in trouble too often. The tides are turning and suddenly the audience are against the Doctor. The one downside is how often the characters tell us the Matrix can’t lie, it’s giving the game away a little. If it was said once, it’d be good, but to put it in three times and throw it in the audiences’ face is just foolish. Silly Eric Saward!

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