Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Trial Of A Time Lord 8: Mindwarp, Part Four

Originally Broadcast 25th October 1986

Written by: Philip Martin

In a nutshell: The Doctor is in a race against time to save Peri, but can even he save his companion this time?

Review: Well that brilliant and shocking cliffhanger was a big waste of time, wasn’t it? To have the companion killed then the Valeyard say “oh, she isn’t dead” is pathetic. I know these kind of thins happen often with ‘set to stun’ and other excuses, but it really is a cheat. Instead, we’re still staying still with little plot developments. There’s been a lot of building up and there’s only twenty minutes left for it to be paid off in.

There’s a nice heartfelt moment for Peri as she realises she wants to leave. This has been building slightly since the opening of The Mysterious Planet and it reaches its head here. I know she hasn’t really had time to stop and reflect in Mindwarp before now, but it would’ve been good if the writers had tried to squeeze it in somewhere before the opening of the final part, just to build it up a little more.

The situation put before the Doctor here is quite morbid. He has to quickly find a suitable body to put Kiv’s mind into before Peri is used. Not exactly a heroes quest, is it? But the Doctor’s quest is looking bleak, as Peri is discovered to be the perfect match. I like her spirit in this scene and the fact she says she won’t marry anyone. It’s become a bit of a running joke of Peri being married off or wanted by different alien races across the short time she’s been in the series.

There’a quite a bit of comedy being put into this episode, which is great, but I know it’s all to reassure the audience before the inevitable bloodshed starts. The scenes between Kiv and Sil have a lot of comedic lines as do the scenes between the Doctor and Brian Blessed. Even Peri gets a funny line or two despite being strapped down to a table and then gagged. It’s kind of scary, actually, because I’m having fun watching this but we’ve had three episodes building up to a big fight and that has to happen now. Martin really is playing with emotions here and it’s horribly effective.

More zoom-in acting with a tear as the Doctor looses his best friend.
Dorf had to die, I think, to up the stakes and make us feel a bit more emotion but Peri can’t die! I’m getting a real sense of a race against time here, more so than in any Doctor Who prior to this episode. The Doctor really could fail here, Peri’s already had her head shaven and she wants to leave. But the Doctor has to get there in time, doesn’t he?

The last five minutes are all a jumble. The Time Lords intervened and ruined everything! Or was it the Doctor who ruined it all? Peri dead? The Doctor on a rampage as we head towards the cliffhanger, ready for the third segement. These last five minutes are some of the most shocking and dramatic in all the years of Doctor Who and has changed the Doctor for the worse. I’d hate to be anyone in that courtroom after he discovered the High Council had Peri assassinated.

I’m not over the loss of Peri yet but we’re now over halfway through the journey through The Trial Of A Time Lord and it’s too difficult to pick out a better segment. The Mysterious Planet had a much better story and was more fun, more funny and had lots more story to get lost in whilst Mindwarp spent three and a half episodes building to one of the most horrific scenes in the show. At the moment I have to say Mindwarp is better just because of the impact and loss I’m feeling over the dramatic final five minutes. I’m not sure how Terror Of The Vervoids can possibly beat anything we’ve witnessed here. Poor Peri. And Colin Baker delivering the line “you...killed Peri” is just heartbreaking. A splendid performance from the sixth Doctor and a horrible and scary way to end what’s been a scary and unreliable storyline.

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