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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > British TV > Doctor Who: The Trial Of A Time Lord (BBC DVD Set)

Doctor Who: The Trial Of A Time Lord (BBC DVD Set)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-    Extras: A+     Episodes: A

Colin Baker's years playing Doctor Who spanned 1984 - 1986 and encompassed what some Who fans consider a down period for the perennial BBC TV favorite.  The Trial of a Time Lord boxed set covers stories144 - 147, and offers some of the best Colin Baker Who material to be found on DVD.  These four stories link to form a cohesive whole wherein the Doctor finds himself on trial before his fellow Time Lords for crimes he did not commit.  These episodes make up the entire 23rd season of Doctor Who's august history.

Story 144, "The Mysterious Planet" features the Doctor on trial, setting up the story structure for the rest of the episodes and the other stories, as he and his fellow Time Lords view past and future events through the Matrix, a repository of all of their race's advanced knowledge and experience.  In the story proper the Doctor and companion Peri (Nicola Bryant) must tackle troubles on a strange planet that bears a strong resemblance to Earth.  There the seeds of future trouble are sewn by intergalactic criminal Sabalom Glitz (wonderfully played by Tony Selby).

Story 145, "Mindwarp" advances the trial of the Doctor as his main accuser, fellow Time Lord the Valeyard (Michael Jayston), explores the events on planet Thoros Beta, where the doctor matches wits with the profit-driven Mentor aliens, and joins forces with a captured King Yrcanos, brilliantly played by Brian Blessed (the same actor who portrayed King Vultan in the 1980 Flash Gordon film).  The creature effects on the Mentor aliens in these episodes are superb.

Story 146, "Terror of the Vervoids" puts the Doctor on the defense, using a series of future events to try and prove his innocence of the charges of gross negligence laid before him.  In the story he and companion Mel (Bonnie Langford) find themselves on an intergalactic cruise liner responding to a mayday distress call from an old associate of the Doctor's.  Multiple plots swirl and terror ensues when a science experiment conducted by Professor Lasky (Honor Blackman of The Avengers and Goldfinger) goes horribly wrong.  Sifting through these future events the Doctor tries to build his case while rebutting the counter-charges of the Valeyard.

Story 147, "The Ultimate Foe" reveals the being behind the Doctor's trial, along with an unexpected ally.  Full of twists and turns, this two-part story brings the epic to a fitting conclusion, and marks Colin Baker's last performance as the Sixth Doctor.

Extras are plentiful in this box, and include six audio commentaries from actors and writers (including Baker himself), documentaries on the making of each story, "Now and Then--On the Trail of a Time Lord", archive clips, and much more.

Classic Who fans not familiar with all of Colin Baker's work on the series will want to give this set a serious look, as it represents his best work in the role, and features a great, over-arching plot and a formidable supporting cast.

-   Scott Pyle


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