Doctor Who: The Trial Of A Time Lord (BBC DVD Set)
Sound: B- Extras: 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