14 part final epic adventure of the 6th Doctor...as he is tr
Kevin J. Loria | New Orleans, LA USA | 07/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You may or may not have of heard of or seen "TRIAL OF A TIME LORD" the 23rd season story which encompassed the entire season....but, before beginning let me take a moment to note the talent of genre writer & major Doctor Who contributor the late great Robert Holmes...the man responsible for most of the greatest "Classic" Doctor Who episodes ever written and also responsible for the TRIAL OF A TIME LORD 14 part story/concept.
Holmes either wrote or co-wrote the following Dr. Who classic stories, none of them forgettable, leastways not in concept: The Krotons, The Space Pirates, Spearhead from Space (which intros the 3rd Doctor), Terror of the Autons (which intros the Master!), Carnival of Monsters, The Time Warrior (which intros the Sontarans), Ark in Space, The Brain of Morbius (w/Terrance Dicks), Pyramids of Mars (w/L.Greifer), Deadly Assassin, Talons of Weng-Chiang (a fav of RTD), The Sun Makers, The Ribos Operation (intros Romana), The Power of Kroll, The Two Doctors and Caves of Androzani (the 5th Doctor's final appearance and considered to be the best story of the show's long history, certainly a fav of mine.)
TRIAL OF A TIME LORD's greatest strength, becomes it's greatest weakness...Robert Holmes was to write 8 parts of the 14 part story, the first and the last. His poor health, then death prevented him from completing the final 2 parts...completed by Pip & Jan Baker the story/season finale suffers for this loss! Following an already postponed season, this compounded the problem which ended the 6th Doctor's tenure without a proper regeneration story (unless you count the bewigged figure in "Time and the Rani"). As we see now a tighter continuity in the series is a preferable format...here we get a kind of CHRISTMAS CAROL format, via the Time Lord High Council we see the "Accused" a.k.a the Doctor's past/present/ & future while he defends his actions on the stand. Long time fans may question... "has the Doc already been trialed and sentenced by the Time Lord, as seen in the final moments of `The War Games' in which the 2nd Doctor is punished for his interference, forced to regenerate, exiled to the 20th cen. Earth along with UNIT?" Well, yes, he was and they did...but here we get pomp and circumstance and flashback and forward and lots of new crimes and accusations against the Doctor, even for things he has YET to do!!! (how cool is that one?) As a result the season can be packaged a 3 major stories with a common courtroom thread and 1 extended 2 part resolution : The Mysterious Planet...Mindwarp....Terror of the Vervoids...The Ultimate Foe.
The Mysterious Planet begins with one of the best openings of the shows history (a dare say better than even the 2005 series, too) as we see THE TARDIS drawn into a station where the trial is to be held. Gorgous, ever by today's standards. Soon we are drawn into flashbacks of the Doctor and Peri's last adventure, no not from last season, but an adventure new to the viewer. We watch along with the tribunal of Time Lords as the Doctor arrives on Ravalox (write it down, by episode 14 you may have lost your scorecard) 2 million years in Earth's future...(you might want to write that down, too). The Ravalox location is neat, `til we get to the old steel corridors beneath ruled by a mad robot, sorry. One thing Mysterious Planet has going for it...are characters typical of Robert Holmes' writing, like rascally fallible rogue Sabalom Glitz who plans to come into possession of the hidden secrets and advanced technology guarded by the robot, while of course falling underfoot of the Doctor's own plans. All the while important details are omitted from the story by the Time Lord prosecutor the VALEYARD, raising the Doctor's suspicions, as he cannot remember the events himself.
Then the adventure in the Doctor's present is reviewed in the story arc, which Holmes had the least to do with, called "MINDWARP." The VALEYARD continues to build a case against the Doctor showing his most recent adventure as evidence of guilt their activities on Thoros Beta immediately before the trial. We see the Doctor at first investigating arms sales; after he sees his old adversary SIL, he surmises that Thoros Beta is the home planet of Sil's race. We learn a scientist, Crozier is experimenting brain surgery on a local warrior-king, Yrcanos, played by the great Brian Blessed (fantastic!), before performing on SIL's mentor Kiv, played by the great Christopher Ryan (seen in season for as a Sontaran). The Doctor is shown as malevolent in this segment of evidence convincing him that the evidence has been tampered with, specifically his betrayal of Peri and Yrcanos. Also, his capture by the Time Lord High Council appears to have resulted in Peri's death.
In the "TERROR of the VERVOIDS" a story of the Doctor's near future is presented as evidence against him. An interesting concept, including the introduction of a "current" companion who the Doctor has yet to meet, by our perspective anyway, Melanie or Mel, played by stage entertainer Bonnie Langford, and probably the most annoying companion this side of Tegan (seriously, you will go watch Timeflight and say, "Wow, Tegan's not that bad."). The pair, break from dieting long enough to answer a distress call from the Hyperion, space-cruise ship (hmm, where have I seen that before?). The ship is sabotaged & people become plant-food for the Vervoids, plant-like humanoids genetically engineered by Professor Lasky, played by the still lovely Honor Blackman. In the end, the Doctor, Mel, and Prof. Lasky succeed in preventing the Vervoids from reaching Earth, but upon admitting that no Vervoids survived, the Valeyard now charges the Doctor with genocide, oops. Then in the final 2 parter the ULTIMATE FOE, the truth is revealed, and a chase into the very Matrix itself ensues (as seen in Holmes' Deadly Assassin), but first Mel and Glitz called as witnesses, even the Master shows up, appearing to aide in the Doctor's defence of all things! The Ultimate Foe is revealed, and pretty cool idea it is, I won't say more, but pity it wasn't executed better, though. All is explain, if less than adequately, how the Doctor was used as a scapegoat, and the Valeyard real involvement as more than just a prosecutor. The truth about Peri's death is also revealed in a weak exit for the companion (although no worse or less believable than Leela's exit). As I said in the end the truth is revealed, but with all the twists and turns of the 14 parter the most confusing is the very final moments of the story in which the Doctor leaves with Mel, the companion "he" has yet to meet. But, for all it's flaws...once all is said and done, the TRIAL of a TIME LORD set, is a must have set for any Doctor Who fan. Drinking Games for The Trial of a Time Lord:
...the Doctor "objects" in the trial sequences.
...the Doctor "misaddresses" the Valeyard's title (..the Railyard, etc.). ...Bonnie Langford & Brian Blessed are "over-the-top."
...a character shows up we are supposed to know, or atleast the Doctor is supposed to know.
...anyone has a beverage of their own, especially CARROT JUICE!!!
A review of the DVD rather than of the Story
Richard A. Siler | Chamblee, GA United States | 10/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So far, all the reviews have been about the actual 14-episode story on this DVD. Let me start by quickly saying how much I love this season-long epic. I know, I know...it has its flaws, it was riddled with behind-the-scenes turmoil which kept the story from really coming together onscreen, some of the trial scenes simply don't make sense, etc.....but I still love everything about it. I've always loved Colin's portrayal of the Doctor and I think some of his best work is in this season. He was obviously VERY happy to be back to work on the show he loved after a long hiatus.
But "Trial of a Timelord" has been written about a great deal, and other reviewers here have already given you very good reviews of the actual story. My review, then, is about "the rest of the story"....the DVD packaging of "Trial".
Which, by the way, is excellent.
Even if you don't love this season, you have to admit that this is one of the strongest collections of special features on any Doctor Who DVD. What is most admirable here is that the team that puts together these DVDs did't shy away from the controversy that surrounded this season. These features aren't "Doctor Who Confidential" styled pats-on-the-back. The features show the good and the bad in equal measure.
Here are some of the highlights:
- There's a "making of" documentary for each of the four stories that make up "Trial". These are all really great, very entertaining and educational. But the highlights are seeing Tony Selby and Brian Blessed talk about their time on the show. They very obviously loved doing it.
- There's a 55 minute documentary on Colin's time as the Doctor. It goes into great details about the detioration of the relationship between John Nathan-Turner and Eric Saward, the hiatus, the reasons behind the "Trial" story, Colin's firing....its really good. Its a very revealing, "cards on the table" type of discussion. Its amazing to see that even 25 years later, talking about this stuff is difficult for Colin. Its also great to see Eric Saward talk about his role in alienating people who had been his friends and co-workers.
- There's a short bit of commentary with Colin and Nicola watching the scene in Part 14 where the script, at JNT's urging, undoes Peri's death from Part 8 by saying she was living happily-ever-after with King Yrcanos. While Nicola was aware that they'd done that....she'd never seen the scene in question. Her reaction to it is pretty interesting.
- There's a great documentary on what would have been Season 23 had the hiatus not happened and they'd gone on to do Colin's second season as planned. Most of this is pretty well known, and three of the stories were later released as novels. But this is illustrated by new artwork, is narrated by Colin, and talks about each of the stories and the shape of the season. Very enlightening.
- There's a fun little half-hour piece on cliffhangers. Authors, editors and scriptwriters talking about the show's cliffhangers -- which ones were great, which ones didn't work, which ones could have been brillian but weren't, etc. A very fun piece.
- There's a fairly substantial clip from a talk show after the end of the season that has a group of people from one of the DW fan clubs talking about the "Trial" season, and what a mess it was, and if fans couldn't follow it how could the general public? So after a series of comments from each of them, the host says "Well, now lets hear from the producer and the writers of this season". John Nathan-Turner and Pip & Jane Baker seemed genuinely caught off guard to learn that these people didn't completely love their work! It's really interesting viewing.
All-in-all its a stellar package. The sound in particular is cleaned up very nicely. And the picture looks great. There seems to be more contrast in the opening courtroom scenes, where the set looks a bit more darkly lit and moodier. Even if I were't a fan of this season, I would probably give this DVD release of it 5 stars simply on the strength of the packaging, the extras, and the great lengths that the Restoration Team went to to bring us a very thorough and enlightening set. Very well worth the money. I highly recommend this set!"
I'm a bit confused here
Robert Kerns | Diego Garcia, BIOT | 04/18/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was anxious for this DVD set. I had preordered this set the moment it had been made available. So when it comes in I popped it right in and began watching it. Where I think Colin Baker was a good Doctor the over all story was a bit confusing. I don't want to give away spoliers but if you blink you might lose something along the way. What really was GREAT about this set was the extras. Every disc is packed with great stuff about the making of this story and what was going on behind the scenes with the Doctor at the time. So if you like The Doctor then this is a set for you. If you are a fan of the overall story of Doctor Who and how it was all made then this set is essential! For me I give it three stars as I found some of the story confusing but I LOVED the extras."
Avg episodes, fantastic package
Andrew Frueh | Louisville, KY United States | 01/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Trial of a Timelord isn't remembered as one of the best season ever of classic Who, but it's definitely not the worst. The entire season was made of 3 stories presented as evidence at a trial against the Doctor and a 2-part conclusion.
This was Colin Baker's last season, and the first after an 18-month hiatus, so a lot of the bonus material deals with those events. During this time, a single and a video were released to show support of the show, and the video is included as is much archived news footage.
There are the usual "making of" specials that highlight each story.
For this season, producer John Nathan-Turner requested yet another re-imagining of the show's signature tune. Dominic Glynn did this work but since he had just started to build his studio, he considered the version that aired incomplete. Here, he has a chance to remix the tune which is available here as a video playing over a re-worked version of this season's opening graphics."
"There's nothing you can do to prevent the catharsis of spur
Crazy Fox | Chicago, IL USA | 11/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For anyone collecting DVD releases of classic Doctor Who, this nicely packaged box set is a rare, seldom-encountered oasis. Though there are good reasons and rationales for it, the normal release schedule can seem maddeningly random and haphazard at times. Such however is certainly not the case here with the 4-disc "Trial of a Time Lord" set, which includes all of 1986's season twenty-three in one complete and coherent whole. What a luxury, to watch an entire year of the show together in order! Of course, one key unfortunate factor making such an indulgence possible is that this season was radically (one might say brutally) scaled back and truncated by the allegedly apathetic if not hostile BBC hierarchy of the time: fourteen half-hour episodes, the old standard of twenty-six sliced right in half. The show was indeed literally on trial for its survival, and the fiction-mirrors-fact echo of the Doctor being put on trial by his own people is a deliberate and conscious one by the show's beleaguered creators. You might say that the postmodern self-reflexive '80's had finally caught up with Doctor Who, but the effect is poignant rather than ironic.
But yes, true to its title, the overall story arc encompassing the four individual tales of this season sees the Doctor on trial for reckless and capricious interference and meddling in timelines, and later even for genocide. With this good solid bit of courtroom drama as the frame, each individual tale then unfolds in classic Dickensian order as evidence presented to the court by the Doctor's belligerent prosecutor, the Valeyard (for a good clue as to his true identity, check out what his title means, and no, for once he's not the Master in disguise). First of all, from the Doctor's past we get to visit (or revisit?) "The Mysterious Planet", wherein he and Peri explore a distant world with two different regressed civilizations, one free and tribal, the other ruled with an iron hand by a control freak of a computer--a world that turns out to be impossibly familiar after all. This intriguing puzzler is the last full story by Robert Holmes, a longtime stalwart writer of the show responsible for many of its most memorable moments, and is worth its weight in gold for that reason alone. And quite good in its own right, too, an entertaining adventure replete with dry wit and given substance with thought-provoking ideas and concepts integral to the plot--typical Doctor Who in the best sense.
Next, from the Doctor's present we are shown "Mindwarp", which manages to deal with many chillingly disturbing grown-up themes like unethical medical experimentation and corporate economic exploitation in a compelling manner, playing with the viewer's mind in the process as we see the Doctor act in very uncharacteristically self-interested and even evil ways--or has the evidence been tampered with? To top it all off, Peri leaves the series in a dramatically grim fashion (Afterwards to be retroactively defused by a lame cop-out). From the Doctor's future, "Terror of the Vervoids" finds a later him and a future companion, Mel, aboard a space liner plagued with an ongoing series of murders and a serious weed outbreak. A traditional whodunit in a futuristic setting (the writers don't seem to realize they've effectively put "Robots of Death" and "Seeds of Doom" in a blender), this is Doctor Who by-the-numbers but there's little sin in being formulaic when the formula works so well. If the show is on trial, it might as well play to its strengths. Finally, "The Ultimate Foe" brings the Doctor's trial to a bizarre and perhaps less than fully satisfying conclusion. Rather disjointed due to the sad and tumultuous circumstances of its creation and marred by some deplorably cringe-inducing dialogue lines scripted for Mel, the final battle with the Valeyard in the eerily surreal computer-generated environment of the Matrix still has lots to offer besides inspiration for later Hollywood cyberpunk sci-fi blockbusters (or is it a coincidence?), and in the end offers us an old but reliable truth: we are often our own worst enemies."