Thursday, October 14, 2010

7B1 - The Trial of a Time Lord 5

It's tough to view The Trial of a Time Lord as one complete story when the styles of each individual production block change so drastically. After the reused opening few seconds of the ludicrously expensive (and undeniably cool) effects shot of the Time Lord space station, the story jolts into a somewhat cold, flat wide shot of the trial room with The Doctor and The Valeyard engulfed in another argument that seems only slightly less witty and entertaining than those of the week previous.

Director Ron Jones is saddled with the job of opening a story that has already been going on for a few weeks and one that didn't necessarily end on a dramatic note in it's previous episode (no matter how dramatic a zoom the camera move into Colin Baker's face was). In fact, the opening episode of this installment seems to want to establish the fact that the main action that we're watching is merely evidence and testimony to what's really going on - the trial. In Parts 1-4, the action on Ravalox carried on for minutes at a time without trial room interruptions. The Thoros Beta storyline doesn't even get through it's first scene before The Doctor himself interjects. A sign of things to come...

Even more shocking, style wise, is the dreamy, ethereal score provided by Richard Hartley in his only outing in Doctor Who. It's a dramatic departure from Dominic Glynn's rock solid score from the previous story which helped anchor the events we were witness to. Part 5 seems as odd and disjointed as a dream, like the kind you get when you take expired Neo Citran before bedtime. Hartley's score aids in setting the mood, as well as setting this story as far apart from Parts 1-4 in terms of tone and feels as is humanly possible.

And then there's the beach scenes that, thanks to the wonders of Quantel and Paintbox, turn a normal looking Brighton beach into a wash of colour with white rocks, pink water, and a purple sky. Even more amazingly, the gaudy colours of Thoros Beta are even louder than the clothes that both Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are wearing in this story. I get a headache every time I watch these scenes, but they are still a massive leap forward in what the BBC could do, visually, with Doctor Who.


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