Tuesday, October 19, 2010

7C1 - The Trial of a Time Lord 9

As mentioned already, The Trial of a Time Lord season can be seen as a metaphor for what was really going on at the time in the show's real life history and how it was on trial in both the eyes of the BBC head office and those of a more cynical viewing public. Brought into evidence first was the Ravalox tale, a story written by long time stalwart Robert Holmes which is just dripping in classic Who nostalgia that if you were take away the modern day trappings of OB location work and pastel clothing, you could slot this story in anywhere from the Patrick Troughton era through into the later Tom Baker days. The verdict at the end of that adventure: The Doctor wins, and even the Valeyard can only boast that further damning is too come.

Parts 5-8 contains everything critical that has been leveled at the show over the years, particularly in the 1980s: violence, gore, and questionable actions from the lead character. In fact, the conflicting motives of The Doctor aren't just referenced, they're an actual aspect of the plot itself. Just when everything is at it's most mental, The Doctor is "put on hiatus" (taken out of time) - he may as well have been about to say "Blackpool" as he was rushing down that corridor to Crozier's laboratory. The Time Lords wipe out everything after that, starting The Doctor (and the programme) on a clean slate.

Parts 9-12 start off by lingering only slightly on the death of Peri at the end of the previous episode, then barrels into a bright, new adventure as part of The Doctor's defence. This is supposedly the envisioning of what new Doctor Who will be all about, a modern retelling of a classic murder mystery. Even the new companion, Mel, can be seen as a breath of fresh air. Say what you will about Mel, but she's the first companion in a good few years who actually seems happy to be traveling in the TARDIS. She wants to explore and is keen to find adventure, and even the relatively unromantic locale of a cargo hold on a cruise ship is going to dampen her enthusiasm. Mel is a 180° turnaround from Peri. As a standalone companion, she's one of the more headstrong companions The Doctor has ever known. After a long line of complainers like Adric, Tegan, Turlough, and Peri, yeah, Mel can be downright obnoxious...

This episode is a good start to the story, though, as it mainly serves to outline all the main character's motives and intentions while the murders start to pile up. It's also noteworthy (as you can tell from the picture at the beginning of this review) that this is one of three cliffhangers in The Trial of a Time Lord not to feature a close-up of Colin Baker's dramatic facial expression, and the first one to not even have him in the same scene...


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