The Trial of a Time Lord – Terror of the Vervoids
Episode / February 3, 2016

Aired 1 – 22 November 1986 After a look to Doctor Who past stylings with ‘The Mysterious Planet’ and a firm entrenchment in the present stylings with ‘Mindwarp,’ neither of which reached the needed heights of excellence needed for a show under increasing pressure and the latter of which condemned its lead under an air of ambiguity, The Trial of a Time Lord next looks to the future with ‘Terror of the Vervoids’ to suggest where the franchise may be headed next. Unfortunately, despite the unique premise of seeing events yet to occur and thus meeting new companion, Bonnie Langford’s Mel, after her introduction to the Doctor, ‘Terror of the Vervoids’ is the weakest of the season’s serials, half-heartedly throwing together many familiar plot points but failing to create any sort of excitement or momentum that proved the show had learned from past mistakes as it brazenly forged forward. Recycling of plot elements of previous Doctor Who adventures and external sources is not inherently a death sentence by any means, but it does seem like an odd choice for a story supposedly offering a glimpse at how the franchise will change. Nonetheless, the biggest flaw is that the story simply…

TheTrial of a Time Lord – Mindwarp
Episode / February 3, 2016

Aired 4 – 25 October 1986 After a somewhat flawed but appreciated attempt at returning to the stylings of bygone Doctor Who eras to begin The Trial of a Time Lord, ‘Mindwarp’ firmly returns to the present state of conditions to offer a distinct contrast in its continuing support of and investigation into the dealings and persona of the Sixth Doctor. With several of Colin Baker’s opening stories hardly regarded as classics and the writing for his character in particular often called into question, ‘Mindwarp’- almost by definition- becomes the single most important story in this season-long arc, proving the benefits and dodging the negative pressure that could result from such a drastic tonal change. With that rather hefty burden on its shoulders, ‘Mindwarp’ presents an intriguing story that certainly supports the case that the darker and more violent tone is not intrinsically doomed for failure, but it fails to live up to the overall quality of the previous season’s two classics, ‘Vengeance on Varos’ and ‘Revelation of the Daleks.’ Indeed, the single biggest flaw with the story is that it remains equivocal in its portrayal of the Doctor simply by virtue of being linked to The Trial of a…

The Trial of a Time Lord – The Mysterious Planet
Episode / February 3, 2016

Aired on: 6 – 27 September 1986 Doctor Who was in a precarious position when the aptly-titled The Trial of a Time Lord quietly came to screens following an eighteen-month absence after ‘Revelation of the Daleks.’ Attempting a season-long story arc with the Sixth Doctor’s life hanging in the balance as his own people put him on trial for his incessant meddling in the universe, everyone involved in the production was all too aware that the franchise was on the verge of cancellation as the episode order was reduced to fourteen and the length to thirty minutes each. Fortunately, despite the real-life drama that plagued the season’s production, including the death of legendary script writer Robert Holmes before his completion of the finale, the opening instalment, ‘The Mysterious Planet,’ is a strong opening that manages to hide many of the behind-the-scenes issues. Doctor Who had, of course, attempted, a season-long arc before with The Key to Time, but those six stories remained remarkably distinct with the titular Key only a linking device rather than intrinsically vital to the individual plots. The Trial of a Time Lord, however, revels in its central conceit, often cutting away from the action to advance…