on 19 January 2014
Bonnie Langford and Michael Jayston are fine audio book readers. A pity then that these two books are so poor. Written by the television show's original script writing team of Pip and Jane Baker, the two stories form the final half of 1986s weak trial season. Whilst Terror of the Vervoids is weak, The Ultimate Foe is just awful. Its over written and use of language is there just to show the authors "know big words". Michael Jayston's melifluous cadence intones the prose (oh no I'm doing it now) ...At only three discs it took me a fortnight to get through where as some of the longer books (10 discs total for Daleks' Masterplan) took only a week!
The Trial of a Time Lord Volume 2 contains the final two stories of the Trial season, allowing the listener to enjoy a double dose of Pip and Jane Baker.
I've always been fond of Terror of the Vervoids. It's an archetype of a story - The Doctor and Mel answer a distress call and find themselves aboard the space liner Hyperion III. As soon as they turn up, a series of murders begin and naturally the Doctor finds himself under suspicion. Can he untangle the tangled threads and unmask the real murderer?
The story unfolds at a good pace, running for 3 hours 50 minutes across three CDs. Read by Bonnie Langford, it sticks pretty closely to the television script. Bonnie has a lovely reading voice, which makes this a very enjoyable listening experience.
The last two episodes of the Trial season, commonly known as The Ultimate Foe, were designed to wrap up the whole 14 part season, but the production was far from straightforward. Robert Holmes, the series' greatest writer, was commissioned to write the episodes, but died shortly after completing work on the first episode. Script editor Eric Saward then wrote the second episode but following a disagreement with producer John Nathan-Turner, Saward quit and took his episode with him.
So at the 11th hour, Nathan-Turner approached Pip and Jane Baker and they had the unenviable job of cobbling together an episode at very short notice which would explain everything that had happened up to date. Given these problems, they did a good job and the novelisation enables them to refine things slightly, allowing a few plot-holes to be corrected. It runs for 3 hours 20 minutes across 3 CDs.
One of the best features of the Trial season was Michael Jayston's performance as the Valeyard and it's rather wonderful that he's the reader of this audiobook. A highly experienced audiobook reader (his John LeCarre readings are some of the best audiobooks around) his instantly recognisable tones make this another highly enjoyable listen.
Two quality audiobooks with two exceptional readers, this is a great release.