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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let the defence rest
As a thirteen year old I had no concept of the behind-the-scenes struggle to keep Doctor Who on air; I had no more knowledge of the programme's dwindling audiences or fan and press criticisms of its producer - John Nathan-Turner. What I did know was that after 18 tortuous months my favourite programme was back; with a promised fourteen week long epic story which would see...
Published on 18 April 2011 by Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth

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59 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Straying from the straight and narrow
With flagging ratings, a script editor in bitter creative conflict with the producer, a final episode that had to be re-written from scratch at the last minute, the behind-the-scenes dramas faced by the production team of 1986's THE TRIAL OF A TIME LORD mirrored the fictional pressures upon Colin Baker's Doctor, here put on trial by his own people.

Although the...
Published on 30 Sep 2008 by Hector Lerbioz


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let the defence rest, 18 April 2011
As a thirteen year old I had no concept of the behind-the-scenes struggle to keep Doctor Who on air; I had no more knowledge of the programme's dwindling audiences or fan and press criticisms of its producer - John Nathan-Turner. What I did know was that after 18 tortuous months my favourite programme was back; with a promised fourteen week long epic story which would see my hero on trial for his very existence!

This long-awaited box set from 2entertain separates the trial into four individual stories; the first, written by fan-favourite Robert Holmes, is entitled `The Mysterious Planet', and sees The TARDIS hijacked and brought onto a space station on which an inquisition has been set up to investigate The Doctor's interference in the affairs of other worlds and races. As the camera pans across the side of the giant spaceship it is clear that an effort is being made to improve production values and this is immediately successful with such an impressive start to the story.
We are subsequently introduced to the mercenary Sabalom Glitz, played with relish by the excellent Tony Selby, and his faithful assistant `Dibber'. The pair are classic Holmesian creations and add weight to a somewhat unoriginal storyline. Switching between the inquisition and the events on the planet Ravalox, where Glitz and Dibber are attempting to knock-out a mysterious transmitter, The Doctor watches from the court as he and his assistant, Peri, become involved with a rebellion which seeks to overthrow the planet's despotic ruler `The Immortal'.
The DVD extras are a mixed bunch - `The making of The Mysterious Planet' gives a fascinating insight into the (for the programme) groundbreaking model effects, and explains how the Doctor Who production team pulled out all the stops to improve the show's legendarily ropey special effects. Two features involving Colin Baker and promoting the new series, from Wogan and Blue Peter respectively, are painful reminders of how crude 80s talk shows and children's magazine programmes were in comparison to today's vibrant and youth oriented counterparts. Baker sweats his way through an interview with the Irish legend whilst Linda Bellingham tries not to mention those Oxo ads and damns Doctor Who with her faint praise. The BP segment tells us that Janet Ellis' `Pa' helped build the robots for The Mysterious Planet and spends about 30 seconds with an increasingly be-whiskered Sixth Doctor and the operator of the robot Drathro. A pre-Weakest Link Anne Robinson presents Points of View which emphasises how hard to please fans of DW were, even then. The obligatory Photo Gallery rounds things off.

Disc two features the second segment of the trial, `Mindwarp', which sees the return of the slimy `Mentor' Sil, last seen in 1984 story `Vengeance on Varos'. This time, the TARDIS lands on Thoros Beta, home of the Mentors and host to ghoulish experiments aimed at prolonging the life of Kiv, Ruler of the Mentors, by transplanting his brain into another body, as his own is wearing out.
The garish pink colour overlay that greets The Doctor and Peri as they arrive on Thoros Beta's coastline has dated badly, but the story itself is meatier than its predecessor, and gives the viewer more to think about; almost too much at times. Nabil Shaban is suitably repellent as the amoral and avaricious Sil, whilst Christopher Ryan predates his recent appearance as a Sontaran warrior with an appropriately weary and paranoid Kiv. Unfortunately, Brian Blessed predictably hams it up as warlord Yrcanos, and the overtly sci-fi costumes worn by many of the cast are too redolent of a mid-80s edition of Top of the Pops.
The frequent returns the courtroom just about manage to avoid disrupting the flow of the story too much, and the sparring between The Doctor and The Valeyard keeps proceedings from becoming too stagnant.

Episodes 9-13 of the season are collected together under the title: Terror of the Vervoids. This segment is included as The Doctor's defence; The Hyperion III is a deep-space vessel which houses a dark secret; what is agronomist Professor Lasky hiding in the Hydroponic Centre and who is bumping-off the passengers one-by-one..?

The story is notable for being the first in the show's history to introduce a companion for The Timelord without giving them a back-story. Melanie Bush is a computer programmer and fitness freak whom we first see attempting to get The Doctor to lose some weight, by forcing him to ruse an exercise bike and feeding him copious quantities of carrot juice! The pair arrive on The Hyperion III and are quickly used by the Commander of the vessel (who appears to have met The Timelord before) to investigate the murders; whilst in the courtroom The Doctor and The Valeyard continue to bicker.

The eponymous plant creatures are impressively realised, whilst the guest cast - including Honor Blackman - seem to be enjoying themselves. With hindsight Mel could have made a decent companion and she and Colin Baker spark off each other well throughout. Sadly this was not to be, as the story proved to be Baker's swansong, being the final instalment of the season to be filmed; subsequently I felt that Mel and the Seventh Doctor never quite gelled in the same way.

The final instalment - The Ultimate Foe - is a two part story that is mostly memorable for all the wrong reasons. The Valeyard's dying line: "Doctor, there's nothing you can do to prevent the catharsis of spurious morality" is probably the best/worst line ever uttered in Doctor Who, whilst Mel's discovery of a `megabyte modem' cruelly highlights how out of touch the production team were and the gobbledygook that became a feature of Pip and Jane Bakers' scripts. As a way of bringing the trial to an end it is fine and there are some memorable moments such as The Doctor being sucked under the ground in the matrix and Tony Selby's devious Sabalom Glitz twisting and turning like a trapped eel as he tries to work out which will be the winning side. Overall the trial is good fun but is ultimately less than the sum of its parts.
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59 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Straying from the straight and narrow, 30 Sep 2008
By 
Hector Lerbioz (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
With flagging ratings, a script editor in bitter creative conflict with the producer, a final episode that had to be re-written from scratch at the last minute, the behind-the-scenes dramas faced by the production team of 1986's THE TRIAL OF A TIME LORD mirrored the fictional pressures upon Colin Baker's Doctor, here put on trial by his own people.

Although the story is presented as 1 ongoing narrative, the episodes have traditionally been divided up into 4 separate sections of the trial (with the non-canonical titles: THE MYSTERIOUS PLANET, MINDWARP, TERROR OF THE VERVOIDS and THE ULTIMATE FOE). The 4 discs in the set reflect this division.

Overall, the concept of the trial itself is not a success, although the actors involved work hard (Michael Jayston is particularly good). Part of the problem is that we're never quite sure how the Time Lord's legal system works. Inexplicable absurdities of plotting mean that as a perceptive viewer following episode by episode, one cannot really take the legal proceedings seriously. Furthermore as the first 3 sections of the trial mainly involve Colin Baker's Doctor and Michael Jayston's Valeyard arguing about the events that they're watching on the Matrix screen, even as early as episode 3 the trial scenes have become repetitive and intrusive. It really should not have taken until episode 13 for things to get exciting in the court room.

Put simply TOATL was not what the public wanted and was deemed a failure. Certainly its interminable length put off the casual viewer, and perhaps it was just a bit too left field for its own good. Poor Colin Baker, as the leading man, got the blame for the perceived shortcomings of the series and was asked to leave the role of the Doctor not long after the end of the original transmission. Looking at the extras on the discs, it seems clear that most people believe this was unfair as he was simply the most obvious target and in the wrong place at the wrong time. While it's true that the horrible clown costume was a disastrous lapse of judgement and Baker was not always well-served by the scripts, he's a fine actor and on the extras he comes across as an intelligent, warm, affable and enthusiastic man.

So if the supporting structure of the serial doesn't work what are we left with? Well actually, divorced from the trial sequences, the individual stories aren't that bad. Robert Holmes' THE MYSTERIOUS PLANET (the last full DR WHO script he wrote before his death) is a perfectly decent DR WHO story even if there is at least one dodgy cliff-hanger and the last episode lacks tension. It kicks off the series very well and the opening effects sequence with the Cathedral-like space station is magnificent - a pity the show never had the budget to sustain this level of visual flair. Its main problem is that it lacks the edge of some of Holmes' better work (such as THE ARK IN SPACE or THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI). Indeed some of it appears to be ideas recycled from his earlier work - Glitz and Dibber for instance appear to be a revamped version of Garron and Unstoffe from THE RIBOS OPERATION. Nevertheless, the story chugs along agreeably enough with some witty lines and fun performances from Tony Selby and Joan Sims.

MINDWARP (episodes 5 to 8) is for me the best segment. A bizarre mix of H.G.Wells' ISLAND OF DR MOREAU, FRANKENSTEIN and various pulp sci-fi cliches it succeeds largely because it dares to be mad-as-you-like bizarre. It boasts an eye-boggling planet, impressive sets, an excellent cast (including a glorious turn from Brian Blessed), a superb incidental score that really accentuates the weird ambience of the story's alien setting and a cracking last episode. However, the script does Colin Baker no favours as we see him turn nasty again (much as he did in his first story THE TWIN DILEMMA) further alienating his audience - even if the events we see are most likely "falsified" due to tampering with the Matrix.

I can't say I'm a fan of TERROR OF THE VERVOIDS, but there are those who say this "Agatha Christie in space" story is their favourite, and for all its faults, I have to concede that the plot, at least, is solid enough. Bonnie Langford came in for a lot of criticism for her portrayal of new companion Mel. To be fair to her, she plays what she's given in the script for all its worth. She does so professionally and competently, and one should give her the benefit of the doubt. My belief is that people simply did not like the character - and, granted, her constant perkiness can be grating. But honestly, how else would you play lines like: "that's it Doc - now we're getting at the dirt!"? VERVOIDS, for me is a case of nice idea, shame about the execution. Not only the monsters, but also the sets and effects look a little bit cheaper and nastier than almost anything else we've seen so far this season. The dialogue too is florid and ludicrous - though those who love VERVOIDS tell me this is all part of the fun. The rather feeble shots of the HYPERION III travelling through space only serve to remind one of the majestic opening of episode one and cannot help but look that little bit worse by comparison. A reasonable cast including Honor Blackman and Malcolm Tierney work hard with the material they have.

The last 2 episodes (THE ULTIMATE FOE) are miraculously good considering the production nightmare of script editor Eric Saward withdrawing the final segment at the last minute. Husband and wife team Pip and Jane Baker (no relation to either Colin or Tom) were called in at short notice to create the series finale. Episode 13 provides some nice surprises and an excellent plot-twist. The scenes in the Matrix are exciting and only in the final 3 minutes does the story disappoint. Jayston is wonderful and it's a crying shame that he was never asked back to the show.

The discs are complimented by a staggering cornucopia of extras. I felt a vast sense of relief when I finished watching the lengthy deleted scenes (the VERVOIDS deleted scenes alone feel like they could have doubled the length of the story proper)! For '80's nostalgia fans there are WHO-related clips from Roland Rat, Lenny Henry, Saturday Superstore, Points of View and Blue Peter. For fans of naff '80's music there's the unexpurgated video of DR WHO's notoriously awful answer to DO THEY KNOW IT'S XMAS? - DOCTOR IN DISTRESS. Once heard, never forgotten!

There are multiple commentary options - although the ones without Eric Saward are generally the most engaging. There's a fun little piece on the art of the cliff-hanger, with writers Rob Shearman, Joseph Lidster and Nev Fountain discussing some of the more interesting examples. The "Making Of.." features are as watchable and professionally put-together as always. The undoubted highlight is the hour long TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS which covers the story of Colin Baker's brief time as the Doctor. Hopefully you 'll leave this box set with a new affection for the 6th actor to play the role on TV. My one criticism is that Brian Blessed wasn't asked to provide a commentary. His appearance on the Making of MINDWARP feature reminded me that he's a national treasure - his impression of Her Majesty the Queen is just one of the many strange delights on offer in this weird and sometimes wonderful release.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trial & Error, 21 Nov 2013
By 
Timelord007 (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Positive.
1)Colin Baker star's as the underrated Sixth Doctor whom gives an excellent performance in this linking 14 part Trial season.
2)This story has many twists throughout it's 4 linking story's.
3)A exellent array of extras come with this boxset.

Negative.
1)There were many behind the scenes dramas during this production that affects the tone of the stories.
2)The Trial plot runs throughout the season & may not be to every viewer's taste who would prefer the stand alone type story's.

Trivia.
1)Colin Baker was fired not long after episode 14 aired.
2)This season saw the departure of script writer Eric Saward who after several disagreements with JNT quit during the most troubled times in the show.

Review.
This season comprises four story's Three 4 part storys & one 2 part story.

The Doctor is taken out of time to stand trial for breaking the first law of time of interfering in time & history under the law's of Gallifrey & faces prosecution from the mysterious Valeyard.

The Doctor has his suspicions that the trial is a farce & senses a conspiracy against him as evidence presented seems to be altered or edited.

So the trial begins...

The storys make up season 23 of The Trial Of A Timelord & the working titles for the storys were.

The Mysterious Planet ***Stars.
Robert Holmes writes the opening adventure set on the planet Ravalox 2 million years in the future were the Doctor tells Peri that there are similarities between Ravalox & Earth after finding several earthbound artefacts & what looks like an old abandoned London Subway.

But can this really be earth as it's position is in a different point in the galaxy.

Meanwhile Sabbalon Glitz is trying to obtain hidden secrets & artefacts of advanced technology from a highly sophisticated Robot as they are at war with the Queen & her primative tribe.

The Doctor has no choice but to destroy the Robot as it's unstable power source threatens to annihilate the planet from existence but in doing so destroys the secrets & wonders of the advanced technology.

Ravalox turns out to be Earth that has been moved several light years away from it's original position as at the trial the Doctor senses a conspiracy against him.

Mindwarp **** Stars.
Written by Phillip Martin this is a loose sequel to Vengeance on Varos as Sil & his race known as the Mentors on Thoros Beta are seemingly supplying King Yrcanos with advanced weaponry.

The Doctors personality becomes unstable & disturbed & appears to betray & tortures Peri to gain Crozier trust who is a scientist whom is about to perform surgery on Kiv a influential Mentor who's brain is expanding slowly killing him.

As he tortures Peri The Doctor protests in his defence that these event's didn't occur in this way it's appearring from the Matrix & protests the archives inside the Matrix have been altered.

The story's horrific conclusion sees Kivs brain implanted into Peri killing her & King Yrcanos sickened by Kiv now vengeful as he has full use of a new body starts shooting Kiv & everybody in the operating room as the Doctor is taken away by the Timelords to his current predicament his trial sickened & angry over the death of his companion Peri.

Terror Of The Vervoids **** Stars.
Written by Husband & wife Pip & Jane Baker this sees the Doctor present his evidence to the prosecution set into his own future as the Tardis receives a distress call from starship Hyperion III a holiday cruise ship that is tailor made for passengers to relax & recuperate.

The Doctor & Mel become entangled in the mystery as the ship is sabotaged by the Vervoids who murder the crew are a slave like plant race.

The Doctor manages to stop the Vervoids but in doing so apparently commits genocide resulting in the Valeyard claiming the,Doctor be found guilty & asks the jury to strip him of his remaining regenerations & sentence him to death.

The Ultimate Foe **** Stars.

Originally written by Robert Holmes who completed part 1 & wrote a outline draft for part 2 was taken ill & sadly died before completing his final episode resulting in several shocking events.

Eric Saward wrote the final episode from Robert Holmes original outline to which JNT vetoed as a awful conclusion to the season being far to downbeat as it was left ambiguous to the Doctors fate as the original ending had The Doctor & the valeyard fighting inside the Matrix seemingly for eternity.

Eric Saward then quit & refused permission for his script to be used so JNT enlisted Pip & Jane Baker to conclude the season by allowing them to write a brand new final episode.

The revised story sees the Doctor protest the Matrix has been altered to which the Master then appears on the Matrix screen proving that in fact the Matrix can be manipulated & has brought Sabbalon Glitz & Mel to stand as witnesses for the Doctors trial.

The secrets Glitz was after on Ravalox had been stolen from the Timelords & earth was ravaged & moved to preserve them.

The Doctor was used as a scapegoat & framed by the Valeyard who is a future amalgam
of the darker aspects of the Doctors nature between his 12th & 13th regenerations who was offered the Doctors remaining regenerations to insure a guily verdict from the jury as it was in fact the Valeyard who falsified the evidence.

The Doctor has to stop not one but two enemys as the Master attempts to seize power of the Matrix, Destroy the High Council of Timelords & kill the Doctor.

The Doctor along with Mel & Glitz enter the Matrix were in a final confrontation with the Master & the Valeyard.

As the Doctor eventually thwarts the Valeyard by destroying the Matrixs archive.

The Doctor is cleared by the Inquisitor & offers him the lord presidency but the Doctor declines.

Before he leaves the Inquisitor informs the Doctor that Peri is alive & well & married to King Yrcanos.

As the keeper of the Matrix begins it's repairs he turns around to reveal the face of the Valeyard.

This season arc was seen as a disappointment yet i see much to merit here as the plot is one of intrigue & manipulation & originality.

Michael Jayston brings to life a exellent villian in the form of the Valeyard who is a cunning advisory for the Doctor as he is born from a darker Doctors regeneration energy making him a very dangerous threat.

This marks the departure of Nicola Bryant as Peri in a shocking final scene in episode 8 only to have it's impact lessened by the true but implausible fate of Peri at the conclusion of episode 14.

This season also introduces us to the slightly annoying computer programmer Mel played by Bonnie Langford who's character has been better served recently on Big Finish audios.

All in all this is a great season let down by the BBC's disinterest of the show & the unfair dismissal of star Colin Baker who has proved since on audio what a exellent Doctor he is.

The extras on this release are jam packed from commentaries with Colin Baker & Nicola Bryant to the Trial & Tribulations Documentary that is the standout extra on this dvd boxset.

This is exellent in depth Documentary that is at times like a real life episode of Dallas with all its behind the scenes back stabbing, Production problems, Falling outs & showcasing that there is no love lost between the late JNT, Eric Saward & Colin Baker.

There are behind the scenes documentarys for each story, Photo Gallery's & Trailers & so much more than i can mention here.

This is a exellent dvd boxset release that's packed with plenty of bonus material & a underated season finally on dvd & has been done justice.

Superb!

Timelord Rating.
8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars colin baker dr no 6, 13 May 2014
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Thanks for the DVDs it arrived today it is one I always wanted I always have a very prompt service would like to buy more DVDs online bob
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trial of a Timelord, 23 Nov 2009
By 
R. Thomas "unreadable" (S Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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Trial of a Timelord is the season long story that encompasses Doctor Who's 23rd season. As a story it is perhaps overlong and lightweight, however when divided up into the traditional segments (The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp, Terror of the Vervoids and The Ultimate Foe) the story fairs a lot better. The first three segments are essentially recordings of The Doctors adventures being used as evidence in his trial brought about by the Timelords, with the fourth being the series finale.

The box set is best watched in individual segments as opposed to all in one go. The Mysterious Planet is a bonkers little romp with witty dialogue, Mindwarp falls between a few categories for me and Terror of the Vervoids is a fantastic little whodunit. The finale though is a mixed bag, although the story (part 13 especially) is wonderfully surreal, despite surprise appearances and revelations it does come across a tad lightweight.

The extras are very good indeed showcasing a number of cut and edited scenes, the 18 month hiatus, nice commentary's, the effect Robert Holmes death and the implosion of Nathan-Turner and Sawards relationship had on the season. However what is missing is an option to watch the first three individual stories without the intrusive trial scenes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The amazing Sixth Doctor!, 26 May 2014
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The best Classic Doctor! Colin Baker is always an amazing actor and he plays the Sixth Doctor very well. The DVD's are full of extras and the quality of image is very good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Review, 16 April 2014
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This story was maybe too ambitious for Doctor Who - a seemingly good idea on paper, putting the Doctor on trial, mirroring the real situation that the program was under scrutiny by the heads of the BBC - in the longest story to date. Having received feedback about toning down the violence from the previous season, I don't think this was fully accomplished; this is possibly a good thing. The first segment, The Mysterious Planet is average. It has a sophisticated and expensive opening and a fair storyline with good acting, in spite of the visible low budget. The trial scenes are intrusive and possibly would have worked better without them. The reason I have given this story 4 stars is mainly because of the second segment, which would have worked more effectively as a stand-alone story. This was violent and gruesome and pictured unethical scientific advances on Theras Beta, in which we ultimately see Crozier's ambition realised - to transfer the contents of the mind of a male reptile into a female human body - once again addressing the theme of cheating death. I agree with Colin and Nicola' s commentary that the ending would have been more effective and dramatic, had It not been revealed that her ending was not portrayed accurately on the matrix and she had married King Ycarnos. The third segment was dull - the Doctor looks bored most of the time, there is little action. The idea of the matrix providing a surreal environment with Dickensian characters and a nod to The Wasteland were good and helped to recover interest from the third segment. I completely agree with Eric Saward - the ending of the Doctor and the Valeyard lost in a time vent would have been appropriate and, yes, it would have given the BBC additional ammunition for giving the program a break. Instead, the ending is weak and the Keeper of the Matrix turns out to be the Valeyard.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A Real Trial To Watch, 4 April 2014
By 
Cliff Hanger "Brigadier General Cliff Hanger ... (I live in a dingy bedsit with only my banana shaped merkin for company.) - See all my reviews
Guilty of wasting my time, I sentence the master tapes of this steaming pile of do do to the furnace, no appeal, take it down.
If you want to see Who do a good trial scene, watch The War Games.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The verdict is..., 7 Nov 2013
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The mid-1980s were a very turbulent time for "Doctor Who." After the 22nd season ended in 1985, the show was cancelled. There was a bit of an uproar from the public, and BBC bosses were forced to rethink it, its status then changed from cancelled to 18-month hiatus.

"The Trial of a Time Lord" kicks of with a spectacular effects shot, A space station which hovers in silence. The camera slowly moving toward it and moves its way around the exterior finishing on a bust of blue light which the TARDIS enters. This is without a doubt the best effects sequence in the Classic Series.

Told over 4 separate stories, interlocked with scenes from a Gallifreyan courtroom and the trial, this is rather quite a gripping story from the beginning to the end/ Colin Baker gives (unbeknown to him) his final performance as the Doctor and it is by far his best portrayal. Sadly we lose Nicola Bryant during this season and for some weird and unknown reason the Doctor Who team thought it would be a great idea to give us Bonnie Langford as the new companion.

You get guest stars with Brian Blessed and Honor Blackman, Lynda Bellingham appears as the Inquisitor in the trial.

The writing is absolutely superb and also feature Robert Holmes final script for Doctor Who which he sadly passed away whilst writing.

The DVD box set also has some great special features. One I would highly recommend is Trials and Tribulations, a documentary looking at Colin Baker's tenure as the Doctor and a great insight into the behind the scenes goings on during Colins tenure.

All in all it is a box set definitely worth purchasing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but fun, 14 April 2013
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Beware of spoilers below:

After Dr Who was rested for a year, the powers-that-be at the BBC were in two minds about whether to continue the show for very much longer. Considering the series made them a fortune in overseas sales and video sales, they should have invested in it and given it some decent publicity. But rant over.

The 'trial' format sees the Doctor put in court by his own people. Unfortunately this tends to involve the stories being constantly interrupted by trial scenes which seem to exist purely to tie up continuity problems. That said, the first two adventures are Dr Who at its entertaining best. The first tale involves the mysterious planet Ravalox, is a story of political intrigue filled with witty dialogue and strong characters such as "Arthur Daley in space" Glitz and the most impressive robot since the first Tom Baker story. The second adventure involves cosmic yuppie Sil (one of the finest original creations of the show's latter years), along with Brian Blessed as a warlord and an interesting tale of body-swapping. The finale is one of the most dramatic and intense in the series' entire cannon, making it all the more tragic the production team had to ruin it with a later cop-out.

When the story reaches its Vervoid segment, things start to go downhill. It's not just that the Vervoid story treats the audience like idiots or that it drags. Bonnie Langford saw Dr Who as a way of escaping panto and moving on to serious acting. The writers duly obliged and, er, wrote her as a grown-up Violet Elizabeth Botts. To be fair, even the experienced thesps are struggling with the dreadful melodramatic dialogue the Vervoid segment seems to be filled with. There are some genuinely good moments and a few great cliffhangers. The Vervoids themselves are an imaginative design (although whether or not they look slightly obscene I think really depends on what goes on in the mind of the viewer). But all in all the "plants fighting back" theme was done much more effectively in "The Seeds of Doom".

The final segment is worth watching just for the superbly surreal imagery and the great-looking location work. However, it was a story dogged with problems. Author Robert Holmes (the show's finest ever wordsmith) died before he could finish it, and after an argument with the production team scrpt editor Eric Saward walked out. I don't blame Pip & Jane Baker for the final episode. They did the best they could and managed to come up with 30 minutes of entertainment. But the fact that only one of the writers and the script editor knew how a 14-part story was supposed to end makes you wonder how disorganised the show's production was. Eric Saward had wanted to stay true to Holmes' original intention to end the adventure with something deep and dark. But the producer felt it left the story unresolved and but the block on it. So instead we have a weak, confused ending which feels even less resolved. Everything is lovely and happy, despite the fact Gallifrey has no president, no high council and is descending into anarchy whilst the only person who could do anything to help is bouncing merrily away with a companion he's technically never met burbling about carrot juice. Meanwhile the Valeyard (superbly played by Michael Jayston throughout despite his descent into panto villain in the final episode) is - dramatic music - still alive after all in a strange, Freddy Krueger-like "see you next time" coda.

The extras on this box-set are a must for any Dr Who fan. Along with the "making of" documentaries and commentaries (sadly Brian Blessed didn't do a commentary) there is a documentary summarising the Colin Baker years and various clips from TV shows of the mid-1980s concerning Dr Who.
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