Doctor Who - The Trial Of A Time Lord 
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This four-disc set features the episodes - "The Mysterious Planet", "Mind Warp", "Terror Of The Vervoids" and "The Ultimate Foe" - that make up the Trial of a Time Lord storyline. The TARDIS is drawn to a space station where the Doctor (Colin Baker)is subjected to a Time Lord inquiry into his behaviour, presided over by an Inquisitor. The prosecuting counsel, the Valeyard, presents the first piece of his evidence, which consists of a recording played back on a screen linked to the Matrix. It concerns a visit by the Doctor and Peri to the desolate planet Ravolox...
Few of Doctor Whos long-standing fans will tell you that The Trial Of A Time Lord is a story that hits their top ten list, and with good reason. A 14-episode opus that formed an entire series of Colin Bakers reign in the Tardis, its a patchy production, that does have some qualities to it, but is probably one for the hardened Who fan rather than the casual viewer.
The key to the story is that the Doctor is on trial, facing a potential death penalty, and the courtroom saga works as a backdrop to a collection of stories that sit on top. So theres The Mysterious Planet, which is a decent enough yarn, the weak and puzzling Mindwarp, the surprisingly enjoyable Terror Of The Vervoids, and then the twisty The Ultimate Foe.
While The Trial Of A Time Lord does have a few notable missteps, with some occasionally muddled writing, and while it does introduce arguably the worst companion the Doctor has ever travelled with (Bonnie Langfords Mel), its still a fascinating series to watch, warts and all. Fortunately, its backed by a substantive collection of extras, including numerous commentaries and documentaries, that provide an honest glance back at a story that arrived in the midst of one of Doctor Whos most troubled periods. All that, ultimately, makes it a worthwhile purchase for Who fans, even if after reacquainting themselves with it, theyre still not likely to put The Trial Of A Time Lord near their aforementioned top ten list --Jon Foster
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"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.
This was the first series after the suspension, and I can't help feeling this story didn't help the show's already troubled reputation. The 'trial' was clearly a self-aware attempt to reflect on the series itself being put on trial by the BBC. What is damning is there's a strong case for the series being laid to rest, at least for a few years. After 18 months of preparation (the trial idea was suggested very early on) it often seems as though they're making it up as they go along. If you're going to write something as complicated as a 14-part tale of intrigue like this, you make sure you have it planned our properly. Ensuring the writers and actors actually know what they're doing might also be an added bonus. It speaks volumes that only writer Robert Holmes and script-editor Eric Saward knew how this story was supposed to end. After Holmes unfortunately died and Saward walked out, we have an unresolved ending with Gallifrey descending into chaos and the only person who could do anything about it toddling off wittering about carrot juice with a companion he's never met. The Doctor is put on trial - the prosecution uses a case in which he saves the galaxy and then another case the prosecuting Valeyard lambasts him over the deaths that occurred. Rather than pointing out the obvious flaws in the prosecution (that none of them would be here now were in not for him, and that the Time Lords abducted him before he could save his companion and prevent the experiments the Time Lords wanted stopped) the Doctor just rants like a buffoon. He then presents a case in which he commits genocide as his defence. Seems like the trial really was reflecting the show itself.
There are often complains that Dr Who needed more money. That argument was valid during the McCoy years when the show's creative head was back in place. But it seemed nobody involved with Dr Who at this point had any idea how to go about spending cash wisely. For each of the three series prior to the suspension the production team wasted half the year's budget taking the show abroad for no better reason than so the team could have a free holiday at the licence-payer's expense. More money was spent on trying to turn the show into a mimic of big US films. Where's the valid reason why Michael Grade should have stumped up more money? So the production team could go holidaying in America or Australia? So they could spend more money on spaceships and big monsters like the Myrka? No BBC budget of any size was ever going to make the show look like Star Wars or Alien.
The money in "Trial" has been similarly spent on big effects. There's the (admittedly great) opening sequence, but all it does is serve to illustrate how shabby the rest of the sets (including the half-finished-looking trial room) seem. Then there's a fantastic-looking robot which does little but stand in a control room shouting at people.
The stories themselves entertain but they're pretty lightweight. Holmes' episodes (despite being a collection of 'greatest hits') are very watchable, whilst the Sil story is kind of fun. That leads us to another bitter pill of this story. The greatest death scene a companion has had in the series' entire canon is ruined with the most pathetic cop-out imaginable. The Vervoid episodes have their moments, even if they do teat their audience like simpletons. The finale also has memorable scenes, but overall it's just a mess. The Valeyard descends from genuinely sinister bureaucrat to panto villain and at the end of it all, in a bizarre Freddy Krueger-like "see you next time" coda, appears to be alive after all.
This DVD set is worth buying just for the extras. There are 'making of' documentaries, along with a reflection on the Colin Baker era as a whole and much more. What is interesting is the "Open Air" episode from 1986. Pip & Jane Baker claim they wanted to make something to challenge the fans, but also add they thought cliché-ridden running around corridors were "what the fans wanted". Their Vervoid story must add to the evidence they believed they were writing for rather simple-minded children. Whether that's the view of the then production team as a whole can only be guessed at.
This story is entertaining, and the Doctor/Peri duo are now a more likeable team. But just don't try to think about the plot, because I'm not sure anyone making the show figured it out.
The new series commends it's links to the classic series but omits this. A 14 part comedic theatrical romp superb music score too
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Very good story! Colin Baker is great with the awesome Peri.Read more