Top of the Docs: Season 23

I remember the announcement of a season-long story arc and how interesting that seemed.  And putting the Doctor on trial… that was going to be amazing.  I remember watching this one and all the feelings I had with it but to be fair, I have to review it as 4 individual stories.  I give you, The Trial of a Time Lord!

season 23

The Mysterious Planet

RP: 2 – The best thing I can say about this is it is coherent in a way that most of the rest of the season isn’t.  But Holmes phones in a story that is just bits of his previous stories cobbled together, and undermines the Doctor by having him fail where liar Glitz succeeds.  Like most late-era Holmes, another nasty, morally bankrupt story.

ML: 1 – One villain looks like grandma, the other a robot that can’t move to be a threat.  And the Valeyard’s choice of evidence of the Doctor’s interference is actually damning himself and his own people far more than it does the Doctor.  A terrible episode on almost every count.  The only thing keeping it from a 0 is the trial scenes are actually a lot of fun!


RP: 2 – One point for the magnificent Brian Blessed.  One point for the special effects.  Zero for the rest of it, a rotten, nonsensical mess of a story, that represents the final degredation of the most degraded of companions, and a Doctor that it is impossible not to hate.

ML: 7 – There may be a lot wrong with this episode but I like it despite those things.  I loved the alienness of the planet, the shock of Peri’s death, and of course, Brian Blessed.  Low end of above average, but still fun to watch!

Terror of the Vervoids

RP: 6 – Mel is a breath of fresh air, a companion who is not defined by an abusive relationship with the Doctor and by her body.  Without the mess of the Trial scenes, this is a pretty effective, functional whodunit, if a little lacking in ambition.  Pip and Jane could always be relied upon not to drop the ball, but they never threw it very high either.

ML: 8 – A genuinely solid Agatha Christie mystery in space.  The relationships are a bit questionable though and the idea that the Doctor would wipe out a race and not think about the fact that he committed genocide seems unlikely.

The Ultimate Foe

RP: 5 – A watered down version of The Deadly Assassin is still reasonably entertaining.  The plot is fairly incoherent, but at least we were spared the melodramatic, series-destroying trash that was going to be the Holmes ending to the season.  Again, Pip and Jane were a safe pair of hands.

ML: 8 – Although the whole Popplewick story gets tedious, the stuff in the Matrix is quite good and holds up to this day.  The shock of who the Valeyard is still earns a lot of respect from me.  And what a shock that was….

The story as a whole opens far more issues than it attempts to close.  I said it before and I’ll say it again: redo this story but pull scenes from all the past episodes.  Do a montage, where the Doctor’s interference is on trial for real using actual scenes from the past.  Not some made up story that barely holds up under cursory examination by fans, let alone bringing it to trial on Gallifrey…  ML

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