The Trial of a Time Lord (Terror of the Vervoids)

The prosecution rests. It’s now time for the Doctor to present his defence, and he’s given control of the matrix viewer to show a more favourable adventure. Weirdly, the one he chooses is from the future, something he hasn’t yet done. Now, this is an intriguing concept because, surely, if the Doctor actually has further adventures in the future, it must mean that the trial ends in his favour… otherwise he’d be dead, no? No doubt a society so entrenched in the mechanics of time travel has many legal precedents for this sort of situation, and yet nobody actually brings it up. The adventure is accepted as fact, and is therefore valid evidence.

The starliner Hyperion III nearly flies into a black hole.

The starliner Hyperion III nearly flies into a black hole.

Terror of the Vervoids is a murder mystery story set in space. In that respect, it’s similar to Robots of Death, but it doesn’t really have the same quality of memorable characters nor interesting themes, nor creepy atmosphere, nor quality of production. It’s not bad, per se, but it has a certain silliness to it. The Vervoid creatures are actually pretty creepy, or as creepy as plant men with flower heads can be, I suppose. There’s also a hijacking subplot that comes out of nowhere and leads to pretty much nothing. That said, I quite like the design of the Mogarians – just a shame we had to see their actual faces by the end of it. The resolution was a bit bleak – no coexistence between plant and animal can ever work? It’s thought-provoking, but surely it could be approached from a more optimistic angle.

Bill and Ben.

Bill and Ben.

What becomes apparent during this story is that somebody is definitely tampering with the evidence. At this point, I’m inclined to suspect foul play from the Valeyard, who is probably trying to frame the Doctor for something. Whether this ties up with the mysteries from the previous stories remains to be seen, but the Doctor nevertheless has to continue with the evidence as presented, only objecting where the facts deviate.

The Mogarians play some sort of Galaga variant. This would have looked cutting edge in 1986. I thought it looked quaintly retro. Funny how things change.

The Mogarians play some sort of Galaga variant. This would have looked cutting edge in 1986. I thought it looked quaintly retro. Funny how things change.

Since this story is set in the future, the Doctor already has a new companion, the permed and perky Mel (played by Bonnie Langford). Their relationship is pre-established – that is, it’s implied they’ve been travelling together for a while at this point. This seems like a cheap way to drop a new actress into the show without having to introduce her first. The sixth Doctor is not exactly a character you would volunteer to travel with, but will we ever see them meet? Is that still to come? This is… weird.

Between them, the Doctor and Mel have more hair than even the Tardis can contain.

Between them, the Doctor and Mel have more hair than even the Tardis can contain.

I’m getting a little bored of this trial now. Thankfully, it’s about to be wrapped up in the next story, and then I’ll have a verdict of my own.

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