The Trial of a Time Lord
Okay let's get this straight right now: I HATE this story. If we get that out of the way right now and understand that, we'll get along splendidly!
That aside, I'll try to focus on the good stuff first.
Okay now the bad stuff. NO just kidding.
Honestly, the good: Peri and the Doc seem closer and Peri looks fantastic. The Doc seems to have longer hair and his jacket colors seem...toned down and the jacket seems altogether different. The location work is very, very nice and the camera work is the best the show has ever seen I'd say. Glitz and Dibber make quite a pair, Tony Selby as Glitz is a good actor and Dibber is nice eye candy IMO. Dratho looks good and menacing but once it moves...
The theme tune. Not as good as the original Hartnell up to Tom variations on that theme or even as good as the last TomBaker and full era of Davison theme song...but it will do. It takes time to get used to. I once heard a FULL very long version of this and if anything it improved in length and in sound with lots of strange effects within the music itself causing quite alien music and it was very good and of course it's not on the DVD at all. It was pre2005.
Anyway, that's the good stuff.
Bad stuff. Well see the 700 page thing in ABOUT TIME 6 about what doesn't make sense and what stinks.
Truthfully I remember that DW was taken off the air. Then a Gallifrean Embassy meeting. We had I think the first two eps or the entire thing of MYSTERIOUS PLANET as this was called. IMagine if you will what this looked like with all of DW hinging on this. DW was back and it was...worse than ever. I mean THIS is what they came back with. How could they? The original planned season sounded faulty...and it was if you read the novels...but this couldn't have been better than even that. I remember being SO dissapointed about this story and the entire TRIAL seemed...poor. It is a poor excuse to have your show on TRIAL and then come back and put your character on trial itself.
I don't even think this story and the others that follow it would have made good stories outside of the TRIAL sequence. Thing is that fans have explained all the inconsistencies and the awful plodding plot holes and the tepid story by many fantastical and inventive means. ANd that's what fans who love DW and other shows do: they explain and they make excuses and they involve themselves. I have read several great essays (one of them in LISCENSE REVOKED) about what really happened in TRIAL OF A TIME LORD and how it all makes sense in the real version. That what we watched was the VALEYARD TRIAL all messed up to make things go against the Doctor and the real stories happened slightly and in some cases majorly different. That everything we saw and see in TRIAL is FAKE. Okay. That's all well in good but when I'm watching a tv show I want to see that it is what matters.
And that's telling. Some problems I have with it and had with it then and have with it now: Time Lords are having a trial in space on a spaceship. Why? Are they afraid of being on Gallifrey? Does that make sense? The Time Lords take the Doctor out of time and space to have him put on trial. Aren't they inteferring by doing that? And without Peri. And the Doc doesn't notice that until well into the Trial. The spaceship effect is the nicest the show ever had but I don't care about it. It makes no sense and even if it does, nice pretty pictures and effects do not make a poor flimsy story any better. At one point, the Doctor tells Peri, "You've traveled with me long enough to know that none of this really matters..." Okay, here's the lead character telling us all that this adventure and what's happening now doesn't really matter. If he's not into it, then why should we?
Then worse of all, the Doctor tells the court, "Can't we just have the edited highlights?" Indeed. It seems they didn't listen to him. He tells us he's been through several such trials or inquiries...he has and we're reminded of them all and how boring they were then and how boring they are now. ARC OF INFINITY isn't that far away. And while we're on it, the outside of the spaceshp may look grand but the inside looks like redressed ARC sets...that looked better in ARC. The Valeyard is unclear to the nature of the trial.
Worse: the cliffhanger is just a soap opera commerical break with a zoom in on the Doc's face...wait for that in many many cliffhangers to follow...boring.
Katryca: an old fat woman who isn't interesting, isn't played by a good actress, and isn't menacing, funny, or realistic. The entire village looks too, I don't know, civil and maybe it's supposed to be but it looks...too good to be honest.
And worse than all of that: although Peri is pleasant enough in the first five minutes, it's not long before she becomes a whimpering mess again and complaining and not wanting to be there and going off alone to wait for the Doc while he goes into danger to find out what happened to the planet Earth...
oh yeah, we find out in the first ten min or so that this is Earth. I mean if you're going to copy PLANET OF THE APES and a few min later, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, you might want to get some of that right. Holmes originally wanted to keep the trial bits or that the Doc was already on trial a secret until the cliffhanger and that might have worked in his hands but having TRIAL as the first word in your main title might give it away ahead of time. Anyway, Peri doesn't seem to care what's going on and so how can we?
The mutants or whtever they are that come out of holes in the wall..what were they doing in thre? ...are menacing for about two seconds. Then they act like retards, well, they are...and nicely stone the Doctor who tries to defend himself with an umbrella. WTF? I mean WTF? Then we switch from the "action" to the Trial and I'm already bored, befuddled, and amazed that THIS is what was supposed to keep the Doctor on tv. Oh, at one point he almost reveals his real name. Big Fin deal.
The actor who appears in both this and CITY OF DEATH (Tom Chalbourne?spelling?) has the distinction of being in what is probably one of the if not THE best DW story ever and this, one of the, if not THE worst DW stories ever. I intended to watch two eps at a time...because it's not too bad to sit through two of these and it will go faster if I do that rather than one at a time but I just couldn't stand it today. By contrast a black and white movie THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME from 1932 was on a cable channel today. It has gloss, better effects, better sets, better location work, better acting, better filming, more action and more to look at and think about than even the entire TRIAL. WTF is this?