Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Trial Of A Timelord - Story One: The Mysterious Planet


I have never forgotten the beginning of this set of stories for two reasons. At the time, the theme was excellent 80's synthesizer. Okay, I did forget that for a while, but I never forgot the opening sequence. The shot of a spaceship in space was done like no other space shot in Who before. The camera angle rotated as it discovered the ship with the stars in the background reacting accordingly. You really felt it was a spaceship. A hole opens in the structure of the ship and a beam of light shoots out. You see the TARDIS as it travels down the shaft of light into the ship. Inside, The Doctor exits the TARDIS with a bit of confusion, but seems to know where to go. He opens a set of doors to reveal a dimly lit courtroom, a figure in black opposite from him. We learn The Doctor had been propelled there by the Timelords who are in the shadows. Then the lights come up to reveal the Timelords. One in white comes in, The Inquisitor. She sits in the place of a judge and calls The Doctor the accused, surprising him. The man in black, The Valeyard, is bringing a case against The Doctor for conduct unbecoming of a Timelord and for transgressing the first law of time. They mention him having been on trial for this before, and perhaps they had been too lenient. The Doctor tries to get out of it by reminding them he is Lord President of Gallifrey. The Inquisitor tells him he was deposed for neglecting his duties. He is offered representation, but The Doctor says he will speak for himself. The Valeyard claims he will show 2 instances of The Doctors meddling, all stored within the matrix. They will begin on Ravalox.

We see The Doctor and Peri walking in the rain of a planet eerily similar to Earth, but light years away. One that was supposed to have been destroyed by a fireball, but clearly supported life, except they hear no birds. I like this more mature Peri, and her relationship with The Doctor. There are also two mercenaries, Sabalom Glitz and Dibber. They see The Doctor and think he is there for the same reason they are. Glitz discusses a complex and L3 robot being operational, so they need to find the light converter, which some villagers are using as a totem pole. He intimidates some villagers to take them back to their leader. The Doctor and Peri find a cave which leads to what appears to be a destroyed underground station. The Doctor interrupts the trial to ask where Peri is. He has some amnesia from being taken out of time by the Timelords. The Valeyard says she is probably where he left her. The Doctor and Peri find a doorway leading downwards, but Peri stays behind. Men in an odd primitive type of armor and mask grab her.

Glitz is at the village, thinking he can charm the leader, Katryca, played by the delightful Joan Sims. She's not having it. She's seen many travelers who all wanted the totem for a different reason. They take Glitz and Dibber's guns and lock them in one of the huts. The Doctor is walking in modern hallways that are well lit. He finds a room and lifts a carafe of water, setting off an alarm and a swarm of jumpsuited men who tie him up. They call him old one and he tells them he is only 900. A large robot is watching them on a scanner. The men refer to the immortal who commands them, and tell The Doctor that water is life. They untie The Doctor and begin to throw stones. He opens the umbrella to try and block the stones but is hit. The Doctor brags to the court about his little move with the umbrella. The Valeyard said The Doctor takes pride in his interferences. He then says that this began as a mere inquiry but was now a trial, and he was sure that if found guilty The Doctor would face termination.


The Inquisitor tells The Valeyard that the court may not have termination in mind and they return to the evidence. The Doctor is unconscious, and before the men can kill them the robot (the immortal) communicates to bring The Doctor to him. Katryca welcomes Peri to the village and promises to provide many husbands, then puts her in the same hut they are keeping Glitz and Dibber. Glitz discovers The Doctor is a Timelord. First he thinks he must have been sent, but sees him as freelance. Glitz has an underground map of the tunnels he plans to bargain with, but Katryca  says he shall be sacrificed to the fire. Meanwhile, Balazar is telling The Doctor how there is a culling to rid them of people and they take the two brightest children for the immortal to eat.We see two intelligent men with the large menacing robot with quite a sleek design including horns. They send out a service robot, the L1. 

The Doctor is the only one allowed in to see the immortal, who calls himself Jathro. Jathro thinks The Doctor is from Andromeda at first, but is pleased that he is a Timelord. He has a black light system that needs repaired. The inquisitor interrupts to see if this is all pertinent to the trial. The Doctor calls The Valeyard The Boatyard and The Graveyard, The Inquisitor warns him. The Doctor protests that he was working under duress, trying to repair the system or die. The Inquisitor agrees and The Doctor begins to try and charm her. 

The Doctor tells Jathro he can't fix the machine and must go to the aerial. He asks what all of it was for and is told it supported 3 sleepers until they could return to Andromeda. The Doctor recalls the rain above and asks why people can't go to the surface. Jathro says his instructions were to sustain an underground survival system. In his working, The Doctor gets a cable into the hands of Jathro and each of his companions. He zaps them and makes his escape. At the village, Peri, Glitz and Dibber escape. They also blow up the totem, which effected Jathro. The leader of the underground search party, Merdeen, secretly tells Balazar he must go to the surface and find others he has saved from the culling. Above, Peri, Glitz and Dibber run from the village search party. The Doctor finds Merdeen, who convinces him to take Balazar to the surface, and he does. The Valeyard interrupts to show that The Doctor could have removed himself at that point and chose not to. The Inquisitor says they will reserve judgement until the end of the sequence. Outside with The Doctor, Balazar is amazed at the lack of destruction. The Doctor is just remarking about Peri wandering off when she and the others run up and they all rush inside as the villagers approach. But inside they find themselves trapped between the villagers and the L1 service robot. 


Balazar knows one of the villagers, who shoots the L1 robot. Jathro reacts badly. His system is failing. The Doctor learns the totem is gone, and now the black light system is unstable and must be shut down. The Inquisitor interrupts to complain about the violent scenes, which The Valeyard says are necessary to show The Doctor's predilection towards violence. After The Doctor and others are taken to the village, the L1 robot reactivates. Katryca is intrigued by The Doctor, who has no weapons, and curious when he says he wants to repair the totem. But while Balazar is welcomed the others are imprisoned again. Outside, the L1 robot finds the village. Glitz says he is there to collect a few files, and confirms that this is Earth, in the wrong location. The L1 robot breaks into the hut they are in and stuns then grabs The Doctor. The rest follow. Katryca grabs up arms and follows. During a scene where Jathro and his 2 assistants argue, The Doctor interrupts, calling it irrelevant, calling The Valeyard, The Farmyard. He says he wasn't even in the scenes. the Valeyard brings him up to date on surveillance techniques. The evidence is being taken from the matrix, which is knowledge being constantly fed by the experiences of Timelords no matter where they may be. The Doctor tells The Scrapyard he wasn't even present, then apologized, claiming force of habit. The Valeyard tells him the experience of a 3rd party can be accessed if in range of a TARDIS. The Doctor says his TARDIS is old and must have been bugged.

The L1 robot is carrying The Doctor when it is attacked by villagers. Peri watches helplessly from behind a tree. The L1 is dead so Katryca thinks the immortal is dead and they leave to attack. Peri runs to The Doctor. Jathro says The Doctor must be there to collect the secrets of the sleepers. Glitz sends Dibber after heavy artillery. The Doctor begins to come around and calls Peri, Sarah Jane, asking when are they. Katryka and the villagers are underground trying to find their way to the riches they expect to find in the form of tools and knowledge. The Doctor knows Jathro won't want the system shut down because he will shut down too, but if not it will implode. He must save them if there's a chance. When he finds out The Doctor went underground, Glitz is sure he is here after the same thing. He and Dibber go down and Glitz warns that if they run into The Doctor, not to mention they are after the stuff.... and here the audio was squelched. The Valeyard says it has been excised in public interest. The Inquisitor doesn't like it but continues and we see Merdeen find The Doctor, raise his gun and shoot.


Merdeen shoots the man behind The Doctor, saving him. Katrika enters Jathros room, surprised at the sight of him. He kills her and sends the other off for the culling. The Doctor tells the court he was trying to avert a catastrophe. The Valeyard says his crime was in being there and setting in motion the chain of events. Glitz and Dibber are searching for the secrets. Dibber wonders if they're really worth anything. Glitz says the sleepers found a way in... and again the squelch in audio, then Glitz saying "..the biggest net of information." The Doctor objects again, but The Inquisitor lets it continue. Glitz is talking about the facts, figures, formulas, scientific information, anti grav power, all worth a fortune to various governments. 

The Doctor is trying to get Jathro to let him shut down the system, but Jathro feels robots have more value than humans. Peri tries to find a way in, Balazar suggests the ration chute. Glitz finds them. The Doctor says the implosion will cause a chain reaction that could cause universal destruction. Jathro sees Peri on the monitor approaching and thinks it's a plan of The Doctor's. He turns on the huge fans in the chute and for some reason lasers, really really bad lasers, shoot in one condensed area that was easily avoided. Peri, Glitz and the others come in. The Doctor explains what is happening. Glitz pretends he has black light power on his ship and leads Jathro away, asking him to bring the secrets. They tie up The Doctor and Peri then leave. The Doctor is instantly out of his binds and releases the others. He begins to try and shut the machine down. He does enough and there's only a small explosion. Jathro collapses above, overheating and burning the files containing the secrets.Glitz and Dibber are satisfied in finding the hardest metal in the galaxy, so it wasn't a total loss. 

Everyone else is okay and The Doctor tells Balazar it's time to bring his people to the surface. He still wonders who moved Earth in the first place. In court The Doctor seems proud to have succeeded. He insisted it be recorded what he did and that his presence was requested. The Valeyard scoffs at The Doctor and tells him he has barely started. The most damning evidence was yet to come and he felt sure the court would demand his life.

Up next: A review of "Mindwarp"

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