Couldn’t sleep last night, well, from about six this morning, so decided to watch the first four episodes of Doctor Who – 'The Trial Of A Time Lord' on DVD. The DVD box had recently become cheap enough for me to afford it. Not one of my favourite stories – it’s sort of four stories in one, none of which are favourites – but I wouldn’t be a Doctor Who fan if I didn’t also have an obsessive drive for absolute completism.
Hadn’t seen The Mysterious Planet for, ooh, must be getting on for almost twenty years now. My main memory of it was that the whole production, in particular the plot, was a bit lukewarm, a bit half-hearted, a bit ‘safe’, and that by this point in his career, Robert Holmes had emptied all his bottom drawers of ideas and was re-hashing old plots. ‘The Caves Of Androzani’ is ‘The Space Pirates’ done right; ‘The Mysterious Planet’ is ‘The Krotons’ with a couple of characters from ‘The Ribos Operation’.
I was wrong. I gave the story too low a mark in my poll! It’s actually all rather good. The villainous robots is quite effective – like a living Henry Moore – if only it had a better voice, dialogue and wasn’t so wobbly. There’s a lot of very funny lines in there and a couple of neat twists. And I love that Doctor Who and Peri are getting on and having fun and playing against the ‘bickering’ dialogue; I’ve said it before, but there was no real difference in how the Peter Davison and Colin Baker Doctor Whos were written, they both insult their companions all the time; the only difference being that Peter played against the lines, with jokey, self-effacing charm, where Colin played the lines as written and came over, very occasionally, as a bit self-centred and brash.
Two other thoughts. Broken Tooth’s real name actually is Broken Tooth because that’s what Balazer calls him when they are reunited. How peculiar!
And secondly – the Time Lords bleep out Glitz’s line in order to cover up the fact that someone broke into the Time Lord’s Matrix Data Bank:
“[they] found a way into the BLEEP BLEEP, the biggest net of information in the universe.”
Which is, er, rather like trying to cover up the Watergate scandal by saying
“they broke into the BLEEP BLEEP, the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee’
Or that guy who broke into the Queen’s bedroom back in 1982;
“he found a way into the BLEEP BLEEP, the room in Buckingham Palace where the current monarch sleeps.”