Initially, the concept of a season shrouded under an umbrella title
struck me as somewhat daunting. Once it started there was no escape. Despite
the umbrella title I preferred to divide the episodes up into the titles
provided: The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp, Terror of the
Vervoids and The Ultimate Foe. Not only does this make the stories
easier to follow but it provides a form of familiarity with the Doctor
Who series as a whole.
1. The Mysterious Planet
The opening sequence at the beginning of episode one was excellent.
It provided an air of complete mystery. As soon as the Doctor entered the
court room I was asking "Where is Peri?", but amongst the story that followed
it was soon forgotten. On Ravalox, Sabalom Glitz was amazing. His blaming
of society for his present undesirable nature was very reminiscent of many
of those in present day New Zealand society. The location scenery was very
pleasant. I would like to know if the village of Queen Katryca was built
by BBC props, because it certainly looked like it had some substance. The
robot, Drathro, was a little less desirable. The beliefs that it was holding
to were understandable and the size of it made it different to other robotic
creatures that have appeared in the past. The two 'chosen ones', Humker
and Tandrell provided some restful, but necessary humour. Their function
and appearance discussion was brilliant. I was constantly annoyed, like
the Inquisitor, by the never-ending succession of interruptions (this feature
was to continue relentlessly through the season).
This story not only gave Peri a mindwarp it also gave me one! After
parts one and two, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Following
part three, I concluded that all that could happen now must have something
to do with Sil and Kiv - it did, but the events that took place in part
four took me completely by surprise. Things got really heavy after the
Doctor was removed. The finish of this story left me both shocked and completely
bewildered. My confidence in the Time Lords as a moral race was temporarily
destroyed. I could not believe that they, after making such strong policies
on non-intervention, could allow this to happen. It was nice to see Sil
back, but he was really under-utilised. Brain Blessed's King Yrcanos was
just as I imagined he would be: loud and unthinking! Thoros-Beta was quite
fascinating in the opening scenes. It was nice to see some attempt being
made to make a planet un-Earth-like - the pink sea was at least original.
Overall I was not entirely happy with Mindwarp.
3. Terror of the Vervoids
Another of the murder mystery on a completely isolated ship stories.
The trial of this story was to remember that it takes place in the future,
after the Doctors trial (does this not make the trial itself a foregone
conclusion?). The sudden appearance of Mel as a fully accepted companion
was unusual at the start, we usually get time to know a new companion by
seeing them first in their 'natural' environment. But, here Mel is. Her
style was shocking at first. Her bubbling, over exuberant personality was
a little much to cope with. The story itself came nicely packaged. Perhaps
there were to many killings, but when the Vervoids finally revealed their
true desires, some sympathy was given to both human and plant life, with
human life triumphing again. It was great to see Honor Blackman even though
the 'keen-to-be-fit' Professor Lasky lacked any apparent scientific capability.
The finale to each episode seemed to feature Mel screaming her head off
at some horrifying peril in the best spirit of all past female companions.
The finale to part four was almost a complete turnaround. Had the Time
Lords not killed Peri but one story previously? Now the Doctor had to be
accused of genocide - beyond belief!
4. The Ultimate Foe
The conclusion to all this mess at last. Is the Doctor guilty? What
were the secrets on Ravalox? Is this a real trial? All was to be revealed:
with the Master appearing, a solution was fast becoming apparent, but even
the Master was not responsible for what had occurred. The ultimate foe
was the Doctor himself - obvious! The Valeyard being an amalgam of all
the Doctor's evil thoughts was an original, if not difficult to understand
concept. The entry to the Matrix sparked some scenes that were reminiscent
of The Deadly Assassin: you never know if what was happening was really
happening - "the only logic is there isn't any logic". It was nice to find
out that the secrets of Ravalox (or Earth) were not forgotten. These great
'scientific' secrets were Gallifreyan. I would like to know if the shifting
of Earth to a new position in space and renaming it Ravalox affects the
continuity of the series. The Peri conclusion was a little unbelievable.
I cannot imagine Peri happily settling down as a Queen with King Yrcanos -
Americans don't even understand monarchy! But none-the-less the irritating
Popplewick and the entertaining Glitz made the finale to the story worth
remembering. This was by far the best story for season twenty-three, but
the season as a whole rates very lowly against the series as a whole. Sylvester -