Doctor Who #653: The Mysterious Planet Part 3

"Silence! You drain my energy reserve with your constant infantile bickering."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Sep.20 1986 as The Trial of a Time Lord Part 3.

IN THIS ONE... The L1 robot snags the Doctor, and when the Tribe of the Free kill it, they think they've gotten the "Immortal" and enter the underground to claim their prize.

REVIEW: Robert Holmes is lavishing two particular double acts with the best lines, and surprise, neither of them is the Doctor and the Valeyard. The blond twins working for the L3 have some fun moments as they debate the finer points of logic in full view of a robot that's anything but. They may run circles around each other with philosophical games, but their master is both emotional (see the line above, for example) and limited by its programming (or else it might not threaten to replace them with the Doctor so matter-of-factly). Still, these are rather minor characters to get so much attention. Glitz and Dibber are, of course, the other favored duo, and it's kind of fun to see Dibber give as good as he gets from his loftier compère.

Of the other characters, one's interest is most held by Merdeen and Grell, the former caught out and accused by the latter of running an overground railroad, which he is. Neither trust each other, though they might very well be on the same side. We'll see. The others are pretty much stuck on neutral. Balazar's Canadian Goose shtick is wearing thin, and I'm not sure "Broken Tooth" is a name that makes sense for the underground techies, even if Balazar's old friend is currently called that by his adoptive tribe. Katryca is the warrior queen, but only ever interesting when she mistrusts the Doctor for the groundwork laid by Glitz and his ilk. In battle or victory, she's just a shouting caricature. The Doctor has a somewhat embarrassing tangle with a robot, waking up with thoughts of Sarah Jane (aww), but I've got next to nothing to say about Peri this time around, which is an indictment in and of itself. She was doing so well.

As for the trial scenes, I'm tolerating them at this point. They're neither too intrusive, nor particularly interesting. The one big revelation - and it's one that has consequences further down the line - is that part of the record has been redacted "for the public good". So there's a secret here that can't be revealed in open court (or open Matrix, I suppose Time Lords are watching this at home like it's the O.J. trial), which means a secret that your garden variety Time Lord can't learn. It happens at an innocuous point, which undersells the idea. That may be the point - else the Doctor might very well have objected - but it still feels like a piece of the overall arc that might have been lost on the audience by the time they got to it.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - There's a robot with tentacles and spearmen marching on a high-tech facility... It's Doctor Who. It just doesn't feel like it's trying very hard at this particular moment.

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