Doctor Who #656: Mindwarp Part 2

"I see my own interests. I place myself first."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.11 1986 as The Trial of a Time Lord Part 6.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor turns his coat and joins Sil against Peri and Yrcanos.

REVIEW: So either the Matrix is lying or Crozier's machine has scrambled the Doctor's brain so that he becomes selfish and amoral. Why they protest so much about the former when the latter is so much more probable tells me the former is true, against all odds. But whatever the reason is, what bugs me is that it resets the Doctor to the companion-murdering version we met in The Twin Dilemma. I find it spectacularly annoying that in what few stories were actually afforded him, the sixth Doctor appears so often as someone we can't root for - a traitor, a killer, someone who kills and quips, a cat eater... There's a reason he's remembered that way. You're so often likely to tune in to one of these moments.

And another thing about the "lying Matrix". Making us doubt the "record" excuses all sorts of continuity gaffes, but it also seems to give the production team the excuse not to care about its internal continuity. I don't mean across the whole of the program's history (though that's an interesting way to look at the Matrix), I mean in Trial of a Time Lord, which is replete with instances where details are forgotten, sidelined or ignored. Just in this episode, to offer an example, we have King Yrcanos showing favor to Peri, and it's played as the latest instance of some random creepy guy making a pass at her. Her face tells the full story. And yet, we'll later be asked to believe they were happily married. Peri married this strange older man, this two-dimensional caricature only interested in war, a subject she makes sure to say, in their first conversation, is humanity's great flaw. Not buying it. Just like I'm not buying the relevance of this evidence in the trial (the Doctor could so easily plead insanity), or how Sil is set up as playing against Kiv but here is a sincere sycophant, or later the Mel paradox, or the Master's appearance... I just can't blame all the plot holes, past and future, on a lying Matrix.

Body mods gone wrong: Kiv's brain is made to grow bigger than his skull will allow, explaining his headaches and his need for a new body (or at least, head, so we're poaching from The Brain of Morbius). Was Yrcanos the initial choice for Kiv's brain? He's got a big head sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was all bone and teeth. When you get Brian Blessed to play a character, you should expect an over-the-top cod-Shakespearean performance, but it doesn't make the character look particularly smart in this case, just rather childishly exuberant and silly, not to say delusional in his limited world view. Despite having the same writer and director, Mindwarp is nowhere near as clever or interesting as Vengeance on Varos.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low
- Whether the Doctor has gone bad (AGAIN) or the record is lying to us, the show's just broken its contract with its audience.

3 comments:

DAVID WALSTON said...

The way the Doctor flip flops, and the way Peri is treated makes this one of my least favorite of sixes stories.

CiB said...

During the filming of this episode, the story goes, Colin Baker asked the director whether the Doctor had actually gone bad, or whether it was a trick, as this would effect how he played him. The directors answer, apparently was "I don't know".

Siskoid said...

Yeah. Poor Colin. It's amazing how much he loved playing the part given how terrible his experience was.

 

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