Doctor Who #657: Mindwarp Part 3

"I endeavour to maintain a certain continuity."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.18 1986 as The Trial of a Time Lord Part 7.

IN THIS ONE... Kiv's brain is transplanted into a younger body. Yrcanos looks to join the Alpha rebels.

REVIEW: It's traditional for Part 3s to spin their wheels and offer up a bit of padding to extend the wait for any given story's finale. So we get to watch Kiv's new body before he wakes up for what seems like ages, and Yrcanos and Peri get lost in the tunnels for even longer. (If you're playing the 6th Doctor drinking game, Peri says "these tunnels look all the same to me" for the last time. Take a shot.) And of course, you already know how tedious I find the courtroom scenes, and they seem extra long this time. Used to it, but when a story is already annoying me as much as Mindwarp has, the padding bugs me all the more.

If Brian Blessed was doing a cod-version of the characters he would later play for Kenneth Branagh in Part 2, here, he's just a shouting machine. Peri gets to play Betty Ross to his Hulk, a calming influence, which I suppose is the best expression of their relationship. She can also get him worked up, frothing with jealousy, for example, by simply scratching behind the dog-man's ear. That's... a little embarrassing for all involved actually. But it's the talk about destiny that's almost painful. Yrcanos believes his is to die as a hero, which makes sense. He's of a warrior class. Peri doesn't really believe in the concept and says so, but the modern viewer will KNOW her destiny, and it's pretty horrific. BOTH OF THEM ARE. If only they'd all died as they seemed to at the end of the episode, gunned down by guards. If only.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is playing nice with Crozier AND Sil. Now, I don't know yet if he's actually using his extensive historical knowledge to help Sil make money or if he's trying to ruin his business, but you'd think that would be a much better moment to talk about in court than the fact Alphan rebels died in a rock fall. This story is so badly put together! It's so obvious the plot of the month was developed without the Trial in mind, and then the person who wrote the Trial stuff (likely, Saward) didn't know how to best make them work together. Perhaps worse is the fact Sil hardly deserves his troubles in this story. He's less a villain than a clown, a grotesque but essentially harmless creature at the mercy of Kiv and the Doctor. A waste of a good villain, really, to subordinate him to another, less interesting figure.

- When it's not dull padding, it's loud nonsense.



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