Doctor Who #660: Terror of the Vervoids Part 2

"Mogarians versus Earthlings. What else would you call that?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Nov.8 1986 as The Trial of a Time Lord Part 10.

IN THIS ONE... Plant creatures are running around the ship, killing, and the Doctor unmasks Hallet, only too late.

REVIEW: Though having monsters do the killing takes it into B-movie horror, it's the Agatha Christie elements that work best, specifically the scene where the Doctor realizes one of the Mogarians isn't who he claims to be based on a clue available to the audience. Of course, that scene would have worked just as well without the Valeyard's interruption. The Doctor was about to explain IN-story! And besides, WHO CARES if the Valeyard didn't catch the clue? It's interrupting for interruption's sake, to remind us of the Trial, something I care not a jot about by this point.

Now, one thing the episode does right is not showing the Vervoids quite yet. A leaf here and there, plant-like hands, a face obscured by a grill, a sadly mechanically moving weapon appendage, that's fine. Any more and we'll be mocking the damn thing. Just you wait. The sets continue to be bright, but expansive, allowing the Doctor and Mel to watch the lounge from the above promenade. The Mogarans are a fun species, masked and requiring translators which they keep forgetting to turn on. Their world is being robbed of its resources by humanity, showing the dark side of our spread through the stars. Also, awesome arcade gamers. The rape of the Mogaran homeworld makes Lasky and her feuding scientists the heroes of the piece, in a sense, trying to solve universal hunger with super-crops. Is this supposed come to the aid of people like the Mogarans? Of course, their creations may have other ideas.

Sadly, there is an artificiality to the episode. The lighting and make-up are very TV, the music is terrible synth trumpeting, and there are those annoying interruptions from the Time Lords watching on their big screen of course. But it's the performances I find a little lacking this time around. Kimber's death is one of the fakest in the series' history, falling very very slowly so he doesn't hurt himself. And then there's the interplay between the Doctor and Mel, which would seem at home on children's television. It's the downside of Mel's perkiness. It can so easily feel put on, theatrical.

- While the mystery's convolutions are welcome, the episode isn't big on incident (after all, the man they thought was dead, now dies; that's not exactly movement).



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