Doctor Who #661: Terror of the Vervoids Part 3

"You're hardly mistakable in that outfit."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Nov.15 1986 as The Trial of a Time Lord Part 11.

The Vervoids revealed in all their, uhm, glory.

REVIEW: So yes, we finally see the Vervoids in the light of day, and a legend is born. The legend of Doctor Who's rudest ever monster. Somehow, the design team made them look like every possible human sexual organ at once. There's no skirting around that fact. I'm sorry. You'd think a creature otherwise covered in leaves would have a little of Adam and Eve's post-apple modesty, but no. Striking and memorable, but, y'know. Somehow, that's not the most objectionable element of the episode. It's not the music either, though it tries hard to draw my ire. No, and I'm sure you guessed it, it's the damn court scenes that continue to irritate me. I must sound like a broken record, but we get another example of the Matrix "lying", which just makes the Inquisitor look stupid. Does anyone REALLY believe the Doctor chopped up the communications console with  an axe? He would have had no reason to do so, and the Valeyard's desperate attempt to make the court suspect the Doctor is the mysterious murderer is complete ridiculous. Worse is that the Inquisitor entertains the notion. Worst is that it attracts attention to the fact the Matrix seems to purposefully hide the killer's identity as if it cares about suspense.

These pauses might be welcome if the cast of characters wasn't very interesting, but that's not the case. I love how the Commodore calls Rudge on being a rubbish security chief, what with everyone dying and going missing with no suspect in sight despite the limited pool of possible culprits. Lasky's wish to move science forward and potentially cement her place in history is typical "science-gone-wrong" plotting for Doctor Who, but for once, she's not the villain per se. Instead, it's Bruchner, a scientist on her team, who decides they shouldn't be playing God and is ready to destroy the ship to make sure the Vervoids don't reach Earth and infect us all with their pollen. So is the "hero" doing all those villainous things, or is there yet another party causing trouble? I mean, Bruchner has no reason to put Mel in the pulverizer, does he?

In terms of mystery, there's certainly plenty, and there could definitely be more than one culprit about (+ the Vervoids). Maybe the fact Lasky is reading Murder on the Orient Express is a clue/reference to that. And there's certainly some thriller elements to go with that - Mel in a bin heading for cremation, a cool black hole to steer the ship into (the effect is scientific nonsense, but I'm reminded of the one in The Impossible Planet), Janet having to return to her room to change out of her stained uniform being a fake-out for a Vervoid surprising Mel in there. What I'm saying is, this is a perfectly pleasant space opera murder mystery which I hate cutting away from for tedious courtroom scenes.

VERSIONS: A deleted scene (or deleted effect, really) on the DVD shows the trash getting vented out of the ship, and an alternate ending that puts the cliffhanger a few seconds later as the ship turns towards the black hole.

- Courtroom nonsense drags down a fun and convoluted mystery thriller. The Vervoids are awful, but I can stand a little kitsch.



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