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parrot_knight [userpic]

Doctor Who XXIII: The Trial of a Time Lord

February 23rd, 2008 (09:48 pm)

Some thoughts from last night, when a few hardy souls watched all fourteen episodes of season 23 of Doctor Who, one after the other.

Tat Wood is right: "Melanie, known as Mel" is delivered in such a way by the miscast, misdirected Ms Langford that one is drawn towards the conclusion that Melanie Knownasmel is her name.

'I am known as - the Doctor' is used as an introduction too many times, and is too portentous, suggesting a series which is far, far too pleased with itself than it ought to be.

Additionally, it's only from part nine, and the start of the Vervoid story, that the programme seems very interested in the Doctor, at least as far as the 'evidence' sections of the story go. The Mysterious Planet (a friend who went to the local DWAS LG at the time said that a fan with production team contacts had told them that the title switched to The Robot of Ravalox before the Trial title was imposed across all four stories, IIRC) seems primarily interested in Glitz, and Mindwarp in Yrcanos. Both in their way are variants on the bounty hunter/mercenary type beloved of Eric Saward, probably best epitomised in Lytton in Resurrection of the Daleks and Attack of the Cybermen. Saward thought that 1980s Doctor Who should borrow its tone from Minder, he has said, and it shows now and then, but is utterly at odds with so much else.

The looks on the faces of certain people - and the contortions their bodies made - as a certain revelation in part thirteen confirmed that Doctor Who was perhaps always its own crackfic...

...and the Doctor's observation that he's bored, which amounts to admitting that the entire premise and structure of the season is flawed, fifteen minutes in to the first episode. It's as if the production team expected only 60% of the audience from season 22 to return after the eighteen-month suspension. If so, they were right.

Comments

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 23rd, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
thelwell

One hesitates to suggest that too many times, and is too portentous, suggesting a series which is far, far too pleased with itself than it ought to be is as good a summary of the 10th Doctor as any... oh wait. I didn't hesitate at all ;-)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
DavidIcon

The thing is, the tenth Doctor is meant to be covering up for his own insecurity. This isn't apparent as much as it ought to be.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)
Outsider

I have some scribbled notes for a post which I hope to type up over the next day or two suggesting psychological diagnoses for both the tenth Doctor and Martha.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
Tom

I'm looking forward to it!

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
damn not given

Wot Parrot Knight said!

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC)
jayne

This might be down to the writing and direction functioning as a Greek chorus proclaiming "No, Doctor, you really are Godlike". Or do we suppose the numerous apotheosis scenes and worshipful handmaidens are to be understood ironically?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
Torchwood

I don't any more, considering the Christ-parallels being drawn in Torchwood.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
Outsider

One hesitates to suggest that too many times, and is too portentous, suggesting a series which is far, far too pleased with itself than it ought to be is as good a summary of the 10th Doctor as any... oh wait. I didn't hesitate at all

This one wouldn't hesitate either.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
Outsider

Both in their way are variants on the bounty hunter/mercenary type beloved of Eric Saward

Possibly, but Robert Holmes had been interested in Glitz-type characters as far back as The Space Pirates.

Doctor Who was perhaps always its own crackfic...

No, otherwise the season would have ended with the Doctor and the Master eloping.

I've always wanted to like Trial, and bits of it work quite well. From a script point of view, much if it is a great improvement on the previous season. The problem is the whole 'trial' format was misconceived and simply not implemented properly.

That said, I'm not sure that anyone has come up with a good explanation for the collapse in ratings between Revelation of the Daleks part two and part one of Trial. Fewer people were tuning in even before the programme started.

However, my father remembers unprompted that Michael Jayston played an evil future Doctor, so it must have permeated the public consciousness on some level.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)

No, otherwise the season would have ended with the Doctor and the Master eloping.

Well, considering that the Keeper of the Matrix seems to have been the Valeyard in disguise (how?) who knows who Mel really is?

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
Outsider

Ah, but Mel goes off with Glitz (rather incomprehensibly) at the end of the next season.

Also, I forgot to mention last night: all of Trial in one evening?! The society has obviously become more dedicated since I left! Or less scared of alienating new fans.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
Argue mainly

Ah, but Mel goes off with Glitz (rather incomprehensibly) at the end of the next season.

Remember that the Master and Glitz are business partners, though - Mel/the Master probably teams up with Glitz to exact some sort of revenge.

all of Trial in one evening?! The society has obviously become more dedicated since I left! Or less scared of alienating new fans.

I think the temptation of running the drinking game in front of one of Doctor Who's less successful ideas was too strong! Most of the new fans have gone, though numbers on the whole are up.

There's talk of doing all of The Key to Time next term...

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
Outsider

I think the temptation of running the drinking game in front of one of Doctor Who's less successful ideas was too strong!

What's the Trial drinking game?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
Argue mainly

I'm not sure of the precise details; others reading this will know better than me. Zooms on Colin Baker's face at cliffhangers deserve one swig, I know that much; and I almost made a theatrical dive for the alcohol the first time the credit 'by Pip and Jane Baker' came up, but continued to abstain.

Posted by: hack (overconvergent)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)

No, otherwise the season would have ended with the Doctor and the Master eloping.

I nearly spat tea over my monitor when I read that. Thanks :) [I am sure someone has written that fic, but have no particular wish to read it ...]

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 24th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
Davison Clock

The Ainley Master has inspired all sorts of stories. It's a long time since I looked, but Ainley Master/Davison Doctor was popular in some corners. I have seen titles and occasionally glanced at one paragraph only, as it would all be too, too horrible...