Season 23 gets underway this week with the season long story, Trial of a Time Lord. The first instalment, The Mysterious Planet, was written by Robert Holmes and aired from 6 to 27 September, 1986.
The stories reverted back to twenty-five minute long episodes, and found the Doctor (Baker) being uncontrollably summoned to present themselves to the Time Lord Council. In fact the TARDIS is seized and brought into a Gallifrey space station (in a very nicely done special effects sequence).
Here is brought to stand trial for his interference in space and time. The prosecutor, the Valeyard (Michael Jayston) makes it his personal mission to put a stop the the Doctor, and you have to wonder what his motivations are. Perhaps we’ll learn through the course of the season.
The Valeyard cites events on the planet Ravalox, where the Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant) and the terrible secret that it hides. All of this occurs amongst a twisting and turning trial, that will unfold over the course of three more stories. Stories that will see the loss and gain of a new companion, revelations about the Time Lords and Gallifrey, as well as about the Doctor himself, and the true identity of the Valeyard.
The Matrix, the repository of all Time Lord information is mentioned early in the episode, and we know that it will be brought into play, as it so often is during the climax of the arc.
Peri gets a new look for the episode, and their interaction is a lot more playful, they seem to have been travelling together for awhile now, though we may not have seen all of it.
Doctor and Companion investigate Ravalox, and Peri is stunned to discover what the planet actually is. While, back in the courtroom, the Doctor is concerned that he can’t recall what has happened to Peri, as she is isn’t with him.
There are attacks, captures, and trouble with a robot, Drathro (Roger Brierley), and it’s argued by the Valeyard (a name that the Doctor endlessly mocks) that the Doctor introduced a troubling element to the planet.
I love the idea of the season long arc, I love the location shoots, and the Doctor is definitely coming along nicely, I’m really enjoying Baker’s performance, and you can see future incarnations there in some of his actions and delivery. Peri is still a bit of a whiner, but at least, for the most part, she enjoys the adventures she’s involved in.
Despite the happy resolution to the events on Ravalox, and it’s actual identity, things seem dire for the Doctor as his trial continues next week, and we’ll also be saying goodbye to a Companion when Trial of a Time Lord continues with Mindwarp!