The Trial of a Time Lord continues for the Doctor (Baker) this week with Terror of the Vervoids, a four part story penned by Pip and Jane Baker that ran from the 1 to 22 November, 1986.
As the Valeyard (Michael Jayston) continues his case against the Doctor, but he s finally able to offer up a defence thanks to the presentation of an adventure that will happen in the Council’s future, and features an all new companion, Mel (Bonnie Langford).
What is most enjoyable about this episode is that Mel is just there, we aren’t given the usual introduction to a Companion, she’s already been travelling with the Doctor for awhile, and we just missed their first meeting.
The Doctor recounts a story set aboard a starship, the Hyperion III, where the two travellers investigate a series of murders. A basic story, at best, but also shows the Doctor doing good, and saving portions of the universe (yet again).
I do like the interactions between the Doctor and Mel, who expresses concern about his waistline, and is a bit of a fitness nut. My first impressions of her, are that she seems quite fun, and may be a nice match for the Doctor. The two get along, and it’s obvious that the Doctor respects her opinion. They are definitely fast friends, which is too bad, as I am very aware of an upcoming regeneration…
As things go south on the space liner, a strange breed of intelligent plants, the Vervoids are found aboard ship, something that the Doctor begins to puzzle over as bodies begin to pile up, and the list of suspects grows shorter.
With the ship closing in on a black hole, planning to skirt it en route to their destination, the strange, sentient plant life begin attacking every being they come into contact with.
Of particular note, this story not only introduced a new Companion, it also marked the appearance of Honor Blackman as Professor Lasky, one of the travellers on the spaceliner.
As usual, the Doctor and Companion tamper with things, muck about, are in turn captured and released, and eventually, ferret out what is truly going on. There is definitely a formula at work in these stories, which makes some of them, no matter how enjoyable, a little repetitive, no matter what they try to do with it.
Still, it’s a fairly fun story, as both Mel and the Doctor infuse it with lots of energy, despite the fact that we have seen variations on it countless times before. And will be again in the future…
As the story comes to an end, so does the trial, which comes to a close with next week’s story, The Ultimate Foe, when revelations and strange alliances are made. And, sadly, a regeneration draws closer.