The final story of Season 23, and the conclusion of the season long Trial of a Time Lord, ends up being a two parter that aired from 29 November to 6 December 1986. Part one was written by Robert Holmes, whose untimely death resulted in Pip and Jane Baker writing the story’s conclusion.
The Doctor’s (Baker) trial comes to a conclusion as he confronts the Valeyard (Michael Jayston), and learns his true identity as well as dealing with The Master (Anthony Ainley). The story also marks the final appearance of Baker’s Doctor, which means there’s a regeneration coming at the top of Season 24.
The Doctor contends that the Matrix, the repository of all Time Lord memory and knowledge has been tampered with, and the Master even proves that it can be so, because he interrupts the trial from within the Matrix, hoping to assist the Doctor in his claim of innocence.
Mel (Bonnie Langford) arrives in the hopes of helping as well, and with her and Sabalom Glitz’s (Tony Selby) help, he quickly turns the tables on the Valeyard, though stunned to realise who he is, and where he comes in on the Doctor’s timeline, and what that means for him.
When the Valeyard makes a run for it, The Doctor finds himself in a bizarre recreation of Victorian London, a strange, almost funhouse type world. The Doctor pursues the Valeyard to the Fantasy Factory, while the Master reveals the ins and outs of that has happened in actuality throughout the season, and the continued existence of Peri (Nicola Bryant).
It seems that The Master has used the moment to have the Doctor and the Valeyard face off against one another, in the hopes of their total destruction. With the Doctor’s remaining regenerations hanging in the balance, he must outwit the Valeyard, the Master, and prove his innocence once and for all to the Time Lord council.
I think it’s rather sad that Baker’s Doctor didn’t get a fair shake, he was a lot of fun as far as I was concerned, he could be angry, over-confident and arrogant, character traits we’ve seen in other regenerations down the line. Sure, he ended up on a terrible costume, but Baker wore it with as much dignity as he could, and brought the Doctor to life in a vibrant and exciting way.
Each of his regenerations has had wonderful moments, and some less than solid stories, but I’m very much enjoying my time with the Doctor. Lets see what happens next week when we get a new Doctor and encounter Time and the Rani.