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The Doctor, The Valeyard and The Inquisitor sit down to MST3K a great episode of Doctor Who

Doc is on trial! It would seem that the Time Lords have been monitoring his exploits and aren’t too happy with the way he’s interfered with other life forms and civilizations. The prosecution, trying to hold Doc to account, is in the form of a Gallifreyan called the Valeyard (or Scrapyard as Doc would much rather call him). And the judge is called The Inquisitor, so it’s quite clear that the Time Lords are as mad as a box of frogs and the concept of a “fair trial” might be missing from these proceedings. The first piece of evidence the Valeyard would like the court, mainly The Inquisitor herself, to consider is a convenient 20-ish minute playback of this one time that Doc and Peri went to Ravolox, a suspiciously Earth-like planet that was meant to have been fireballed to death and yet seems a very green and pleasant land.

Oh ho, plot twist. Ravolox is in fact Earth, it’s just a couple of light years away from where it’s meant to be. That’s not as big a plot point as it might seem though; the real problem is that there’s a crazy robot running around the place calling himself The Immortal and trying to oppress the few hundred remaining organics (a.k.a. humans). The Immortal, or Drathro to his friends, is powered by a black light machine. Unfortunately, said machine is compromised by the mercenary duo of Glitz and Dibber. Without Doc’s intervention, there’s a real possibility that this black light machine could kill all life on the planet or even, the whole universe. Objection! Sustained. Said intervention might not wholly conform to Gallifreyan law. Dum dum dum!

Here's what we think of C144 The Mysterious Planet (Trial of a Time Lord: Part One)

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what we think of C144 The Mysterious Planet (Trial of a Time Lord: Part One)

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what you think 12 Responses to “C144 The Mysterious Planet (Trial of a Time Lord: Part One)”
  1. Derek Moore

    Hello Dearest Whovians!

    In anticipation of your reviews of the Trial of a Time Lord season, I was resting at home recovering from a cold when, most likely high on too much cough syrup, I watched all 14 episodes of Trial of a Time Lord in one day, oh my.

    For the Mysterious Planet, on the whole it’s not the worst story this season, which is a very low bar. It’s palatable, somewhat interesting while it’s nice to be back to 25-minute episodes with small manageable bites. Honestly not many highs, not many lows, and an interesting not really resolved mystery of whether this is Earth.

    Rating: 2.7 cough-syrup induced visions out of 5.


    Derek Moore

  2. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    For point of reference I watched the extended version included on the Season 23 blu-ray set.

    This story acts as the first part of the overarching story of Season 23. I can say with some certainty that it sets the stage very excellently and works incredibly well on its own.

    I’ve always enjoyed stories of a post apocalyptic earth that show the corrupted remnants of human culture, this story is no exception. It was fascinating to see both fragments of society, one regressing to medieval peasantry while the other growing sterile and dogmatic.

    Though I’m sure I’m not the first to mention this but the similarities between this story and Robert Holmes’ own story “the Krotons” are painfully obvious. A giant robot removing the smartest members of a society, seems awfully familiar, but I can cut a dying man some slack for loosely reusing elements of a story which most people had not seen for 20 years.

    Not much to really say about this one specifically, I just really liked it.

    Overall this story earns 4.7 rounds rapid out of 5.

    Steven From Canada

  3. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club


    Say, that’s a niceeee effect.

    A giant wobbly suicidally bonkers robot! Harrah.

    Crazy Queen Boudica starring thingy from the Carry On films!

    Episode 4 Guest Starring: the Bazukoids from Red Dwarf.


    They’ve made the Doctor nice! Booo. I demand cruel insults hurled at Peri and all.

    Summary: The TV series The 100 on a shoestring.

    Rating: 3.8/5 barbarians sizzled like sausages by a mentally deranged robot. Ouch.

  4. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    Your mileage for this season will depend on how you are with overarching story and trial scenes. I’m not against them though some are better than other bits. Also new title music which grows on you. Having watched this season a few times, I like it (Big Finish also use it for some stories). That opening shot was the most expensive effects sequence of the classic era being a motion controlled sequence. Colin did feel some of the money could have been spent elsewhere but it does look very impressive for classic Doctor Who.

    Robert Holmes’s final full script for Doctor Who (he was not well at all). Though the trial sequences I believe are more the work of Eric Saward. There’s elements of his first, The Krotons, in here with two smartest being selected to go into the villain’s liar. In all it’s nothing special but decent enough.

    Oh Peri, being threatened with lots of husbands. I suppose it’s a bit different from the normal fayre for Peri. At least the Doctor and Peri’s relationship seems to have mellowed more, especially with the playfulness of the conversation from part one’s walk in the woods. This was actually Colin and Nicola asking the Director to change things as the dialogue was written like the previous season.

    The Segment story actually moves fairly quicky but the trial scenes slow things down. There’s probably only three eps worth of adventure material which has been extended out to four.

    Segment: 2.8/5, Trial scenes: 2.2/5



  5. Richie Blagg | @richiesexington


    The story is interesting enough the idea of Timelords dropping a bollock has legs and I enjoy the imperious sixth doctor court room arguements but this one doesn’t quite work.

    Now if you dropped the show within a show elements and went full Vera that would have been awesome and something new which is what they are looking for with Michael Grade hovering with the axe. Just as the episode gets going it pauses to the court or vice versa

    Overall it’s not truly awful but commits the crime of offering more than it gives

    2.4 out of five cos Colin Baker is worth it

    Richie Von Sexington

  6. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Greetings Outlanders!

    Welcome to Carry on Camping (it up)!
    The Mysterious Planet marks the beginning of the Trial of a Timelord season long story arc.

    That opening shot of the space station – it’s so beautiful! (Anyone else get a Red Dwarf vibe?) it’s no wonder it was apparently the most expensive model shot on the entire Classic era
    The dialogue – some excellent lines like “Don’t think about it, Dibber. You’ll give yourself a hernia.” and ‘”I am trained only in installation and maintenance.” “Mm, very useful too. That’s where the money is.”‘ plus the Doctor’s childish insults of the Valeyard (Farmyard, Scrapyard, Knackers Yard)
    Colin Baker absolutely shines here; Peri gets plenty of agency and their relationship is a lot gentler with some touching moments and less of the outbursts.

    The robots! The L1 slowly trundles round with no menace at all. The L3 although an improvement on the K1 we’ve seen this robot goes a bit nuts trope too any times. Also, the robot served by the 2 smartest humans is in another Holmes story The Krotons
    Joan Simms – sorry but she just doesn’t convince – it’s all a bit Carry On Boadicea
    The trial scenes break up the flow of the story too much

    The Mysterious Planet often gets a bad rap, and while there are obvious flaws, it is an enjoyable story. With some great guest performances from Jayston as the Valeyard .Tom Chadbon as Merdeen and of course the introduction of Sabalom Glitz all help to lift this story to above average.

    I award this story 3.5 UK Habitats of the Canadian Goose by HM Stationery Office out of 5

    Andy Parkinson

  7. Peter Zunitch

    When I first saw Drathro its design both entranced and irked me, like the first time I saw the Enterprise-D. The head was so out of proportion and curvy. Nowadays I think it’s absafragginloutely amazing. In Timelash, I mentioned my list of best ANDROIDS. Now we meet the L3, my favorite ROBOT. It barely nudges out Tom’s slightly more floppy Kettelwell robot. He just needed heavy clunking footsteps for perfection. Such a cool death scene too.

    Gone this season are all of the continuity issues, and deliberate hokiness that plagued most scripts last season, maybe they weren’t Mr. Saward’s fault after all. This story smoothly flows from beginning to end. It makes a valiant effort to work in its sub-plots, albeit with the grace of a slightly-too-heavy hammer. Still, it’s an improvement. Unfortunately the courtroom stuff is dull, repetitive and constantly intrudes on the good stuff. As it’s the worst part of the story, they should have limited those scenes to just the start and end of each episode.

    The acting varies, but mostly ranges from just fine to pretty good. There are a few exceptions either way. I do feel a few scenes must have been cut short for time. They could have done that better. I also felt a blatant disconnect between the location shooting and the studio shooting, but maybe that was intentional.

    All things considered, I love this story, but man, what it could have been with just a few tweaks. 4.1 dual-siimpleton blacklight converter operators.

  8. Ed Corbet

    The Time Lords have had enough of the Doctor’s doctoring -again, and have decided to put him on trial -again, will he get away with it -again …probably there’s another Doctor after this, but in 1986 that was no sure-thing, so let’s pretend there’s tension.

    The opening model-shot of the Time-Lord installation looked really good (reminiscent of Red Dwarf). This hosts the trial that is the framing-arc of this series. Doc spends most of it indignantly pointing out what an utter farce it is (only slightly undermined by his childish name-calling).

    Usually stories with a retrospective narrative undermine themselves by removing all tension as clearly the narrator survived. They get around this to an extent here by having Peri completely absent; there is literally no mention of her outside the context of the flashbacks. With no idea what happened to her, some tension is restored as she could theoretically depart at any time.

    The in-universe reason for seeing this, is that the Valeyard is providing evidence that the Doctor’s interference is dangerous; but since the Doctor saves the entire universe from being destroyed, he might have to do a bit better in the next one, cos right now it’s definitely a case of well done Doctor.

    With the axe hanging over the series, Trial of a Time Lord needed to appeal to viewers whilst appeasing the BBC. This can be seen in the significantly lighter tone (relatively speaking) and lower body-count, which makes the arc easy to get into.


    Ed Corbet

  9. GP Haynes | @FindingGspots (Insta & YouTube)

    Hello lovely people.

    Here’s my mini review:

    Gosh I really struggled through this one. Likes its predecessor it’s not one I am in any hurry to see again.

    If it wasn’t for a great performance by Baker, it would be a truly awful serial.

    While an adequate production, it was entertaining only in small parts, and the courtroom scenes an interesting take and peek into the Time Lords which ultimately
    failed to impress. I liked the initial premise of the planet possibly being Earth, but none of the execution of the story was coherent or interesting

    The good: Colin Baker is supremely confident and arrogant that only he can pull off. His partnership with Peri shows some promising
    glimpses of comradery. Umbrella defence against rocks! Opening scene of space station is excellent.

    The Bad: The story is very slow. This should not have been 4 episodes. The cast is really awful, with the exception being Lynda Bellingham as “The Inquisitor”. The direction and script are
    also pretty bad.

    The Ugly: Costumes, what’s with the helmets that looks like watermelons? Sub-Par robots, c’mon Dr Who you can do much better! Glitz and Dibber, these pair are so bad it’s not even humorous.
    Possibly the worst characters we’ve seen since…..I dunno, but a loooong time.

    The previous episode was more enjoyable because it was SHORTER!

    Rating: 1.4 I take back what I said earlier, this is awful.

  10. Neil | @neilandrozani & @neiljamesactor

    Big changes to the programme here! Back to 25 minute episodes, new costumes for Doc and Peri, no Tardis scenes, new (really bad) theme music, and the end of location footage shot on film as the BBC switched all their shows to video.

    This opens with a stunning model shot of the huge space station. It’s still really impressive now! Robert Holmes’ dialogue buzzes along and there are a good selection of characters and a decent mystery unfolding. The double act of Glitz and Dibber is a highlight – it’s a shame we only get Dibber for this story. I find Balazar hilarious and love his scenes with the Doc calling him ‘Old One’ and banging on about the Canadian Goose.

    At this early stage, the trial scenes are fresh and interesting (they do start to become fucking annoying as the season goes on). The location works fine, and I like the robot designs. There’s also a great moment of bloody make-up when Drathro murders the tribal leaders.
    Yes, it’s a bit silly and soon descends into a standard run-around, but I’ve always enjoyed it. In fact, I’d probably say it’s my favourite 6th doctor story!
    Rating – 2.9

  11. Dan from Devon

    What ho chums,

    1986 brought arguably the biggest transformation to Doctor Who since it began: my mum bought our first VCR. Nine-year-old me therefore got to watch season 23 more times than Colin got a crash-zoom-whilst-looking-somewhat-perplexed.

    All this means is that I love this story to an entirely disproportionate degree. Herewith some utterly biased likes and beefs:

    -We’re in Bob Holmes double-act heaven. Glitz and Dibber, Merdeen and Balazar, Tandrell and Humker, Doc and the Valeyard… *chef’s kiss*
    -Doc and Peri like each other! Hurrah. The warmth of their first scene in the forest makes me so happy, after last season’s constant sour bickering.
    -I’ve always liked how dour and blank-faced a lot of the inhabitants of Marb Station are played. Maybe some might think they come over a bit dull, but it seems likely that living in such a repressed society would end up totally flattening your affect in this way, so I think: good choice.
    -That opening model shot. Best episode start ever? Looks better than a lot of the CGI in nuWho, for sure.
    -Doc. Likeable, funny, heroic. Love it. Colin rules.
    -Glitz and Dibber. Again. Because they’re hilarious.

    -Okay, yes, the trial scenes do get old quite quickly.

    My rating: 4.1 Canadian geese out of five.

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