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The Valeyard’s true identity revealed, a surprise Master appearance, and a trial finale that would not hold up in court

The trial of, and our time with, the Sixth Doctor are coming to an end. Doc sticks to his guns, and yet again insists that the Matrix has been tampered with, calling into question the validity of the so-called evidence against him. Extra Time Lord character of the week, The Keeper of the Matrix, of course insists this is impossible. Great argument, guy. Nevertheless, there’s a bit of a stalemate. Good thing the Master pops up on the screen then to handily prove that the Matrix security is about as good as a “keep out” sign, because he’s been hanging around in there all this time!

Another thing the Master’s been working on is sending Sabalom Glitz and Mel Bush to the trial as witnesses for the Doc’s defence. Yes, you heard that correctly, the Master wants Doc to win this one. To clarify, as things transpire, he’d quite like Doc and the Valeyard to strangle each other in a deathly mud wrestling match. Hot. And so, as we all knew it would, a season of Judge Judy, however entertaining, must inevitably transform into a tangled mess of Scooby Doo tropes, as Doc and the Valeyard play Who’s Imagination is this Anyway across time, space and reality.

Here's what we think of C147 The Ultimate Foe (Trial of a Time Lord: Part Four)

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 C147 The Ultimate Foe (Trial of a Time Lord: Part Four)

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 9 Responses to “C147 The Ultimate Foe (Trial of a Time Lord: Part Four)”
  1. Jethro Roose | @jethro_roose

    My dear old things,

    Apologies for being absent but as you’re receiving so many glorious reviews it would be remiss to not let other voices be heard! (My mind warp review shall remain in the drafts, BRIAN FUCKING BLESSED! HE HAD A SHIT UP EVEREST!)

    The Ultimate Foe:

    Bollocks. Glitz!! The Master in a kaleidoscope! Huzzah! PERI IS ALIVE!!!!!! and getting slotted by BRIAN FUCKING BLESSED! HE HAD A SHIT UP EVEREST!

    2.1 Farewell Colin Baker’s out of 5

    Peace and love

    Jethro x

  2. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Hi chaps.

    Apologies for missing the last few weeks, but I was trapped in the Matrix

    So here it is the trial reaches its climax. Something of a rushed rewrite by Pip and Jane Baker after Eric Saward suddenly quit. It reveals The Valeyard is actually an amalgamation of the darker side of The Doctor presaging The War Doctor perhaps? The Master rides to The Doctor’s rescue albeit for his own benefit, and we are reunited with Glitz, Mel and the Matrix!

    Colin Baker nails it in this. His speech about the depravity of the Timelords is brilliant
    Anthony Ainley also shines. So often The Master is crow-barred into stories in this era, but here he’s having a ball
    The sinking sand scene is fabulous – very cleverly done

    Why does the Inquisitor (or the other Timelords) not know who the Master is? They sent a warning about him to the 3rd Doctor and even sent him to help the 5th Doctor in The Five Doctors!?!
    Michael Grade – he’s the reason why Colin doesn’t get another season – fuck that guy!

    All in all, this is a fitting finale to the Trial season, which considering it was such a rush job is quite an achievement. Yes, it’s a little confusing (it was even berated by one Chris Chibnall on BBC’s Open Air programme and I’ll try and include a link), but after a couple of rewatches it does kind of make sense. Colin, Anthony Ainley and Michael Jayston all do great jobs.

    I award this 4.1 megabyte modems out of 5
    Andy Parkinson

    PS here’s that link to Open Air with Chibbers

  3. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    It’s the final story in the Trial of a Timelord arch. The web of conspiracy is unravelled and the Valeyard’s plans laid bare. Is it a fitting end to the season long tale? Well…

    The disjointed nature of its production is abundantly clear with a lot of back tracking and setups that are ignored. But it’s not all bad.

    It was good to see the Master again, his dark TARDIS was equally fitting. His scheming and meddling contrasts with the Valeyard’s devilish plans perfectly.

    The Doctor and Mel work great together, and certainly have a much better relationship than Peri and the Doc ever had. It is a shame that we never got more of them on TV.

    Really this season had a lot of missed opportunities. The show had just returned after a lengthy hiatus and had to gain the confidence of its audience and the BBC higher ups and loosely tying some stories with a Trial metaphor just seem lazy. It’s just more of the same, and few of the faults have been fixed. The untimely death of Robert Holmes also didn’t help as clearly this was building up to something in the following season.

    Overall this story earns 3.6 Anthony Ainley Screen savers out of 5.

    Steven From Canada

  4. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    With the evidence over, how can the Doctor save himself? Well enter Mel and Glitz with the help of the Master! They reveal that it was the Timelords that moved Earth after people hacked into the Matrix, and then we have the real kicker. The Doctor’s ultimate foe? Himself of course! Somewhere between the “twelfth and final incarnation”.

    The nightmare world in the Matrix of a dark Dickensian factory is actually quite good and creepy for the base of the Valeyard, but I feel they overstate the unrealness of it compared to how it was handled in The Deadly Assassin. Still a lot more inventive than Arc of Infinity.

    Behind the scenes there were problems with Robert Holmes only being about to complete (I believe) a very first draft of the first part and an outline of the second before he passed away. Eric Saward then finished them off but it was at this point that Saward had his falling out with JNT and Colin and left, taking his script for the final part with him. Pip and Jane Baker asked to come to rescue and provide a version with only the part thirteen script to go off. With this in mind, it’s arguably amazing that it kinda works. You don’t overly notice the difference in writing between the two parts.

    The ending mostly works…Maybe not the carrot juice line. And the climb down on Peri feels like it wastes the previous stories. Nicola Bryant has said she preferred the killing off in Mindwarp. 3.2/5

    Season 23: It’s a marmite season, but for me I don’t think it’s the worse and has a lot of promising bits to it. Unfortunately, the BBC bosses didn’t agree. The axe is still being held over the series’s head and will remain so for the rest of the classic era. JNT wanted to leave but was forced to stay otherwise the show would be cancelled. And for Colin? Well, we’ll see about that…


  5. Richie von Sexington | @richiesexington

    Last things first, no Showing Peri at the end doesn’t make up for the absolute terrible end of her run. Dumped on a planet with a Warrior king that she probably has no choice in marrying nice one Beeb, Nice One

    However that out of the way I liked the way that the story is wrapped up with the Timelords, again, having done a wrong and the Doc finding out. The Valeyard along with the Rani are two characters crying out to be brought back to Nu Who even moreso now given that the we are on 14th doc now so the Valeyard can’t be happy about that. Plus the Master appearing and saving the Doctor is on point for the crazy fool if you don’t question why doesn’t he always help when the universe is going to end

    Overall a good end to a mostly good season arc not unlike Baker’s run I would say unfairly maligned.

    4.2/5 Illusions within illusions, were we watching as a lad Mr Nolan

    And for the arc as a whole 3.4/5 I can’t let Mindwarp be forgiven

    Richie Von Sexington

  6. Ed Corbet

    Doc escapes from Dickens and enters the only episodes of Who where the backstory to production is more interesting than the story itself. Saward has gone and taken his ball home with him, leaving Pip and Jane Baker to write the ending with no idea what the original plan was and legally prevented from seeing anything Saward wrote. Setting it in the Matrix was a good idea as its non-logical nature meant that any idea they came up with could be slotted in easily; these episodes are a mess, but we should be grateful we got anything.

    I wasn’t sure about the Valeyard initially and was fine if we never saw him again, then he hits the Master with “You really are a second-rate adversary!” which is harsh, because it’s become true. Again he’s been bolted-on with a Skeletor-level motive and I’m supposed to take him seriously. I think I’ll give Mr Valeyard a second-chance. I’m not being generous; I know full well I’ll never have to honour that.

    A bit of a sad end-of-an-era; as final lines go, “Carrot juice, Carrot juice, Carrot juice!” is not exactly “It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for”. This was an era plagued by questionable creative decisions and the terminal break-up of the JNT-Saward partnership and their failures all unfairly stained Baker himself. Watching these stories again (especially his first series) gives us a hint of what could have been.

    Trial of a Time Lord as a whole 2.4

    Ed Corbet

  7. Peter Zunitch

    Dang it I missed the deadline. These reviews are excellent though. One thing I always thought and this list seems to confirm, is that this serial gets better the more you watch it. When I first saw it I agreed with Jim and Leon. 1.8 disappointing. This watching I’m much more on the higher end of the scale.

    Full review in a bit.

  8. Peter Zunitch

    There’s a lot of questions left unexplored at the end of Ultimate Foe. Many of them would have been more interesting than what we ultimately experience. Ultimate Foe isn’t bad. Indeed I liked it better than I ever have during past viewings. Yet it wasn’t quite the epic adventure full of universe shattering revelations that was anticipated.

    Rewrites: At this point I’m bored with the corrupt high council thing, especially since they’re not even present in the production. The Sleepers, more of them please. Or would that have been too close to Invasion of Time? Theory: Weren’t the genetic race banks in Underworld called the Sleepers? Their world was destroyed by the Timelords after they had been given Timelord technology. Is it possible they want more? Could it be that Minyos II is in the Andromeda galaxy? Unfortunately, this is never revisited but let’s get that story someday please.

    As a standalone story Ultimate Foe is mostly harmless. I give it 3.1 lost secret gates to the matrix conveniently placed outside a courtroom. However it’s also burdened by being the conclusion to “Trial” as a whole, and here is where it falters. Peri is still not redeemed (until the recent Big Finish teaser video), many plot points are unsatisfactorily resolved, and even at this late stage the Doctor’s courtroom dialog is still predominantly, “this is wrong” and “I’m not going to argue”. Trial as a whole: 2.5 snoozing background jurors who wish they were presiding over a more interesting case.

  9. Benjamin O'Neill

    You confounded me by changing your schedule and doing classic Who when I thought you were going to review Praxious! Hopefully this will get in before your final edit; otherwise I’ll just re-write it for the upcoming Sixth Doctor retrospective.

    The finale of the Trial of a Timelord was a bit more exciting than the parts that led up to it.
    I liked that the Master was there, but not necessarily the antagonist. I also enjoyed the return of Sabalom Glitz, and the implication that he has had recurring business with the Master is intriguing.
    Mel’s photographic memory mentioned in the previous serial finally pays off as a plot point.

    The Master is not recognized by the Inquisitor, despite having been summoned by the High Council as someone who is well known to the Doctor the last time we were on Gallifrey, in the Five Doctors. How much time has passed since then, especially given the long lives of Time Lords? (The Time Lord robes and guards’ outfits haven’t changed at all.)

    The Master was inhabiting the Matrix for some time, and admitted that it could be and was altered to falsify the data for the trial. Put a Pin in that for the review of The Timeless Child.

    Given that the Valeyard was able to deceive the Doctor into thinking he had exited the Matrix back to the courtroom so he would sacrifice himself, when he was actually still in the Matrix, could he not have done the same thing in The Timeless Child, and therefore all of the Flux series was an illusion inside the Matrix?

    If the rumours of Tennant’s return is actually playing the Valeyard, then will we have another Doctor playing the protagonist? YouTuber Ben Stockdale lines up evidence that Matt Smith had the opportunity in his filming schedule to film the 60th anniversary specials along with Tennant.

    My rating of the the Ultimate Foe is 3.7 glasses of Carrot Juice out of 5.

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