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4. He Jests at Scars...

Rating Votes
10
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7
9
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5
8
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7
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9
6
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5
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4
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11%
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Average Rating
6.6
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Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 9/15/15 4:57 pm
1 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Personally I think it works really well. Mel is much darker and in a lot of ways she steals the show, although she has no direct impact on events as such. Definitely one for continuity nerds and not beginners but this is about what possibilities and role reversals, and this includes lots of past events being altered and draws in many alternative outcomes. Here the Valeyard is the protagonist with his companion (Ellie), and Mel is the antagonist. All the performances are good but the atmosphere is weird and I am not always sure where they are supposed to be. Everywhere sounds like a cave or graveyard. If only 'The Ultimate Foe' had been like this. Very Dystopian and existential, I love it!
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Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 4/16/15 8:43 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

It's a challenge for these, "What if?" scenarios. This Doctor Who Unbound examines the question, "What if a writer came up with a scenario that's so implausible it strains all credulity or suspension of disbelief?"

Actually, it examines what would happened if at the end of "Trial of the Time Lord," the Doctor ran back to save the Valeyard, who was an evil side of his later incarnations, and the Valeyard instead killed the Doctor and seized his lives, and the Time Lords decided to act like fools and let the Valeyard do whatever he wants.

The answer is that the Valeyard would do evil things. Make that very evil and idiotic things that would in fact ruin his own timeline. And the one person who can stand up and oppose him is Mel Bush, who sets out to show the Doctor the better angel of his nature or kill him if he can't be brought back to sanity.

Once you get the implausibility of the Time Lords letting the Valeyard serve as a free range menace, there is some good to be found in the story. In some way, it's an examination of what a life free of any restraints or discipline leads to. The Doctor's personality doesn't just provide a sense of altruism, but of judgment and a healthy respect for the laws of time and nature that restrain him. The Valeyard tries to obliterate them and this story is the result.

You also have the idea that when you peal away the layers, the Valeyard lacks the courage of the Doctor, and there's something to that, as the Valeyard's plan in, Trial of the Time Lord is an underhanded cheat rather than a direct confrontation. Michael Jayston performs well in this, though only in the last scene do we get any nuance with the Valeyard.

Bonnie Langford also turns in a solid performance as Mel at a couple stages of life. The post-trial Mel and the later, harder edged Mel who is grimmer and grittier. Yes, this story feature a gritty Mel Bush. Bonnie Langford handles the performance well though the script lets her down. The scene at the beginning where Mel kills someone serves to provide ear-catching shock value. It serves no other purpose and was gratuitous plus it undermined the idea that she was still trying to reach out to the Doctor all these years later.

The story is also crammmed with so much continuity (Not only from the TV show, but also from books) that its easy to get lost in it. In the end, it's an odd story. it's a What if Question to which the answer isn't all that interesting or surprising.

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Reviewed By: EiphelReview Date: 8/19/10 1:12 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

I was really looking forward to this one. I love the Valeyard and anything that offers more of him thrills me. (I loved Amy's Choice just because it *could* be the Valeyard.) But this... This is not the Valeyard. Michael Jayston gives it his all, and at times he can be quite entertaining, but he's heavily lumbered by a character that just acts in preposterous ways. He has no particular plan, very little motivation, he's as cardboard cut out as you can be. He wants to collect every superweapon the Doctor has hidden away to gain godlike power. And along the way he's tinkering with the timeline for his own amusement. It's an abject waste of the Valeyard - The whole point of the Valeyard is that he IS the Doctor, or a part of him. But he acts here without any of the Doctor's understanding or sanity, and his motivation is desperately lacking in nuance or depth.

The cast is universally held back by some pretty terrible dialogue, though at times the strength of the performers manages to carry it. Jayston manages to snatch a few good moments and Bonnie Langford basically keeps things listenable with her performance, the only really decent aspect of the play. She's great as a time-worn, hard hearted Mel.

The plot is clunky and disappointing. It references masses of continuity but fails to actually extract anything from it, coming off as simply indulgent. The actions of the Time Lords are pretty hard to credit too. Things are redeemed a little by the ending, which has a genuinely tragic edge (and Michael Jayston finally gets to flourish). Unfortunately the rest of the play fails to back it up.

It's not terrible, but it's greatly disappointing, ultimately failing to deliver a satisfying answer to its 'what if' premise. 5/10
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