Reviewed By: adamelijah
Review Date: 4/16/15 8:43 pm
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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.