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< XI. Night of the Stormcrow

Trial of the Valeyard

Rating Votes
10
25%
16
9
27%
17
8
27%
17
7
16%
10
6
5%
3
5
2%
1
4
0%
0
3
0%
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2
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1
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Average Rating
8.5
Votes
64
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 5/26/17 8:50 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Doctor is pulled by the Time Lords in to a very familiar looking space station where his former persecutor the Valeyard is being put on trial by the Time Lords. His choice of defense? The Doctor. This one was a huge surprise listen as we hear an amazing hour of Colin Baker, Michael Jayston, and Lynda Bellingham with interesting dialogue, an intriguing premise, and some final answers as to what exactly the Valeyard is straight out of a nightmarish fantasy. While this one does require knowledge of 'Trial of a Time Lord' to really understand what's going on, this is still a fantastic little audio that gives us some great character performances on all fronts and ends up examining multiple interesting aspects of the show that don't get quite as much attention as they should.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
9
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 11/15/15 5:07 pm
2 out of 3 found this review helpful.

'The Trial of the Valeyard' was written by Alan Barnes and Mike Maddox. The Doctor lands on a space station the Time Lords are using to hold the 'Valeyard' on trial. Upon arrival the Doctor takes one look around, storms back into his TARDIS and launches into a 'Victor Meldrew' impression - "I don't believe it!" The old Six is back, yay! Just before the theme tune starts the identity of the defendant is revealed with far more gravitas than it deserves considering their name is in the title. The reveal immediately after the music that the Doctor is his defender is far more of a revelation. What isn't revealed is the nature of the crime (apparently the events of 'Trial' weren't enough), and doubt is cast as to the true identity of the Valeyard! The 'Valeyards' history is revealed, also revealing a darker more disturbing side to Time Lord society. The Doctor doesn't trust the Time Lords, nor does he trust the 'Valeyard'. The plot twists and turns in its snug sixty minute slot like an insomniac wrestling with consciousness.

Lynda Bellingham's return is triumphant, as is Michael Jayston's. In fact all the actors are performing as good as ever and have tremendous rapport. The whole thing really feels like a denouement for 'Trial of a Time Lord'. Jayston's gravelly tones perfectly convey officious menace of a Time Lord, and are the perfect foil for Colin's old school throwback portrayal of the Doctor’s rebellious sixth incarnation. He indignantly and defiantly blusters his way through this story with facetious aplomb. Free from all the scrapyard, farmyard, brickyard jibes of old. It even squares the regeneration limit with Troughton's theoretically a Time Lord could live forever comment from 'The War Games'.

The sounds are nostalgic perfection but I don't remember 'Inquisitor Darkel' using a gavel?! The soundscape overall rises and falls in all the right places bolstering the drama and adding to the gothic tone. It may just be me but I think the recording sounds especially crisp.

A nightmarish Origins story for the 'Valeyard'. I know that some will shudder at the thought of revealing the personal history of a Time Lord and removing mystery but if this is a brave unbound story and every moment should be relished because it's divine. This should be no secret. It's quite simply the most fascinating character/dialogue driven of all the Big Finish productions I have heard. It's entertaining, amusing and nostalgic without wallowing in continuity. It takes all the best elements of 'Trial of a Time Lord' and polishes them into something new and finer. Hyperbole be damned this is my new favourite Big Finish
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 4/24/15 8:43 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.


As a one hour Big Finish special, this is about as good as it gets. The three actors involved: Colin Baker as the Doctor, Michael Jayston as the Valeyard, and Lynda Bellingham as the Inquisitor hold center stage in this reunion of the characters from the Trial of the Time Lord, only this time it’s the Valeyard on trial and he’s request his choice of Time Lord defense councils—the Doctor.

The Doctor arrives thinking he’ll be put on trial and unleashes a verbal volley on the Time Lords that is marvelous to listen to. If this were realistic, the Inquisitor should have said simply, “You’re not on trial!” as loudly as she could, but then we would have missed a great monologue by the Sixth Doctor.

The characters are a delight to listen to as they interact and trade barbs. The dialogue is witty and fun. The plot is clever and delves deeply into the nature of Time Lords and speculating over the origin of the Valeyard. Some of the Time Lord stuff is familiar ground for co-writer Alan Barnes who introduced them in Zagreus, though the discussion is far more memorable here.

In terms of negatives, I suppose I could complain that the legal procedures are specious but as the Doctor points out, this is Gallifreyan law they’re dealing with. Some critics have pointed out that nothing really happens in this story or is definitively revealed and that’s true enough, but that was the nature of the December bonuses. As long as you don’t go into this expecting some definitive developments with these characters, there’s plenty to enjoy here with solid acting with wonderful chemistry, and some great humorous moments, plus some interesting speculation on the truth about the Time Lords and the origins of the Valeyard.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
5
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
NR
Effects Rating:
NR
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: Drew VogelReview Date: 10/13/14 1:07 pm
0 out of 3 found this review helpful.

The story is told mostly by the Valeyard in “testimony”, which is really just a form of narration. There’s really no particularly good evidence to suggest that any of this stuff is true. The evidence that does exist seems suspiciously convenient. For example, if the Time Lords were trying to secretly interfere in their own history, they inexplicably failed to cover their tracks at all. However, the story presented is quite intriguing, particularly the implication that the Inquisitor was aiding the Valeyard all along. The idea that the Doctor might inadvertently create the Valeyard in his efforts to avoid doing so is not new, but it works especially well here.

The major appeal of the story is the delicious interplay between the three characters. I always enjoyed the courtroom scenes in “The Trial of a Time Lord” for the same reason. These three characters work extremely well together, so focusing on them is a great way to get a dynamic, engaging, small-cast drama, which this is.

Since the main appeal of the story is the interplay among the characters, there’s a lot of barbed conversation which doesn’t particularly advance the story. As a result, the story really is quite thin. The Doctor’s only real accomplishment is to avoid one elaborate trap. He also suggests that the story isn’t over, and mentions some of the plot’s loose ends. However, while this was a pleasing enough story on its own terms, I’m not eager to hear more from the Valeyard.

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Valeyard stories. I think the concept was irredeemably muddled at its inception, and subsequent efforts haven’t really helped. At this point, ambiguity is really the essence of the character. Attempts to explain the character inevitably diminish him. Perhaps that’s why my favorite take on the concept comes from “The Wormery”, a story in which the character does not appear.

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