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1.2 - Vanguard >

1.1 - The Trial of a Time Machine

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10
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9
19%
3
8
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9
7
13%
2
6
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Average Rating
7.6
Votes
16
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 12/8/18 5:43 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Doctor, Roz, and Chris land on a planet where they've adopted the culture of their conquerors and have very specific laws on time travel, and., for breaking them, the TARDIS is arrested.

This story's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Writer Andy Lane has done a great job world-building and the result is a very different alien world with different cultures and norms to Earth, as well as a lot of different technological ideas for how time travel works. THe downside to this is that the story spends a lot of time expositing on all the different aspects of this world and that makes other parts of the story be compressed. Still, the ideas are clever enough that this is still a net positive, particularly with the twist ending. But given that we're only going to spend 55 minutes in this world, the story could have been more effective with less information and more character moments.

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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
6
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 11/26/18 4:12 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The TARDIS is knocked off course by another time ship and forced to land on the planet of Thrantas, a futuristic and humanoid planet with a very different ideology on how crimes and justice should be handled. Upon landing and investigating the planet, the TARDIS herself is almost immediately arrested on the basis that it's technically a living organism and thus responsible for its own actions rather than the actions of its inhabitants or pilot. Thus while Chris and Roz are sent through the future to investigate the fate of the other party, the Doctor is forced to be the defense for his own ship in an odd trial against the judiciary system of the planet run by a central computer. It doesn't sound that intriguing on the surface but 'Trial of a Time Machine' is by far one of the most interesting Seventh Doctor stories in canon. It's not exactly big on action or drama but it's not really intending to be. Andy Lane's script gives us a fascinating society and an interesting situation and runs with it letting it happen organically and naturally. The background idea here with Thrantan society is that justice is meted out based on how the actions of the crime affect society as a whole. If there are more positive than negative effects brought about by the crime (such as the stealing of a piece of bread to feed a starving family for example), then the crime is not punished and seen as necessary for the state. It's an intriguing idea and the audio explores that in the way that it influences how characters behave in given situations as well as with strong dialogue describing how the system works and why. It really makes the society feel real even if it means a good chunk of the story is expositionary dialogue and it feels absolutely necessary especially with the trial taking place. It also means that this story is very slow in terms of pacing and more about the circumstances of the situation than the event itself though there is a dark secret behind what's going on that's forced in at the last minute. It feels appropriate sure but I felt like we could've done without that or worked with something a bit more unique than what it ends up being. In terms of cast and performance, the acting is fine. Both Oliver and Bannerman are fine in standard companion role and action, there are a few comedic side characters who end up turning on things and getting stuck in some amusing dialogue, and the humanoid aliens are pretty standard. But the highlight here is Sylvester McCoy in how he handles the trial and especially how he interacts with the TARDIS herself. I haven't seen this strong of a connection between the Doctor and his primary companion since "The Doctor's Wife" and even in audio form the love and connection he has for his machine is present and powerful. There are one or two conversations here that might seem one-sided given the participants but feel reciprocated and appropriate and I love how the script forces Seven to ask some difficult questions about the nature of the relationship between him and the TARDIS. Those moments are really the highlight of the set and well worth the listen all by themselves. Despite the slower pacing and the 'Beast Below" / "Time Heist"-esque forced climax, 'Trial of a Time Machine' is a great start for the set and this team. It's an audio that does require you to listen carefully especially with some of the jargon and long segments of descriptive dialogue but with those attentive ears working, this one is an auditory joy.