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4 November 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 673: Mindwarp, Episode Two (The Trial of a Time Lord, Episode Six) 

Dear diary, 

I seem to be saying it an awful lot of late (he's not around for long - I'm glad I can make the most of it here and now), but Colin Baker really is fantastic, isn't he? He's got that perfect quality for an actor to play the Doctor, where he can salvage anything, and you really perk up when he's on the screen - and not just because you're looking directly at that coat! In this episode, when tasked with playing a Doctor who's brain has been fried, and isn't quite acting himself, even by this incarnation's standards, he really relishes it and runs with it - there's a few shades of Troughton-as-an-androgum in the performance, and I'm becoming more and more saddened that we've only these two seasons of Colin to watch. I've heard various Big Finish adventures with him in over the years, but I have a feeling that I'll be seeking them out a bit more thoroughly once this marathon is over. People talk about the fact that he had a renaissance on audio, but I love him here and now on screen! 

It's perhaps a good mark of his skill that he's able to stand out so much in this episode... when Brian Blessed has been woken up (oh how tempting to simply write that name in capitals...)! Blessed has become something of a national treasure over the years, and you can sort of see here that he's already started to become a parody of himself. That's not a criticism, mind, because Blessed has managed to go so far into being his own parody, that it's no longer even that - it's just what you want! Philip Martin has said in the past that he was thinking of Blessed for the part and was overjoyed to hear that John Nathan-Turner was thinking along the same lines, and it's not hard to see why, is it? King Yrcanos has been written to be played by Brian Blessed, and you almost get the sense that they've stuck him into a costume, placed him on the set, and told him to just get on and do whatever he wants! 

The actual story today is interesting me a little more than it did yesterday, but only marginally. I can't honestly claim to be enjoying it. Oh, there's lots I am liking here - those aforementioned performances, along with the sets on the whole (there's a story that Colin Baker saw the invoice for that big round door in the set and loudly declared to the rehearsal room that it cost more for these four episodes than Nicola Bryant did! You can almost believe it, though, because the door is a great piece of set, and I'm surprised the cost wasn't deferred by being used lots more in Doctor Who after this, like the modern series does with particularly expensive sets! - on the whole, though, I'm just not all that invested on the events here. 

I wonder if part of it may be that I know Peri will be bowing out in a couple of days, and I've never been fond of her exit (either of them)? There's a vague sense of simply wanting to get that over with, so we can bring in Mel and start the programme off on another new phase. I'm also having what I can only describe as 'Sabalom-Glitz- Withdrawl-Symptoms'... none of the supporting cast in this story are anywhere near as entertaining as Glitz and Dibber! When I was watching Vengeance on Varos, I found myself being rather taken by Sil, and he was often the thing I was enjoying most about the story. Here, though, he's simply boring me, and I can't really decide why. I think it's a combination of the costume not working quite as well here as it did back then (there's a few instances where you can see it's clearly slipped down his face a little), and Nabil Shaban seeming to give a slightly different performance, which just isn't quite working for me. Maybe being surrounded by all these other people in charge of him is lessening the character a bit, where he could be so thoroughly unlikeable the last time around, coming across as being 'the boss'?  

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