Number : Season 23, serial 3 of 4.

Which One : Attack of the alien cauliflowers.

Cast : The Doctor : Colin Baker
Mel Bush : Bonnie Langford
Professor Sarah Lasky : Honor Blackman
The Inquisitor : Lynda Bellingham
The Valeyard : Michael Jayston
Doland : Malcolm Teirney
Bruchner : David Allister
Commodore Travers : Michael Craig
Rudge : Denys Hawthorne
Janet : Yolande Palfrey
Kimber : Arthur Hewlett
Atza : Sam Howard
Grenville/Enzu : Tony Scoggo
Ortezo : Leon Davis
Edwardes : Simon Slater
Mutant/Ruth Baxter : Barbara Ward

Written By : Pip and Jane Baker

Produced By : JNT

First UK Broadcast : 1 – 22 November 1986.

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Plot : The Doctor’s trial continues, with footage of The Doctor and new companion Mel; taking some rest aboard a luxury starliner hotel. But the hatching of a bunch of deadly Vervoids from the Cargo-hold, gives the Doctor – a deadly choice.

Whats good : It’s a simple take – on an Agatha Christie who-dunnit, in space. The Vervoids are distinctive – and vegetably looking.

Whats bad : Mel is a poor replacement for Peri. Some of the Who-dunnit side is not well conceived (don’t expect Poirot).

Review With Spoilers : Terror Of The Vervoids, is the third episode of Trial Of A Timelord – and the resulting encounter with the Vervoids; is played back, as more evidence -at the Doctor’s trial.

It is intended, to further highlight the Doctor’s meddling with the affairs of other races (forbidden in the Laws Of Time) but eventually becomes evidence; against the Doctor – of genocide of an entire race. With an increased charge, of punishment – by death.

These events are disputed by the Doctor, who begins to suspect that the Time Lord Matrix (playing back the events) – itself, has been manipulated by an insider.

Terror Of The Vervoids is a very basic but entertaining and twisty, Agatha Christie style – who-dunnit; involving a large cast of characters – in a space hotel (and the Doctor – as Poirot).

Many critisicms have been levelled – at Husband and wife writing team; Pip and Jane Baker; as not being right, for the tone of the show – and being out of their depth.

To be fair, though –Terror Of The Vervoids is easily better than The Mysterious Planet and at least, presents a who-dunnit mystery; albeit – a simply constructed one.

Because the story doesn’t want to uncover too much – too early on. The Doctor is annoyingly left chasing shadows, when attempting to uncover clues; as to the killer’s identity. Simply because the writers, are probably holding onto all of their cards – for the last episode.

“Whether or not the Doctor has proved himself innocent of meddling is no longer the cardinal issue before this court. He has proved himself guilty of a far greater crime…. ……The Doctor has destroyed a complete species. The charge must now be genocide!!” The Valeyard

Some of Doctor Who’s best stories, have involved borrowing an Earthly tale – and giving it – a sci-fi spin. Serials, like; Brain Of Morbius – Frankenstein for example, so Terror Of The Vervoids; is in good company.

As we shall see, later – in The Ultimate Foe, the Baker’s ability to output a story quickly, averted potential disaster, when the writer of The Ultimate Foe – Robert Holmes died; before finishing – the second and final episode.

Script Editor Eric Saward; wrote another 2nd episode but refused to let it be used, after resigning. Subsequently, Pip and Jane Baker took over – and wrote a replacement second episode; in only 3 days.

Back to Terror Of The Vervoids, the introduction of Mel – as a companion (on JNT’s say-so) is frankly baffling and sets the feminist progression – in Who, back a decade. She has none of Peri’s likability or Tegan’s forthright-ness.

Instead, she is more of a hark back to a Jo Grant assistant but with an irritating top-note scream; that Mariah Carey would be proud of. Mel unleashes this scream – like a sonic-boom, everytime she is in danger; much like a 60’s Hammer horror victim.

Terror Of The Vervoids is never going to feature – in a greatest ever Who-poll but in Colin Baker’s era; when he was marred by so many poor stories. It more than stands out, against – it’s other competitors.

🔵🔵🔵🔘⚪ (3.5/5)

Old Doctor Who

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