He Jests At Scars…

Doctor Who Unbound: He Jests At Scars...During his trial, the Doctor struggles with the Valeyard and becomes trapped in the Matrix as Melanie watches in horror – and the other Time Lords, including a newly elected Lord President, watch with distant interest and no desire to interfere. Mel insists on trying to rescue the Doctor, but finds no interest from the Time Lords, who plan to watch the unfurling of the Doctor’s history with detached curiosity should the Valeyard win. And indeed the Valeyard does win, but he doesn’t limit himself to the Matrix – and he doesn’t stop with killing the Doctor. The Valeyard interferes with time and destroys Gallifrey itself, and even goes back and kills the fourth Doctor en route to Logopolis. That act begins to unravel the Valeyard’s own history, however – and in trying to go back and restore his past timeline as the Doctor, he may destroy the web of time itself.

Order this CDwritten by Gary Russell
directed by Gary Russell
music by Jim Mortimore

Cast: Michael Jayston (The Valeyard), Bonnie Langford (Mel), Anthony Keetch (Vansell), Juliet Warner (Ellie Martin), Tim Preece (The President), Jane MacFarlane (Nula), Mark Donovan (Gerrof)

Timeline: during/after part 14 of The Trial Of A Time Lord

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: Good grief. It’s a cool idea for a story, this continuity-heavy gem of “what if?” from Gary Russell, but you’d better have a book, or this episode guide, or something handy to spot all the references. Some working knowledge of the New Adventures might not hurt either, to spot some of those references. It’d be easy to dismiss He Jests At Scars… as first-rate fanwank if it weren’t so engrossing. It’s a gift to you if you know, I mean really know, your Who…and it might be hopelessly confusing to you if you don’t. Some of the references are mere window dressing, but others are much more critical to the plot.

At the center of it all are Bonnie Langford as a tougher, more determined Melanie, and Michael Jayston, reprising the role of the Valeyard for the first time since 1986. Bonnie gets to shine here, playing her role in a way that’s never before been portrayed on TV, audio, or even the novels. Jayston, on the other hand, gets to personify a very worried, frustrated kind of evil – and in a strange way, perhaps even moreso than in the Valeyard’s last appearance on TV, you do get a sense that he is, or was, the Doctor. What I’m not really clear on is how killing the fourth Doctor is such a cause for concern when he’s already done away with the sixth – both are his previous incarnations, and killing either one should start unraveling his history immediately. Then again, they never really explained this on TV either.

The downbeat ending somehow isn’t the shocker I think it was intended to be – I mean, I feel sorry for Melanie being stuck in the predicament she’s in, but the whole story points toward the ending being a bummer of some kind. At any rate, it’s an interesting story, one of our few chances to hear Bonnie Langford play a hard-ass action hero (!), and certainly fulfills the “what if?” mandate of the Doctor Who Unbound series…but you’d better have some reference to the show handy, or you’ll be missing a lot of the signposts. Then again, who’s listening to these if not the diehard Who fans?

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