The Valeyard presents another adventure as evidence of the Doctor’s meddlesome nature. During this escapade, the Doctor and Peri arrive on Thoros Beta, the home planet of their old enemy Sil. Kiv, the leader of Sil’s people, faces a painful death unless a way can be found to transplant Kiv’s mind into a physically larger brain. When the Doctor and Peri are captured by the guards, the Doctor is subjected to an experiment wiith the mind transplantation equipment and becomes mentally unstable. Peri escapes with the help of King Yrcanos, a warrior from neighboring Thoros Alpha, whose people are enslaved by Sil. But the Valeyard’s evidence seems to show the Doctor betraying Peri to save his own skin, despite the Doctor’s insistence that these events never occurred. But even the Doctor is stunned into silence when he finally learns why Peri is not present to defend him at his trial.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Bonnie Langford (Melanie), Michael Jayston (The Valeyard), Lynda Bellingham (Inquisitor), Brian Blessed (King Yrcanos), Nabil Shaban (Sil), Christopher Ryan (Kiv), Patrick Reycart (Crozier), Alibe Parsons (Matrona Kani), Richard Henry (Mentor), Trevor Laird (Frax), Gordon Warnecke (Tuza), Thomas Branch (The Lukoser)
Broadcast from October 4 through 25, 1986
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Despite an interesting first episode, the second four-part story of the Trial Of A Time Lord season could well be the worst of the sixth Doctor’s short run. Colin Baker had a few other turkeys to tackle, including Timelash and The Twin Dilemma, but those two in particular start to look like taut, well-plotted thrillers in comparison to Mindwarp. Philip Martin’s earlier opus, Vengeance On Varos, may not have been the fantastic biting satire that so many fawning books about Doctor Who have made it out to be, but it was far, far better than this. (It’s also worth noting that after this installment, Philip Martin’s name never again appeared on an episode of Doctor Who, though he would later return to the TARDIS in the realm of audio.)
Nabil Shaban and Christopher Ryan, as Sil and Kiv respectively, turn in the best performances of the show, while Brian Blessed delivers his trademark over-the-top performance. Colin Baker utterly fails, for the first and only time in his stint as the Doctor, to play the character with any kind of coherence or conviction. The moment the Doctor is subjected to the mind transfer device, Baker seems to take this as his cue to make funny noises, stagger around drunkenly, and generally annoy anyone who’s watching and trying to make sense of it all.
There’s also a great deal of confusion as to what some of the Doctor’s more questionable actions represent. Temporary brain damage? Manipulation of the evidence? Or just an incoherent script? (I think we have a winner.) Though Mindwarp has some scenes which are vital to the Trial Of A Time Lord plotline, it also has the dubious distinction of being the one sixth Doctor story which I consistently avoid at all costs.