Doctor Who: Season 23, Episode 12

The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Twelve (22 Nov. 1986)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 117 users  
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With factions vying for control of the ship, the Vervoids are found to be responsible for the many disappearances. Only the Doctor sees the fundamental but missed point as to why they can't... See full summary »



(by) (as Pip and Jane Baker) , (by) (as Pip and Jane Baker) , 1 more credit »
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Title: The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Twelve (22 Nov 1986)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Bonnie Langford ...
Lynda Bellingham ...
Michael Craig ...
Denys Hawthorne ...
Yolande Palfrey ...
David Allister ...
Sam Howard ...
Leon Davis ...
Peppi Borza ...
First Vervoid
Bob Appleby ...
Second Vervoid
Barbara Ward ...
Ruth Baxter


With factions vying for control of the ship, the Vervoids are found to be responsible for the many disappearances. Only the Doctor sees the fundamental but missed point as to why they can't be reasoned with or why they can't be allowed to arrive on Earth. Written by statmanjeff

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Release Date:

22 November 1986 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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This episode was watched by 5.2 million viewers on its original transmission. See more »


The Valeyard: 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 Inquisitor: You refer to article seven of Gallifreyan Law?
The Doctor: No, my Lady, that can not apply! Had a single Vervoid reached earth, the human race would have been eliminated.
The Valeyard: Article seven permits no exceptions. The Doctor has destroyed a complete species. The charge must now be genocide.
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"Your nothing more than a squalled little criminal." I'm almost sorry to see it end.

Doctor Who: The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Twelve starts as Commodore Travers (Michael Craig) regains control of the Hyperion III's bridge from Bruchner (David Allister) & then soon after loses it again to the treacherous security officer Rudge (Denys Hawthorne) & two Mogarians who take complete control at gunpoint (so much for Travers assurances that the Hyperion III is hijack proof during Part Eleven). The Doctor (Colin Baker), Professor Lasky (Honor Blackman) & Commodore Travers are taken hostage but the Vervoids are still on the loose as is Mel (Bonnie Langford) who organises a rescue & saves the Doctor who then has to uncover a killer & stop the Vervoids from reaching Earth by killing them. Back on the space station & the Valeyard (Michael Jayston) sees his chance & instead of just meddling he accuses the Doctor of genocide...

Episode 12 from season 23 this Doctor Who adventure originally aired here in the UK during November 1986, the fourth & final part of the final mini four part story Terror of the Vervoids from The Trial of a Time Lord season this was directed by Chris Clough & has been the highlight of season twenty three so far. The script by Pip & Jane Baker wraps the murder mystery whodunit plot up nicely enough even if the killers motives are a touch bland & forgettable, they get about one line of dialogue to explain their motives which doesn't leave much room for anything deep or meaningful. On the whole it could have been a bit better as could the Vervoids who are decent monsters but I'd have liked to have seen them involved a bit more, I'd have liked to have seen some more attacks & used more effectively. The court scenes are again kept to a minimum which helps & the closing statement made by the Valeyard that the Doctor should be found guilty of genocide is a little over the top & a direct contradiction since weren't the Time Lords the ones who ordered Tom Baker's Doctor to wipe out the Daleks during Genesis of the Daleks (1975)? Terror of the Vervoids is a decent enough Doctor Who adventure with OK character's, it has a nice enough pace, a bit of mystery & intrigue, some good monsters & reasonable special effects.

Overall the lighting in Terror of the Vervoids was too bright especially in the air ventilation shafts which if darkly lit could have made for some creepy scenes, all the interior Hyperion III scenes are also way too bright & garish with white cane chairs (which look like they belong on someone's patio), gaudy colour's & limited sets. This could have been quite scary with the Vervoids making for good monsters but the opportunity has been somewhat wasted, as it is I wouldn't say there's much to get frightened over in this although the cliffhanger ending to Part Ten when the Doctor & Mel find the mutated lab assistant is an effective moment. A lot of people don't like Mel played by Bonnie Langford (or should that be people don't like Bonnie Langford who played Mel?) but I must admit after her first full story that I do quite like her, I certainly much prefer her to the next companion the truly awful Ace played by Sophie Aldred.

The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Twelve, or Terror of the Vervoids Part Four, is a good end to an enjoyable story which wraps up all the loose ends a bit too quickly but it still works anyway. Overall I'll give Terror of the Vervoids as a four parter on it's own an impressive 7 stars out of 10 & it's as good as The Trial of a Time Lord season got. The final story segment of The Trial of a Time Lord season is a two parter called The Ultimate Foe & resolves the trial.

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