Well, that was unexpected. I loved that. All the ingredients were wrong, but somehow that was perhaps my favourite Colin story so far. This is despite him being absolutely peak Sixth Doctor in terms of his baffling behaviour. The exaggerated cruelty and ruthlessness were clearly been played up to show that something is not right, even though he was effectively not much different to how he started out.
The difference here is that there’s some kind of method to the madness, because you’ve got the “present” Doctor on trial, and in these scenes so far he’s been acting much more like how I expect The Doctor to act. He’s eloquent, morally superior and his anger is being channeled in the right directions. I’m still not clear whether his turncoat behaviour in the flashbacks is due to (Adam) Crozier’s experiment, a clever ploy or a result of some bastard meddling with Matrix, but I expect things will make more sense by the end of the serial/season. Or maybe not, considering I’ve just read that Colin was never told which of those three options it was either.
One thing I am sure of is that this isn’t actually what happened to Peri – that spoilery ship has sailed a long, long time ago. Nevertheless, it was a bloody effective death within the context of this segment. Maybe I was reading too much into it because I knew what was coming, but it seemed to be all leading up to it. The Doctor, either seemingly or actually, abandoning her, making her feel isolated and longing for her own time, and then eventually failing to save her. I thought she was a goner at the end of Part Three/Seven, which is one of the bleakest cliffhangers of all time.
Regardless of whatever her fate is retconned to in about a week’s time, this is the end of Peri, and I can’t say I’m sad to see her go, other than the fact that I’m absolutely dreading being subjected to Bonnie bloody Langford. Nicola Bryant is clearly likeable and a good actress, but the writing consistently let her down throughout her stay, and there was just no chemistry whatsoever between her and The Doctor. It all seemed like a bit of a cock-up, and it’s a shame that Nicola/Peri wasn’t around in a more stable era for the show.
Back to this story, and I enjoyed the courtroom scenes a little more this time round; they feel a lot less tacked on now that important plot details are being revealed within, and The Doctor’s amnesia gave this an extra edge, whilst also fixing the problem of a lack of peril in the flashbacks.
But the main setting was also a lot more interesting this time, which surprised me – I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to see Sil again, but he seems somewhat improved since last time, with clearer speech and more effort taken to make his pretentious language flow naturally. Christopher Ryan being his cohort was an unexpected bonus too – the second Young One in the last three stories.
But the main star was undoubtedly Brian Blessed, appearing here in the role of Brian Blessed. I’d hazard a guess that most Who fans consider his performance to be way too over the top, completely unsuitable, unnatural and unrealistic. I agree, but I don’t give a shit, because it’s Brian Blessed. Every time he was on screen, I couldn’t help but smile. I could watch him all day, and while his very presence outshadows everything else that’s happening at any given time, I don’t care because I find his presence so enjoyable.