“The Mysterious Planet” is the first adventure of the twenty-third season, known by the global title “The Trial of a Time Lord”, which aired in 1986. It follows “Revelation of the Daleks” and t’s a four parts adventure written by Robert Holmes and directed by Nicholas Mallett.
The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) is captured by the Time Lords and put under investigation for alleged violations of their laws. A Time Lord known as the Valeyard is in charge of the prosecution against the Doctor and as the first evidence he shows the court a recording from the Matrix.
The Valeyard shows the court the Doctor taking Peri (Nicola Bryant) to the planet Ravolox, a world that suffered a catastrophe a few centuries earlier. The Doctor is intrigued by the fact that in the Gallifrey archives there’s very little information on the planet and the fact that it’s very similar to Earth.
Soon the Doctor and Peri find the remains of a civilization which however looks like the Earth’s, how is that possible? Is Ravolox actually the Earth moved in some way to another solar system? What’s the connection between the Doctor’s investigation and his alleged crimes?
This DVD is packed with extras. There are typical contents such as the BBC announcements for this adventure, production subtitles and a gallery of pictures from it.
There are comments in the adventure alternative audio track by protagonists Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant and actors Tony Selby and Adam Blackwood. In the first part of the adventure there’s a further audio track with a commentary by script editor Eric Saward.
The Making of The Mysterious Planet. A documentary on the production of this adventure with several interviews that put it in the perspective of the troubled time the show was facing. For the fans it’s by far the best extra.
Deleted and Extended scenes. A few minutes of deleted and extended scenes.
35mm Film Sequence. The complete sequence of the the Time Lord spaceship model shooting at the beginning of this adventure.
Music Videos. Three videos: the original titles, a remixed version with various visual effects and a clip with various images of the season “The Trial Of A Time Lord” including the following adventures.
Wogan. A long interview from August 1986 in the Terry Wogan show to Colin Baker who goes beyond his participation in Doctor Who and to Lynda Bellingham (The Inquisitor).
Blue Peter. From Blue Peter interviews from the time with various actors who worked in “The Trial Of A Time Lord”. If you haven’t seen the following adventures you better whatch it later because it contains many spoilers.
Points of View. The reactions from 1986 to the season “The Trial Of A Time Lord”.
“Doctor Who” was put on trial by the BBC so producer John Nathan-Turner decided to put the Doctor on trial in the new season which eventually was produced.
The previous season had been criticized for the level of violence and as someone still insisted on seeing “Doctor Who” as series for kids BBC executives, who at that time considered it a burden despite its good audience despite and the low budget, had temporarily suspended it.
The fans outcry soon led to the decision to limit the break and resume the show production although with a reduced season of only four adventures for a total of 14 episodes. The plans already made for the season were abandoned and instead the big story that became “The Trial Of A Time Lord” was created.
“The Mysterious Planet” was written by veteran Robert Holmes, unfortunately his health was declining so the result wasn’t up to his previous adventures.
The adventure might work well as a stand-alone story but the trial scenes weaken it. The start with the Tardis that gets captured is truly impressive but then the breaks of the story on the Earth with the Doctor and the Valeyard bickering have a negative effect because they break the story in a way that ends up just annoying the viewer.
Because this DVD is part of “The Trial of a Time Lord” box set – available on Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon USA – a global judgement must necessarily be given only at the end of the reviews of this season’s adventures.