Screencaps and Review for The Trial of a Time Lord: Terror of the Vervoids

Screencaps for Terror of the Vervoids are posted. Review is below the jump. It’s a really grouchy review, so you may want to skip if that sort of thing is likely to spoil your good mood.

Monsters and Wank

Monsters: yes, just about every damn body involved.
Emotional Wank: 0 out of 10 and don’t I wish there were.

Intended Destination: pursuit of distress signal
Actual Destination: starliner Hyperion III, 30th century

Summary Rant

It’s hard not to start with, “What the hell is this crap?” I’m not up to a civilized summary.

The Doctor has been given some time to compose himself after witnessing the shocking and sudden death of his companion, and has been given access to the Matrix so that he may compose his defense, which will consist of watching another adventure together. Because that’s how courtroom procedure works, right? He’s chosen one from his future that’s meant to demonstrate that he didn’t (won’t?) interfere, but intervened at the request of an established authority, and that he didn’t endanger anybody.

Of course the Matrix has been altered since he last reviewed it, so that in the narrative he endangers his new companion Mel rather than protecting her. It also shows him having smashed the communications equipment, although that hadn’t been the case on his earlier viewing. The unaltered part is annoying, though, because he has purposely chosen an adventure wherein he kills off an entire population, not realizing he might be accused of genocide. My Doctor is not this kind of stupid.

So the adventure begins with the Doctor and Mel in the TARDIS receiving a distress call. We never find out from whom, but it possibly could be an investigator he knows who poses variously as a passenger, a crew member, and a Mogarian. This mystery man fakes his death at one point and dies for real at another, for reasons unknown. But that’s later on. Back to the signal – they follow it to a starliner that has among its passengers a delegation of botanists with some cargo and a set of Mogarians who want to appeal to humanity not to strip their world of natural resources.

There is a great lot of walking around in corridors and the Doctor being summoned to the bridge to answer for whatever offense he’s just committed. The botanists have some giant pods whose inhabitants, Vervoids, get loose and start killing people with poison thorns, using the ventilation system to get around the ship. One of the botanists becomes infected by pollen from the pods and starts turning into a Vervoid, but it doesn’t matter because a Vervoid kills her anyway.

Some other botanist hijacks the ship and tries to pilot into a black hole that has very bad ruby red lighting effects going around it. This is a misguided attempt to save humanity. The Vervoids fill the bridge with marsh gas which kills the botanist. The Mogarians, who carry their atmosphere around with them, go in to pilot the ship to safety. The chief security guy then hijacks the ship for the payload on behalf (and payroll) of the Mogarians, who continue to pilot while he holds hostages in the lounge.

The Mogarians are killed when someone unseen throws water on their faceplates. Some of our cast who were not taken hostage discover them and deliver their faceplates as evidence to the security guy, whom they overpower while he is distracted, but he gets away to a corridor where some Vervoids kill him.

One of the botanists, it turns out, has committed some of the murders; he’d planned on selling the Vervoids as slaves. He is captured but he and his guard are killed by Vervoids. So the last threat left is the Vervoids themselves.

The Doctor knows there’s some stuff in the hold that will cause the Vervoids to accelerate their life process, to wither and die. So the crew shuts off the lights in all but one location, and there he and Mel use this stuff to kill them all.

When the court finishes watching all this, the Valeyard accuses the Doctor of genocide.

There is an entire and more accurate plot layout in the Wikipedia article about this episode. Tried slogging through it to correct some flaws with this summary, but Heaven above it was such a tedious task, the prospect took all the joy out of my day. So if you care, it’s there to read it. I don’t.


  • Despite their sexual suggestiveness, or maybe because of, I rather like the Vervoid costumes.
  • The Mogarians playing what looks to me like Galaga.
  • If nothing else, the Doctor’s coat, being made of no two contiguous bits of the same fabric, is highly educational when it comes to just how a coat can be constructed. I feel I can build a pattern just looking at it.


  • Confusing.
  • Pointless.
  • Of course I still don’t like the courtroom stuff any more than in the previous adventures.
  • The Doctor with a gun? It has to be compelling and rare (see Dalek). Yes, it later proves disabled, but really?
  • The crewmembers’ shoulder pads.
  • The phasers. They look like implements from Home Depot.
  • The only solution the Doctor can find is to kill them all? Really really? My Doctor finds a way; that’s how he’s different from Jack Harkness. In this instance even I, a mere human of some moderate intelligence, can think up five or so ways to save the situation along with the Vervoids.
  • Ridiculously high body count.

Comments, Questions, Speculation

  • Mel is quite the screamer, isn’t she? Wonder what River would have to say about her.
  • I rather like the Vervoids’ faces, but really, this is supposed to be a children’s show. I laughed out loud.
  • Wow, the gym is so very, very important. Half the adventure takes place there.
  • What the heck is the business of the seeds all about?
  • What’s the point of the woman becoming Vervoid?
  • In the commentaries, Jane Baker is saying that this story started from two threads. One was that people wanted an Agatha Christie style whodunit and the other was a recent scientific discovery that plants have feelings. Well. By the end I don’t give a rat’s ass whodunit and what better way to deal with the feelings of sentient plants than slaughter them all? Can you tell just how much I don’t like this story?
  • I do enjoy the commentaries on these DVDs. This is how in the past I have come to admire and respect Nicola Bryant, about whom I’ve been rather uncharitable before. On this one I learn that Colin Baker had been asked what sort of costume he’d like to have as the Doctor, and he’d said all black, and described outfits that now remind him of Keanu Reeves in the Matrix or Christopher Eccleston’s U-boat captain look. And he got shot down, being told that would make people confuse him for the Master. Interesting. I also learned that someone, I think it was John Nathan-Turner, didn’t like how much like female private parts the Vervoids look. This implies that he either didn’t notice or approved of how much like male private parts they look.

Raw Caps: 420
Finished Caps: 71

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