We spent Sunday chatting with Mr Nick… NO, not THAT Mr Nick... THIS Mr Nick! (I'll be chatting to t'other one soon though!)
We were talking Doctor Who!
Now, as you all remember, Dr Who was ALWAYS getting put on trial by his own people, the Time Lords. The first time was in "The War Games" when they caught up with Mr Dr Pat; the second time was in "The Deadly Assassin" when Mr Dr Tom gets framed for murrrrrrrder*; but the really really biggie is of course "The Trial of a Time Lord". Three guesses WHICH Time Lord!
[*only if Castellan Spangle had been played by Mr Mark McManus!]
Dr Who is dragged out of Time to meet Mrs the Inquisitor (aka the Oxo Mum) and Dr Valeyard who is VERY cross-patchy and keeps insisting that Dr Who deserves to be EXECUTED. And to prove it he shows some of Dr Who's most deadly dull adventures.
To cut a long story short, it SEEMS to turn out that Dr Valeyard is REALLY Dr Who from the FUTURE gone EVIL, and he has faked all the evidence in order to get his earlier self's lives.
Or does it?
Because… well… there are some things that are really rather ODD about all this, even if you can ACCEPT Mrs Oxo in a funny hat as a top Time Lady.
You see, the obvious problem is that the evidence is all presented the WRONG WAY AROUND.
Let's imagine how it MIGHT have been…
Mr Tat, in About Time 6, has a jolly good idea that ACTUALLY not only Dr Valeyard, but also Mrs Oxo, the Supreme Court, the High Council and all of this come from Dr Who's FUTURE.
Think about it: on the OTHER occasions when Dr Who meets himself – especially "The Three Doctors" and "The Five Doctors" – there are USUALLY Time Lords involved and they ALWAYS come from the same era as the LATEST Dr Who. i.e. the Time Lords have the power to reach BACKWARDS in Time along Dr Who's life and grab his earlier selves.
(Mr Tat also argues that this would make more sense of "The Two Doctors" if it is the Time Lords of Mr Dr Colin's time who have made a deal with Mr Dr Pat to be their unofficial ambassador, what with the Time Lords of Mr Dr Pat's time supposedly not being able to FIND him!)
Of course that is breaking the FIRST LAW of TIME™ (except when the "First Law" gets changed to being "interference"). But they CAN do it in emergencies.
Hence if Dr Valeyard is from Dr Who's future then ALL of the Trial is from Dr Who's future.
(This would also explain why Mrs Oxo tells Mr Dr Colin that he isn't President of the High Council any more – because in HER time, in HIS future he has been deposed, possibly by this Trial – while Mr Dr Sylv seems to think that he still IS President-Elect of the High Council of Gallifrey, Keeper of the Legacy of Rassilon, Bestest Buddy of the Hand of Omega and all-round Top Banana of the Universe.)
Mind you, all this hangs on the idea that Dr Valeyard is a FUTURE incarnation of Dr Who.
What I'm NOT going to do is go into that old business of whose faces do we see in "The Brain of Morbius", because that would mean explaining that they AREN'T Morbius's (he is WINNING the Brain Fight) but in fact "earlier" faces of Dr Who going back before Mr Dr Billy. We see eight faces, which means that Mr Dr Tom isn't the FOURTH Dr Who but the TWELFTH. Remember that this is the top team of Hinchcliffe and Holmes and they want to SHAKE UP the continuity, and of course they're going to say (in "The Deadly Assassin") that Time Lords only GET thirteen lives, so they're trying to make it all seem a lot more DANGEROUS (and therefore DRAMATIC!) for Dr Who, what with him only having ONE LIFE LEFT. But of course that makes Mr Dr Peter the THIRTEENTH Dr Who… so it is THE WATCHER who comes "somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation" as Mr the Master puts it; and perhaps if Dr Watcher is the GOOD half of Dr Who then – like some horrible Star Trek effect – Dr Valeyard is the EVIL half split off. That would be why Mr Dr Peter doesn't expect to regenerate ("is this death?" he asks) and thinks it "feels different this time". It might even be why Mr Dr Colin is so, er, unstable, not to mention rather surprised at even being alive at all, and of course, why Dr Valeyard would want to claim Mr Dr Colin's lives (since if he WAS from the future he'd have had those lives already and nicking them would mean disappearing up his own TEMPORAL ANOMALY). But I'm NOT going to mention any of that. No, everyone can SAFELY assume that The Giggling One is counting Mr Dr Billy as Dr Who Number 1, Mr Dr Pat as Dr Who Number 2 and so on, up to Mr Dr Colin: he is Number 6 – Mr Dr Pat is the new number 2. Who is number 1? No, I'm getting confused… Dr Valeyard comes from the FUTURE.
So, Dr Valeyard has them grab Mr Dr Colin by the Time Tunnels and yank him forwards in time to their Massive Space Station Effect Shot™. Dr Who is confused and wants to know what's happened to Peri, but Dr Valeyard says:
"Ah ha! You are a criminal! We here in the future know that you are going to commit GENOCIDE, and in order to PREVENT that happening we have taken you out of time."
And then Dr Valeyard is the one who shows us "Terror of the Vervoids" (an adventure from Mr Dr Colin's future wherein he exterminates an artificial race of embarrassing flowers). Because that is GOOD evidence for the Prosecution (and it doesn't make any sense for Mr Dr Colin to show that if he gets let go he's going to go on a Rampage of Slaughter™!).
Instead, Mr Dr Colin demands that the Time Lords reveal what has happened to Peri, and so Dr Valeyard gloatingly shows "Mindwarp", revealing that Dr Who betrayed his companion and it lead to her getting killed!
But Mr Dr Colin does not BELIEVE that, so he starts to think that the evidence against him is being FAKED. He then does some research and thinks that he can show that the Matrix has been HACKED – and that is when he shows us "The Mysterious Planet" (which isn't very "Mysterious" really: see Mysteries of Dr Who #1!). Because THIS is great for the Defence's case: not only does it demonstrate that the Matrix can be broken into and tampered with, it also proves that Dr Who managed to (yet again) save the ENTIRE UNIVERSE.
But the VITAL evidence has been bleeped out by the High Council, and Dr Who cannot prove that his version is true without witnesses… which leads nicely into "The Ultimate Foe" where Mr the Master turns up and reveals what Dr Valeyard has been doing all along!
Except, of course, that ISN'T what happened AT ALL. In fact it is Dr Valeyard who presents the case that blows open the High Council's conspiracy while Dr Who is the one to prove himself going-to-be-guilty of genocide.
Which is just plain NUTS!
So, the only possible explanation is that both sides in the Trial are TRYING TO LOSE!
Dr Who, obviously, wants to lose because he is doing what he usually does which is to walk into the villain's plans and spring their traps so that he can work out what is going on and then stop them by being terribly clever. Here, he thinks that Dr Valeyard is the villain, so he wants to get convicted 'cos that will spring Dr Valeyard's trap.
EXCEPT… who says that Dr Valeyard IS the villain?
The answer is that it is… Mr the Master. Because he's ALWAYS been a reliable witness, hasn't he. As Mr Dr Colin himself says: "Now I really AM in trouble!"
Now admittedly Dr Valeyard does dress up in BLACK all the time, and SNARLS at Dr Who and argues with him (though really when DON'T two different versions of Dr Who argue with each other?) and is really, really MEAN a lot. But isn't all that a bit OVER THE TOP? A little bit OVER-ACTED? Almost like this is Dr Who PRETENDING to be a villain because hammy and over-the-top is what he thinks villains are LIKE? Again, Mr Dr Colin reminds himself: he's never been able to resist the Grand Guignol.
But, let's face it, doesn't Dr Valeyard try to KILL a lot of people? Well, DOES he? Because it seems that his total body count by the end of the story is, er, nil.
(Unless he's bumped off the Keeper of the Matrix, but that might have been him all along anyway!)
For all that he throws exploding quills at Mr the Master, launches a harpoon at Mr Glitz (stopped by his patent Postideon Life Preserver) and later tries to shoot him, and variously tries to drown, incinerate, gas and quicksand Dr Who, he actually manages not to kill ANY of them.
In fact, that attempt to shoot Mr Glitz is particularly telling: Mr Tat includes is as a "thing that does not make sense" because they are in the Matrix, where what Dr Valeyard THINKS is what controls reality. So it shouldn't MATTER that Mr Glitz secretly removes the round from his pistol – so long as Dr Valeyard THINKS that the gun is still loaded it should still be lethal. Unless, of course Dr Valeyard DOESN'T WANT it to be lethal.
OK, you say, that's all very well, but what about the enormous great DEATH TRAP that Dr Valeyard has built, his "particle disseminator" (or "megabyte modem" as Mel thinks it to be – clearly the Matrix can't get broadband).
But once again, I have to say, are you SURE that Dr Valeyard is the one who built it? Because if it is, it does seem very odd that he stands there giving his earlier self cryptic clues as to what it is – "disseminate the news" – rather than just pulling the "kill everyone now" lever.
Therefore, this is what seems more LIKELY to me:
Dr Valeyard, the future Dr Who, knows that the High Council of Gallifrey has gotten corrupt to the point where they are casually wiping out civilisations like the Earth just to keep their dirty secrets secret. But in order to EXPOSE them he needs to get into the Matrix to find the evidence (and/or the leak). So he PRETENDS to be an evil version of himself, just the sort of person that they might cosy up to, in order to INFILTRATE their conspiracy.
Then, under cover of putting his earlier self on Trial, he ACTUALLY broadcasts the truth about Ravalox to the Court.
Only the High Council have got a BACK-UP PLAN – a dirty great death-o-gram built into the back of the Matrix screen so that if Mrs Oxo and the court learn too much then can all be disseminated back to their constituent particles. Dr Valeyard finds the disseminator but can't remember how his earlier self HORLICKS-ED it up… but remembers that he DID, so he stands their quipping out clues until Mr Dr Colin is provoked into spanner-ing the works and saving the day.
But if we're assuming that this IS all from the future, then the other REALLY interesting question is HOW FAR into the future do Dr Valeyard, Mrs Oxo and the Trial come from?
Funnily enough, we HAVE seen a Gallifrey that descended into corruption and badness… in Mr "Mad" Larry's "Book of the War". In that future War, where Mr Dr Paul bumps into Faction Paradox and the rest, years of fighting against the (** cough cough ** Daleks ** cough cough **) enemy have made the High Council, er, somewhat brutal and pragmatic. Oh, and after having him all captured, there's a sudden revolution and they put Mr the Master in charge. Which, also funnily enough, seems to have been referenced in "Last of the Time Lords".
So is it possible that the ONLY bit of the Last Great Time War™ that we have ever seen is ACTUALLY the bit that takes place on the Massive Space Station Effect Shot™ during "The Trial of a Time Lord"?