August sees the release of this a bumper set DVD containing the entire 23rd season of the original show’s run and the one which coincided with one of the most troubled eras any show has ever endured.
There’s no need to go into all the behind the scenes woes the show was facing – if you’re a long time fan you’ll know it all already and if not the included extras reveals all.
As mentioned, this epic 14 part adventure spans an entire season and uses the setup of the Doctor facing trial for breaking the ‘First Law of Time’ – interference in the affairs of other worlds. This allows for four separate stories told to be presented as evidence in the Doctor’s trial with the action periodically broken up by the trial’s proceedings.
As you’d expect from a four disc set there’s a lot of bonus material here including commentaries and ‘making of’ features for all stories and it’s worth highlighting that the story told in the extras is essentially that of the beginning of the end of the show – there’d be just three more series after this before the Doctor’s journeys came to long lasting halt.
The four adventures are of variable quality – The Mysterious Planet which opens the season is probably the best, episode fourteen is undoubtably the worst but this episode had an especially troubled birth as the extras again show,
The Trial of a Timelord has always been an oddity in the show’s history, not quite as bad as some claim but certainly nowhere near as good as it could have been. There are genuine hints of genius in some of the episodes but all too often the whole thing looks seconds away from falling apart.
In an era when Doctor Who is one of the BBC’s best loved and profitable brands this set is a stark reminder of a time when the show was very much unloved by some very powerful people within the BBC. It sets the episodes in context by explaining the behind the scenes struggles the production team battled to overcome but ultimately it’s impossible not to struck at how much of a wasted opportunity this season was.
Doctor Who: The Trial of a Timelord is released August 18th.