Sun, 21 September 2008
Listen past the end credits for spoiler chat!
1) Terror of the Verviods
2) Ultimate Foe
3) Steampunk in Doctor Who
4) Spoiler chat...
The Doctor returns to the courtroom after a recess, given to allow him to mourn Peri’s death, shown in the previous block of evidence. The Doctor begins his defence, showing events from his future on the galactic liner Hyperion III, a ship taking a supply of rare metals from Mogar to Earth in the year 2986AD. The Doctor states that many of the passengers and crew will not survive the journey to Earth, for "[someone determined to] protect a secret hidden on the space liner... will become a murderer."’’
This story segment of Trial was originally supposed to be written by Peter J. Hammond, creator of the cult science fiction series Sapphire & Steel. Hammond's story outline, titled Paradise Five, was liked by script editor Eric Saward but disliked by producer John Nathan-Turner, who rejected it and commissioned Pip and Jane Baker to do the segment instead. Hammond later wrote two episodes of the Doctor Who spin-off drama, Torchwood.
Designed as a typical Agatha Christie murder mystery set on a space liner, the actual structure of the story (and its bubbly tone) are reminiscent of the series during Douglas Adams' tenure as script editor, during season seventeen. In the first episode, Professor Lasky is briefly seen reading a copy of Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.
This serial marked the last time the BBC Radiophonic Workshop provided a music score for the series.
As no individual title was used onscreen or on the final scripts for this story, there has been some confusion over how to refer to the story. It was initially commissioned with the title of The Ultimate Foe. However this title was later given to the novelisation of the 13th and 14th parts of the season. Writers Pip and Jane Baker repeatedly referred to the story as The Vervoids in subsequent interviews, as have other production team members, but this title does not appear to exist on any contemporary documentation. When Target Books published Pip and Jane Baker's novelisation, it was under the title of Terror of the Vervoids, which is now generally used to refer to the story (see The Ultimate Foe and Doctor Who story title controversy).
Thanks to the paradoxes of time travel, since Mel is from the Doctor's future, she has already met him, but from the Doctor's perspective he is meeting her for the first time. Most spin-off media, including the novelisation by the Bakers, have assumed that the Doctor, at the end of the trial, takes Mel back to her proper place in time and eventually travels to her relative past to meet Mel for the first time from her perspective. That meeting, never seen on screen, is related in the Past Doctor Adventures novel Business Unusual by Gary Russell and also in his audio story He Jests at Scars, which provides a semi-sequel to this TV story.
In the new series episode Journey's End, a Magnetron (possibly salvaged during The Time War) is used to move a number of planets to another spot in the universe. Since then, the technology appears to have been modified and/or improved as the planets apparently just teleport rather than being "thrown".
 The Doctor
This was the last story to feature Colin Baker as the current Doctor. Baker was fired by the BBC and John Nathan Turner was ordered, reportedly by Michael Grade, to recast the lead part for the following season. Baker was offered the chance to appear as the Doctor in all four episodes of the first story of Season 24, but he declined this and the invitation to return for the traditional regeneration sequence in Time and the Rani.
Due to Colin Baker's dismissal from the role, it would turn out that the Sixth Doctor's last lines on screen were "Carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice!" Although The Ultimate Foe was his last regular appearance as the Doctor on screen, the last story that Baker actually recorded was Terror of the Vervoids. Baker would reprise the role on stage, in 1989's Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure, and on screen in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time, as well as various audio adventures for Big Finish Productions.
 Final appearances
This marked the last appearance to date of the Time Lords, apart from a brief flashback in "The Sound of Drums." Coincidentally, James Bree (The Keeper of the Matrix) had appeared in The War Games (albeit in a different role), which was the first serial to feature the Time Lords.
The Valeyard has not re-appeared in the television series. His sole appearance in the Big Finish Productions audios has been the Doctor Who Unbound (and therefore outside of established continuity) He Jests at Scars..., where Michael Jayston reprises the role. The character has been featured (usually in dream sequences or metaphors) in the New Adventures and Missing Adventures book ranges from Virgin Publishing and the Past Doctor Adventures from the BBC, however none of these appearances conclusively reveals his origins. The forthcoming unofficial novel Time's Champion, the late Craig Hinton's final novel completed by his friend Chris McKeon, will see the return of the Valeyard and his origins revealed.
Robert Holmes was originally commissioned to write the two episodes. Unfortunately, he died from a chronic liver ailment after completing a draft of the first and left nothing beyond a plot outline of the second. The series Script Editor Eric Saward resigned around this time due to disagreements with the producer, John Nathan-Turner, but agreed to write the final episode based on Holmes' outline, and also rewrite Holmes' draft to tie the two together, for which he was credited as Script Editor. The original ending to this segment (and, indeed, the whole Trial story and possibly the series) would have seen the Doctor and the Valeyard in an inconclusive cliffhanger, both (seemingly) plunging into a void to their deaths as an extra "hook". However, Nathan-Turner felt this was too downbeat and believed that it was important that the season did not end on an inconclusive note since it was important after the hiatus to prove the series was back in business. Saward refused to change the ending and withdrew permission to use his script very late in the day, by which point the production team had been assembled and the segment was entering rehearsals.
John Nathan-Turner commissioned Pip and Jane Baker to write a replacement final episode. For copyright reasons they could not be told anything of the content of Saward's script (and there were lawyers observing all commissioning meetings). The only similarity between the two is the announcement that the High Council of the Time Lords have resigned, which was a natural development of the earlier scripts. The new script ended on an optimistic note, with the Doctor departing for new adventures.
In keeping with this more optimistic stance, Nathan-Turner decided to amend the script at the last minute to show how Peri had not died as shown in Mindwarp but in fact, became Yrcanos's queen. Her "death" was merely a part of the Valeyard's tampering with the Matrix, with a shot from the earlier story used to show this. Nicola Bryant was disappointed to learn how the fate of her character had been changed.
Ultimately, the works of Charles Dickens are evident in the story: the fictional landscape in the Matrix resembles Victorian era Britain, and the character (and name) of Mr. Popplewick are strongly Dickensian. The Doctor also quotes the final two lines of A Tale of Two Cities, prompting Mel to chide him: "Never mind the Sydney Carton heroics!"
The working title of this story was Time Incorporated. However, this title did not appear in the final scripts or on-screen.
Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality.
Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk and shares a similar fanbase and theme of rebellion, but developed as a separate movement (though both have considerable influence on each other). Apart from time period and level of technological development, the main difference between cyberpunk and steampunk is that steampunk settings usually tend to be less obviously dystopian than cyberpunk, or lack dystopian elements entirely.
Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual craftpersons into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.