Friday, 11 October 2013

Terror of the Vervoids

Yes, it looks EXACTLY like that.
‘Terror of the Vervoids’ is a solid enough story with just two, rather significant, drawbacks. Firstly, the design of the Vervoid creatures themselves, especially the face which does indeed look like what many have joked it does over the years, and secondly, the dialogue. For example:
‘Can I have clarification of that extraction, sir?’
‘That is hardly a denial, simply a bromide.’
‘Is the vocabulary of all Time Lords so antideluviant?’
Boonie Langford as Mel.
Pip and Jane Baker’s first story was ‘Mark of the Rani’. It was a period piece, and perhaps that masked some of the dialogue which really in this story appeared geared towards a theatre performance rather than a science fiction television programme. There’s a strange overuse of ‘passive voice’ in this one too. The concept of a ‘murder-mystery in space’ was a solid one, and although this is not as good as ‘Mark of the Rani’, it’s not a bad story by any means.
Colin Baker and Honour Blackman.
Chris Clough takes the reins in his first stint as director. It was a technically very difficult story I think, and many of the video effects – specifically moving the Hyperion III through space, are somewhat poor. For the first episode or two we are thankfully not constantly interrupted by court room scenes thankfully. I find the idea of the defence coming from the Doctor’s future though a bit hard to swallow. You are tried for things you have done in the past. The future, in this case presumably a possibly future, is irrelevant. This is the Doctor’s defence though – that he improves. Again we have the accusations that the matrix is lying, or being deliberately manipulated. Scenes appear different to the Doctor than when he viewed them in preparation.

Michael Craig as Travers.
New companion Mel, played by Bonnie Langford. She seemed ok in this story, a little more positive and pro-active than Peri, no complaining which was nice. I think they should have made this her introductory story though, it would have been nice to get some back story to the companion instead we are presented with a companion that has already been travelling with the Doctor for some time. A good match for Colin.
We have veteran GP actor Michael Craig as Commodore Travers, which is nice. Very strong casting throughout with Honour Blackman as Professor Lasky as Denys Hawthorne as Security Chief Rudge. Some very clever moments when the Doctor does some deducing. Nice twists with the Mogarians hijacking the ship at one point, the Vervoids slowly killing everyone and the reveal of who is responsible in the final episode. It’s well paced and keeps the interest up throughout.
The Vervoids are a mix of good and bad. It’s not exactly clear if they are a mix of plant and human DNA which could account for their humanoid shape. Their faces though apart from the very dubious appearance are also very clearly material-based, making them a bit muppet-like for my liking. And some of the dialogue goes a bit hammy and over the top for my liking.


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