I have seen this one, multiple times, but not for… oh, early to mid 90s. So, a good 15-20 years. I recall liking it, a lot. Let’s see how it holds up!

Episode 1:

We open with a text scrolling, narrated by The Doctor. I’m not sure how long it is, but I’ll attempt to transcribe it:

Through the millennia, the Time Lords of Gallifrey led a life of peace and ordered calm, protected against all threats from lesser civilisations by their great power.

But this was to change. Suddenly and terribly, the Time Lords faced the most dangerous crisis in their long history…”

Okay, that wasn’t very long.

The Doctor is in the second control room of the TARDIS, when he has a vision of the President of the Time Lords being assassinated. In his vision, he is the assassin!

The Doctor collapses in his TARDIS, overwhelmed, overwrought by the vision.

On Gallifrey, alarms sound and guards assemble in Sector 7, awaiting his TARDIS. He materialises and opens the scanner, seeing the guards, dressed in red and gold.

The Castellan arrives and confirms that it is, in fact, a Type 40 TARDIS. One of the guards says that’s impossible as they’re “obselete”, which offends The Doctor, watching the conversation on his scanner. He pats the TARDIS console, comfortingly. The Castellan gives orders to arrest the occupants.

The Doctor overhears that the day is a Presidential Resignation day.

The Castellan returns to his command centre and checks with the computer for any Type 40 TARDISes in operation; the computer says there are none. Checking the records, he realises that one Type 40 TARDIS was never deregistered, but was removed from registry, as per a malfeasance tribunal (I’m guessing the three Time Lords that tried the Second Doctor at the end of THE WAR GAMES.)

The Castellan warns the guards that the occupant is a convicted criminal.

The Doctor writes a note. He powers down the lights in the control room.

The guards manage to open the lock and enter, weapons drawn. In the dim light, they mistake his hat and coat propped on a chair to be him. They find the note, then see him dashing off on the scanner.

As The Doctor makes it to an elevator, a guard takes him prisoner, but a mysterious person shoots the guard (no idea whether he’s immobilised, stunned or dead) and slinks off. The Doctor heads off, before the other guards catch up.

The Castellan’s assistant reads the ruling of the malfeasance tribunal and the sentence imposed – exile to Earth, and the termination of the sentence at the intervention of the CIA – Celestial Intervention Agency. Castellan Spandrell grumbles about the interfering ways of the CIA.

Captain Hilred reports that the fugitive evaded them. The Castellan is very sarcastic and snarky about the captain’s performance. He turns the note The Doctor wrote; we see the writing, it is most certainly an alien alphabet and pretty neat looking!

At learning The Doctor was once part of a elite chapter (Pydonian? Prydonian? I’m not sure), the Castellan says he must refer this to Chancellor Goth.

The Doctor returns to his TARDIS, where a shadowy figure murmurs, “Predictable as ever, Doctor,” before skulking off.

Spandrell consults with Goth (who is played by Bernard Horsfall, whom we’ve seen thrice prior to this – as Gulliver in THE MIND ROBBER, as one of the Time Lords in the tribunal, ironically enough, in THE WAR GAMES, and as Taron in PLANET OF THE DALEKS. Though, it seems he is not the same Time Lord that was on the tribunal.) He tells Goth he thinks The Doctor is a rogue CIA agent.

Goth tells Spandrell he wants to see the TARDIS, amazed that a Type 40 could still be in service.

The Doctor pulls up the local news feed on his scanner; a reporter stands in the Panopticon, reporting on the arrival of the Time Lords (and note, not all Gallifreyans are Time Lords), wearing the robes indicating their chapters (and it is, in fact, Prydonians, as spoken clearly by the reporter), pontificating on whom will be named by the resigning President as his successor.

The Doctor recognises the reporter as Runcible, nicknamed “the Fatuous”.

Runcible says he will soon speak to Cardinal Borusa (a recurring Time Lord character for years to come), the leader of the Prydonian chapter. The Prydonians are the most common chapter of Time Lord when it comes to Presidents, it seems. (Chapters are either schools or fraternities, maybe a bit of both, but I’m not quite sure exactly.)

Borusa, leading his fellow Prydonians, is approached by Runcible, who introduces himself as part of Public Register Radio and asks for a moment of his time. Borusa is rather brusque with Runcible and leaves off.

The Doctor gets tired of the news and turns it off; he sees Spandrell and Goth and several guards approaching. Goth orders the TARDIS to be transducted into the citadel, to prevent The Doctor from using it to get in the citadel… so, doing exactly what they don’t want.

The Doctor exits the TARDIS after transduction and finds some robes.

Elsewhere, two shadowly figures meet and discuss The Doctor. The leader has predicted things precisely, at least in regards to The Doctor’s actions. He says he knows him well. We see the face of the superior figure – it is a dessicated face, seemingly fleshless, with a gore-covered skull, large eyes and horrible expression. The superior gives instruction to make certain that The Doctor dies.

Captain Hilred reports to the Castellan that they searched all fifty-two floors of the communications tower and there is no sign of The Doctor. Spandrell realises that he must have gone back to the capsule (TARDIS).

The Castellan, Hilred and another guard arrive to where the Type 40 was taken; using a tracker, they find the missing Usher robes and see The Doctor’s coat and scarf left behind.

The Doctor swaps his gold usher robe with another coloured robes, confusing the usher he was swapping with.

In a balcony above the Panopticon, a camera man sees something that frightens him. He backs away, pleading, as a robed figure attacks him. The figure begins assembling a rifle, the one we saw in The Doctor’s vision.

The Castellan opens The Doctor’s data tube and says it has been accessed recently. He tells his assistant he wants to know who the record says accessed it most recently.

The robed figure continues to assemble the rifle. Once done, he sights around, and sees The Doctor, dressed in Time Lord robes of an orange hue. The sniper rasps, “The innocent to the slaughter…”

The resigning President readies to address the assemblage. His assistant asks if he’s ready, if he has the list. The President holds up a small scroll and says that there are names on that list that will shock them all.

Avoiding the guard, who are prowling about the Panopticon, The Doctor strikes up a conversation with Runcible, who at first doesn’t recognise him (and why would he, as he’s regenerated thrice since originally leaving Gallifrey), and then asks, “Say, weren’t you expelled?” The Doctor tries to blow it off.

The music plays, announcing the arrival of the President. Again, The Doctor has a flashback of his vision. When Runcible complains that his camera man hasn’t signaled him, The Doctor looks to where Runcible points and sees the rifle barrel. He dashes off in that direction.

Goth and the members of the high council arrive to greet the President.

The Doctor makes it to the camera balcony, finding the rifle but no assassin.

The President enters, making his way down, gesturing with his sceptre. The Doctor picks up the rifle and sights it on the President and… he fires the gun? The gun fires itself?

The President is hit and collapses while The Doctor looks shocked. The Time Lords gather about the President.

The Doctor is captured by the guards, as he is still on the balcony, gun in his hand. You know, cuz that makes sense.

Runcible tries to find out if the President is dead or not. Spandrell tells him to be quiet and says they have the criminal. Two guards bring The Doctor down, a third carrying the weapon. Spandrell orders him taken to the detention room.

Goth insists the trial begin immediately, but Spandrell says there are too many questions unanswered. Goth says that is the point of the trial. Borusa says this goes against all their traditions. Goth says since the President did not name a successor, there must be an election within forty-eight hours and the trial needs to happen immediately, else the Time Lords will be perceived as leaderless and weak.

The assassin must be tried and executed before the election!”

The Doctor is taken away and interrogated. He says he will confess… and the credits roll?

(The recording I have doesn’t have it split by credits and the first episode seems to fall on a non-cliffhanger.)

Excellent so far. I love Gallifrey-setting stories. I love seeing the Time Lords society fleshed out.


Episode 2:

The Doctor tells Hilred that he confesses that Hilred is a bigger imbecile than he thought. Hilred cranks up the intensity on the pain device used to facilitate the finding of truth. Spandrell arrives, apologising for his subordinate’s enthusiasm.

Ah, I see. The hot and cold technique,” The Doctor says, pointing out that he’s onto their Good Cop, Bad Cop approach.

Spandrell says there isn’t much time; Goth has ordered for an immediate trial. Spandrell wants to know the motive. He tells The Doctor that he has seen The Doctor’s bio.

And you still think I did it?”

I think you’re going to die for it.”

Very telling dialogue there. Spandrell says the vaporisation chamber is being readied and this news horrifies The Doctor. “Vaporisation without representation is against the Constitution!”

The Doctor asks if he realise that he’s been framed. Spandrell asks why he returned to Gallifrey.

Later, Spandrell shares a recording of the conversation with Engin, his subordinate/associate (the one who found and loaded the Doctor’s bio tube.) Engin tells Spandrell that there was no previous access of The Doctor’s data, depiste Spandrell’s belief otherwise.

Engin says only a major genius could have found a way to erase any record of accessing the data.

Borusa appeals to Goth that time to reflect should be taken, in a conference of others. Goth is against this, seeking expedient measures.

It comes up that Goth likely will be chosen as President of the Council; Borusa says that Goth was most likely the one the President had chosen to replace him. Goth doesn’t seem so sure.

Goth says that the tradition of pardoning prisoners when a new President takes office would be difficult – pardoning the murderer of the previous President would be just as difficult a choice as breaking with tradition, and this is why he feels that The Doctor should be tried and executed before a new President is chosen.

During testimony, various people give statements. Goth and Borusa seem to be presiding over it, though Goth has a bit more rank in the trial. When they turn to The Doctor (who has been sketching faces all the while) and ask if he has anything to say before sentence is passed, our hero stands up, saying, “Yes. Article seventeen.”

This causes quite the reaction amongst the assembly. The Doctor offers himself as a candidate for the Presidency. This protects him for the duration of the candidacy and election process, and even Borusa (who is a jurist, it seems), points out that he is correct and the trial must be postponed until after the election.

Goth orders Spandrell to ensure that the accused does not leave the citadel. Goth leaves and the others follow, as The Doctor asks the Castellan, “Suppose I could convince you I didn’t do it?”

Elsewhere, the shadowy figure reports to the dessicated creature that the trial was postponed. The dessicated creature says that he is as genius as ever, that he is not trying to escape, that he is hunting them now.

When the subordinate figure says it was a mistake to bring him in, that they could have used anyone, the dessicated figure says they could not have used just anyone. It had to be The Doctor. He goes on about hate, how it is the only thing keeping him alive and that he will see The Doctor die, shamed and broken. And then he says he will stop the Time Lords – nothing will stop him.

The Doctor and Spandrell examine the rifle. The Doctor hands it to the Castellan and asks him to try to hit a target at the end of the corridor. The Castellan fires and misses by a long shot – The Doctor says that the sight on the rifle was tampered with. He explains that he saw the assassin, one of the High Council, draw a stazer and approach the President.

Spandrell finds the implication of a member of the High Council to be incredulous, but when The Doctor says the Public Register camera should have the evidence on it, the Castellan praises him, “Doctor, you may end up President yet.”

The Castellan orders The Doctor taken to the Panopticon and issues a summons for Runcible as well. Spandrell then goes to see Goth, to get permission to open the Panopiticon for “further investigation”.

Goth allows it, then remarks that other than The Doctor, he is the only candidate in the election. He remarks, “A murderer and a renegade. It exposes the highest office in the land to ridicule.” Remember this quote. He then says his first action as President will be to have Borusa draft an amendment to Article 17, to ensure this never happens again.

At the Panopticon, Runcible says it’s not his field of expertise, but Spandrell points out that his technician has disappeared. Spandrell instructs Runcible to fetch the recording from the camera, but above in the balcony, a shadowy figure watches.

The Doctor and Spandrell discuss where the tampered gun would have fired and examine that area. Hilred says he saw movement, but Spandrell says it’s just Runcible.

Runcible arrives in the balcony and approaches the camera. He removes a drum from the camera, but then looks in the tube and screams before fainting.

Hilred, the Castellan and The Doctor hear his scream and rush into motion.

The shadowy figure removes discs from the camera drum. He dashes off before the others arrive. They wake Runcible who says his technician is in the camera, and we see a miniaturised body in the camera tube.

The Doctor says he’s seen this sort of thing before, pointing out that it’s a technique The Master picked up during his travels. Spandrell asks who The Master is.

Who is The Master? He’s my sworn arch-enemy, a fiend who glories in chaos and destruction.” Wow, that is the perfect summation of The Master!

The Doctor suddenly realises that The Master must behind it all. Spandrell orders Runcible to take the disc to records.

Spandrell tells The Doctor that he wants to know all there is about The Master, saying there should be a bio on him, as there are on all Time Lords. The Doctor doesn’t seem too sure, but before he can say any more, Runcible staggers back to them, apologising before collapsing on the floor, a sharp object imbedded in his back.

Back in the records department, Engin confirms The Doctor’s suspicions, there is no such DE (Data Extract.) When Engin goes on about a matrix of electronic brain cells, stored with the scans of deceased Time Lords, that is used to monitor and predict things, pieces begin to fall together for The Doctor.

He says The Master intercepted the foretelling of the President’s assassination and beamed it into The Doctor’s mind. He would have needed to access The Doctor’s DE, to be able to achieve such a thing.

The Doctor says that the only way to do such a thing would be to have gone inside the Matrix; if he were to go in, he could find where The Master intercepted the circuit.

Engin says he could not allow this, it is too dangerous. The Doctor says he is aware of the danger. Spandrell says to let him try. Engin extends a couch from the Matrix machine and straps The Doctor in, saying usually they’re unconscious when they do this and he suspects there will be pain.

He activates the process and The Doctor writhes in pain.

There’s a visual effect similar to the opening sequence, and The Doctor is seen in a rocky terrain. Overhead, sinister laughing and giggling commences as an alligator tries to bite The Doctor, who then slips down a slope, almost falling a great distance.

As he pulls himself up, a masked warrior, oriental in style stands overhead and chops down with his sword. The Doctor’s scarf is cut and he falls a great distance.

Engin and Spandrell observe as The Doctor’s brain activity stops but then restarts moments later.

The Doctor ‘wakes’ to find himself in under a medical lamp with a man in surgeon’s garb trying to inject him with an obscenely large syringe. The surgeon whispers, “You were a fool, Doctor, to venture into my domain.” The Doctor moves at the last moment and the makeshift surgery disappears.

Bombs go off about him as a soldier in a gas mask and a horse wander close. There’s more explosions and The Doctor runs off, finding himself on a train tracks. His foot is caught and he hears the approach of a train. A small train, like those at theme parks comes around the bend but nothing happens.

The Doctor moves on (having freed his foot) and steps in a giant egg. He says, “I deny this reality. The reality is a computation matrix.” The surroundings shimmer and we see circuitry. Again, the effect from the opening sequence and The Doctor collapses.

Overhead a bird flies and calls out. The Doctor looks around and eyes appear in the terrain. A voice says, “I am the creator here, Doctor. This is my world. There is no escape for you.” The voice laughs… and the credits roll?

I’m exhausted and behind on my viewing, so I’m going to call it a night and split this in two. Episodes 3 and 4 will be posted on Saturday at 1pm EDT. Apologies for the horrible week, posting wise.

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