Oh, I’m excited. I’m giddy. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this season.

Episode 1:

We open with what appears to be a space station, not orbiting any planet. It is large and has a solitary, tall spire and seems ominous, an effect not dissuaded when one area opens up and emits a beam of blue light that seems to be sucking the TARDIS into it!

Inside, the TARDIS materialises, and The Doctor exits. He sees a row of stairs leading to a door and he pushes the door open, finding a dimly lit room. A mysterious man in black greets him. They banter and The Doctor seats when instructed.

There are other Time Lords in the room, sitting quietly in their formal garb. When The Doctor points out that he was guided there by the mental energies of the assembly, the mysterious man in black (and silver, we now see, but mostly black) points out that The Doctor has a penchant “for straying from the straight and narrow”.

Suddenly, the grand doors open and the official guard of the Time Lords enter. The lights are raised as a woman in white enters and seats herself, attended to by others.

When The Doctor asks what’s going on, she says, “The accused will remain silent until invited to speak,” which startles The Doctor.

The man in black, titled ‘the Valeyard’, is instructed to open the case. “By the order of the High Council (of Time Lords of Gallifrey), this is an impartial inquiry into the behavior of the accused person known as The Doctor, who is charged that he, on diverse occasions, has been guilty of conduct unbecoming a Time Lord.”

He is also accused of trangressing the First Law and being an “incorrigible meddler in the affairs of other peoples and planets”. Well, that last bit is certainly true.

The woman in charge mentions that The Doctor has faced such charges before, referring to the Second Doctor (a trial that ultimately led to his forced regeneration and exile on Earth!) The Valeyard contends that the High Council showed “too great a leniency on that occasion”.

The Doctor, given a chance to speak, declares the whole proceeding a farce, saying he is Lord President of Gallifrey. She informs him that he has been deposed, since he “willfully neglected” his office.

The Doctor declines the chance for a court appointed defender, preferring to speak for himself.

The Valeyard addresses the woman as “Inquisitor,” saying that he proposes not to waste the time of the court by dwelling in detail, but will present two occasions from the Matrix, to illustrate the complicity of the charged. He begins by introducing them to “The Doctor’s involvement in the affairs of Ravalox, a planet within the Stellian galaxy.”

The court turn to face a large screen (the Matrix screen) and a view of a planet comes up… and that view becomes our view.

The Doctor and Peri walk through the woods, Peri complaining about it reminding her of a “a wet November on Earth.” The Doctor points out that is exactly why they are there – Ravalox has the “same mass, angle of tilt, and period of rotation as Earth”.

Peri isn’t impressed, though The Doctor says that is a unique condition… also interesting is that the planet was destroyed by a solar fireball five centuries prior, though the planet looks pretty healthy.

I think somebody exaggerated, don’t you,” he asks his companion.

Peri points out that there aren’t any birds or small animals, and that any soil left over from a solar fireball would be sterile, and thus the forest they’re in would be impossible. They head off, wondering if they’ll find any intelligent life. As they walk, they are unaware as two unsavory characters, Mr. Glitz (AHAHAHAHAHAH, it’s Sabalom Glitz!!!! I love this guy!) and his companion, Dibber.

The Doctor finds some jewelry, proof they are not alone.

Glitz and Dibber discuss their preference to operate without competition, discussing prison psychiatrists and attempts at therapy. All the while they are readying their sniper rifles and taking aim at The Doctor and Peri.

However, before they can fire, The Doctor and Peri slip out of sight. The two ne’er-do-wells wonder if they’re after the same thing they are, and if they’d copied the same map they had.

Peri finds the remains of a building in the forest. The Doctor searches for an entrance.

Glitz and Dibber discuss having to go to the village, as the natives have turned a light converter (that they must destroy to take out a guard robot for whatever it is they are searching for) into a totem pole.

Dibber argues for killing The Doctor and Peri first, but Glitz wants to destroy the robot first. Glitz promises Dibber they’ll kill them when they get the chance.

Peri says she has the feeling she’s been there before, but The Doctor says it’s not possible. The Doctor finds the entrance to the remnants of the building and Peri reluctantly follows him in. As they enter, Peri complains that she’s scratched herself.

The Doctor muses about staying and writing a thesis on Ravalox. He’s about to reveal his name, as he states the title of the thesis, Ancient Life on Ravalox by Doctor… but Peri cuts him off, spotting something.

Glitz and Dibber find some locals and, in an attempt to demonstrate their superiority, throw a grenade. When they have their attention, Glitz tells the natives (though he admits to Dibber he always feels a bit silly saying it), “Take me to your leader.”

Peri has found the name of the location – a railway station named “Marble Arch”. The Doctor says there’s a billion-to-one chance that there could have been such a place on Ravalox, but Peri questions that they wrote it in English.

Peri says they’re on Earth, but The Doctor argues they’re in the wrong part of space. However, he’s unable to offer any explanation for what’s going on. Tongue-in-cheek, he suggests that perhaps the inhabitants collected railway stations.

When Peri says that’s ridiculous, he agrees, saying it’s not impossible… and certainly not as impossible as the other explanation, that “somehow or another, your planet and its entire constellation managed to shift itself a couple of light years across space, after which, for some reason it became known as Ravalox.”

Peri questions when they are, and checking his pocketwatch (guess he got it replaced) he says it’s been over two million years since Peri’s time.

Still, Peri asserts that this is her world, she can feel it. She starts to get upset…

In the courtroom, The Doctor leaps out of his chair, demanding to know why he has to watch Peri get upset. The Valeyard says the reason will be made clear soon enough.

The Doctor asks where Peri is, but the Valeyard says she is where he left her. The Doctor seems not to remember, but the Valeyard says that is a side effect of “being taken out of time” and will soon pass.

The Inquisitor asks if they can continue, The Doctor sits down and the playback continues.

On Ravalox, The Doctor is trying to console Peri, telling her that her world is safe, but she asserts it’s still her planet and she cares about it. She says she wants to leave, but he says there is a mystery that must be answered.

They find a hermetically sealed door leading down, saying the original inhabitants might have survived down below. Peri says she won’t be going down, she’ll wait at the entrance.

He heads down, leaving Peri alone to grouse and complain and be abducted by natives.

Glitz and Dibber are brought into the village, where they see the light converter. Dibber wants to blast it, but Glitz tells him to use his head, he’d have a back full of spears before they could get away.

A red-haired woman comes out to greet the newcomers, looking rather severe, even imposing. Glitz brags to Dibber he has “a way with aging females”.

The Doctor wanders through some advanced hallways. He sees several flasks of water resting on pedestals and picks one up. The moment he does so, a computer alarm goes off, a voice shouting WATER THIEF as a group of guards burst out of entrances (as if they were awaiting him) and begin to beat him down.

In a control room, a man on a screen reports to the “Immortal”. The Immortal tells the man that there is one work unit over strength and to have it removed. After the man goes off the screen, the camera pans to show us that the Immortal is a robot!

The man from the screen tells another man, Grell, that Marb is one work unit over. When Grell questions this, the man tells him the Immortal says so and the Immortal is never wrong. This quiets Grell’s questions, and he summons the watch.

In the village, the outlanders are greeted and questioned by the lady who rules the tribe. She speaks of their ancestors traveling the stars, so they know of space travel, but it is believed that the gods burned their planet for space-travel angered them.

Glitz says “No, my lady, it was much more secular than that.” He points at the totem pole, the energy converter, saying it was that which attracted the fireball.

She argues that is their totem to the earth god, Haldron. Glitz argues that it is a “malfunctioning navigational beacon” and it is still malfunctionining and will attract another fireball soon.

She informs Sabalom Glitz that many outworlders have come and demanded to dismantle the totem. Glitz and Dibber pull out their guns, but the villagers are ready and take them from them before they can use them. She accuses them of trying to steal the symbol of their god.

The Doctor wakes up, chained to a pole, where he is accused of being a water thief and will be stoned for his transgression. When The Doctor asks who the Immortal is, the man tells him that “feigning ignorance will not save you from death.”

The village ruler tells her men that the guns are what she was waiting for and claims now they are ready to take on the Immortal.

The Doctor learns that the man speaking to him is Balazar, and he is “the reader of books.” He says he reads ancient books from the world before the fire. He brags that “here in Marb, we have three.” Oh, I get it now.

The Doctor pretends he is impressed by three books and asks what they are called.

The Books of Knowledge,” Balazar replies.

No, but each book must have a name, Balazar, it’s usually written on the front,” the Time Lord counters.

One of our books is called Moe-by Dick by Herman Melville,” Balazar confides, saying it talks of a great white water god and “contains many mystical passages”.

The Doctor admits to having read it, which baffles Balazar. The other books are THE WATER BABIES by Charles Kingsley and the third book, which Balazar says is the most mysterious, is UK HABITATS OF THE CANADIAN GOOSE by HM Stationary Office.

Peri is dragged into the village.

The people of Marb prepare to stone The Doctor. He is instructed to stand to the side. As they throw their rocks, he tries to block it with his umbrella, but one catches him on the face, knocking him out.

Just then, the Matrix screen goes black. The Doctor asks why the Valeyard stopped “it at the best bit? I was rather enjoying that!”

There’s a little banter between The Doctor and Valeyard, which the latter turns around against The Doctor as taking pride in his interference. The Valeyard says this is not the behavior of a responsible Time Lord.

We are all aware of that, Valeyard,” the Inquisitor says, “what is the point you are trying to make?”

These proceedings started as a mere inquiry into The Doctor’s activities, I’m suggesting now that it becomes a trial! And if he is found guilty, I strongly suggest the termination of his life…”

The Doctor sits forward, startled… and the credits roll.

Now, I have to admit, that is a damn fine cliffhanger.

spoiler warning

Episode 2:

So, you want me dead, eh,” The Doctor asks, but the Inquisitor points out that “what the Valeyard wants and what the court decides are two entirely different things, Doctor.”

She instructs the Valeyard to proceed with the playback.

Back in Marb, guards arrive and prepare to kill The Doctor (who is unconscious from the stoning), but the Immortal gives the order to bring him to him for questioning.

Balazar is brought back with The Doctor and the man in black who takes orders directly from the Immortal.

Katryca, the leader of the free (the villagers), greets Peri when she is brought before her. Katryca tells Peri she will provide excellent husbands for her. Peri is horrified at the pluralisation and then taken away be held with the other prisoners.

Balazar questions Merdeen (the man in black) about the Immortal, but Merdeen says that he has never seen him, he only receives orders “through the air”. The Doctor recovers and thanks Merdeen for saving his life.

The Immortal is attended by two twins/look-a-likes. They debate The Doctor’s appearance, which the Immortal says is irrelevant and they get into the philosophy of form vs function. The Immortal yells at them to cease their prattle and activate the service robot.

Peri is placed in the cell with Dibber and Glitz. Glitz greets her, trying to charm her. Peri notices the light converter (the totem pole) and Dibber (who doesn’t know when to shut up, seemingly) almost explains everything.

Peri, however, is just as bad, and when they ask about her companion, she mentions that he’s still down below and “for a Time Lord, he’s not very good at keeping time.” Glitz is noticeably startled by this revelation. They ask her if he was sent by the Time Lords, but she says he’s not working on anyone’s behalf.

Glitz says they might be able to work out an amicable arrangement, as two “freelancers”.

The Doctor learns that the two cleverest youths are taken from each generation to the castle and they are the only ones who see the Immortal. (He also reports it is said that the Immortal eats them, but The Doctor points out that he shouldn’t believe what is said, but what he knows.)

Glitz lays out his plan to flood the underground chambers with gas to kill them all. Obviously, Peri is horrified. Dibber points out that still leaves the L3 robot, but Glitz says without a labour force, it won’t be half the threat. Before the conversation continues, a member of the free arrives to lead them elsewhere.

The Doctor follows Merdeen and Balazar through the corridors of the underground city, to the Immortal’s chambers. He is told to keep his eyes to the ground in the Immortal’s presence. After The Doctor enters, and the others leave, we see the service robot come out.

Katryca tells the prisoners that she has studied the fires and there is anger in them. Because they have traveled from beyond the stars and intend to steal their totem, Glitz must be sacrificed. Glitz is affronted, “I’m wanted in six different galaxies for crimes you couldn’t imagine! Do you think an old hag like you can bring me down?”

The Doctor makes his way through and is greeted by the twins and the Immortal, the latter of whom greets him, saying it has been expecting him for centuries. The robot is designated Drathro, an L3 robot. He thinks The Doctor is from Andromeda, but The Doctor corrects him, saying he is from Gallifrey.

The Doctor is being poked and prodded by Drathro’s assistants, Tandrell and Humker. One of them even pulls out The Doctor’s bag of jelly babies from his pocket, which the Time Lord takes back.

He offers them the candy, as Drathro says he will work with the assistants. The assistants are delighted to learn that The Doctor is not a robot, but an “organic”.

The Doctor asks Drathro what the work the robot wants him to do is, but before it can go any further, the Inquisitor stops the playback to ask the Valeyard what the relevance of all this is.

The Valeyard asserts that it helps demonstrate that The Doctor “introduces a disruptive and corrupting influence wherever he goes.” He says that had the accused not visited Ravalox, the sequence of events they are witnessing would never have happened.

How can the Boatyard make that claim,” The Doctor asks, “What might or might not have happened is entirely speculative.”

That is for me to decide, Doctor,” the Inquisitor replies. She reminds him of the gravity of the charge he faces.

Oh,” he replies, “I only have to look at the Graveyard to see that, ma’am.” Tee hee, I love when The Doctor (in any incarnation) gets petulant.

However, it seems the Inquisitor doesn’t appreciate them as I do, as she chastises him for it. She then orders the Valeyard to proceed.

We see The Doctor and the assistants examining some equipment, as Drathro harangues him about finding the fault in the black light system. The Doctor is working on examining things, but when Drathro tells him his first task is “to restructure the system,” he protests, saying that isn’t his field.

Then you will make it so… or die,” the robot tells the Time Lord.

In the courtroom, The Doctor jumps out of his chair, shouting, “I protest!” Everyone turns to regard him and he says that he is charged with interfering, but it is obvious that he is working under duress.

The Inquisitor agrees and turns to the Valeyard, who says that “If the accused hadn’t interrupted, my lady, the point I wish to make would have become obvious.”

The Doctor apologises for his outburst, saying “unlike the Valeyard, I am unfamiliar with court procedure.” The Inquisitor accepts his apology, and instructs the Valeyard to proceed. As everyone sits down, The Doctor gives the Valeyard a cat-that-ate-the-canary grin.

Dibber says that he thinks it’s a waste of wood to build a pyre for Glitz’s sacrifice, when they should just put a bullet in his head – “More economical,” he says. Peri agrees that he has a point, much to Glitz’s dismay.

The Doctor tells Drathro that the fault isn’t down below, but rather it must be on the surface. The L3 says he will remain there and work. The Doctor gets frustrated and demands to know what it is all for. The assistants tell him it provides Drathro with his energy and maintains “the three sleepers until they could be returned to Andromeda.”

The Doctor is curious about the sleepers, but Drathro says they are dead, the relief ships failed to arrive. The Doctor says that if the power failure is not repaired there will be a huge explosion, but still the robot does not allow him to go to the surface.

Returning to the console, The Doctor asks why water is so valuable; one assistant tells him that the plants that generate condensation only provide enough for 500 work units. When The Doctor points out that it was raining on the surface, Drathro says his instructions were to maintain an underground survival system (and letting people go to the surface to collect water would violate the letter of his instructions.)

The Doctor gets the robot and the twins to handle several items, allowing him to activate a circuit and render the three of them immobile long enough for him to slip outside, distract the service robot waiting there, and flee. Once they recover, Drathro sends the service robot after the Time Lord, ordering to bring him back unharmed.

Peri, Glitz and Dibber make their escape as they are being escorted. Glitz gives Dibber an explosive to blow up the converter, while he and Peri flee to draw off any pursuit.

Drathro gives orders to find The Doctor; Merdeen (who is still with Balazar and the guards) acknowledges and they start searching for him. Merdeen sends his guards out to search two areas, and then draws Balazar aside. Merdeen covers his mouthpiece on his helmet and speaks to the youth, tearing down Balazar’s world in a few sentences.

He tells the young man that there is no fire on the surface, there hasn’t been for hundreds of years. Merdeen says that Balazar should go up there, to escape the reach of the Immortal. The youth is confused, as all of this challenges what he knows to be “true”.

Merdeen says there are many others up there, ones that he has saved before in this exact manner. When Balazar questions why he is doing this, Merdeen says he is tired of the cullings. He also says that he must be careful in how often he does this – “I think Grell already suspects,” he tells the youth.

(I knew I liked Merdeen for some reason, but didn’t recall this specific part. Yay, Merdeen! It’s worth noting that Merdeen is played by Tom Chadbon, who played Inspector Duggan in the Tom Baker serial CITY OF DEATH.)

Merdeen tells Balazar that he will find The Doctor and send him to the surface as well. The two walk off, unaware their entire conversation was overheard by someone in a green tinged helmet (presumably Grell.)

Peri and Glitz run through the forest, while Dibber is seen placing the explosive at the base of the totem. It explodes and the tower collapses.

In the underground city, Drathro cries out, “What… is… happening?”

Merdeen and Balazar find The Doctor, who turns and runs, but Merdeen calls out, saying they mean him no harm. He stops and comes back, questioning this, but they assert that things have changed. Merdeen asks The Doctor to take Balazar to the surface, and he agrees.

Merdeen says he needs help “to crush the Immortal’s power,” but The Doctor gives him a “perhaps,” saying there is something of greater importance that he must deal with first. The Time Lord and Balazar head off, while Merdeen watches…

Suddenly, the Valeyard calls out for the playback to stop (I thought he was operating the controls for that?), saying “This is another prime example of The Doctor’s interference.” He points out that, when given the opportunity to free himself of the situation, he deliberately chose not to.

I was trying to help,” The Doctor retorts. “Surely, even a blockhead like you can see that!?”

I think we should reserve judgment until the end of the sequence,” the Inquisitor says (surprisingly not chiding The Doctor for the name calling.) The Doctor agrees.

Dibber is shown being pursued through the woods by the free. The Doctor and Balazar exit the former Marble Arch, the latter amazed at how beautiful the surface is and the former complaining that Peri is nowhere in sight. “I know she wouldn’t be here… that girl cannot obey an order!”

Suddenly, Peri and Glitz come running towards them. Peri shouting out to him, Glitz trailing just behind her, and not far behind them, Dibber.

The Doctor sends Balazar back in, then Peri and Glitz follow, and finally Dibber, then The Doctor. They rush down the escalators to the below area, only the find the service robot waiting for them.

Turning about, they see the free coming down the escalators after them.

What now,” Peri asks.

I don’t know… I think this really could be the end,” The Doctor says… and the credits roll.

Okay, if not for that line, that would have been an amazing cliffhanger. With the line, which is over the top (yes, I know Six is a very over the top Doctor, and prone to melodrama more than most of his incarnations, but still…) it loses the impact that it would have otherwise had.

A fun serial thus far, even so, and we’ll see you on Friday for the second half!