Having seen Mindwarp remastered and resplendent at the BFI recently, I thought I'd jot down why I think it's great.
And bear in mind that it hadn't really stayed in my mind since the first time I watched it a couple of years ago. So why did Mindwarp – or The Trial of a Time Lord Parts 5 to 8 to use its catchy proper name – impress me this time?
Well it looks fabulous. The new aspect ratio looks amazing. Love and care have been spent by Mark Ayres and his team to ensure this looks as good as it can. The colours pop (such as the pink sea) and the dark hues have real depth.
The incidental music is superb. Richard Hartley did a fabulous job in invoking a claustrophobic and doom-laden tone to proceedings – and not only that, he did it twice. Recently he re-recorded the whole thing using 80s appropriate instrumentation (because the masters had been lost). While some of the incidental music in 80s Doctor Who was plain annoying, this is a perfect marriage to the story and tone. It's a great score.
Crozier takes time to have a well-earned cup of coffee in his operating theatre, and then notices his patient is having a cardiac arrest. Crozier does what any conscientious genetic scientist would do – he finishes his coffee. I don't think this moment of comedy was planned, but it's a nice character moment to show his coldness towards his masters.
Colin Baker gives a lovely performance here. His Doctor is dangerous and unpredictable – with the indication that he is willing to sacrifice Peri to save himself. How far will he go? We don't know whether it is a bluff – despite the Doctor in the court room hoping that it is (he can't remember why he was behaving that way).
Nicola Bryant is given a swan song that is every bit as doom-laden as Peter Davison's last story. You feel that something bad is going to happen from the start. And as things progress, she finds she can't rely on the Doctor to help and her only support seems to be a fool-hardy warrior king who is only too willing to die in battle. Nicola then shines in the scene when she inherits Lord Kiv's personality – becoming genuinely unsettling and dangerous. Even a bald cap can't detract from her intense performance here.
Philip Martin gives a gritty and dark story, laden with themes of genetic experimentation, suppression of a native population and capitalism.
The Raak attack is a total surprise. A good jump scare moment.
The court room scenes work well – thanks to the Doctor's unease about what he is seeing on screen. It mirrors our unease at home. That can't really be how he behaved can it? You can feel the court room Doctor's desperation. And it's good to see the usually self-confident Sixth Doctor on the back foot for once. He's not in control here and he's unsure about whether Peri has actually died or not. Has he failed her?
Brian Blessed! King Yrcarnos is a memorable creation. And looking at his makeup and demeanour, I wonder how he influenced the Doraki king in Game of Thrones?
Dorf. Thomas Branch gives an unsettling performance as Yrcarnos' subordinate – a man who has suffered genetic experimentation. By turns, he is pathetic, angry and anguished. And the makeup is brilliant too. I was very glad they didn't stick dog ears on him.
So there are ten reasons why Mindwarp is great.
Check it out when it comes out in The Trial Of A Timelord boxset on 9th October!