‘The Trial of a Time Machine’ (Audio)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

TARDIS on Trial with the Seventh Doctor, Chris and Roz

The Seventh Doctor, Chris and Roz return to Big Finish!

In the 1990s, ‘Doctor Who’ had a life in books as well as other mediums. For the first half of the 1990s, there were the ‘Virgin New Adventures’ starring the Seventh Doctor. It had Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor having plenty of adventures with many companions. This included Ace, Benny, Chris and Roz.

Since the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ became popular, even after the TV show returned in 2005, there have been audio adaptations of certain ‘Virgin New Adventures’ as well as ‘Virgin Missing Adventures’. One of these was ‘Damaged Goods’ featuring the Seventh Doctor, Chris and Roz.

It starred Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor with Travis Oliver as Chris and Yasmin Bannerman as Roz. I hoped there would be more audio adaptations of ‘Virgin New Adventures’ featuring the Seventh Doctor with these companions. Sadly, no more Novel Adaptations have been made since. 😦

But Big Finish have had a go at making some brand new audio adventures featuring the Seventh Doctor, Chris and Roz that weren’t based on any books made in the 1990s. These are featured in ‘The Seventh Doctor: The New Adventures’ – Volume 1 which I purchased in the early part of 2020.

That was part of the ‘Doctor Who Returns’ sale by Big Finish that tied-in with the transmission of Series 12 of the TV show. Having heard the audio adaptation of ‘Damaged Goods’ as well as ‘Original Sin’ and ‘Cold Fusion’, I decided to check out these new Seventh Doctor, Chris and Roz audio stories.

The four stories in ‘The Seventh Doctor: The New Adventures’ – Volume 1 CD collection are as follows: ‘The Trial of a Time Machine’ by Andy Lane, ‘Vanguard’ by Steve Jordan, ‘The Jabari Countdown’ by Alan Flanagan and ‘The Dread of Night’ by Tim Foley. There is also a fifth bonus disc.

The cast of ‘The Trial of a Time Machine’. From left to right: Mina Anwar, Vikash Bhai, Yasmin Bannerman, Travis Oliver, Sara Powell, Sylvester McCoy and John Heffernan.

So, with the first story of the collection, ‘The Trial of a Time Machine’, it had to be by the guy who created Chris and Roz in the first place – Andy Lane. It’s something I can appreciate in this collection.

Just to remind you who Chris and Roz are, they’re Adjudicators from the 30th century. I haven’t read many books with Chris and Roz, but I do get the impression they’re futuristic police with the Doctor.

I also get the impression that Chris and Roz help the Doctor to solve mysteries when they have adventures in time and space. At least, I hope that’s the case in what I’ve heard with Chris and Roz. 🙂

‘The Trial of a Time Machine’ has the Doctor, Chris and Roz visiting the planet Thrantas. They go there after colliding with another time machine in the time vortex. Soon, the TARDIS is under arrest.

Yeah! That’s quite a bonkers concept. The TARDIS under arrest! I would’ve liked that if more energy and fast pacing were included in this tale. It would create the sense of urgency regarding the TARDIS.

Sadly, I don’t think this episode does that satisfactorily for me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Andy Lane is a good ‘Doctor Who’ writer as I enjoyed his previous stories including ‘The Havoc of Empires’.

But there’s a lot of politicking and concepts of time that were out of my depth when listening to this episode. Maybe it would’ve helped if I listened to this story a second time in order to comprehend it.

The episode also has the disadvantage of not having a proper ‘Doctor Who’ monster for our heroes to fight against. Mind you, I think there was that consistent element found in the books of that time.

Whilst the Doctor has to protect the TARDIS in court, Chris and Roz do some investigating of their own by travelling back in time to the crime scene. That was rather confusing to listen to in the story.

Speaking of the cast, Sylvester McCoy as always delivers a good performance as the Doctor. I liked his scenes when he’s talking to his TARDIS alone and there’s that sense of sadness and melancholy. 🙂

Travis Oliver and Yasmin Bannerman are also great to listen to as Chris and Roz. I’ve enjoyed how they’ve got a hold of their characters in these audios and they seem to bounce off each other well. 🙂

The cast also includes Liz Sutherland-Lim as Maratuk and Vikash Bhai as Sydyck, who are Thrantas law enforcement officers investigating the TARDIS case. They’re also minders on Chris and Roz here.

There’s also John Heffernan as Honos (Hey! That’s the name of a future villain I’ve got for a future Fifth Doctor story I’ve written. 😀 ) Honos presides on the trial for the TARDIS and even condemns it.

Incidentally, John Heffernan played the Nine, a renegade Time Lord in other ‘Doctor Who’ stories. There’s also Mina Anwar as Forsetti, who is a court reporter in the case against the Doctor’s TARDIS.

Mina Anwar is well-known for playing Gita Chandra, Rani’s mum in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’. Forsetti sort-of becomes a potential ally for the Doctor with changing the verdict against the TARDIS.

The story has a computer magistrate called the magistrum. It conducts the verdict after hearing all of the evidence during the TARDIS’ trial. The magistrum may also have an ability to see into the future.

It did feel disappointing for me when the Doctor managed to win over the magistrum so easily in changing the verdict against the TARDIS being destroyed. I was hoping for more conflict than that. 😦

I did like it when the Doctor managed to make contact with Chris and Roz through the magistrum whilst they were in the past. I believe it was some holographic projection through the use of fireflies.

I also think that Sydyck was the villain for this episode after forging evidence to condemn the TARDIS guilty. But it could’ve easily been Honos as the villain as the Doctor could have faced him at the end.

The story also addresses an issue about whether the Doctor has made the TARDIS a slave like the magistrum was used as a slave during trials. Chris and Roz rejoin the Doctor at the story’s conclusion.

So yeah, ‘The Trial of a Time Machine’ wasn’t as exciting as I hoped it would be. But it’s far from awful. I think it might require another listen in order to get over some of the episode’s complexities.

‘The Trial of a Time Machine’ rating – 6/10

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2 thoughts on “‘The Trial of a Time Machine’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord 007

    Spot on Tim, i completely agree this wasn’t a strong start for this release everything felt a bit “meh” like the script on autopilot, there’s some good ideas but they could’ve been executed better, i never got the sense the Doctor, Chris & Roz were ever in genuine danger.

    Performances good, a few good ideas but not the strongest of starts, brilliant review you hit the nail on the head with your summary Tim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Many thanks for your comments on my review for ‘The Trial of a Time Machine’.

      Glad it wasn’t just me who thought this story wasn’t as great as I hoped it would be. The ideas seem to be there but there wasn’t enough action-packed drama to make it more exciting. Nothing wrong with the performances of the cast, but like you said, you never felt the Doctor, Chris and Roz were in genuine danger.

      Very pleased you agree with how I feel about this story in my review.

      Tim. 🙂



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