Doctor Who: The Vanity Trap and Conflict Theory Review

After what was frankly a disappointing first half of the “Doctor and Peri” boxset, can the second half of the box salvage it? Well, erm… not really, though Conflict Theory is a good laugh if you like your humour more… Frasier-y. Want more details and less made up hyponated word bollocks? Read on!

Synopsis (of “Conflict Theory”):

Concerned by the Doctor’s increasing over-protectiveness, Peri presents him with an ultimatum: either they seek counselling or she leaves the TARDIS permanently. Reluctant to lose one of his closest friends, the Doctor seeks out one of the finest psychoanalysts in the universe: Dr Sigmund Freud.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

For the first half of “Conflict Theory” I was going to put it in the “Bad” section as it was just bits of a flashback while The Doctor and Peri were being examined by robo-Freuds (voiced by David Sibley), it really felt like it was going nowhere beyond a few psychiatry jokes, but it soon became more interesting and fun as things went along. In these flashbacks The Doctor and Peri were encountering a cyber-race known as “The Complex”, and it eventually turns out that these machines were originally created to be patients with insecurities that the robo-Freuds could practice on, but it turned out the Freuds drove them to seek out and destroy all people who aren’t free of insecurities… Odd, but fun plot. Eventually the Doctor and Peri’s “needed” trip to the Freud station turned out to be a ruse to lead The Complex back to where they were created and “fix” both issues. It was a fun enough story in the end, and even though it was The Doctor faking it, it did show some patterns to early companion/Doctor behaviour that was interesting to hear explored, albeit momentarily…

The Bad:

I’d make a joke about a repetitive cover, but I’m too annoyed at the failure that is WordPress’s new “Block Editor” and its inability to insert pictures that I’m just going to leave it.

Man, I really didn’t enjoy “The Vanity Trap”. It wasn’t badly written or poorly performed, I just found it so boring. Within the first 10 minutes we had a fake chat show scene which eventually set up The Doctor and Peri’s actual “adventure” with an actress called Myrna Kendal (Sarah Douglas) through meeting an older Myrna on the show, and then we spend at least half an hour dealing with a diva actress and “on-set drama” with literally NOTHING happening, so between that and the annoying “pretend banter” on the chat show I was driven to looking at things around my room because I was struggling to pay attention. The last third of the story deals with “time going awry” thanks to a doctor misusing alien tech, and a revelation that the lower-tier young actress that Myrna has been mistreating was actually an alternate universe version of herself from a timeline where she never moved from England as a child. Interesting little twist, but it came 50 minutes too late. The story dragged to the point where it felt more like a two hour story with poorly planned padding than just a single-disc story. As always your mileage may vary, especially if you’re into old-time Hollywood actresses and the like…

The Continuity:

Not much to say. Call backs to both the Sixth Doctor’s debut TV story “The Twin Dilemma” and Peri’s time on Krontep after her TV leaving story “The Trial of a Time Lord: Mindwarp”, but nothing dramatic.

“The Vanity Trap” did remind me of both the Fourth Doctor Audio story “The Silent Scream” and the Tenth Doctor Comic story “Silver Scream”, with both dealing with oldy time actresses and directors, even though this is set a couple of decades after that time period…

Overall Thoughts:

I was bored with “Vanity Trap”, it wasn’t bad enough to give a 1, not even close, but I did find it extremely slow and dull. “Conflict Theory” started off not much better but at least caught my attention in the middle and held it to the end with some fun twists, so once again this box set has split the scores, sadly though “The Sixth Doctor and Peri: Volume 1” is hard to recommend, overall…

The Vanity Trap:

Conflict Theory:

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