Saturday, 21 September 2013


Tom Baker and Mathew Watherhouse
One thing that feels imminent is the end of the fourth Doctor, all the way through season 18. Things had changed and a change in the lead man was what was needed to really reboot the series and launch it unapologetically into the 80s. The final tale of season 18, Logopolis, sees Tom Baker say goodbye in a script written by Christopher H. Bidmead, which seems to indulge the author a lot.
Not to say that this is a bad story. It certainly has an epic feel to it, but it is absolutely riddled with issues. But let’s start with the new companion – Tegan Jovanka. When she appears in episode one with her Aunt Vanessa, there are some great exchanges between the two. Breath of fresh air? Definitely! A real feeling relationship with a bit of humour. John Nathan-Turner cast Janet Fielding as the Australian air-hostess, and the casting was perfect.
The Doctor is found in the TARDIS cloister room. The cloisters ring impending doom, so at the final story for the fourth Doctor, it’s fitting to start there. The set is rather nice too. All of a sudden the Doctor wants to repair the chameleon circuit, and decides to materialise around another police box. Turns out the Master already did that, so we have a TARDIS inside a TARDIS inside a TARDIS… the conundrum continues on and on. Except that unlike
in ‘The Time Monster’ they are all the Doctor’s TARDIS, which makes little sense. The Master dematerialises, but the issue continues, and yet there the Master is to kill Auntie Vanessa. Bidmead, that who sequence makes no sense at ALL!
The Logopolitans await the Doctor's arrival.
As I said, Bidmead seems to be playing with ideas, but he forgot to make something that made sense. We have all this guff about materialising the TARDIS underwater to flush the Master out. We have the Watcher – a projection of the next Doctor. I liked that idea. We end up on Logopolis where the Monitor and the Logopolitans are trying to harness the power of the CVE to stop the Universe disappearing thanks to entropy.
Apparently the collapse of the Universe has started, and only Logopolis stands between the Universe and total disintegration. Pity the planet looks so rubbish. I mean really it does, it’s the final story for a great Doctor and the corridors and backdrops look like white tarpaulins with a bit of sand. It’s a dreadfully unconvincing design.
Anthony Ainley and Sarah Sutton
Oh yes so the Master is back, now played officially by Anthony Ainly in a frilling costume with tails. That’s right –TAILS! Pantomime much? Although much of performance is pitched softly with chilling undertones, so I think he did a good job in his first full story as Master. We will have to wait and see if he returns. Did he need to go the beard, just like Roger Delgado? Probably not.
Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) suddenly shows up, brought to Logopolis by the Watcher – why? Don’t really know. She is manipulated rather callously by the Master whom she believes is her father briefly, but she adds little to the story. She sees her planet, Traken, destroyed in a heartbeat by entropy on the TARDIS screen. Considering the Master has also taken over her father’s body, I guess I expected her to be a bit more upset than she was. In fact the rate that the TARDIS scanner shows the entropy taking over the Universe, you’d think the whole Universe would be gone in 1-2 minutes. Perhaps hard to show but it seems impossible that anything survived.
The Master and Doctor face off.
The Doctor and the Master team up in a chilling end to episode three. They end up at Earth’s Pharos Project, a disk aimed at the sky, to send information taken from Logopolis to keep the CVE open and save the Universe. This they do, but the Master turns around and sends a bulletin to the Universe that if they don’t accept him as supreme leader he will destroy the CVE and the Universe with it. The Doctor then climbs out onto a moving gantry to disconnect the cable, he does but falls to his doom. This at least prevents the master from destroying the CVE. The Master runs away as guard approach the control room connected to the gantry. It’s not shot very well sadly, and the use of a still photograph of Anthony Ainley to show he is watching the Doctor’s struggle to get to the cable is frankly laughable. But I guess Peter Grimwade, the Director, was very stretched on both budget and time.
It's the end, but the moment has been prepared for.
On the fake Astroturf below the dish, the Doctor is joined by his companions, and then the Watcher. They become one, and the Doctor has a new face – Peter Davison. That scene was done nicely bar some of the replayed clips of enemies and friends, which had out of sync sound and were unneeded. The style of combining the two (in fact three) actors was different from previous regenerations, and I liked that very much.
The story is a real mixed bag. It’s big on gloom doom, but not on action. I still don’t understand why a CVE – Charged Vacuum Embointment, which it has been established as a gateway to E-space, can stop entropy. I don’t understand WHY the Universe was decaying to the point of no return. I do understand they wanted to link back to E-space and therefore the CVEs gained importance. I don’t understand why some shots are grainy, others are blurry, and the look of the thing is very inconsistent.
It has an epic feel, needed for a Doctor’s finale. It’s well acted for the most part. The design is stretched too far – and dolls are used to represent the shrunken remains of the people the Master kills with his Tissue Compression Eliminator. Not convincing at all. It smacks of a story that struggled to get made to be honest. It’s a little to ideas-focussed for mine. But Tom Baker – what an amazing 7 years he gave to the part. Wonderful wonderful performance over the years, and he is wonderful in his final tale.


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