Friday, 23 January 2015

Story 115 - Logopolis

In which the Doctor becomes worried about the state of the TARDIS. Adric finds him brooding in the cloister room, contemplating on how the more you fix things, the more they fall apart. In short, he is worried about entropy. He decides that it is about time that the Chameleon Circuit was repaired. Rather than face awkward questions about Romana, he decides to forego the planned visit to Gallifrey. Instead, he will materialise the TARDIS around a real Police Public Call Box so that its measurements can be taken. These will be used by the Logopolitans to help repair the circuit. Logopolitans use the mathematics of block transfer computation to model space / time events.
Unbeknownst to the Doctor, the Master has already materialised his TARDIS around the police box - disguised as the same. This sets up a temporal trap, where the Doctor and Adric discover that within the police box is another control room with a police box in it. And within that is another control room with a police box in it, and so on.
The box sits in a lay-by, and a car has broken down here. Australian air stewardess Tegan Jovanka was getting a lift to Heathrow Airport to start her new job, driven there by her Aunt Vanessa. Vanessa sees a white figure watching from the fields opposite, though it has vanished when Tegan looks. Vanessa goes to the police box to summon assistance - and is killed by the Master. When she fails to return, Tegan follows and enters the box, becoming lost in the maze of TARDIS corridors. The Doctor and Adric emerge from the temporal trap to find themselves in the lay-by. The Doctor observes the white watching figure, which troubles him deeply. The police have arrived, and want to question the Doctor about two shrunken corpses sitting in Vanessa's car - her own and that of a policeman who had entered the box just after the Master had arrived.

The Doctor realises his old enemy has escaped from Traken. Adric stages a diversion, and the Doctor rushes back to the TARDIS and dematerialises. The Master's ship is hidden aboard. To flush him out, quite literally, the Doctor decides to materialise the ship underwater - aiming for the Thames in West London. They miss and land on a pontoon. The Doctor sees the Watcher once more and goes to speak with him. On returning to the ship, the Doctor sets the co-ordinates for Logopolis. Tegan finally finds her way to the control room. With her aunt dead at the Master's hands, she must go with them. The TARDIS arrives on Logopolis, landing in a settlement of small dwellings grouped around a radio-telescope - which the Doctor is surprised to see. Logopolitans normally use only pure mathematics in their work with no need for technology. The Master materialises his ship outside the TARDIS, intent on a scheme of his own. The Doctor, Adric and Tegan are greeted by the Logopolitan leader - the Monitor. He begins to assist with the Doctor's request to help fix the Chameleon Circuit. All over Logopolis, the citizens calculate the block transfer computations. The Doctor will remain in the TARDIS whilst they do their work. Something goes wrong, however, and the ship begins to shrink. The Master has sabotaged the computations, killing a number of the Logopolitans with his Tissue Compression Eliminator. Adric and the Monitor are able to find the erroneous data and the ship reverts to its normal size.

Adric is surprised to see Nyssa of Traken. She has been brought here by the Watcher. Believing him to be her father, she falls under the Master's influence. He then sets about bringing Logopolis to a halt - using sonic projectors to halt the work of the Logopolitans. He is aware that there is some great secret hidden here, and demands to know what it is. The Monitor is horrified. Logopolis has been maintaining the entire universe, which should have been destroyed by entropy long ago. They created the Charged Vacuum Emboidments - like the one that led to E-Space - in order to drain off the excess energy into these pocket universes. This is why they have the telescope - a replica of the Pharos Project on Earth which seeks to find extraterrestrial life. Their computations, fed through the telescope, keep the CVEs open. The Master's actions are irreversible. Entropy starts to eat away at the cosmos. The only hope is to go to Earth and run the program at the Pharos Project - with the Doctor forced to co-operate with his old enemy once more. As Logopolis crumbles, Tegan insists on going with them, whilst the Watcher takes Adric and Nyssa in the TARDIS. They travel to a point outside space and time. Nyssa watches in horror as her own world succumbs to the entropy field.
At the Pharos Project, the Doctor and the Master succeed in running the program and the CVEs are stabilised. The Master attempts to blackmail the universe, and the Doctor manages to stop him only at the cost of his own life. He falls from the telescope gantry. The Watcher has brought Nyssa and Adric here.
The Doctor, dying, informs his companions that this is the end for him - but the moment has been prepared for. The Watcher appears and merges with the Doctor's body - having been a projection of the Doctor all the time. The Doctor regenerates, and a younger, blond haired man appears in his place...

This four part adventure was written by out-going script editor Christopher H Bidmead, and was broadcast between 28th February and 12th March, 1981.
Closing Season 18, it marks the end of Tom Baker's seven year reign as the Doctor - still the most popular incarnation of the character. The story also sees the debut of companion Tegan Jovanka, played by Janet Fielding. Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) becomes a companion proper. So begins the era of the "crowded TARDIS".
We also get our first proper look at Anthony Ainley's Master. He is kept off screen for the first two episodes. His TARDIS is seen lurking within the Doctor's, and we only hear his malevolent chuckle in the first half. In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to model the Master's new look so much on Roger Delgado's original. It only serves to invite comparison - and Ainley will always be on a loser as far as that is concerned.
There are echoes of the Pertwee era throughout - not surprising considering that Barry Letts is still executive producing. The radio telescope takes us back to the original Master's introduction; the TARDIS within TARDIS is reminiscent of The Time Monster; and the Watcher - an intermediate form of the Doctor from between the two incarnations - reminds us of the character of Cho-Je in Planet of the Spiders, which saw out the last Doctor.
When Bidmead took on the role of script editor at the beginning of the season, he had been determined to bring more hard science concepts into the programme. The science in this certainly baffled this particular viewer on its initial broadcast (I had my 17th birthday during its run). It is another of those stories that really requires more than one viewing just to work out what all the "heat death" and CVE stuff is all about.
For someone so scientifically minded, however, you do have to wonder what Bidmead was taking when he came up with the idea of flushing the Master out of hiding by landing the TARDIS under the Thames and opening the doors.

Only a small number of guest artists appear. Thee police inspector who attempts to arrest the Doctor is played by Tom Georgeson, who had earlier appeared in Genesis of the Daleks. Aunt Vanessa is Dolore Whiteman, and The Monitor is John Fraser.
Episode endings are:
  1. The Doctor is taken to a car sitting in the lay-by by the police. Inside, he sees the shrunken corpses of Vanessa and a police officer, and realises the Master is still at large...
  2. The Doctor is trapped inside the shrinking TARDIS...
  3. To his revulsion, and the horror his companions, the Doctor is forced to co-operate with the Master once more...
  4. Just go back and read the end of the synopsis and look at the pictures (again)...

Overall, a suitably funereal mood hangs heavy throughout. Probably the best of Tom Baker's later performances. Little to fault really (save maybe that final model shot). Voted in 2013 the most popular Season 18 story. Part One again shows how good Adric might have worked had the production team really bothered. For better or for worse, Doctor Who would never be quite the same once Tom left. 17 year old me was in mourning.
Things you might like to know:
  • First time we hear the Cloister Bell sound effect, signalling impending catastrophe - still used on the programme today.
  • The only appearance outside of the 1996 Movie of the Cloister room.
  • Romana's bedroom gets jettisoned to provide the thrust to escape the Master's temporal trap.
  • Peter Davison's name appears in the end credits before Tom's. I know JNT was in a mad rush to establish his own Doctor - but I've never forgiven him for this.
  • It's the last time that the character will be called "Doctor Who" in the closing credits until Christopher Eccleston comes along in 2005. He'll be "The Doctor" from now on - something which David Tennant will insist on reinstating.
  • DWM's "Time Team" failed to add a few billion people to their "deaths on screen so far" counter when they covered this story. (Well probably because the deaths are technically not on screen - though we do see about a quarter of the universe eaten up by the entropy field). Fortunately, all of the main recurring aliens in Doctor Who are all based in our corner of the universe, so were unaffected.
  • In the Doctor's dying moments, we get to see two sets of brief clips from previous stories - all from the Tom Baker era. First up, whilst he's dangling by a thread, are some villains - Davros and a Dalek from Genesis of the Daleks, Styre (The Sontaran Experiment), The Captain (The Pirate Planet), Broton (Terror of the Zygons), the Cyberleader (Revenge of the Cybermen), the Black Guardian (The Armageddon Factor) and, surprisingly now that he has seen him with a new body, the emaciated Master from The Deadly Assassin. After he has fallen there are clips of the companions - the Brigadier, Sarah, Harry, Leela, K9 and the two Romanas - segueing into the three new ones who surround him as he lies on the (plastic) grass.
  • In a little bit of poor continuity, the Doctor mentions Totter's Yard as where the TARDIS got stuck as a police box.
  • The lay-by is on the A413 in Buckinghamshire (Amersham Road, near Denham). Up until just before filming there had actually been a real police box there - removed only weeks before.
  • Aunt Vanessa's house (in Ursula Street, Battersea) was actually the home of Meglos co-author Andrew McCulloch). It was purely coincidental that it was picked.
  • Actually, he may have lived next door. It's on the Meglos DVD documentary. I don't have the heart to watch it again. Chris Bidmead wearing a baseball cap. Indoors. In front of visitors. I ask you...
  • The Master seems to be having Chameleon Circuit problems of his own in this story. It continues to retain the Police Public Call Box form for a while - after it has stopped pretending to be one. Then it appears as a potted shrub on Logopolis - an arid, vegetation-free planet. (Also of a shape and size that you could never get in or out of). It then becomes a Doric column, and gets stuck like this for the rest of this story and the beginning of the next. The column again does not match any local architectural forms. Then again, the Master's ship did previously get stuck as a big 1970's computer even when landing in the middle of Atlantis. Maybe it was just a design fault of the Type 40 & 41's.
  • Before Peter Davison got to start being the Doctor, Logopolis was selected as one of a set of repeats scheduled under the umbrella title of The Five Faces of Doctor Who - the reason being, obviously, that having Davison in the closing moments could get them to that "Five" figure. (If the last episode of The Tenth Planet hadn't got lost on its way back from Blue Peter, we could have been spared that repeat of The Krotons...).
  • Actually, being able to see The Krotons - on television - back in 1981 was sheer bliss. You had to have been there at the time...
  • Apart form the couple of clips from Shada which were included in The Five Doctors, Tom Baker would not appear again on screen as the Doctor until the 1993 monstrosity that was Dimensions In Time. 20 years later, he was seen as the Under-gallery's Curator in The Day of The Doctor. Or might it have really been...?

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