Castrovalva: Doctor Who: Season 19
The dwellings of tranquility...Castrovalva
Weakened by his regeneration the Doctor is helped to escape Pharos Project security by his companions and the Master's Tardis. A strangely acting Adric helps the disoriented Doctor try to find the Zero room but then vanishes. Tegan and Nyssa then get the Doctor to the Zero Room and he begins to recover.
The real Adric has been captured by the Master and is forced to use his mathematical genius to create a solid projection of himself that locks the Tardis controls to collide the ship with Event One, the explosion the created the galaxy. Having escaped this trap but destroyed the Zero Room in the process. Nyssa and Tegan fashion a Zero cabinet and get the Doctor to the dwellings of Castrovalva.
There among the kindly inhabitants, the amnesiac Doctor begins to recover with their medicine and the aid of the ancient town ruler the Portreeve. Nyssa and Tegan accidentally let slip the news of Adric's disappearance and when they try to leave Castrovalva the city seems to fold in on itself, and the Doctor realises the city is an inescapable space time trap and begins to weaken further.
The Portreeve is revealed to be the Master who has used Adric's abilities to create Castrovalva and it's inhabitants to weaken the Doctor to the point of death and have his final revenge. However some of the inhabitants are beginning to break their programming and may be able to assist.
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Castrovalva SERIAL DETAILS:
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Castrovalva CAST & CREW
Peter Davison(Fifth Doctor)
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor-archive footage from Logopolis )
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)
Anthony Ainley – The Master/The Portreeve
Frank Wylie – Ruther
Michael Sheard – Mergrave
Derek Waring – Shardovan
Souska John – Child
Dallas Cavell – Head of Security
Brian Fellows — Soldier
Production Staff for Serial 5Z:
Writer - Christopher H. Bidmead
Director - Fiona Cumming
Script editor - Eric Saward
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
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Castrovalva - a new start! Back as a kid I was distraught to see the Doctor hadn't changed back the next week and who was this impostor who unraveled his scarf and threw away his nice overcoat for a cricket outfit?? What's worse was the new guy's face was now in the star-field credits so it seems he's here forever! But as we all did I had warmed to him by part 2 or was it 3? And Tom seemed of another age. This holds one of those most enduring memories for me though, of the new Doctor staggering from the pursuing guards across the lawns of the Pharos project ably supporting by his companions trying to reach the safety of the Tardis.
Castrovalva is the first post regeneration story to start full pelt hurtling into a new era and with unresolved events from the previous story. Castrovalva is also the first and best story to focus on what happens when a regeneration doesn't go quite right. Yes this was filmed fourth so Davison could get a handle on the fractured persona problems and still play his version of the Doctor underneath, which may have been for the best and really no other actor has had to cope with this in the role. He does it well, being all weak, vague and in pain and doing extremely good impressions of Pertwee, Troughton and Hartnell as he starts to suffer from multiple personality disorder. Also a nice idea of him to slowly discard Tom Baker's famous symbols of scarf, coat and vest as he tries to make a trail to find his way back to the console room from the zero room. He handles it brilliantly and the sudden moment of sanity when his new personality surfaces and shows a love of all things cricket right down to choosing his new clothes is gold.
The 5th doctor establishes himself really well, once he starts to recover, even being such a total contrast to Baker in youth, looks and mannerisms, he still seems the same heroic old Doctor. just more subtlety played and the often quoted 'old man in a young man's body' idea works perfectly for him. The companion's are better, Adric is now the old guard (that's really saying something disturbing) but apart from his projection in the Tardis in the first half he isn't given much to do except hang in a web swapping quips with Ainley's Master but he is crucial to the plot. Janet Fielding seems more comfortable playing Tegan and it shows, she's more brash than just annoying and Nyssa shows she rocks as calm as ever in a crisis and now in sexy velvet pants. Onto the plot which revolves around the Master's attempt to destroy his enemy using the invented city of Castrovalva as a trap.
Now have an idea how the Master thought of all those plots. Sort of think he didn't expect the 4th Doctor to fall to his death and probably had the Castrovalva ploy set up all along, seems he went to a lot of trouble figuring out how to use the maths of Logopolis for nothing, he wanted to find out the secret of it but what for? How better than to trap and destroy his oldest enemy using a new science AND his companion as the trigger. The added bonus for him was the Doctor nearly died and then was very weak and perfectly set up and he got Adric to 'trial' the new science with the cobbled together Event One plan. Ok it's s ridiculous theory but think nnnnnnyyyaaahhh what the hell let's just enjoy the story. Castrovalva is very well realised and thought out society and populated by characters such as the dodgy Shardovan, the helpful Guther etc. and they were all terrifically acted. Like the way that all the citizens of Castrovalva realise that space and time is folding up on itself but don't actually understand why this is a problem.
Castrovalva does seem a restful culture and Anthony Ainley does a really good job in his disguise as the wizened and wise Portreeve. You do wonder though if the Master controls this potential death trap why he nearly lets the Dr recover in his new form and get on so well with the, as we find out, 'fake' local inhabitants but reckon it was just either vanity or Adric trying to assist in some way behind the scenes. Still Ainley does a good job again as the Master, seems more like the scheming Degado version than before. Sorry Grob still reckon he nails the part and his frustration after three failed attempts to kill Davison comes across well. Unfortunately agree he does tend to slide into panto villian mode from his next appearance onward. All in all an enjoyable first romp for a new Doctor, 5 is here to stay and he's in many ways the best Doctor of my child hood. 'You never quite know what you're going to get' Hmmmm 8.9/10
p.s. yeah the split screen tme trap effect was dodgy as was the energy burst from the Master's Tardis which knocked out the Pharos guards.
What is the new guy gonna be like? That is what we were wondering at school the next day. I didn't know who Peter Davison was back then. But he quickly became my very favourite Doctor. He was all heroic, and running around and getting all squeaky when he tried to be authoritative. He was ace. Peter Davison said he never got a handle on his character during the first few stories but I think in Castrovalva once he was settled into it (going by the production order, not story order) he really has his Doctor nailed. He is vastly different to Tom in all respects - particularly his youth which the production team capitalize on. Also Peter was playing the part of a very old man stuck in a young man's body. His costume is very good if a little stylized. The cricketing attire really IS his Doctor and it looks good on him. At this point I will ask about his hair; it starts off white as he is in the last stages of regenerating, then its completely brown when he has finished, then one title-sequence later it is longer and blonder. Work that out. I still get gobsmacked watching this Doctor work his way around the Tardis with an unraveling scarf for company. I just wished they confined the regeneration bits to the Tardis scenes and not carried it right through to the remainder of the story. I want to see what this Doctor can do!
Peter's already hectic acting schedule meant he couldn't be there for a fair whack of this story's filming which necessitated in him being out of shot and carted about in a bloody box. Bad move there guys. New Doctor. Brand NEW Doctor. Everyone is watching so lets see him in action not stiff as a board and bright green. Also the Doctor is entirely ineffectual for the whole story. Saying he's recovering from regeneration is fine for the Tardis scenes but lets see what the guy can do other than rest and recoup at Castrovalva.
And speaking of the planet Castrovalva - what the f*ck??? It was dreamed up as a trap for the Doctor set by the Master. When? And if that's not enough, the Castrovalva trap was set up in case the Event One trap failed. Which was set up in case the Logopolis trap failed. Ergo; the Master fully expects all his plans to fail. Not only that but the Master ALLOWS the Doctor to get his faculties back together again on Castrovalva - very nice of him.
But its certainly not bad news once we get there. Chris Bidmead does have a knack for writing interesting communities, be it Logopolis or (later on) Frontios and Castrovalva is no exception as all the characters from the ever helpful Mergrave, scheming Shardovan, dotty Ruther and ancient Portreeve. Then everyone dies as the place folds in on itself and I remember feeling a bit upset by that. It was a nice little place. And everyone is dead. Although did they exist in the first place? Castrovalva itself does look very nice - particularly the filmed exterior shots of the lush forest and babbling brook. Even its interior scenes look good too although those split camera shots of everything going tits up doesn't really work.
As for the companions, they are a continuation on from Logopolis. Nyssa is level headed and calm in a crisis but looks great in tight jeans. Tegan is a pain in the arse and whiny. And Adric cracks a freakin big boner while he is attached to that web thing in the Master's Tardis. And speaking of the Master, I think we've seen enough of him now. Anthony Ainley is from the pantomime school of villain acting and all he needs is a damsel in distress and a railway track to tie her to and he'll be complete. If Tegan is one-dimensional, the Master has no dimension. That goes for both character and actor.
So in all, its an okay first story for a new Doctor. I just wished we'd seen more of him and less of the Master. 7.5 from me.
I can never work out whether I like Castrovalva or not. I watched it again last night - and I still don't know. On one hand, I've always liked Davison. Watching his stories for the first time, I was of the age where they started to make a lot more sense - so like Tennant, he was my Doctor. He also reminded me of my Dad... they had the same hairstyle! On top of that, I guess it's also one of the Master's best plans ever. Harnessing Adric's mathematical ability to lure the Doctor firstly into Event one, and then to a whole society created by block transfer computations - created solely for the purpose of destroying the Doctor. It's a great plan, and it plays out for a well paced and well told story.
The only question is, again, why? I guess he wants to make a big thing of finally getting the Doctor, and is quite proud of himself to have put together such an elaborate scheme... only problem is, how was his plan supposed to end? The Portreeve had many opportunities to just kill the Doctor while he didn't know that he was the Doctor (or even shrink him) - so it wasn't going to be as simple as that. In the final showdown we get the big surprise that the Portreeve is the Master, and that he's hiding Adric, who's holding the whole fake society together, behind a tapestry... and then what was he going to do? If he was just going to shrink them all down and play dolls with them, he could have done that without going to all that trouble! "The Master leaves nothing to chance" says the Doctor... hmmm... apart from an ending to his plan... and maybe just that one crucial thing that always foils him!
Despite that though - I think this is one of Ainley's best performances as The Master! As a kid, I don't know if I picked him as The Porteeve - I probably guessed though - but while they really should have just got another actor to play the role, he does a pretty decent job playing the old man - and he handles the final showdown very well. I guess this is more than just a Master story though - what makes this one special is the fact that it's the first "new Doctor" story for 8 years. And Part 1 in particular tells the regeneration story very very well. It's always that little bit "exciting" to see how the new actor starts to become his own Doctor - and the fact that this one is a difficult change makes it all the more interesting.
To add to that, we have the two new assistants, that we don't really know yet, in control of most of the first two parts. That's a risk that pays off well, as by the end of it, it adds to the depth of both characters nicely. The concept of the zero room is a nice one too. The costume choosing goes up a notch here too - who'd have thought that the Doctor had his own cricket pavilion in his TARDIS... I guess this was jettisoned too cos we never see that again! I've always liked that he was "the cricket Doctor" in a way - but at the same time, I just don't know about the outfit... I mean, cricketers don't wear their gear all day every day do they? Makes it a bit hard to blend in - his predecessors were always eccentric, but they were never that specific... still, I guess it's better than the next bloke!
And the realisation of Castrovalva is well done also - it's a nice peaceful, inviting place (OK, except for the tribe with washing powder boxes on their heads - but they were there for some of the "fake history") where people just go about their business. The main problem they have is their inability to distinguish between tupperware and hats... and the good old Portreeve gets to wear two tupperware containers on his head... that should have given him away! Anyway, there's a lot to like about this - the only thing that stands out as "bad" is the Master's justification... but you can forgive him that a little for the sake of a good first outing!
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