Full Circle: Doctor Who: Season 18
Full Circle SYNOPSIS:
The TARDIS passes through a CVE on the way back to Gallifrey to return Romana home and they end up in a pocket universe called E-space. Landing on the planet Alzarius they find a society who live in a star liner. They are repairing the starliner to return to their descendants planet of Terradon. The coming of mist fall forces the people to take refuge in the star liner.
Mathematical genius Adric instead takes refuge in the TARDIS when left behind by his brother's gang. The Doctor and K-9 note the mist isn't toxic but witness the marshmen rise from beneath the swamp and adapt to land. Entering the Star liner the Doctor is brought before the Deciders and made to watch their chief scientist Dexter perform a vivisection on a live marsh child.
The TARDIS has been taken by the Marshmen to a cave where Romana is bitten by a Marsh spider and begins to change into a marsh woman. The Doctor pilots the stolen TARDIS into the star liner and the possessed Romana lets the marshmen in. The Doctor has to find a cure for her and reveals the actual secret of the society to the Deciders but this won't stop them being wiped out by the rampaging marshmen.
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Full Circle DETAILS:
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Full Circle CAST & CREW
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
Lalla Ward (Romana II)
John Leeson (K-9 Mk. II)
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Leonard Maguire — Draith
James Bree — Nefred
Alan Rowe — Garif
George Baker — Login
Tony Calvin — Dexeter
Richard Willis — Varsh
June Page — Keara
Bernard Padden — Tylos
Andrew Forbes — Omril
Adrian Gibbs — Rysik
Barney Lawrence — Marshman
Norman Bacon — Marshchild
Production Staff for Serial 5R:
Writer - Andrew Smith
Director - Peter Grimwade
Script editor - Christopher H. Bidmead
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
Executive Producer - Barry Letts
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Full Circle REVIEWS
Here we go! Another fun filled, full on, funtactular story or....not.
Like Grob, when a mere 9 year old Full Circle scared the pants off me, Marshmen coming out of a swamp, and attacking everything in sight, dragging people to their doom in the swamp. The Doctor and k9 wandering round in the mists, an annoying kid wearing a star badge, a star liner, even the Deciders seemed somewhat scary in an authoritarian way and I freaked out when alien spiders hatched out of bits of fruit and attacked Romana. But seeing this from a grown up perspective it's a bit boring.
Great use is made of location filming, the park lands / forest they used look really lush. And whatever fruit they used really does or did look alien. The incidental music and the arrival of Adric remind us though that the dismantling of the Tom Baker era has begun as he and Romana are flung off into E-space via a CVE. Tom is at his last healthiest looking as the Doctor before he became badly ill and very gaunt for his last few outings. The addition of Adric is a concept I didn't mind, they need a new companion to spice things up, unfortunately Matthew Waterhouse does need some acting skills honed but isn't too bad here.
The whole idea of a society that just undergoes procedure and routine while waiting for the procedure and routine of evolution to run it's course every 10 generations or so is a novel concept and sort has a sly dig at those Williams era alien societies that remain the same for centuries without ever changing or evolving. Unfortunately the pace sort of slows down a bit after part 1 mainly because of constant dull dialogue talk fests and there's no real bad guy. The deciders are just boring and stuffy old drabs and the local scientist is cliche`ed but the cast does feature a number of Dr Who acting stalwarts who do a reasonable job.
Full Circle only picks up when the Marshmen invade (who look so good emerging from the swamp but on land or in the studio they just look like rubber suits, though the masks are good) Romana being attacked by the weird marsh spiders and being possessed was a good plot divert and K9 gets his head knocked clean off. He's not having a good time lately, this scared the crap out of me when I was a kid - they've killed k9!!! For years afterward the scene of Tom holding K9's head up in front of his face to ward off the Marshmen stuck in the memory.
Nice but not engaging or interesting enough - give this a 5.7/10
Occasionally the kisses to the past got a little out of hand with the mentioning of Andred and Leela and K9 Mark 1 (sure the fans would love it, but the general audience member won't have a clue), but it was balanced with a nice retelling of why Romana was with the Doctor and what her background was. There was even a nice line about Time Lords; "You can't fight Time Lords" the Doctor warns.
Full Circle pretty much got me scurrying behind the sofa when I first saw it. I think it was the ending of episode one with the marshmen coming out of the water that did it, although spiders of ANY kind will freak me out too. Director Peter Grimwade is one of the few directors on Who that knows how to rack the tension up. Now, as a kid, I couldn't see the zips in the marshmen costumes so I was pretty creeped out. They looked and behaved as powerful, single minded and terrifying as the cybermen never were. Of course with age and knowledge I know they are a bunch of out of work dancers poncing about looking slightly daft. But they are filmed and acted in a way that makes them look primitive and ready to snap your neck off in a single second.
The marsh child is also worth mentioning cos you can feel some sympathy for it as it goes on the loose through the ship and then gets confused as it is caught between two groups; the human colonists and the Deciders. One of Tom's best scenes is when he confronts the scientist via video screen who is about to operate of the marshchild. When the marshchild wakes up, kills the scientist and then sees the Doctor on the video feed and then electrocutes itself is a very powerful moment. The director, production crew and actors (either as leads or walk ons) make Full Circle a fantastic story. Which brings us to...............Adric.
I was never bothered by his lack of acting ability when I was a kid. If anything, I found him to be quite likable and since he was young, awkward and spend his time thinking out his own arse I was able to relate to him. Now, we can sit back and laugh at the antics of a certain Matthew Watercloset in those scenes where he looks like he just wandered in from a Dr Who Appreciation Society Meeting sounding like Peter Brady from he Brady Bunch (but nowhere near as cool!) And if there is one thing funnier than Matthew Watercloset trying to act on camera, its trying to visualize what the moronic little twat was like OFF camera! Tom apparently told him to "FUCK OFF!" after their first meeting which instantly shattered the poor lad's dream of meeting his childhood hero. I guess thats what happens when you approach strange men in bars.
On the other hand, if a strange man hadn't approached YOU in a bar then you wouldn't have got the part in the first place, right Matthew? JNT's antics know no bounds...........
Anyway, I felt Full Circle was very well visualised and produced. It certainly brought Dr Who back from the brink that was the Williams era. How long can they keep it up? 7/10
By the way, the concept of a shipload of people waiting to take off from a planet but can't cos the rocket is fucked was recycled much later down the track - in Utopia. Onya Russell!
With these winds of change beginning to blow, we either get something new or lose something old in each of the remaining episodes from here on in series 18. In Full Circle we see the main TARDIS bedroom… it does get used a fair bit in the Davison era… and we all know the famous scene from Planet of Fire takes place there! OK, so that's a bit pissy - Adric is the main thing we get from Full Circle, the first time Tom has had a male companion since his first season, but we didn't learn that he officially had stowed away till State of Decay, so I'm saying he didn't join till then - and that keeps my theory of something big changing in every episode till the end!
Adric is a key part to Full Circle. And you know what, at the time, I didn't notice that he couldn't act. Maybe it was because I was only 9, but all the way through to the end of Earthshock (I was shattered), I could really see a lot of me in Adric. He was young, had a bad haircut, was good at maths, liked to wear the Australian one-day cricket uniform, wanted to stow away on the TARDIS, didn't know how to speak to girls… man, he was exactly like me! And now I can still relate to him heaps as he's the one who can't act!
So anyway, a lot of this story is Adric's story, and like Adric bits of it are quite muddled. There's a strained relationship with his brother, but some of the writing (ok, and acting) struggles to get the whole thing across - but it is a huge change in direction for the show, as trying to add a bit of depth like they did here is something they've only really just got right in the new series… and certainly not something you associate with the old.
The story itself has an excellent first part and last part, but does get a bit lost in the middle… ok maybe that's because I fell asleep 3 times in parts 2 and 3… or maybe the fact that I fell asleep is proof that they're flawed… might be a bit of both, but I still don't know why Adric was proving himself by stealing the fruit, and nor do I know why these "rebels" were looking to steal the fruit in the first place. That aside, the story of another ship that needs guidance/support to pilot it (again, is that profound - there are a lot of stories about this in this series!), and the whole generations coming full circle is pretty entertaining.
Two things hold it back though - Romana is horrible after being infected by the spider. I guess she's supposed to be zombie like, but she's pretty hard to take seriously. Speaking of which, the swampmen costumes are the definition of dodgy. These colonists evolve into rubber suits? The tension at the end is quite good - but the effect is kind of lessened by the constant squeak of rubber on the floors. The plight of the deciders is good though, and I enjoyed Login… although I was disappointed that he didn't name his daughter UserID or Password. Anyway, I'll give the story a 6, and a bonus point for the feeling of the beginning of the change.