Logopolis: Doctor Who: Season 18
The TARDIS cloister bell sounds warning of imminent danger. The Doctor avoids danger taking Adric to Earth here he plans to fix ship's Chameleon circuit by materializing around a normal Police telephone box and taking it's measurements. having anticipated the Doctor, the Master has materialized around the same Police box causing a dangerous recursion of TARDIS interior.
Needing the Police Box telephone Tegan Jovanka stumbles into the TARDIS and gets lost in the corridors. The Doctor soon finds her Aunt dead realising the Master is responsible and attempts to flush his TARDIS out using the Thames river. A mysterious white figure meets the Doctor warning of the future.
The Doctor heads to Logoplis to complete the ship repairs the inhabitants can complete with their special mathematical powers that affect reality and they find Tegan aboard the TARDIS. The Master kills Logopolitans corrupting the repairs and trapping the Doctor inside a shrinking TARDIS. Controlling newly arrived Nyssa with a bracelet the Master intends to extort the secret of Logopolis from planetary leader, the Monitor.
His plan to silence the mathematical tones of the Logopolitans bacj fires as their constant calculations had been holding back the massive wave of entropy threatening the entire universe. Logopolis decays rapidly and the Doctor must join forces with the Master and escape to Earth to enact the Monitors program via radio telescope and stop entropy from destroying the universe. However the Master has a takeover plan and to stop him may finally cost the Doctor his life.
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Logopolis CAST & CREW
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor)
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)
Anthony Ainley — The Master
Dolore Whiteman — Aunt Vanessa
John Fraser — The Monitor
Tom Georgeson — Detective Inspector
Christopher Hurst — Security Guard
Adrian Gibbs - The Watcher
Production Staff for Serial 5V:
Writer - Christopher H. Bidmead
Director - Peter Grimwade
Script editor - Christopher H. Bidmead
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
Executive Producer - Barry Letts
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The series draws to a close, the season long arc being about change, decay and re-birth and is capped off in Logopolis soley focused on the 4th Doctor himself and how this event affects him as his era also draws to a close. His last adventure, not to just save a world but this time to save the entire universe and somehow stop a re-born, youthful and much more dangerous version of his implacable foe - the Master. Hmm sounds a bit melodramatic doesn't it? This season has seen everything change and now it's the Doctor's turn.
But Logopolis is well done, well written, directed and acted with a minimal secondary cast and a threat to end everything based around a few key sets. Like several times this season it focuses on more realistic science and principles, mathematics and thermodynamics being the key themes, which shoves Adric more into the limelight, but he's actually not bad in Logopolis and his youthful bewilderment balances Baker's older and more weary 4th Doctor. well. We see the Cloister room for the first and last time and hear the first ringing of the cloister bell. We get new, Aussie companion called Tegan (nice that he got someone from Oz to travel with him before he got someone from the U.S.) and Janet Fielding does give away that she hasn't had much acting experience before this (unlike Catherine Tate) Nyssa turns up again inexplicably brought to join the Tardis crew by the ghostly watcher when they reach Logopolis in part 2. (still think that's a weird bit in the narrative)
The set up is good, it's all about the Doctor wanting to repair the chameleon circuit and going to get the exact measurements from Earth for the Police Box exterior which is a brilliant idea that funnily enough no one had thought of exploring in 18 years. We get a few police men and an Aunt killed off and the mystery of the Doctor and Adric having accidentally materialised around another Tardis, the shots of them constantly re-entering multiple Tardis control rooms that get a darker and deeper yellow haze is eerie, must be one of the only times the Police box has appeared on the Tardis control room set. Then there's the mystery of the Watcher thrown in and it's all tied up in some very doom laden incidental music that sets the tone for what's to come.
This is Tom Baker's last performance and from the get go he's the somber and brooding figure who's been from one side of the universe to the other and seems a bit, well, weary. But it's an acting tour-de-force from Tom all his usual traits from flippant remarks, sudden spurts of enthusiasm, to serious brooding and doom saying to flashes of righteous temper. This time round though he underpins it all with a sense of finality as Grob so ably puts it, he knows he's defeated already and will die. Noticed myself in the key meeting with the haunting Watcher figure (who the Doc and Adric believe is the Master for a time) and how his shoulders slump in defeat and head falls in his hands. Fine acting when you consider we're seeing this exchange from Adric's POV, from a great distance away on a bridge. Yeah and after he knows his fate he's even more distant and alien toward his companions.
Then we get to Logopolis where everything literally unravels and we find the Master had been the stowaway on the Tardis. Now in his first story as the new Master you have to hand it to Anthony Ainley that he nails the character while being a brand new incarnation of him. He's got some of wit and charm of the original but there's a coldness and madness about him now that being badly disfigured for so long has turned him completely psychotic...and he's out for revenge big time. He also manipulates Nyssa very realistically looking as he does like her father. He was so impressive here that in many ways it's sad he devolved his performance into a pantomime villain in later appearances. Also sad that he wasn't up against the 4th Doctor more often as Tom and Tony bounce off each other well, especially how the Doctor shows his revulsion when the Master tries putting an arm round his shoulders.
Then there's the final denouement as the Master, the Doctor & Tegan (?) team up to stop the entropy released by the Master's ill conceived plan from destroying the universe. The last part at the Pharos Project showing the passage of time from pre-dawn to early morning is the most realistic in the show, especially the chase from the guards and the final showdown on top of the telescope dish. Here the Doctor faces the inevitable, keeps looking despondent as he sees flashes of the Watcher here and there and despite knowing he's going to die, he dives right in, heroically saving the universe from the grip of the Master who staying true to form tries a last ditch plan to blackmail existence after helping the Doctor for an episode but he's pretty happy by the end he's actually made the Doctor to plunge to his death this time - his greatest achievement.
As for this regeneration from a myriad of flashbacks of his nastiest old foes while he dangles above the Earth, 'ol Tom then plunges, apparently pretty quickly according to the reactions of his companions, into a fatal fall. Now as a 9 year old having only known 'ol Tom, and having no idea about regeneration I was pretty much upset and distraught they let my hero die. (bad enough had already seen most of Blakes 7 die brutally at the end of that series) Once you see him lying there all crumpled you realise what's happened. But Tom actually seems at peace in his final few moments surrounded by companions old and new and finally we find out why the watcher was there, to save him. So the Time Lords didn't want to lose their best operator after all
...and as the white light flakes from his face to my 9 year old shock Tom's hair was now straight, blonde, he looked younger...hang on what's happened to him? It's not Tom and then the new guy sits up in a pile of familiar clothes...what will happen next? Great stuff back then and also now - Logopolis is easily my favourite regeneration story. 10/10
Right from the outset, its a pretty sombre affair. The opening scene of another Police Box appearing and murdering the policeman (uh-oh) sets the tone. Then we have the funeral-like incidental music high runs right through Logopolis. And then the Doctor starts off in a reflective mood with the decision to change the Tardis' chameleon circuit cos he feels something bad is going to happen. Bad things start happening in small ways with the death of the cop and Aunty Vanessa and then the appearance of the strange wrath-like figure in the distance - the Watcher.
It all slowly builds up to the planet Logopolis and the way the universe is held together. Except the Master is now here (thanks to the Doctor unknowingly bringing him along in the Tardis) and all hell breaks loose. Logopolitans are slaughtered, the universe starts to collapse as a result and the Master takes over.
So Logopolis is a pretty big story all round. But it also has to showcase the outgoing Doctor for the final time. The fourth Doctor was a larger than life character which requires a likewise story to match it. And as at the start of season 18 he is also a more sombre and reflective Doctor - a trait that echoes right through this story. Right from the Doctor's first meeting with the Watcher you really feel that something bad is going to happen and Tom does a terrific job conveying that. During that meeting you can see his shoulders stoop in defeat and for the rest of the story you can literally FEEL the weight on the Doctor's shoulders. As a result, the Doctor detaches himself from his companions as he tears into each of them as he sides with the Master. His line "I have never chosen my own company!" says as much about his Doctor as it does about the actor playing him.
We have three companions this time. Adric is just slightly less annoying than usual although he really fucks up the final regeneration scene by completely missing his mark (direction, Matthew, direction) and Nyssa is as dignified and calm as ever - she doesn't even let the destruction of her own planet get to her since she knows there are bigger things at stake. And then there is Tegan. I am not Tegan's biggest fan when she started out and I found her annoying and one dimensional - not just the character but the actress as well. There is no depth to her at all and Janet Fielding's portrayal is as one dimensional as her character. Fast forward twenty odd years and see how brilliant Catherine Tate is with a similar character and how well this can be done.
And now to the moment we have been waiting for - the regeneration. Where as the previous three ranged from being quickly tacked on at the last minute to, well...tacked on with some thought, the Logopolis regeneration is anything but. Its first task is to make you really feel that the fourth Doctor is going out in the style he deserves - saving the entire universe is the only way he should have gone. Its big, larger than life and dramatic - just like the fourth Doctor himself. Secondly it has to sum up the fourth Doctor's era itself. The production team wisely chose to show clips of the Doctor's enemies and companions as a flashback sequence to remind the old and educate the new just who this Doctor has been. On first viewing I was thrilled at the flashbacks - it was just soooooooooooo cool to see everyone again. So cool JNT did it another five or six times.
But you can't have it all your own way. There is still the dodgy effects that marr a somewhat near perfect dramatic moment. There is that still photograph of the Master as he watches the Doctor on the radio telescope and that horrid shot of the Doctor's hands as they lose their grip. And the unintentional comedy moment of the three companions as they watch the Doctor fall - the look up, they quickly look down. Very shite.
The final ten seconds is the best part. Just how will they handle the all important change over? The concept of the Watcher is an inspired one (if a little convoluted although its no Bad Wolf) and watching him come forward at the Doctor's request is very spooky. Again thanks to Tom's acting you really feel that he Doctor has known this was happening right from episode one as his features blur with the Watcher. I remember as a kid this whole scene with the funeral-music and the soft focus effect as the Doctor changed and it still makes a few shivers go up the spine. I was even more amazed with what happens next. The Doctor didn't just lie on the ground unconscious like all the previous regenerations. No; HE SAT UP!!! I was just as surprised as his companions were. Holy crap! Its.....its a new Doctor!!!
It's certainly very good - but there are one or two things in the premise that just don't quite gel.
It's just a bit too convenient that no sooner do we learn about the cloister room and it's bell, that it starts ringing... for the first time in 18 years. Sure it was kind of a symbol that the time was up for Doctor number 4 - and I do like the bell itself, but I don't know - just a bit convenient. And speaking of convenience, how did the Master know that that the Doctor was going to materialise around that police box? And why did he want to trap the Doctor and follow him to Logopolis? I don't think that's ever explained - I watched Logopolis again last night and didn't pick it up... having just been foiled by the Doctor and stealing his friend's body, wouldn't he want to be away from the Doctor? Or even if he does want revenge, how does he know he's going to materialise there before the Doctor's even decided himself - he was headed to Gallifrey! The Doctor mentions something briefly about "sharing the same thoughts" - hmmm I don't know about that... they're Time Lords, not Jedi!
OK, that gripe aside, Logopolis is a really strong story - and there's a hell of a lot to like!
Tegan's introduction (although her first scene is a bit over the top... and thank Christ the Master got to Aunt Vanessa!) to the TARDIS is brilliant. Did you know that originally she was considered too short to play Tegan, but she convinced JNT that the height regulation for QANTAS was two inches shorter than BA?! Getting lost in the TARDIS and then abusing "the crew" works really well, and sets up one of the Doctor's more memorable assistants nicely.
The goings on on Logopolis is quite good too - the model work may not be the best, and some of the math stuff (like Adric and The Monitor walking around just quoting numbers) can be a bit boring, but on the other hand it keeps the tension of what's happening in the shrunken TARDIS, so it can't be too bad. John Fraser as The Monitor is great - worthy of his second billing on the credits.
You know, watching Logopolis all those years ago, I didn't even realise that CVEs were brought up again... it really ties in the whole series nicely, and gives the universe some nice internal logic.
The final showdown is legendary. I reckon I watched it about 100 times as a kid. I was so excited that I got to see a Doctor regenerate in a non-repeat! And the tension of the battle with the Master is fantastic - even if the Master's over acted keyboard punches are to be filed in the "a little bit shit" file... and, after watching it many many times as a kid I eventually noticed the terrible super imposed picture of the master at the end of the platform as he's tipping The Doctor over... still works though!
And then the regeneration. Much like the Pertwee regeneration, Baker saves the universe with a noble and brave act... and again like Pertwee, the "moment has been prepared for" with the Watcher. Although this time "the moment has been prepared for" with a whole season arc that has subtly brought us to a whole new show... a whole new era. It's a brilliant end of the beginning - or is it the beginning of the end?
(Sentimentality made me up it from 8.5!)