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Fourth Doctor: Meglos
Ah, Evil!Doctor joy again! I've yet to see a story with Tom Baker being EEVVIIILLL!!1!! in it that I didn't like (cf. The Android Invasion; The Invasion of Time) - and once again, he delivers the goods. So commanding; so angry; so impatient!

Alas, though, I didn't think the rest of the story lived up to the same level. It offered what at first seemed like an interesting division between scientists and religious adherents on the planet Tigella, but nothing much ever came out of it. There were also several plot-lines that just didn't really make any sense. For instance, how did Meglos manage to imitate the Fourth Doctor's appearance, when he seemed to need the captive Earthling's physical body to do it to him? Also, why on earth (or on Tigella) would the Gaztaks (the space pirates) agree so readily to Romana's suggestion that she show them her space-ship, when she is their captive, and they already have a perfectly good space-ship of their own? And even if they did agree to go off and look at it in the first place, why would they then follow her round and round in circles for half an episode, rather than just saying "This is ridiculous, you're clearly mucking us about, and we never really wanted to see your stupid ship in the first place anyway"?

Still, even if it wasn't the most squee-worthy of stories, it had its points of interest:
  • Jacqueline Hill as Lexa! Not that I realised who she was until I checked Wikipedia afterwards - I was just sitting there thinking, "I know her, don't I? Isn't she from some children's programme?" Doh. Anyway, she was lovely, and I think it's another quite powerful insight into the direction JNT was trying to take the series that she had been asked to appear. Quite what was supposed to be achieved by then having her character get shot, I don't know. It didn't add anything at all to the plot, and I couldn't really make any sense of it from a symbolic perspective either: I certainly don't get the impression that JNT was interested in symbolically 'killing off' the early era. But still - good to see her in any case.
  • The time-loop in which the TARDIS gets trapped. I'd assumed this phenomenon was called 'chronic historesis' while watching the episode, but apparently the spelling 'chronic hysterisis' is preferred by the entirety of the internet, and I assume that's based on what was in the original script. I couldn't help but wonder whether the constant replaying of the same scene here was supposed to be a meta-reference to the traditional use of episode recaps. But again, that seems slightly odd, given that JNT is still doing the episode recaps (including one for the second episode which actually includes the time-loop sequence within it). In story terms, the time-loop is clearly something very undesirable which the Doctor and Romana are desperate to get out of, while for the audience it becomes downright annoying. So if it is a reflection on the episode recaps, it doesn't seem like a very positive one.
  • I liked Zastor's description of the Doctor - "He sees the threads that join the Universe together, and mends them when they break". Consider me including that quotation in this write-up to be my contribution to the Doctor Who quotation meme that's going round at the moment.
  • The sets and costumes were interesting and detailed, and blue-screening was used in a very imaginative way to create the impression that the actors were interacting with model sets - e.g. people walking 'behind' Meglos' screens; a pirate attempting to 'scratch' one of them.
  • New Who watch (which for the purposes of this discussion, covers Torchwood as well) can't help but note that the pirate Brotadac's obsession with the Doctor's coat reads in a quite different life after Jack / Ianto. ;-)

Fourth Doctor: Full Circle
I found the first two episodes of this pretty dull and unengaging, which must be one of the first times I've felt like that about a Fourth Doctor story. However, things did get more interesting in the third and fourth episodes, as the details of the Starliner people's society, with its dread and closely-guarded secret, emerged. The Doctor gets some good moments, as he vents his anger on the Deciders for condoning the death of a captive marsh creature and deliberately keeping their people in ignorance about their true origins. And both the character of Adric and the acting of Matthew Waterhouse were actually a lot less annoying than I'd expected. But I just didn't see all that much here to excite me.

Fourth Doctor: State of Decay
Vampires - in Space! It's hard to go wrong, really. :-) And luckily, this story didn't. The vampires are great, the gradual revelation of the story behind the society which the Doctor and Romana encounter is great, the outlaw scientists trying to make sense of it all are great, the script is great, Tom Baker and Lalla Ward are great (individually and collectively), and once again Adric manages to be perfectly palatable. My only complaints would be that the synthesised music was completely inappropriate for the pseudo-medieval setting, and that the model-work used to represent the scout ship being fired up into the air and coming back down to dispatch the giant vampire was pretty sub-standard. Otherwise, though, this is most definitely my favourite story of Season 18 so far.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
A hysteresis is a kind of phase discontinuity in physics: a substance can in theory loop between two states, but it ends up getting stuck on one side of the loop and never making it back to the other. It's a nice name for the situation in Meglos where the Doctor and Romana end up circling around the same point in time, theoretically able to break back to the mainstream but in practice going back to restart the loop.

I'm fond of Full Circle -- it doesn't have a villian! But that does result in it lacking a little lift. On the other hand, the fanboy in me still cheers at the return of end-of-story cliffhangers... There's also a notable Good Production Value: when the tentacle drags Draith into the lake, he *isn't surreptitiously pushing himself with his leg*.

I think you'll find Season 18 only gets stronger from here. Warrior's Gate, The Keeper of Traken and Logopolis all have flaws but they're all in some way exceptional too.
Jun. 28th, 2008 09:38 am (UTC)
Hysteresis - ah, well that makes perfect sense now. I assumed it was just some technobabble they'd made up for the story.

I'm two episodes into Warrior's Gate now, and enjoying it so far.
Jun. 28th, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)
As wwhyte says, hysteresis is a physical phenomenon - the Wikipedia article also briefly gives an etymology for the word (and interestingly redirects to the same page should you search for the quite logically-inferred "historesis"). It's why you should allow rechargable batteries to run down as far as possible, then let them charge for as long as their design intended.
Jun. 28th, 2008 09:41 am (UTC)
The things you learn from watching Doctor Who!
May. 18th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
My doctor--my Tom Baker--mine mine mine and yes I'll share--he was my first though and that twists ya so.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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