Thursday 10 May 2012

535 The Leisure Hive Part Four

EPISODE: The Leisure Hive Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 20 September 1980
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Lovett Bickford
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 4.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive

The Foamasi with the Doctor unmasks Brock's assistant Klout as a Foamasi too then removes Brock's translation device and uses it to explain that "Brock & Klout" are agents of a Foamasi criminal organisation the West Lodge who have been sabotaging the Hive. The ailing Mena argues with Pangol and falls to the floor. The Doctor works out a way of overcoming the problems with the Generator with the Randomiser from the Tardis. Pangol seizes the Helmet of Theron, the legendary Argolin leader, and goes to the Generator. As he gives a speech The Doctor sneaks into the Tardis, and then the Generator. Hardin & Romana discover Mena is still alive and the Doctor has gone to the Generator. The Foamasi shuttle attempts to take off without permission and Pangol has it destroyed. Pangol dons the helmet and enters the shuttle, creating an army of duplicates of himself. Some of the duplicates take Romana away. Hardin finds Mena as Pangol orders her body disposed of. He takes her dying body to the Generator room. The duplicates reveal themselves to Romana to be duplicates of the deaged Doctor as they start deteriorate and vanish, leaving Romana with the original. Pangol orders the experiment replicated but Hardin interrupts him placing Mena in Generator. Pangol tries to have her removed but becomes locked in the Generator with her as it runs in overdrive deaging them. The Foamasi appears and reveals that it wasn't on the shuttle when it takes off and commences discussions with the youthful Mena.

This episode is a perfect summary of the entire production: it looks superb, it sounds fabulous and it's confusing rubbish. The Foamasi are completely underdeveloped, instead of being the gangster like aliens they were meant. The ending is rushed, yes you can see (just about) what's going on but there's a few real leaps needed. In the early 80s you'd have probably seen something once (this just about predates common VCR usage) and if you watch something and think "what on earth was going on there?" you're less likely to come back the next week. I think I might have been tempted to structure the story a little differently: Have the Doctor aged by accident at the end of the first episode, then at the end of the second reveal the Foamasi. To conclude the third have Pangol's proclamation that he's the child of the generator. It'd add more pace earlier on, which is too slow, and slow down the end which is rushed.

So at the end of this it's goodbye to David Fisher, who never wrote for Doctor Who again but did do some more writing with his old friend former script editor Anthony Read. This is also the only appearance for director Lovett Bickford rumoured to have hideously overspent on this serial. IMDB reckons he hasn't worked as a director since 1982.

The making of this story was covered in the book A Day in the Life of a TV Producer, which may not be a 100% accurate record of a day, showing location & studio filming on the same day plus the producer approving merchandise which had been out for several years previously!

The Leisure Hive was novelised by it's author in 1982. I can remember being given it as a present for either Christmas or Birthday and being decidedly unimpressed. I may give it another go to see if it's as bad as I remember. It was released on video in January 1997 and on DVD on 5th July 2004. The music has been released on CD, but there's an isolated score on the DVD that should now render this redundant. And the DVD is cheaper :-)

1 comment:

  1. I think The Leisure Hive must have been one of my first childhood experiences where I discovered that often something can be much more frightening in your imagination than in real life. For the first three episodes, we get these quick glimpses of the Foamasi, a claw here, an eye there, heavy breathing, and in my mind I expected them to be these absolutely hideous, terrifying monsters. Then, when they're finally revealed towards the end of the third part, my first reaction was "That's a guy in a costume!" Keep in mind that this was one of the first Doctor Who stories I ever watched, so I had no idea how low-budget it was. If I had been a more seasoned viewer, perhaps my expectations would have been lower!

    The novelization my David Fisher is odd, but it goes some way towards actually developing the backstories of both the Argolans and the Foamasi. There is a lot of what could be considered Douglas Adams-style humor to it. I rather like it.