OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 548
STORY NUMBER: 114
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 03 January 1981
WRITER: Stephen Gallagher
DIRECTOR: Paul Joyce
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy (Full Circle / State of Decay / Warrior's Gate)
A spacecraft attempts to take off but is damaged due to a Time Disruption, injuring their slave Tharil navigator. The Tardis too is caught in the same disruption. While being taken bellow for treatment the Tharil evades his captors and flees out into the void. The Tardis doors open mid flight, allowing the time winds to flow in damaging K-9 & injuring the Doctor's hand, but the out of phase Tharil, who introduces himself as Biroc, finds the Tardis and brings it to rest in the void. He warns them not to believe those following him and flees, followed by the Doctor, who notes to Romana that they've arrived at a location with zero co-ordinates, possibly the gateway between the negative E-Space and their home universe the positive N-Space . Biroc finds a stone doorway in the void, and entering into a cobwebbed dining hall slips his bonds and steps through the mirror. Rovrick, the ship's captain, and two of his crew, Packard & Lane, find the Tardis using a portable mass detector. The Doctor too finds the doorway, and the ruined dining room, but in adjusting a ceremonial suit of armour there he accidentally reactivates the robot within. As he examines the chains that Biroc shed the robot advances on him with an axe.
My Goodness, that was jaw droppingly good. It looks *NOTHING* like anything done on the show before. The opening shots of the sleeping Tharils has something of a Frankenstein feel to it thanks to the moving parts on the life support machines keeping them alive, followed by the long panning shot through the starkly functional vessel which, unlike the similar shot that opens Logopolis, feels like it's doing something useful. The coin tossed into the air is spoiled now by the freeze frame - we can do that so much better now, and I'm surprised that we didn't for the DVD release. The void is just that, an empty void, and much better than the similar shots in The Mind Robber that have something of a Play School Studio feel to it. Biroc running through the void, his image ghosting behind him. The Cobwebbed hall. The chains falling to the floor as he walks through the mirror. It looks superb. And in there there's a story: the Doctor's quest to get home, Romana's reluctance to return to Gallifrey (nicely sign posted at the start of the tale) and what is that spaceship doing with a hold full of enslaved Tharils?
This is the third and last of the three stories that make up the "Stories Centering Around A Crashed Space ship" trilogy, as one internet commentator put it. This wasn't the original plan though: the Trilogy should have closed with a story called Sealed Orders by noted science fiction writer Christopher Priest (not the comic writer of the same name who was formerly known as Jim Owsley) The gist of Sealed Orders would have involved a return to Gallifrey where the Doctor would be ordered to kill Romana. Quite how this fits in with getting out of E-Space I have no idea, as it seems to me that it would be a more natural substitute for Full Circle, leading straight on from Meglos.
I do wonder why they called E-Space - E-Space. Surely N-Space, for Negative Space, would have been a better name with R-Space (Real Space) being used for our universe?