Sunday 3 June 2012

559 Logopolis Part Four

EPISODE: Logopolis Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 21 March 1981
WRITER: Christopher H. Bidmead
DIRECTOR: Peter Grimwade
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 6.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva)

Tegan runs out of the Tardis, following the Doctor who she believes will get her home. As Logopolis falls apart the Doctor & Master discuss their option, but the Monitor himself disintegrates before their eyes. They take the computing records of the block transfer computations to Earth to broadcast them to a nearby CVE using the Pharos Project. The Watcher takes the Tardis to safety outside of space/time and speaks to Adric. Nyssa witnesses Traken's destruction by the entropy field on the Tardis' scanner. Adric takes the Tardis back into space/time and to the Pharos Project. The Master takes his light speed overdrive to the Pharos Project antennae control room but once it's connected attempts to hold the universe to ransom. The Doctor tries to stop him, disconnecting the overdrive ensuring the block computations are beamed to the stars correctly and saving the universe but he falls from the telescope. As Adric, Nyssa & Tegan stand round his broken body the Watcher approaches and merges with the Doctor regenerating him into his fifth incarnation.

And so ends the Fourth Doctor. The final episode is somewhat downbeat and unspectacular, like all of Logopolis, but the stakes couldn't be higher. The First Doctor dies saving Earth from the Cybermen, the Second (effectively) sacrifices his life to get the captured soldiers home and the Third to defeat the Spiders & confront his own pride. The Fourth however dies saving the entire Universe from the Master. I don't believe this was the Master's plan all along, I very much feel he came up with this idea on the fly.

There's lots of unexplained fuss here over the Master's Light Speed Over-ride (overdrive?) which gets connected to the Pharos Project dish. I suspect that what it's meant to do is project the computations towards the CVE faster than light but the script rather skips over that!

The Pharos Project here is represented by Crowsley Park BBC Receiving Station which was actually just aerials. The Pharos Project Dish is a model superimposed onto the location work.

This episode is the first to include a flash back sequence. First, as the Doctor hangs from the telescope he sees many of his enemies:

The Master
A Dalek
The Pirate Captain
A Cyberman
A Sontaran
A Zygon
The Black Guardian

Then as he's lying on the ground Nyssa & Tegan call his name followed by flashbacks of

Sarah Jane Smith
Harry Sullivan
The Brigadier (from Invasion of the Dinosaurs, a Pertwee story)
Mary Tamm's Romana
Lalla Ward's Romana

before cutting back to Adric in the present. This is a nice look back at the Doctor's past (I remember being so pleased to see The Captain again!) and serves as a hint towards what would happen late that year. It's believed series "continuity advisor" Ian Levine advised which clips were used in this sequence. Allegedly the girders under which Tom Baker regenerates are a redressed piece of the set used on Top of the Pops!

The end of the episode features a special distorted title sequence to hide Tom Baker's features. At the time of recording the title sequence for new Doctor Peter Davison had yet to be filmed.

It'd be easy to cast stones at Logopolis: plot holes you could drive a tank through, idiotic ideas and, despite the scale of what the Doctor achieves, somehow not the spectacular farewell Tom Baker deserved. But I still love it years later. I saw it all on first transmission, the only story this season I'm 100% sure I did. It was this story that took my Doctor away and completely changed the game for me and countless other fans who'd grown up with Tom Baker as Doctor Who, who'd never known that any other actor had even played the role. To this day Tom Baker in a long scarf is probably *the* defining image of Doctor Who.

Tom Baker went off and married his former companion Lalla Ward during the making of Logopolis although the marriage didn't last. While trying to distance himself from the role of Doctor Who, even refusing to appear in the 20th anniversary special, he would continue to be busy albeit maybe in not such a high profile way. In recent times his attitude towards Doctor Who has softened considerably and is now much happier to be associated with the program appearing on many DVD commentaries and even reprising the role for Big Finish.

Thus ended the longest season of Doctor Who since 1968/9 and the reign of the longest Doctor. Picking a favourite story is easy: Destiny of the Daleks, but that's just fuelled by childhood nostalgia. So setting it aside which are the best stories from each of the fourth Doctor's seasons for me?

1975 (season 12) Genesis of the Daleks
1975/6 (13) Terror of the Zygons
1976/7 (14) Robots of Death
1977/8 (15) Horror of Fang Rock
1978/9 (16) The Pirate Planet
1979/80 (17) Destiny of the Daleks. But If I can't have that then City of Death.
1980/81 (18) .... is hard. Previously I'd have said Logopolis, or Keeper of Traken. But I was bowled over by Warriors Gate this time round. Picking one out of that lot is hard. All are top drawer Doctor Who.

A different lead actor isn't the only change being made to Doctor Who at this time. It was announced, to some loud dismay in the press, that Doctor Who would move from it's traditional Saturday tea time slot, where it had been slaughtered by ITV during the first half of the season, to a new weekday evening slot and be broadcast twice a week. Also the start of the season would shift from the Autumn, usually the last week in August/first week in September to January creating a nine month gap between Seasons. We had the traditional summer repeat season, in this case Full Circle & Keeper of Traken which were shown from the 3rd to the 13th August. A special event was organised for the autumn: older Doctor Who episodes were to be repeated for the first time. The Five Faces of Doctor Who in theory showed one story featuring each of the five Doctors. Of course no Fifth Doctor/Peter Davison story had aired yet so there had to be a tiny cheat. The stories chosen were:

An Unearthly Child: 2 to 5 November 1981
The Krotons: 9 to 12 November 1981
Carnival of Monsters: 16 to 19 November 1981
The Three Doctors: 23 to 26 November 1981
Logopolis: 30 November to 3 December 1981

It is no underestimation to say this run made fans of the program as a larger whole out of many viewers and started to get people interested in the show's history leading to the destruction of many of the earlier episodes becoming public knowledge. In particular fans wondered why The Krotons was shown instead of Tomb of the Cyberman, another four part Troughton story. When Doctor Who Monthly's winter special was released listing the contents of the archive the reason became clear.

Tom Baker would himself receive four further repeats on BBC1/2 in the Eighties & Nineties: One of these would be Pyramids of Mars. The other three would be Genesis of the Daleks. So the chances are if you've seen a Tom Baker episode of Doctor Who, you've seen Genesis of the Daleks!

It was around the same time that I discovered Doctor Who books in my local library. Oddly the first book I read was The Giant Robot, the Fourth Doctor's FIRST story when the last new story on television had been his final one!

Logopolis was novelised by it's author in 1982. It was released on VHS in 1992 on the same day as Castrovalva and I can clearly remember buying both from the WHSmiths in Staines, near to where I was at University. Doctor Who - New Beginnings Boxset was released on 29th January 2007 containing the three consecutive stories concerning the Master's return and the Doctor's regeneration: Keeper of Traken, Logopolis & Castrovalva.

Two weeks after Five Faces of Doctor Who finished with the repeat of Logopolis the BBC's other science fiction series Blake's 7 came to a dramatic end on 21st December 1981. But 7 days after that we got the closest thing to Doctor Who in the 80s which isn't actually Doctor Who. Join us tomorrow as we look at K-9 & Company.

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