Friday 8 June 2012

563 Castrovalva Part Four

EPISODE: Castrovalva Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Tuesday 12 January 1982
WRITER: Christopher H. Bidmead
DIRECTOR: Fiona Cumming
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 10.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva)

The Doctor, affected by the spatial distortion, returns to his quarters to rest. Nyssa & Tegan locate the missing Zero cabinet being used as a wash tub by the Castrovalvan women and return it to the Doctor. The Doctor demonstrates to Mergrave & Ruther what is wrong with Castrovalva when they identify important landmarks as being in multiple locations on the map. They resolve to go and see the Portreeve with the Doctor travelling in the Zero Cabinet. The Doctor secretly sends the cabinet on ahead with Nyssa & Tegan while he confronts the librarian Shardovan. As Nyssa & Tegan confront the Portreeve he reveals himself to be the Master, destroying the Zero Cabinet, revealing it to be filled with books, and cancelling Ruther's existence using the the Tapestry which the Doctor reveals is powered by Adric & Block Transfer Computations, which have been used to create Castrovalva and it's inhabitants. Shardovan sacrifices his life so that Adric can be freed and Mergrave prevents the Master from leaving Castrovalva as it collapses in on itself, the Doctor & his companions narrowly escaping to the woodlands outside and the Tardis.

Why should I have suspected the Portreeve? He's a kindly old man wearing white! It had to be Mergrave, he was wearing black and had a moustache and was obviously the evil genius behind it all. Even watching it now I get the impression Mergrave is built up as being an obvious villain right up until the point the Master is revealed, with Anthony Ainley being credited as Neil Toynay while playing The Portreeve in episode 3. There's more of these to come.

Structurally a good story, populate the first two episodes with familiar(ish) elements like the Tardis, Companions & the Master, with the Doctor coming to the fore later (and in that respect bares some resemblance to The Christmas Invasion). It gives the still newish companions of Nyssa & Tegan some screentime, but (and a downmark now) in the process sidelines Adric and sows the seeds of doubt that he's a bit of a spare part. Some of the concepts here are a little beyond the average television viewer, a complaint we'll return to several times in the next few years, but unlike some other stories Castrovalva doesn't loose sight of the need to tell a decent adventure story.

Castrovalva was novelised in 1983 by the story's author and released the month after the preceding story, Logopolis. It was released on video in March 1992 alongside Logopolis 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.

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