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While Doctor Who (Peter Davison) has still problems regenerating into
his new body (see Logopolis),
his arch-enemy the Master (Anthony Ainley) has kidnapped the Doctor's
child companion Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) and uses him (or rather a
mental image of him) to sabotage the Doctor's time machine the TARDIS.
At first, the Master tries to steer the TARDIS right back to the big
bang and have it blown up as a result, but somehow, the Doctor's two
female sidekicks Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) manage to
save the TARDIS (and themselves) just in time, even despite the Doctor's
bad condition. Then the two women decide to take the Doctor to
Castrovalva, a city famous for its soothing qualities ...
Once on Castrovalva - a cross between a midieval town and a health spa
-, the Doctor really does get better, but when ok again, he soon starts to
get interested in the city's history ... and discovers it is all forged.
Plus the city seems to be caught in some kind of spatial anomaly, which
seemingly turns the city into a maze without an exit. The Doctor and his
friends soon suspect the local librarian Shadovan (Derek Waring) to be
behind it all, but it actually turns out that Shadovan is the only one on
Castrovalva who does suspect foul play just like the Doctor does. The real
baddie is Castrovalva's old president Ruther (Frank Wylie), who - wouldn't
you know it - ultimately turns out to be the Master, with Castrovalva
being nothing but a trap to finally catch and dispose of the Doctor - and
the brains of Castrovalva (quite literally) is Adric, the little maths
genius, who has created (and calculated) the whole city in his head while
strapped to an electrically charged web by the Master. However, when
Shadovan discovers this, he destroys teh web, even if it means his own
death and the destruction of Castrovalva.
Only the Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan make it out of Castrovalva just
in time (mainly because Adric, who created the city, knows its exit),
while the Master is torn apart by the Castrovalvans ... or is he ?
Despite some gaping plotholes (why did the Master create such an
elaborate scheme to kill the Doctor, why do the Castrovalvans destroy
their city, ...), Castrovalva is one of the better Doctor Who
episodes of the 1980's, thanks to some intelligent concepts the plot is
based on. However, this is one episode that terribly suffers from
insufficient special effects which could have really taken the episode to
another level ... but oh well, that's cheap TV for you ...