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Doctor Who - Logopolis

episode 116

UK 1981
produced by
John Nathan-Turner, Barry Letts (executive) for BBC
directed by Peter Grimwade
starring Tom Baker, Janet Fielding, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Anthony Ainley, John Fraser, Dolore Whiteman, Tom Georgeson, Adrian Gibbs, Peter Davison
written by Christopher H.Bidmead, script editor: Christopher H.Bidmead, music by Paddy Kingsland

TV-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Tom Baker), Doctor Who (classic series), The Master, The Master (Anthony Ainley), Doctor Who (Peter Davison)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Who (Tom Baker) and his annoying juvenile sidekick Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) are off to Logopolis, where the Doctor wants the Chameleon Circuit of his TARDIS fixed. (For all those not into Doctor Who: the TARDIS is the Doctor's timemachine which can also move through space freely, and The TARDIS' Chameleon Circuit is the circuit that's supposed to have the TARDIS blend in with its surroundings. With the circuit broken though, the TARDIS just looks like an old fashioned London Police Box - since London was the place the circuit last worked.) For some reason though, they go to Logopolis via earth, where they accidently pick up stewardess Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) and the Doctor's arch enemy the Master (Anthony Ainley), who hides his TARDIS somewhere in the Doctor's TARDIS to go to Logopolis as a stowaway - rather than go there directly.

On Logopolis, the Monitor (John Fraser) has the planets mathematicians figure out a calculation to make the Chameleon Circuit work - Logopolis as a whole doesn't believe in computers, it's rather the planet's mathematicians (and everyone here's a mathematician) calculating everything in their head in a concerted effort, which makes the planet a big computer, actually -, but the Master has cunningly killed one mathematician and substituted one variable in the equation ... which makes the Doctor's TARDIS shrink. Sure, the Monitor is quick enough to correct the mistake, but the Master's goals are actually much loftier - he wants to throw the universe into a state of entropy, which will eventually eat up all of the universe ... and he can do that by just killing a few of Logopolis' scientists and change a few variables around.

Soon, Logopolis itself is falling to pieces, and to save the universe, the Doctor and the Master save an uneasy alliance and decide to save the universe by using the giant radio dish of the Pharo Project.

But of course, while the Doctor wants to simply save the universe because he's the good guy, the Master wants to blackmail the universe ... why ? You guessed it, because he is the bad guy.

... and soon, the Master has the fate of the universe in his hands, until the Doctor disconnects whatever device the Master uses to do whatever he does from the radio dish - with the effect that the Doctor falls off the radio dish to his death, but of course he doesn't really die but regenerates (and becomes Peter Davison) like all Timelords (and the Doctor is a Timelord) regenerate ...

For some reason, Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) from last episode, The Keeper of Traken, was worked into the story, but she has no real narrative purpose - however, she and Tegan will from now on accompany the Doctor as additional sidekicks ...

 

Tom Baker's very last episode as Doctor Who, and it starts out great: Even though there is very little plot in the first half of the episode, it gives Tom Baker plenty of opportunity to do what he does best - hamming it up like nobody's business but always with the tongue firmly in cheek. When the story then heads off to Logopolis itself, it still contains plenty of fun ideas, like Logopolis, the planet that's a living computer, with even the set-designs of the planet - often Doctor Who's weakness - looking incredibly nice. However, when the actual story sets in (circa halfway through the episode), the whole thing quickly loses steam, with the actual story being a bit silly, most of the subplots - like those about Nyssa, about Tegan and about a creature called the Watcher (Adrian Gibbs), who turns out to be the Doctor himself - are totally unnecessary (for this episode anyways, not for the series' continuity), and Tom Baker's death scene is rather a disappointment - couldn't anyone have come up with anything better than him falling off a radio dish after having become the most popular of all Doctor Whos ?

Still, the positive aspects of the episode outbalance the negative ones, and it's certainly among the better 1980's episodes.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD