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Doctor Who - The Leisure Hive

episode 110

UK 1980
produced by
John Nathan-Turner, Barry Letts (executive) for BBC
directed by Lovett Bickford
starring Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, David Haig, Adrienne Corri, John Collin, Ian Talbot, Nigel Lambert, David Allister, Laurence Payne, Martin Fisk, Roy Montague, John Leeson (voice)
written by David Fisher, script editor: Christopher H.Bidmead, music by Peter Howell

Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Tom Baker), Doctor Who (classic series), K9

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The Doctor (Tom Baker) & Romana (Lalla Ward) are trying to go for a holiday, but after their stay in Brighton Beach resulted in their robot dog K-9 (voice: John Leeson) being blown up when going into the water (there is no further explanation, obviously robot dogs just explode when entering the sea ...), they decide to go to the relative safeness of the recreation planet Argolis, otherwise known as the Leisure Hive.

Of course though not all is as it seems: After their war against the Foamasi 40 years ago that essentially destroyed their planet & only made in inhabitable in the shielded city called the hive, 

The Argolins have become sterile from the radiation & therefore a dying race. So the lady Chairman Mena (Adrienne Corri) has decided to bet on time manipulation with tachionic technology to rejuvinate Argolis' people - but the earth scientists she has hired to do that prove to be frauds: Stimson (David Allister), who helped finance the research proves to be a conman while his partner Harding (Nigel Lambert) is essentially a benevolent but misguided scientist in desperate need of funding.

But if that wasn't enough, earthmen Brock (John Collin) & Klout (Ian Talbot) try to buy the Argolins out of their own planet due to financial difficulties & sell it to their erstwhile enemies, the Foamasi - much to the dismay of especially Pangol (David Haig), son of the Argolin chairwoman.

It seems however that the Doctor & Romana, specialists in the manipulation of time since they are Timelords, are able to sort things out with the tachionic apparatus ... but not to everyone's liking, as someone has killed Stimson & pinned the murder on the Doctor.

As punishment the Doctor is forst to be the test dummy for the new rejuvenation machine ... & comes out centureis older. & then even some Foamasi (weird reptile creatures) show up, but ionstead of trying to make war they merely are here to arrest Brock & Klout, who are not earthmen at all but renegade Foamasi wanting to win a final vicory over the Argolins ...

& wouldn't you know it, this is where the problems begin, it turns out that Pangol himself has sabotaged all the efforts to make the rejuvenation machne work to see his mother die, take over from her and use the technology of the Leisure Hive to make himself an army of Pangols.

Of course though the doctor interferes & instead of an army of his clones, Pangol gets an army of unstable Doctor-clones (which by the way also rejuvenates the Doctor again), & he manages to get both Pangol & his mother (who is by now at the verge of dying) into the now functional rejuvenation machine, & while Mena comes out considerably younger, Pangol comes out a mere baby ...


The Leisure Hive marked the premier of John Nathan-Turner as the Doctor Who's producer & his idea to revamp the show (by now already in its 18th season) manifold: The beautiful Ron Grainer title song was rearranged, the title sequence re-shot - both in a very eighties way -, Tom Baker's typically casual costume consisting of baggy old coats, older hats & a colourful scrarf, was updated & given a very carefully designed all-dark-red look (thjat didn'T sit too well with his rather casual handling of the role), & the jokes, the absurdity & the genre bending of previous seasons (especially season 17, when Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker's Guide through the Galaxy-fame was script editor) were thrown out for very straight science fiction stories with a much more restrained Tom Baker in the central role (he quit after season 18).

Of course, the concept didn't really work, starting with the title- song & -sequence that almost immediately sounded more dated than its predecessors, also the absence of humour did make a convoluted & utterly silly story like this one rather unbearable. Also budgetary restrints were a litle too obvious to make this one work:The reptile-like Foamasi-costumes were some of the worst reptile costumes ever (looking rather like very bad homemade Halloween costumes), & the whole concept of a recreational planet for tourists that is fought over is just thrown away when that planet proves to be nothing more than a few corridors. & the restrained Tom Baker is not exactly satisfying, for if you want a restrained performance, why have an actor like Tom Baker, an outrageous but highly enjoyable ham in his own right, in the first place ? ... as a consequence, in season 19, Tom Baker was replaced by Peter Davison (of All Creatures Great and Small-fame), a fine actor in his own right, but definitely lacking the weird Doctor-persona.

But why all this ? Rumour has it that John Nathan-Turner saw this the only way to compete with the highly forgettable (& today thankfully forgotten) Buck Rogers in the 25th Century-tv-series, which aired on ITV  the same time Doctor Who aired on BBC - & was luring away its audiences ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


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directed by
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written by
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out now on DVD