DW: Logopolis Review

DW Logopolis

Logopolis heralds the end of arguably the most iconic and popular version of The Doctor, but as usual with these early regeneration stories, it also features a few other firsts, namely the first appearances of Tegan and Anthony Ainley’s incarnation of The Master. Obviously neither are as significant as the death of the Fourth Doctor, but still interesting to note… which is good because a lot of this story isn’t all that interesting! Let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

The Doctor plans on going to Logopolis to repair the TARDIS’ chameleon circuit, though after a quick stop off on Earth. Meanwhile, his old enemy the Master has plans of his own for the planet of mathematicians, a plan that could spell doom for the entire universe….

The Doctor must pit his wits against the Master in a desperate battle to thwart his plans. But he is aware that this might be a fight that could easily spell the end of his life…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

DW Logopolis 2

Contained in this picture is pretty much everyone who has a line to speak…

The Doctor (Tom Baker) – A more melancholy and sombre Doctor is contemplating the inevitability of entropy before deciding to finally fix his chameleon circuit. First stop: Earth!

Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) – Young companion of The Doctor who hails from E-Space. Adric is a genius, so you’d think he’d love to go to Logopolis, but instead he had his heart set on seeing The Doctor’s home planet. Still, he’ll gladly tag along with the Doctor anywhere, though maybe the Doctor himself will end up wishing he had listened to him by the end…

Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) – Nyssa is from Traken and is currently on the look out for her father Tremas, who went missing shortly after The Doctor and Adric left her planet. Soon her father’s disappearance will be the least of her worries…

Tegan (Janet Fielding) – Tegan is looking forward to starting her job as an air stewardess, but a flat tire delays her journey. What else could go wrong, eh?

The Master (Anthony Ainley) – Having used the small measure of power that was given to him by becoming the Keeper of Traken to take over the body of Tremas, The Master is finally in a fresh, non-decayed body. Full of life once more, his first task is… to mess around with The Doctor, of course!

The Monitor (John Fraser) – The Monitor is the head of Logopolis and their endless calculations. He knows the dangerous truth, that if the Logopolitans stopped their sums the universe itself would be eradicated by a wave of entropy. You’d think this would be something he’d want to warn visitors about, but hey, what’s the worst that could happen!?

Plus more!

The Good:

DW Logopolis 3

Strange, I don’t think I remember Peter Davison looking like that…

I really enjoy the first episode. You have a very fun introduction to Tegan, who remains the one companion highlight of the story, The Master and The Doctor materialise themselves around an actual police box, causing The Doctor and Adric to get caught in a loop, then you have one of the few bits of the more funny Fourth Doctor as he tries to explain his way out of a situation with the police who soon arrive on scene. Plus we get the first glimpse of “The Watcher”, which is a good mystery the first time you watch it.

While I didn’t like how little Nyssa reacted to… everything, I do like the whole “Master has stolen her father’s body and sees it as a way to manipulate her rather than feel any remorse at all” part to it. Classic Master, who for the record, is great in this. Ainley is so over-the-top that it makes me smile. I do prefer the more laidback and arrogant Delgado, but this is fun too.

The last episode is also really good. The Master thinks he’s been clever but ends up kick-starting the end of the universe (whoops!) leading to The Master and The Doctor to team up, although the former soon betrays the latter… Then after another brief team-up we get an exciting confrontation between the two at the top of the Pharos Project dish where The Doctor saves the universe from the Master’s grasp at the cost of his own life, flashes of his past foes crossing in front of his eyes. Soon all of The Doctor’s friends arrive, along with flashes of past companion appearing before him, The Doctor regenerates by fusing with The Watcher, revealing that The Watcher was the future version of him, sort of… projected outwards before his death. Kind of still hard to get your head around, but after watching Planet of the Spiders just before this, I guess it’s a similar thing to what K’anpo did, just more crude.

Although I found a lot of the Logopolis-set story quite dull, I do at least like the idea of a society of people who just do complex maths to help the universe stay stable. The whole “Block Transfer Computation”, where you can create a physical thing by reciting pure mathematics, is a little more harder to understand, but is still an interesting idea.

The Bad:

DW Logopolis 1

No one likes to come down with a case of TARDIS shrinkage…

First things first, while I don’t mind the Fourth Doctor being occasionally moody, his snappy and depressed portrayal here just isn’t very fun to watch. You get the odd glimpse of his more fun self, but in general he’s pretty downbeat. I would understand more if he was his normal self until meeting The Watcher and finding out he’s going to die soon and that’s what put him in a foul mood, but he’s like this throughout the whole story. Adric doesn’t help by being over quizzical and enthusiastic (if I hear Adric say “but Doctor, the Cloister Bell!” one more time…) and Nyssa is just… empty. She emotes nothing, even when her entire planet is destroyed within the same hour she just found out that an enemy of her people is now walking around in her dead Dad’s body! In fact in the very next scene she’s smiling and joking with Adric! I get she’s supposed to be the more emotionless and intelligent type, but come on!

The middle two episodes set on Logopolis just aren’t very interesting. The scenery is dull, only one Logopolitan says anything, and most of that is equally dull, and it takes until Episode 3 for The Master to actually show himself and do things. It’s also amazing just how quickly Tegan not only accepts the crazy circumstances she’s found herself in, but how quickly she’s concerned for The Doctor’s safety and is desperate to help him! (that being said, at least she ran off crying when she found out her aunt was killed, take note Nyssa!)

The Continuity:

DW Logopolis 4

One of the more unique mid-regeneration screenshots in the show’s history!

Beyond the Fourth Doctor’s end and Tegan’s debut, this story directly follows on from “The Keeper of Traken”, complete with Nyssa looking for her father after The Master took over his body at the end of the story. The Monitor mentions that the Logopolitans have been holding back the death of the universe by using Block Transfer Computation to create Charged Vacuum Emboitments. One such CVE is what brought The Doctor and Romana into E-Space starting from the TV story “Full Circle”.

It’s rare for these earlier stories to directly reference the start of the show, but The Doctor and Adric talk about the TARDIS being stuck like a police box from Totter’s Yard, from the very first story “An Unearthly Child”.

Overall Thoughts:

Logopolis is a sandwich with great bread but a really unsatisfying filling. It’s starts off well and ends well, but does slow down in the middle. Still, at only four parts that’s still a good half of the story, and given that most of what I don’t like is just dull rather than actually bad, it’s a good story overall. I don’t think anything could live up to The Fourth Doctor’s end, but this at least gives him a decent send off.

4 Star Watch

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