The short form review? Logopolis One of the best Fourth Doctor stories, hands down. The longer form review requires a couple more words to sing the show's greatness - so hang on.
Recommend this product?
First of all, let me catch up the new people in the audience. From 1963 to 1989 (and a couple of false starts thereafter) the BBC ran an immensely popular family program called Doctor Who. The main character is called The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He travels the universe in the TARDIS, a wondrous spaceship that can go anywhere in time and space - provided that the Doctor can steer it correctly. During his adventures, he and his companion (usually a young human female with weak ankles and good lungs) combat evil and injustice wherever they find it. Key to the longevity of the series - Doctor Who can do what the James Bond movies have done several times. When fatally injured, Time Lords have the ability to regenerate, totally changing their faces and personalities, allowing the ability to swap out the lead roll when the actor wants to leave the series. So there have been several Doctors with different faces (ten, so far), but all of them the same character.
Oh, and the name of the show is Doctor Who. The main character is simply called The Doctor.
The Doctor, weary of the TARDIS' distinctive Police Box shape takes steps to repair the chameleon circuit by landing on earth and measuring the dimensions of an ordnary everyday police call box. While there, he picks up a young air stewardess named Tegan Jovanka, who enters the TARDIS by accident, mistaking it for a real police box and needing some assistance. Unfortunately the Master has also arrived on the scene to befuddle the Doctor's plans by materializing his TARDIS around a police box which the Doctor then materialized around his TARDIS.
Got all that?
Meanwhile the Doctor receives word from a mysterious man in white that danger is afoot and the end is near. Thus forewarned, the Doctor hightails it to the planet Logopolis, where he hopes to enlist the aid of the mathematicians there to un-jam the chameleon circuit. However its not before long until the Master is running around and killing a number of the Logopolitans. Unfortunately tampering with Logopolis is tampering with the cornerstone of the universe - a result that occurs to the Master far too late to stop his schemes. Now the Doctor is forced to join forces with his arch-enemy in order to save the universe. . . . .
Ok, it sounds like a royal mess of a story - and honestly thinking about it as I typed it out here, it really is naff, isn't it.
I think what sells the episode so well for me is that concepts and the characters. Details like the Watcher of the Block Transfer Computation are fascinating stuff. The watcher takes an idea we've seen before (Cho-je from Planet of the Spiders) and puts a whole new spin on it, adding a layer of doom and gloom to the Doctor's fate. The mystery or just what the hell he's up to, the ambiguity of the character, no lines of dialogue, no direct interaction with the characters - but yet all coming together at the very end of the story nicely
And while I didnt mind the scientific concepts brought into season 18 by Christopher Bidmead, I loved the way that your pusdo-scientific nature of Logopolis and it's propose and how words and numbers and belief can shape the universe (an idea revisited in 2007's The Shakespeare Code, with the Carrionites). The idea that the Logopolitans are responsible for holding the integrity of the universe together with their incantations - and that the disruption of their work will mean the end of everything means that the Doctor gets one hell of a sendoff, with a suitably awesome threat to the entire cosmos. Again, we get a more heavy doom and gloom to the proceedings.
The serious atmosphere also weighs heavy on Tom, playing the Doctor in a very downbeat and somber mood. His reaction to the Master after finally going one step too far - even for one of his plots, the contempt he has for the villain, the expression on his face as the Doctor and Master shake hands - it's all memorable. This is not the goofy googly eyed Doctor we've known for the last seven years, but one with a determination to stop at nothing to put the Master's plans off the rails. Okay, the story may be crap, but Tom knows how to bow out in style.
I couldnt let the episode pass by without comment on the other half of the equation: Anthony Ainley. He's damn good in as the Master, invoking the charm and ruthlessness of Roger Delgado, manipulating Nyssa with a careless disregard for her (or in fact anyone's) life. He's clearly a villainous, despicable man without going into the camp that would infect the roll later on in the series.
It's also a turning point for the Doctor Master relationship - where there was an underlying remnant of friendship during the Pertwee era, the Doctor clearly has nothing but contempt for his old nemesis. With a trail of bodies light years long, with a holocaust unleashed on the universe, you can see it's all the Doctor can do to not lash out at the man every step of the way. Its a trend we would see continue for the remainder of the series, and its an aspect that makes the Doctor's feelings over the Master's death in Last of the Time Lords that much more poignant - he's so desperate for anything to cling to, that he'd even turn to someone like him.
Is it a perfect story? Not even close, but as the swansong to one of the biggest Doctors of all, its one hell of a memorable exit.
THE DVD -
Unlike the Keeper of Traken, Logopolis looked sharp and had good color, but had a ton of dirt that needed cleaning up, meaning a whole lot of touch up by hand. The end product looks damn fine, tho. There was also some sound artifacts that needed cleaning up - some studio noise, a bad microphone and that sort of thing - but it looks and sounds good.
THE EXTRAS -
Released as part of the New Beginning boxed set along with The Keeper of Traken and Castrovalva, we get deep selection of extras on all three stories.
Logopolis sports a commentary with Tom Baker and Janet Fielding - and with such two explosive and passionate (Ok, bullheaded and stubborn) personalities I expected some fireworks, but the track is pretty warm and friendly. Oh, and writer Christopher H. Bidmead gets caught in the middle..
There's a documentary on Tom's departure that lasts an hour, with interviews from Tom and Peter, of course - Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton and Adrian Gibbs, script editor Christopher H. Bidmead, directors Peter Moffatt and John Black. And while he had nothing to do with Doctor Who, I have to point out the narrator for the piece: Denis "I'm the guy who attacked TWO Death Stars and lived" Lawson.
There's a couple of vintage pieces from the BBC news magazine show Nationwide interviewing Tom Baker and a second interviewing Peter Davison on taking over the roll. There's also an interview from Pebble Mill at One with Peter. There's a handful of news stories from the BBC including reports on Tom and Lalla's wedding, the announcement of Tom's departure and Peter's arrival.
We get the episode bumpers, an isolated score (dandy, since I loved the soundtrack to this episode) a photo gallery and the 1982 Doctor Who Annual, the Radio Times listings for Logopolis and the BBC Enterprises Season 18 sales literature in PDF. And of course the subtitle production notes.
THE BOTTOM LINE -
Okay, if I'm being completely honest with myself, the story is complete crap that doesn't make a lick of sense and is needlessly obtuse. However, the tone and the style and the slick production and the acting all make up for this one basic flaw. Logopolismay not be the best story out there, but it's sure as hell a good episode.
OTHER DOCTOR WHO EPISODES ON DVD:
DOCTOR ONE -
The Beginning * Doctor Who and the Daleks * The Aztecs * The Dalek Invasion of Earth * Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. * The Web Planet * The Lost in Time Collection
DOCTOR TWO -
Tomb of the Cybermen * The Seeds of Death * The Mind Robber * The Invasion
DOCTOR THREE -
Spearhead From Space * Doctor Who and the Silurians * Inferno * The Sea Devils * The Three Doctors * Carnival of Monsters
DOCTOR FOUR -
Robot * The Ark in Space * Genesis of the Daleks * The Pyramids of Mars * The Robots of Death * The Talons of Weng-Chiang * Destiny of the Daleks * The Leisure Hive * The Keeper of Traken * Logopolis
DOCTOR FIVE -
The Visitation * Earthshock * Time-Flight * The Five Doctors * Warriors of the Deep * Resurrection of the Daleks * The Caves of Androzani
DOCTOR SIX -
Vengeance on Varos * Timelash * Mark of the Rani * The Two Doctors * Revelation of the Daleks
DOCTOR SEVEN -
Rememberance of the Daleks * Ghost Light * The Curse of Fenric * Survival * The Television Movie
THE NEW SERIES -
Doctor Who - Series One * Doctor Who - Series Two * Torchwood - Series One * Doctor Who - Series Three * The Infinite Quest
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