The Leisure Hive

Talk about Doctor Who when Tom played the Doctor (1974 - 1981).

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The Leisure Hive

Postby Toothy Grin on August 26th, 2010, 3:57 pm

The Leisure Hive is one of the most stylish-looking stories of Tom's era, but I do find at times the direction is so flashy it almost seems to be showing off, at the expense of getting down and telling a good story. The opening shot is a case in point where we get an endless tracking shot of Brighton Beach and lots of beach huts. Stylish, but rather pointless. This was where everything changed for the Tom Baker era with the taking over of John Nathan Turner as producer and, watching The Leisure Hive, it seems like he wanted to change as much about the show as he could. Gone is the familiar title sequence and logo replaced with the (very eighties-looking and actually less impressive) starfield and neon tubular logo, the reasurring music of Dudley Simpson replaced with completely synthesized music, an almost total irradication of humour and a very muted Tom Baker, not to mention his change of costume to an all burgundy affair which, while very stylish, is far too uniform and just doesn't look natural on Tom.
It's actually the change in Tom which I find the most noticeable change about this last series, and The Leisure Hive is actually his most lethargic and dis-interested performance. He's still watchable of course, but the change in him is so glaring after his zany antics in season 17, that his muted performance here is quite a shock. Now this could have something to do with the fact that he was purportedly quite ill at the time of his last season, (and he does look it - thinner, haggered and hair beginning to grey) and also the conflict between him and the new production team, but he just doesn't seem the same person at all for most of his last season. Compare him in, say, City of Death to him in The Lesiure Hive and it's like he's aged 10 years and suffered several bereavements.
Anyway, the story itself is lovely to look at and the production values look a lot better than the last series. The music is very lush and atmospheric, although a little overbearing at times, and the costumes and acting are of a high standard. Having the Doctor be drastically aged further enhances Tom's tired and toned-down performance but the old age make up is very impressive. The story seems slightly rushed towards the end and the Foamasi are rather cumbersome-looking monsters (and just how do they fit those masks over their bulky frames?).
So, I find The Leisure Hive something of a case of style-over-substance but I do find the change in Tom somewhat depressing so it's not one of my favourite stories.
Toothy Grin
 
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