Logopolis

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

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Logopolis

Postby John on November 16th, 2009, 5:02 am

In my opinion, 1981 was not a majestic year for Doctor Who. John Nathan-Turner, having taken over from Graham Williams the previous year had been joined in the production office by script editor Christopher H Bidmead, and after seven years in the role, Tom Baker had made it known that he would be bowing out of the show at the end of season eighteen. Nathan-Turner and Bidmead shared the belief that the show had lost its way and needed to take a more scientific approach, and it was with this premise in mind that it was agreed that Bidmead would write Baker’s swansong, however the storyline that the script editor dreamt up proved to be little more than a confusing mish-mash of badly conceived ideas.

The previous story The Keeper of Traken, had the Master employing the services of a secondary TARDIS within his main TARDIS, and it was this use of multiple time machines that was the initial inspiration for Logopolis. Bidmead’s storyline was based upon the Doctor’s endeavours to repair his faulty chameleon circuit, and would have the Time Lord returning to Earth in order to take measurements of a real police box to assist him with the repairs, but how would that help? We already know that the TARDIS can emulate a police box with perfect precision, so why the need to take measurements? All that Bidmead’s fixation with the Doctor’s time machine achieved was an extremely dull first episode spent almost entirely in the TARDIS, a mistake that he would make again in the following story.

It is suggested in the story that the Master had advanced knowledge of the Doctor’s intention to repair his chameleon circuit, and that his quest would ultimately lead him to Earth. It is also suggested that the Master may have gleaned his information by telepathy. Even if we accept this theory at face value, it’s difficult to understand quite how the Master could have known the exact destination and point in time with such accuracy - and where exactly did this ‘trap’ fit in with his plans on Logopolis anyway?

Having discovered the Master’s infiltration of his TARDIS, the Doctor plans to materialise in the River Thames and open the doors thereby flushing the Master out of his hiding place. Surely the Doctor would have known that such a drastic strategy would prove ineffective as the Master would have the protection of his own TARDIS, and even if it had of worked, the damage to his own crafts systems would have been incalculable, not to mention the enormous clean up operation that would have been required to cleanse the TARDIS of fish, sludge and shopping trolleys.

Events eventually move to the planet of Logopolis where we are asked to accept that the fate of the entire universe is held in the balance by a group of elderly abaci wielding scholar’s speaking in tongues, and it isn’t long before a familiar face makes an appearance in the form of Nyssa, seemingly brought from Traken to Logopolis by the Watcher for no other reason than it happened to suit the production teams requirements.

And what exactly is the deal with the Watcher anyway? His presence and purpose is never adequately explained, and as such a manifestation has never appeared to a pre regenerative Doctor before or since, the necessity of his inclusion in this story is somewhat puzzling.

All told, Logopolis represented a dreadfully disappointing end to the fourth Doctor era. The plot is riddled with holes, superficial events and some of the worst acting I have ever seen. Matthew Waterhouse’s acting abilities are already well documented and his character would be a thorn in the side of any production, but Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton’s performances aren’t far behind, their cause being hindered by some dreadful dialogue. In fact Nyssa’s participation in the story is so limited that there was scarcely any point her being in it in the first place, indeed Nyssa’s discovery that the Master has killed her father and taken over his body, the one opportunity Sutton had to demonstrate her worth, was so watered down that any emotion that could have been derived from the scene was lost. Similarly the moment in which Tegan learnt of the fate of her Aunt Vanessa was so grossly down played that it passed by unnoticed. It was also a pretty ropey start for Anthony Ainley, who despite having made the character his own, faced an uphill battle in trying to top the charisma of the wonderful Roger Delgado. Saddest of all though was Tom’s subdued performance. The Doctor in this story is a pale imitation of the characters former glory, though this is not altogether surprising in view of the landmark this story represented and the massive step Tom was about to take.
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Re: Logopolis

Postby Toothy Grin on November 16th, 2009, 1:49 pm

I greatly disagree that Logopolis was a disappointing end to Tom's era. The story, while admittedly having a few lapses in logic and plot holes (and most stories have them anyway) is hugely atmospheric, very imaginative, complex and thoughtprovoking, with a threat to the entire Universe, and the return of the Doctor's greatest nemesis, the Master, it has everything his final story should have. I love the strange, unsettling atmosphere at the beginning, with the distant watcher, and the Master's prescence lurking in the shadows. The TARDIS within TARDIS scenario is cleverly done, and while Tom's performance is subdued, it's appropriate to the grim and desperate nature of the story, and he actually gives a stronger and more comitted performance here than in any of the other stories in season 18. His witty scenes with Adric at the beginning show a few hints of the old Tom, and he gets a truly heroic final battle and moving last scene. The music is fantastic too. Logopolis may be very unrepresentative of Tom's style of story, but is one of the most intriguing, unusual and absorbing stories, and I feel, was the perfect sort of story for Tom to bow out in.
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Re: Logopolis

Postby Jedi Princess on November 17th, 2009, 2:05 pm

I have to agree with John. It was very dull and the acting was appalling, especially in a story that made no sense half the time. And the 4th Doctor deserved a better way to go.
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Re: Logopolis

Postby merlinsseer on November 18th, 2009, 9:58 pm

' Entropy, is the slow, irreversible process of breakdown and decay whereby a complex, energetic system inevitably degrades into a simpler, more static one. '
The obvious theme that runs through this story is entropy. From the Doctor mentioning it in reference to the Tardis, to the universe itself suffering from it. It could also very strongly argued that this incarnation of the Doctor himself suffers from the effects of entropy . The Doctor is not healthy in mind, body, or spirit. He is thin and haggard, and very audibly groans when kneeing onto the floor to offer Adric " a leg up " to the top of the police box that they are measuring. He also seems depressed and very absent-minded, not at all on top of his game and makes mention of it himself several times in the story ," I have a feeling I'm over looking the obvious . " and " I'm an ignorant old Doctor and I've made a mistake .".
Any other time we would find the Doctor in his control room busy fiddling with knobs and switches, but not here. Here we find him pacing the chapel, muttering to himself about chameleon circuits and snapping at Adric for disturbing him.
This incarnation is suffering. This incarnation has entropy. This incarnation of the Doctor is dying, thus the appearance of the Watcher . The Watcher was more waiting than watching , but calling him "The Waiter " just sounds silly. What the Watcher is not expecting is that our incarnation of the Doctor is above all ,a very stubborn man, especially when the grim reaper comes knocking at his door. " I WILL NOT LOSE ! ! "
As for the story line- not a bad idea , but not a new one.
" In the nineteenth century, a popular scientific notion suggested that entropy was gradually increasing, and therefore the universe was running down and eventually all motion would cease. " Since this is not an essay that I'm being graded on ( I hope ) I won't bother with my source- you can look that up yourself.
The author of the story took that theory, twisted it around a bit , tossed it onto paper and called it science fiction. The idea of taking the entropy pollution and shoving it into another universe- also not new. People do this sort of thing everyday when they toss a burger wrapper out the car window while driving down the road. Lets keep in mind that Doctor Who is science fantasy. That was the beauty of it. It could go anywhere, anyplace, anytime. The idea that the Logoplians could maintain the universe or create matter by muttering numbers? Why not ? I've read and watched crazier things.None of this is real , nor will it ever be and sometimes you just have to go with it.
So the Doctor wants to flood the tardis to flush out the Master ? Remember the Doctor is not thinking clearly and even so, the tardis being the magical fantasy box that it is can handle this. If she can remodel herself , travel through E-space and out of space and time, I'm sure a few fish and shopping trolleys wouldn't be a problem.
The Master always feels a need to include the Doctor into whatever dastardly deed he has cooked up to take over the universe. It's his thing, it's what he does and it makes him a happy little villain to show the Doctor how bad he can be and dares him to stop it. The Doctor always takes that dare.That's the Doctor's thing, it's what he does.
Now, about those companion problems.....
Nyssa comes into this story after the Doctor receives a message from her seeking after her father and we are led to believe that the Doctor sends the Watcher to fetch her to Logopolis. It's HOW the Watcher brings her to Logopolis that is never explained. The Watcher must have a magic carpet rolled up in his Luke Skywalker gear that he is wearing. She then does... well...nothing , really, other than stupidly note that her father is younger and colder. Then tries to throttle Adric ( which needed to be done ) without a flicker of remorse . She doesn't even attempt to try to stop herself or look surprised about doing this until she tries to throttle the Monitor in the same way.
Tegan,( another bright bulb in this trio of boring companions that the production team was force feeding to the audience ) her voice is shrill , she is overly concerned with sweatshops and spends most of the story whining to get back home. I find this odd because at the first chance to getting closer to home ,she hops off the tardis to follow the Doctor for no reason other than " he's my ticket back to earth" . I also love the fact that she walks into a police box on the side of the road and immediately decides it's a ship and looks for a pilot. Go figure.
Adric , oh Adric . Smarmy is the first word that comes to mind, there are a few others but I'll try to be nice. If i were the Doctor and had Adric to look forward to as a companion, I would have begged the Master to throw me off the radar tower.
Mr. Baker gave a perfect performance for the mood and setting of the story. From the moment he see's the Watcher , he knows what's coming , he knows that he is going to die.
His performance was sad , tense and made your heart go out to the incarnation that was once so filled with life and laughter. That final wonderful grin as he lay dying under the tower - perfect. No tears, no long goodbyes- he hated goodbyes and we hated to say goodbye. I don't think we ever will.
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Re: Logopolis

Postby John on November 19th, 2009, 12:40 am

merlinsseer wrote:'The idea that the Logoplians could maintain the universe or create matter by muttering numbers? Why not ? I've read and watched crazier things.None of this is real , nor will it ever be and sometimes you just have to go with it.


I just can't go with that I'm afraid. The idea that the forces of nature can be influenced by mathematics is too preposterous even for Doctor Who. It's way too 'new series' for my liking. You've got to draw the line somewhere.

merlinsseer wrote:So the Doctor wants to flood the tardis to flush out the Master ? Remember the Doctor is not thinking clearly and even so, the tardis being the magical fantasy box that it is can handle this. If she can remodel herself , travel through E-space and out of space and time, I'm sure a few fish and shopping trolleys wouldn't be a problem.


But the TARDIS isn't a magical fantasy box, again that is a virtue of the 'new series'. Remodelling itself, and travelling through a vortex outside space time is what it was designed to do. I hardly think being filled with water was in the original design specifications, and can you imagine the havoc water would wreak on the TARDIS systems? Not to mention the mess, smell and destruction of all the Doctor's clothing and books etc. Being able to rectify disasters by pressing a button or waving a magic wand (or sonic screwdriver) is lazy writing.
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Re: Logopolis

Postby The Cloaked One on November 19th, 2009, 1:42 am

Have any of you ever played Dungeons and Dragons? Like this game, every series sets up its laws and physics for its players/watchers to see. Occasionally, a writer will toss in a vague item to cover for some plot holes that might arise. Calling the Tardis a 'magic box' is extending a bit beyond its normal boundaries. It's like in the new series, the sonic screwdriver suddenly becomes the cure for cancer, it's used on everything. Because we do not know the full capacities of either device, almost anything can be tossed on it by any writer and we just have to accept it. Usually there is a level of suspension of disbelief to curb items from going too extreme, but this does not stop all writers. One of my favorite examples was the fifth doctor. In his very first episode, the zero room was both suddenly introduced and ejected from the Tardis. Not only this, but the doctor also decides to burn out a quarter of the Tardis (which included the zero room), though it seems to have no other real impact on the story. Adding some functions to undefined objects can help, but an overdose on functions to compensate for a story, or to just confuse things even more, is just bad story writing.
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Re: Logopolis

Postby Captain Rum on November 19th, 2009, 5:50 pm

My favourite story by a mile, the first episode parts with The Doctor and Adric are brilliant, the concern on Tom's face when he spots The Watcher for the first time is a classic moment of Who history, as is the break up of Logopolis and the run up to Tom's regeneration.

I respect the view from others that it might have plotholes and/or they think it's poor, then again anyone could dissect anyone else's fave episodes and say and do the same thing, doesn't mean they are right. Thankfully not everyone is the same and we enjoy different things.

The Keeper Of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva trilogy is fantastic and personally I think Tom had a great send off.
"Aaaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhhh....me laddie!"

"You damned courtiers to the Queen, you're nothing but lap dogs to a slip of a girl!"

Hope to meet a nautical cove or two online to chat about Tom, "Who", etc :-)
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Re: Logopolis

Postby John on November 19th, 2009, 6:57 pm

Captain Rum wrote:I respect the view from others that it might have plotholes and/or they think it's poor, then again anyone could dissect anyone else's fave episodes and say and do the same thing, doesn't mean they are right.


There were plenty of implausible moments in some of my favourite stories, like Erato spinning an aluminium shell around a neutron star, or the Doctor putting top spin on the TARDIS and deflecting it off an asteroid like a cricket ball to name but two, the difference is season seventeen was a delibrate send up, wheras season eighteen was heralded as Doctor Who's return to it's scientific roots, but what I saw in Logopolis was anything but scientific, it was just a hotch potch of ideas linked in the most tenuous of ways.

Take the Master for instance. What exactly was he doing on Earth? If he was interested in gaining control of Logopolis why did he not just go there? It's clear that the only reason he was skulking about on Barnet By-Pass was to give substance to Bidmead's superficial TARDIS within a TARDIS concept.
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Re: Logopolis

Postby merlinsseer on November 20th, 2009, 4:15 pm

RUM-I don't think this is a poor story. It's not that bad a story at all but it does suffer from bad writing , almost like the script was hurried or it didn't translate well from story to script.
Maybe the writer had a great story but had huge hunks cut out or rewrote to fit the time schedule . The Doctor trying to explain block transfer to Adric and saying that it was all explained to him and, " they say it will work ! " and on the reason for muttering numbers , " i wondered that myself but never quite had the nerve to ask them ."-, both statements are vague answers that show that something is missing or the writer himself didn't understand his own ideas enough to explain them better. Quite frankly i can't see the Doctor ever lacking the nerve to ask anyone about anything he might wonder about .
JOHN-just for the record my sum total of experience with the new series is 3 1/2 episodes, so i haven't a clue what the tardis can do in the new D.W...I have now watched THIS episode 4 times looking for any reason other than the Doctor has gone totally bonkers as to why he would open up the tardis under water. He does say that they are only going to " partially materialize ". Maybe that makes some difference ?
Let me explain my " magical fantasy box " statement before you and The Cloaked One pick on me any further about that ( sticks tongue out - LOL ) In my mind all fiction is someones fantasy- the tardis is a totally fictional object created in someones fantasy . Magic ( not the harry potter kind ) is all about creating an illusion. The Tardis being bigger on the inside than the outside is an illusion created by transdimensional engineering ( also a a total fantasy ) therefore it is a " magical fantasy box ". I can't explain myself any better than that so I will fill that plot hole with the following statement .. " The ability to travel through space and time is a magical idea to a history buff like myself that feels totally out of place in my time and space. I want a tardis so i can get out of here."
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Re: Logopolis

Postby Captain Rum on November 21st, 2009, 2:17 pm

I respect everyone's views on this thread and all of them....don't worry guys I wasn't shouting and stamping my foot when I posted my previous post on here, I was just saying that it's true that we could all pick out things we like and don't like about every story.....to be honest that's one of the reasons why forums are so addictive, because everyone has an opinion and that everyone can voice it...doesn't mean we have to have custard pie fight everytime we disagree....actually, that's not a bad idea ;) :D

No, Merlinsseer and John, I enjoy your posts like I do everyone's on here, I look forward to coming onto the forum.

Another reason why I enjoy Logopolis is because of the scenes in the Tardis and also when Tom and Adric speak to the Watcher....you know that something big is going to happen and that it's more than just the last story for Tom, it also brought home to me as an 8 year-ol in '81 that you can sometimes lose your heroes...had it around the same time with Blakes 7 too, but it also shows that you can lose someone but that it always counts for something.
"Aaaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhhh....me laddie!"

"You damned courtiers to the Queen, you're nothing but lap dogs to a slip of a girl!"

Hope to meet a nautical cove or two online to chat about Tom, "Who", etc :-)
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