Not a particularly brilliant storyline for Tom Baker to go out on, but I think he’d well had enough of the part by them – so time to say farewell. I always liked the master stories as well, before they decided to make him and the doctor relatives that is.
‘I’m going to fix the Chameleon Circuit by using Block Transfer Computations’.’Oh that’s clever’.’Yes, you see, Block Transfer Computations…”No, I was being sarcastic. You know you’re not really going to fix the Chameleon Circuit, so as a narrative device, it’s a bit redundant, you might as well say you’re going to flush The Master out by filling the TARDIS with the Thames’.’Oh’.Well, that’s the start; there had to be a better excuse to land the TARDIS next to the the one remaining Police Box on the Barnet Bypass (even though it had just been removed, so the BBC had to use a prop!), which was a nice opening, with the ambivalent Watcher watching, and then the Master interferes, starts condensing policemen and Auntie Vanessa, and we get TARDIS inside TARDIS inside TARDIS, which is such a neat idea, it’s really a shame thewy didn’t do more with it, but no, after a brief stint by the Thames (more Watcher, lovely…) we’re off to Logopolis to do hard sums.I can’t quite understand why, with a machine like the TARDIS containing all sorts of clever gadgets, they need to go all the way to Logopolis to get hard sums done, but heck, let’s go anyway.Nice set. Nice costumes. It’s only taken two episodes to get there, and it’s a good job it looks nice because once you’ve explained the concept of all the Logopolitans chanting numbers to stop the universe falling to bits (even if some of the Logopolitans are painted on the backcloth) it’s not a terribly exciting place, and I don’t find the Entropy thing in the least bit credible.In terms of ‘it’s all a bad dream’ the Master cunningly destroying Logopolis is actually good drama (and by gum, the story could do with some) but it’s not a dream; we’re meant to believe this.So Logopolis falls down, and we have to go to the Pharos Project in Cambridge to do some more hard sums and save the universe and as a result the Fourth Doctor falls off a radio telescope and dies, turning into the Watcher, who really was the Dr all long.I don’t know, it’s not such a great tale really; there’s a lot of faffing about even if the tone is solidly funereal throughout, and the last stand of the fourth Doctor, well it’s a bit banal really falling off a gantry, compare to the curtain calls of the first three it’s a cheap little exit for a Doctor of Tom Baker’s stature. He deserved the Richenbach Falls, however much of a pain in the neck he’d made himself (as The Making Of explains) to those that had to work with him.In the Making Of Frontios, CHB explains how pleased with himself he was for all the things he did with the TARDIS. Nice one, Mr Bidmead, I’m glad you feel you can be proud of them.3 stars, and that’s being generous. Tom’s exit should have been much better.
In October 1980, during the autumn half term holiday, I heard on BBC Radio One’s lunchtime show Newsbeat that Tom Baker was to leave the role of Dr Who and that his successor might be a woman!Interesting. I hadn’t watched Dr Who for about 4 years at the time – Horror of Fang Rock in September 1977 was one of the last ones I recall. The reasons for this were partly personal and partly to do with the show itself. In my early teens, I took more interest in music and girls rather than what TV’s famous time traveller was up to. In addition, I hadn’t quite taken to Tom Baker as I had done to Jon Pertwee and possibly the insuing changes in stories due to change in producer led me to give the show a rest for a while.On hearing that item on Newsbeat, however, my curiosity was reawakened and I started wondering what Dr Who was like in 1980 and wonderful memories returned of Saturday teatimes in the early Seventies with Jon Pertwee driving Bessie, confronting giant maggots in Wales or Drashigs in Essex accompanied by Jo Grant and the Brigadier.However, I still didn’t manage to watch any of Tom Baker’s final season, but caught up with the series in November / December 1981 as The Five Faces of Dr Who was screened and offered a chance for some nostalgia as well as how the series had changed in the last 4 years. I was actually unaware that the selected Tom Baker story for The Five Faces was in fact his last, thinking it was possibly just one from his final season.Logopolis, then, was an interesting story to watch without initially knowing it. Full credit must go to the script editor for his policy of introducing harder science into Dr Who, as opposed to the fantasy based stories I was familiar with. Now, the listener had to concentrate on the script to grasp what was going on. This might not have been everybody’s idea of what Dr Who was about, but I found it an interesting and refreshing slant on the show.Logopolis is bookended by two great location shoots – I am always wondering if I have been there myself – and corner-posted by four “The” characters: The Monitor, The Watcher, The Master and of course The Doctor. Part 1 opens on the bypass road to Barnet which reminded me of the Earth-bound stories of the Pertwee era I had been so fond of. Filming took place here in December 1980 which is a time I always associate with the murder of John Lennon, so the bleak and obviously cold weather seen here creates a suitably funereal atmosphere perfectly suited to the times. The presence of the police constable at the police box in the opening scene reminds me of the very first Dr Who episode back in 1963 and then comes a reference to Totter’s Yard – also from “An Unearthly Child”.Adric has some good material to work with in these intial scenes, providing the viewer with the necessary information regarding block transfer computation and gravity bubbles. The Russian doll concept applied to the TARDIS is indeed inspired and as every Dr Who fan knows, budgets were always tight on the programme, so the use and reuse of the same scenery to create this effect is understandable. The cloister scenes coupled with the tolling of the bell and the organ incidental music harks back to the gothic-style stories of the early Baker years. The “Is this your vehicle sir?” routine with the detective inspector I find quite amusing and carries over well into Part 2 with the line “There’s gotta be a trick to this Davis.”The expression on the Doctor’s face having first seen The Watcher is far from how Tom Baker would have been described as he initially took on the role: goggle-eyed and toothy grin. Here, it is as if he has seen death itself. It was at this point that I started to suspect that this just might be the final story for Tom Baker.As Christopher H Bidmead admits in the audio commentary, there is too much emphasis in Part 1 placed on the repair of the red sports car but I find this the only padding in the story. Part 2 brings the unbelievable attempt to flush The Master out, but at least it offers a super location shot of the TARDIS on a docked ship in the Thames, under Albert Bridge on which stands The Watcher. As an astute commentator pointed out in a featurette on another DVD, the Doctor’s sighting of The Watcher here is akin to that of poet Shelley seeing himself on a balcony pointing out to sea before he drowned. There follows one of the great lines with which Tom Baker is able to pepper his final story: “Nothing like this has ever happened before” he says and following the meeting with The Watcher, he seems to have no alternative but to set the TARDIS controls anew. Destination: Logopolis.Despite the rather stagey appearance of the planet, this is more than made up for by The Monitor whose Shakespearean performance I find refreshing to the story. The shrinking TARDIS is another interesting concept, although not a first for the show…
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