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Cavemen and spiders attack in droves, but all the Lost Boys can think about is giant melons

Doc and Romana have dropped off last week’s succulent-spooked accountant back on 1980’s Earth and are looking forward to a return trip to Gallifrey. Well, Doc is surprisingly chipper about the trip given what’s happened on previous visits, but Romana is worried that she’ll have to stop her TARDIS travels and settle down to some kind of “normal” life. All of that flies out the Gallifrey-displaying window when some kind of weird space wibble means the TARDIS and its crew get sent into a pocket universe where a lush planet is right slap bang at Gallifrey’s coordinates.

As Whovian lore would have it, said planet contains a tribe of humans who enjoy hot summers by the river but like to retire to the safe havens of their giant spaceship, the Starliner, when the strange-but-expected mists start to roll in. The mist brings with it a group of Swamp Thing cosplayers who really like the look of the Starliner and have invited themselves round for a cup of tea, a bit of clubbing and the general distribution of death and chaos.

 

Here's what we think of C112 Full Circle

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

2.8

Jim | @jimmythewho

1.8

Here's what we think of C112 Full Circle

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

2.8

Jim | @jimmythewho

1.8

Here's what you think 11 Responses to “C112 Full Circle”
  1. Ed Corbet

    “The Doctor doesn’t interact with his companions much in this story, which due to Tom’s variable moods (especially in his final series) may be a good thing. The companions each get their own plot-line: Adric’s is good as a companion introduction; Romana’s allowed her to play a semi-villain.

    The 80s electronic music detracts from the tension. That said, this theme tune is the one I grew-up with and it gives me a nostalgic buzz even today.

    The Swamp-Creatures looked quite good for the time (even with their Brussel-sprout heads), the spiders on the other hand, erm … not so good.

    In one scene the Swamp-Creatures pick-up and move the TARDIS, Romana later states it weighs “5 x 106 kgs”: that’s 5,000 tonnes! If a group of Swamp-Creatures can shift that, then all of them, should be able to tear that Star-liner apart.

    Romana’s actions of opening the hatch for the Swamp-Creatures led to the off-screen deaths of maybe dozens of people, and while she had diminished responsibility, she doesn’t seem to show even a hint of guilt or remorse (New Who’s companion’s characterisation is one area where it is indisputably better).

    I first came across Full Circle as a Target novel and remember it as one of my favourites. It releases information, building towards its twists (and good ones at that) at a decent pace (although mostly because the Deciders’ sense of drama won’t allow them to release crucial information).

    A solid story, recommended for any Who fan.

    3.8

  2. Steven from Canada

    Adric, oh Adric. While not the most universally liked character, is far from the annoying brat most people see him as. In this story I found him to be quite endearing… but then again I liked Dodo as a companion so my judgement might not be the best.

    Costumes as per usual are pretty great and the effects, in particular the miniatures are amazing.

    The music is excellent. Its synth and flute (while being so 80s you can taste the wood paneling and coke) work to give the story a mysterious yet fanciful atmosphere. (I must say I really dig it)

    This story had some great scenes. The marsh creature’s attempted escape from surgery was intense and the Doctor’s subsequent speeches was some of classic Who at its best.

    The death of Decider Draith was very reminiscent of the death of Artax in “The Never Ending Story” with Adric trying to pull him out like a less than competent Atreyu.

    Overall this story earns 4 watermelons… I mean “river fruit” out of 5.

  3. Kristaps Paddock

    Another mini-series like the Key to Time, and yes, I love this story! Sure, Adric is a drag, easily in the running for the worst companion of the classic series, but embrace the cheap horror vibes and there’s a lot to love here.

    The spiders, the mist, and the swamp monsters mashed up with the sci fi elements actually give it a post modern feel, even though, actually, it was just written by a teenager shoehorning in everything he wanted to see in a Who story. Yeah it’s a little bonkers, yeah it’s not brilliant, but I love it and won’t apologise. Four point zero.

  4. Peter Zunitch

    You all can go on like a band of bratty kids, personally I love this story. We have a beautiful alien world, marshmen, and spiders. The effects, both practical and visual are lovely. Items and props aren’t explained, they just are. The deciders are perfectly realized. Tom is outstanding. We’re given mentions storylines past and future, and we have a deeply philosophical script that prevents you from falling asleep because you’re still contemplating it.

    I’m not blind of course, there’s certainly some BEEF and cheese here. There’s some enthralling acting, but also some that isn’t. I have a similar love/hate for the music, depending on the scene. Romana is slightly sidelined, and her path not explained enough. A needed retro rewrite indeed. There’s also some connecting threads that need finer detail, and moments of “my, what a big coincidence you have”. Finally, while not ultimately necessary, a deeper explanation of how the Alzerians and Terradon survivors became one and the same people would have been appreciated. Unfortunately, all we get is a quick and inadequate line that’s actually quite hard to hear. Still it doesn’t detract from this being a wonderful tale.

    So now we’re back at this being amazing. By the end of the tale you realize that nothing you’ve seen is exactly what you thought it was. Can’t fix the ship if it already is. Can’t go home because you already are. There isn’t one major twist, there’s two, and that of course brings us “Full Circle”. 4.4

  5. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Full Circle marks the start of a 3-story arc set in E-Space. This is a good story to begin with possibly due to it having been written by 18yr old Andrew Smith, a young Doctor Who fan. It’s a good science-based story that gives The Doctor an opportunity to show he’s a force for good and demonstrate his (alien) humanity, especially with Dexeter’s treatment of the captured marshman. Romana also gets plenty of screen time and her own mini arc after being bitten by a pesky marsh spider. Side note – I think this story is why I’ve never liked watermelons!! Lalla Ward plays her role brilliantly throughout, especially at the start of the story when we get the foreboding news the Romana is to return to Gallifrey which means the she’ll soon be leaving us forever, but also when she’s possessed after the spider bite.

    We are also introduced to a soon-to-be new companion Adric. Sadly, Adric comes across as a right prick! Partly I think this is caused by Matthew Waterhouse being a relatively new actor and not receiving much support from the director, but in most part it’s how he’s written. He comes across as half arrogant smart-arse and half wimpy scaredy-cat and he’s really annoying!

    Also annoying are the other Outliers, who see themselves as radical revolutionaries but in fact come across as spoilt toddlers throwing a tantrum because they can’t have another bedtime story!

    The marshmen look great especially when they first rise out of the swamp – very creature from the black lagoon – but their characterisation reduces them to the usual trope of slowly shuffling about totally removing any hint of menace, resulting in a massive missed opportunity. Also, they’re over lit later in the story again meaning their menace is reduced.

    The Deciders are totally infuriating with their inability to make any decision at all, and it’s great when the Doctor chastises them for the procrastination! Both ours and the Doctor’s greatest disgust is reserved for Dexeter – who goes full on Josef Mengele, performing experiments on the living and conscious Marshman!

    Likes:

    • The Doctor says he’s looking forward to seeing Leela, Andred and K9 Mk1 again
    • The location and effects around mistfall are particularly good and really make you believe it’s an alien planet.
    • The Starliner interior sets give of a definite Blakes 7 Liberator vibe.
    • When the Doctor tells Adric to cross his fingers – a lovely literal interpretation.
    • It’s great that there’s no actual villains in this serial and the story is all based around the evolution of the Alzarians.

    Beefs:

    • Romana indicates in the conversation with Adric the Tardis is very, very heavy, yet apparently half a dozen Marshmen can carry it up a mountain to cave?!
    • The marshmen trying to break into the Tardis looks awful!
    • The spiders! The look pretty cool – until they move – then they look rubbish!
    • The Alzarians are continually replacing parts – where are they coming from? They’ve been replacing them for generations – that’s some spare parts store they’ve got somewhere? If they’re using old parts how come no one else has twigged that it’s a pointless exercise?
    • How many Alzarians does it take to change a lightbulb (or an optronics circuit)? There’s an awful lot of people simply ‘supervising’

    Overall, Full Circle is an interesting serial with little padding. It’s nice to have serial that is more science based and not relying on a megalomaniacal villain. The E-Space trilogy is not a set of serials I regularly revisit, but on re-watching for writing this review I didn’t hate it, although if Adric and the outliers had been rewritten I’d have enjoyed it more! Also, I’m missing the humour which has been so much of a part of Tom Baker’s tenure – there are snippets but not enough to satisfy.

    I award this story 3.0 Charged Vacuum Emboitments out of 5

  6. Kirstin Dougherty | @oneeyewillie80

    For me Full Circle is a bit underrated. I think many don’t think highly of it because it introduced one of the least liked companions in Classic Who history, Adric.

    Likes:

    • The scene with the Marsh Creatures coming out from the water is fantastic.
    • The Doctor scaring the Marsh Creatures with K9’s head. (I think it would have been hilarious had they let Tom Baker bark like he wanted to)
    • The Doctor’s interaction with the Marsh Child.
    • The bit when the Doctor goes batshit crazy on the Deciders when Dexeter performs an inhumane and cruel experiment on the Marsh Child.
    • Romana swatting at the Doctor like she was a cat when she was possessed
    • The Doctor has some great lines:
      “Why can’t people be nice to one another, just for a change.”
      “Adric! What is this, Noah’s ark?”

    Dislikes:

    • The group of rebel teenagers can’t act at all. Like Seth and Teka in the Horns of Nimon, I ended up not giving a shit whenever they were on-screen.
    • The Deciders who can’t decide. I liked Logan, but the other two were asshats.
    • K9 getting his head chopped off.
    • Romana’s Fugly bedroom. It’s no wonder she destroyed it when she was possessed.
    • The extremely fake looking spiders.

    All in all an enjoyable story with some bratty kids one of which sadly stays.

    3.9/5

  7. Matt Tiley | @Matt1701e

    So Full Circle…could this be the only time that the story title is referenced three times by its own characters?
    So we enter E-Space, and start a series of stories that I adore. From here to Castrovalva, (with the one exception of Warrior’s Gate) are excellent.

    Full circle aired in 1980, I was 10, and probably the perfect age to be watching Dr Who. It was written by the then 17 year old Andrew Smith, something that I remember being amazed at.

    I’m sure you have discussed the story, so I won’t. I’ll just get onto my likes and loathes… or beefs.

    Likes

    • Tom and Lalla seem to have some more positive energy in this one, which fares for much more enjoyable performances. Wait until the next story when they seem to be having a REALLY spikey time.
    • Tom’s comedic moments.
    • Alzarius looks beautiful.
    • I remember the spiders freaking me out. “They’re only spiders…..’ mocked Romana – yes with two inch bloody fangs and glowing fucking eyes!

    Beefs

    • The Marshmen costumes aren’t great – at one point you can see an obvious tear in the armpit of one of the actors. Also they have little saggy titties, and some dodgy white jizz around their mouths.
    • The Deciders’ courtroom: It’s furnished with plastic stacked milk crates decorated with coloured card. This annoyed me at 10!
    • Dodgy purple lighting during exterior scenes(!).

    I still love this though, and it’s a solid 4 out of 5 for me.
    Keep smiling!

  8. Nick aka The Doctor

    Hi whobackwheners

    My full circle review. The circle is not full in my opinion

    This is the first of the iconic e-space trilogy. In my opinion though this is the weakest one. Also this is the introduction of the much maligned ‘I think I’ve pulled the wrong lever’ Adric. I’m not massively enamoured about this story. I like the idea of a crashed ship in E-space. I like the triumphant K9 music which keeps happening intermittently.

    As a biased S18 freak this is quite memorable and of the age. I like the monsters of the week. Although those marshmen do end up trashing a library. Do they have no respect for literature? What else? Romana is great in this ep. She makes a pact with the creatures and ends up turning into a savage. Cool. Doc is ok, especially with the K9 head. Not much else to say 3.0,

    Best
    Nick

  9. Paul Waring | @pwaring

    Full Circle is a mixed bag of a story for me. I really like the idea of three different evolutionary stages of the same species existing at the same time on the same planet, but all being afraid of each other. E-Space is an interesting concept as well, although it doesn’t have much effect on the plot and the story could easily have taken place in N-Space. The endless preparation by replacement of working components on the ship because no one knows how to fly it was also a novel idea.

    On the downside, this story introduces the most annoying companion in Classic Who (spoiler: yes I’m afraid Adric does return in the next story). Insufferably smug about his mathematical excellence badge and his rapid healing, and with his general “I’m better than anyone else” attitude, Adric lacks any redeeming features.

    As always, there are a few questions left unanswered. Why has Romana been summoned to Gallifrey now? If she was only supposed to help with the Key to Time, she should have returned ages ago. Why is Adric given a homing device when he’s not part of the TARDIS crew, and they only met him a few minutes earlier? Why are negative coordinates so difficult?

    Overall, this is a story with plenty of interesting concepts, but not one that I return to often. 3/5

  10. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Full Circle – Very Mini Mini (Mainly because I don’t quite know what to make of this very odd story)

    • Adric’s and K-9’s themes are funky.
    • Adric is slightly Wesley Crusher irritating, but I vividly remember what happens to his character, so some respect is due…
    • Stealing watermelons, wow, these rebels are hardcore!
    • K-9 following the Marshmen. Subtle K-9, subtle.
    • K-9’s Head! Oh my goodness!
    • “They’re only spiders!” Romana, they look horrific.
    • Morons of the Week Award has shifted from the dumb UNIT soldiers in Zygon Invasion to the Deciders who don’t know how to fly their own friggin’ ship. Come on! You know every technical aspect but never discovered the flight controls! IDIOTS!
    • So the humanoids are, erm marshmen, from eating the spider fruit? Erm, What?

    Summary: an ethereal, but forgettable story that makes no sense.

    Rating: 2.1/5 watermelon stealing rebels being bumped off by marshmen with logs. Crunch.

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C113 State of Decay