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Doc and Romana team up with the single-greatest comb-over in E-Space to battle a Big Daddy Vampire

Still stuck in E-Space, The Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9 are on the lookout for a way back home. Stumbling upon a planet with a population of maybe thirty people at most, who have barely even discovered astrology, they decide to land and see if anyone can point them in the direction of the nearest CVE.

There they find the cast of ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ living in a rocket-shaped castle, ruling over the nearby village of inbreds and occasionally stealing some of them away to drain them of their blood. Because it transpires that an ancient giant vampire king from Gallifreyan legends is trying to return to N-Space, too.

And to make matters far far worse, a child actor has stowed away aboard the TARDIS.

Here's what we think of C113 State of Decay

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

4.1

Jim | @jimmythewho

2.0

Here's what we think of C113 State of Decay

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

4.1

Jim | @jimmythewho

2.0

Here's what you think 10 Responses to “C113 State of Decay”
  1. Steven from Canada

    Boy this is just the set up for the Time Meddler but with vampires… and I love it!

    From Tardis stowaways to out of place technology this story has it all.

    The story is a great return to the genre in which Tom Baker works best: gothic horror. This story has enough atmosphere to raise Bram Stoker from his grave.

    The mysteries were intriguing, but a bit predictable. (I jokingly guessed the tower twist the first time it was shown just from the shape of it.)

    But with all the mystery in this story one question prevails: How in E-Space did Adric know about cheese?!?

    Overall this story earns 4.5 Tacky Tardis Ticker-tape machines out of 5.

    Steven from Canada

  2. Ed Corbet

    Doc and Romana work well together in this story and their back and forths were quite entertaining. Adric works fine and has the gumption to play-along with Aukon, rather than get himself sacrificed.
    I liked how the Vampires were written; they have a clear hierarchy, Zargo discusses his self-doubt and fear with Camilla. They are people who became Vampires and then adopted their traditional trappings over the years.
    The special effects were varied; the model of the “castle” was relatively good, but you could see the stars through the TARDIS in the first exterior shot.
    After their jail-break, the Doctor decides to enter the inner-sanctum and tells Romana to go back to the TARDIS. She tells him to go back instead and Doc goes “Okay, see ya!” and he can’t be gone fast enough. He then reads till-receipts for 2 hours and heads to the rebel HQ. Romana went into a Vampire lair and has not returned: he shows no concern. In Pyramid of Mars, Tom sells this aloofness as Doc’s dire need to defeat Sutekh; 5 years later, Doc’s aloofness is because Tom’s not as bothered.
    This is Hammer horror meets Doctor Who and the main villain meets a suitably over-the-top death. Overall I enjoyed this, but there are too many things wrong with it to be able to call it good (e.g. the crappy plastic vampire toy; a shot guard falls down and then rolls into a more comfortable position).
    A middling story, don’t expect too much.
    2.7

  3. Peter Zunitch

    Many times in the past I’ve complained about stories having little action for too long. This one is no exception. However what this one lacks in action it more than makes up for in mood. The most obvious analogy is Vampires of Venice. Hands blocking ears, eyes and mouth down this story is far superior.

    The mood is so effectively built upon from the eerie locations to the stunning costumes and the haunting music, it’s a gothic adventure in overdrive. If you had previous misgivings about Tom and Lala, this story assures all that they are still perfectly capable of bringing out the best in one another. Historically, many people found Adric grinding. I don’t get that. He complains a lot, but show me a teenager who doesn’t. He also brings a fresh youthfulness to the show. So fresh and so young, I think he should be sacrificed to the all powerful blood-sucking… sorry, sorry, got a bit carried away.

    We really should sacrifice the time lady. SORRY! sorry.

    Anyway, this story checks all the boxes of a perfect fright. Medieval castle, check. Changing the clothes of the hypnotized sacrifice, check. Villians dressed up as a deck of cards, check. Every shot is a portrait, check. Bowships, how cool is that! Spooky forest filled with digital sounding rubber bats that fall off the fishing pole in front of the actors and they keep the take anyway, you betcha! Scifi and Goth. This story gets full fuel tanks of blood from me. 4.8

  4. John Knight | @KnightWriter80

    State of Decay is easily my favourite part of the E-Space Trilogy.

    The story is fun and interesting, there’s some great quotable lines, and the music Is excellent. The story lacks some of the terror from Full Circle but adds some light gore in its place. If I recall correctly, this is the Vampire story we almost got during the Leela era, but I feel Lalla’s loveable Romana character does a fine job in this story.

    The E-Space Trilogy as a whole is a perfect peak it starts to build (Full Circle), reaches it’s highest point (State of Decay), and then it’s downhill from here…(Warriors Gate…you’ve been warned). It’s very much like the original Star Wars Trilogy in that way, but I digress.

    I’m glad to have caught up with this show again and would like to openly re-emphasize how comfortably one can revisit older episodes of this podcast and still find joy in the experience. Very nicely done, my good fellows!

    Despite my preference for this story compared to the ones on either side, it’s not necessarily one that is easy for me to pinpoint a fair rating for…but my brain kept telling me a number, and I’m sticking with it: 3.9 out of 5

  5. Kristaps Paddock

    Why did it take so long to get a simple vampire story in Who? Fortunately, when it did come they really smashed it. This does pick up some of the spaceships and peasants vibe from Full Circle, but it’s far more effective here, and where in Full Circle, you have to embrace the trash to love it, here you need just allow yourself to melt into the velvet of a vampire’s embrace.

    Much like the spaceship in the story itself, the sci-fi elements are embedded into a rich gothic horror story, replete with vampire lords, a forbidden castle, and peasants called into its gates, never to return. It has Lady Bathory written all over it. Tom Baker has loads of fun and it’s a decent Romana story as well, but the less said about Adric the better (just wipe him from your mind). This story was originally scheduled to be produced in 1977, but was shelved, and it’s clear why they came back to it. The story simply sparkles. Four Point Two.

  6. Matt Tiley | @Matt1701e

    Here we are then…..the filling in the E-Space Trilogy – State of Decay.

    The Doctor and Romana land on the planet Hammer Horror, in the hope of finding a way back to N-Space. Instead they are embroiled in a world of peasants and vampires, and probably one of the Time Lord’s Biggest Bads Ever!!!!

    Imagine it….giant marauding Space Vampires hunted by Time Lords astride Bow Ships, giant metal bolts, firing. Yes, this is a classic case of Who overreach. The thought is there…and in our minds eye, we can see the splendour….but we don’t get anywhere near it on screen.

    Apparently Ward and Baker were not speaking by this time. The only thing they were united in was their hatred of poor Matthew Waterhouse. Happy set then!

    Treats include a gloomy, atmospheric set….fantastic miniatures, lots of TARDIS scenes….THAT giant hand….and Orcon’s insatiable hardon for Adric.

    Beefs include bats LITERALLY on a shoe string, the dodgy giant vampire as seen through the scanner and Adric. Who thought that horribly smug line “This is the one time when the goodies don’t win” was a good idea? Christ on a bike! This was Matthew Waterhouse’s first filmed episode – and it shows. He is abysmal.

    I still loved it though. The sense of impending doom on the build up to Tom’s exit is delicious, and is only built upon between now and Logopolis. Season 18’s theme is definitely decay, entropy and foreboding. Fantastic.

    4.1 out of 5. Beware the Wasting! Or the Waster (Adric).

  7. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Hi Leon, Jim and Podcastland,

    Here’s my State of Decay review

    (MAXI)

    Doctor Who once again delves into gothic horror for this story and we’re treated to a pretty good vampire tale. Penned by Doctor Who stalwart Terrence Dicks, according to the DVD commentary it was actually written as a Doctor/Leela story. It was shelved, because at that time the BBC had done a new Dracula adaptation and the Doctor Who production team were told not to make any shows with vampires in, for fear of people thinking they were sending it up. JNT apparently discovered the script whilst looking through a pile of old scripts and decided to resurrect it (sorry).

    Again, according to the commentary, Tom and Lalla were not on speaking terms when filming commenced and it shows in the early scenes, when Tom barely looks at Lalla even when talking to each other.

    With a good supporting cast, most notably the three actors playing Zargo, Camilla and Aukon ham it up beautifully, and play it just right without going over the top.

    The sets and models look good overall especially the village and spaceship/tower.

    Likes:

    • The humour has returned (a rare occurrence in JNT’s tenure) but it doesn’t overtake the drama.
    • The Doctor paraphrasing the Henry V speech
    • The death scenes of the vampires as they decay
    • K9 isn’t having his head caved in or being tinkered with and actually gets to do stuff!

    Beefs:

    • Yet another planet with only one village!!
    • Ok so I get the consonantal shift thing, but surely that refers to words passed through generation. The vampires are the same crew from the Hydrax – why would the they forget/alter their own names?
    • Adric is still shit at stealing food.
    • The realisation of the Great Vampire as he rises out of the ground – we just see a rubbery hand – it’s crap!! They’d have been better not showing the monster at all
    • When the scout ship penetrates (insert Leon snigger here) down through the castle to kill the Great Vampire, yet our heroes are all stood there watching, there’s no falling masonry or explosion as this ship crashes down – wait?! WHAT?!?! Also, when we see it after it’s crashed it looks tiny – nothing like as large as it was when on top of the tower.
    • Again, we have the trope of a group of people with some old tech, but no idea how to use it (Face of Evil I’m looking at you)

    Despite the beefs with the story, I do enjoy it and it’s probably the best of the trilogy, but I can’t help but feel it would’ve benefitted being produced during the Hinchcliffe/Holmes era. Adric is slightly less annoying, but it’s still very hard to warm to the character. Thankfully the story is rescued by Doc and Romana and the deliciously evil vampires.

    I award this a 3.7 Rebel scientist with weird plaited combover hairstyle out of 5

  8. Picture the scene. It’s Manchester, it’s raining. I’m at Manopticon 1996, my first Doctor Who convention and my mind has been blown by all that I’ve seen. I found a cassette tape of this story read by Tom Baker at a stall and had to have it. Me and my dad listened to it on the drive back home, never forget that. I saw the TV story years later and have just read the Target book for the first time. Absolutely love this story, it’s so gorgeously gothic and a lovely throwback to the horror movie stories from earlier in the 4th Doctor’s run.

    The OTT ‘vampire’ acting from the Three Who Rule, the eerie music all come together to make something really enjoyable. It suffers a bit from me having known the story before watching it and having created something much more impressive in my 14 year old mind palace. The only bum note is Matthew Waterhouse who has been so obviously written in at the last minute. How does he know what cheese is…?

    Probably one of my top Who stories of all time.

    5.0!

  9. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Episode One

    • “Any cheese?”, no Adric, but here’s a growing queue of people who want to slap you round the face, Airplane style.
    • Like: the Hydrax’s state-of-the-art computer. I knew Teletext would make a comeback!
    • Cliffhanger 1, “look Romana, stock footage of bats through a green filter!”

    Episode Two

    • Maybe the village wouldn’t have so much hardship if those two greedy extras didn’t have SIX bowls of food to themselves.

    Episode Three:

    • F**k the Time War, I wanna see the Time Lord-Vampire war!
    • Has that creepy leering guard been standing in the prison cell this whole time?

    Episode Four

    • K-9 on the throne: All hail King K-9!
    • Why does the king vampire sound like a dying Wookiee?
    • “You’ll be a high technological society in no time,” hmm, really? They haven’t even invented shaving.

    Summary: awesome mythology, some cool stuff (staking a big vampire with a spaceship is cool), even mildly creepy at times (the blood in the fuel tanks). But this would have been done better under the darker Pyramids of Mars era. Also sad to see Romana as a whiny damsel in distress – she didn’t do anything. And we didn’t even get to see the Big V other than his hand, unless it was that rubbish bat thing on the monitor?

    Rating: 2.5/5 luckless villagers, chosen to be slurped on by a big bat. Yuk.

  10. Paul Waring | @pwaring

    The standout from this story for me is how strong Romana has become as a companion. The Doctor looks to her for advice, she shows very little fear, and she volunteers to take on the most dangerous part of the mission – although she does end up as the damsel in distress. The only downside is that the Doctor no longer has the leading role, as there are really two Doctors now.

    Another plus point is the sets, which for once are not over-lit and this works well with the gothic setting. The makeup for the three vampire lords is excellent, and the way Zargo and Camilla walk together is a nice touch. Aukon is probably the most menacing of the three though, and seems to be in charge of the nominal king and queen.

    The main downside to this story is Adric – he’s insufferably smug and thinks he knows better than everyone else. I’m not surprised that the Doctor is talking of taking him back at the end – I would have left him on the planet! K-9 is also relegated to the role of talking computer and
    a convenient way to stun people without the Doctor carrying weapons.

    The only question I have is: what *is* ‘the wasting’? Everyone is terrified of it yet it is never fully explained.

    Overall though, this story has a good cast and is executed well. It’s definitely my favourite of the E-space trilogy.

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C113 State of Decay