It’s the end of an era. We get a new Master, a new companion, and a newish companion. Alas, we lose one of the most beloved Doctors in the process.
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The bells, the bells! Yep, that there cloister bell is ringing a good ‘un in the TARDIS; a minor catastrophe must be looming. The much abused chameleon circuits have succumbed to entropy and the Doc needs to take precise measurements of a real life police box to give to the humanoid calculators on Logopolis. A brief period of materialising on Earth manages to snag another stowaway in the form of Tegan, air stewardess extraordinaire-ily annoying.
Coincidentally and quite literally occupying the same space at the same time is The Master, however, who tags along in an attempt to not only exact revenge on our favourite Time Lord, but get up to some nefarious sh*t in the process. Meanwhile, an odd white chap keeps popping up in the background, inexplicably snagging yet another future companion, and freaking out Doc to no end. There’s no time for that, though, as The Master accidentally sets off a chain reaction that will erase the entire universe, and these two Time Lord foes must collaborate to save us all.
Why not make it a triple-bill? When you’ve listened to this review, check out fellow WhoCast New To Who‘s review of Logopolis here, and their interview with none other than Christopher Bidmead himself here!
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The Master is back to his old tricks and it seems like the Doctor is getting the short end of it.
After an episode of bumbling about in the north of England, the Doctor brings us to Logopolis; the planet of abaci and their equally antiquated users. Then it’s back to earth for a fight to the death… er, regeneration, between the Doctor and one of his most iconic foes.
We are introduced to new companion Teagan, a purple hued flight attendant with a real doll of an aunt. She makes an excellent addition to the crew, at least when they aren’t just spewing out numbers like a computer.
The story has some incredibly mysterious moments and some fantastic performances that make a great season finale.
Though Tom may have jumped off the Effort train at the Care station for a bit of this season, Logopolis makes a fitting end for a remarkable tenure. Tom’s regeneration is a nostalgic roller coaster, with mini flashbacks of notable companions and villains from the last 7 years of the show… and the Pirate Captain.
While the Fourth Doctor isn’t my favourite, (a spot reserved for the great Bill Hartnell) it’s clear how he is for many others. His performance is unique and his time in the roll certainly the most iconic. The first image in almost anyone’s mind when they hear the words “Doctor Who” is that of Tom and his scarf, and it is not hard to see why.
This story earns 4 Matryoshka Tardises out of 5
In this serial we are introduced to Tegan (and her Aunt) in a rare scene of dialogue that simply introduces the characters and includes no exposition, making this one of the few Who episodes to pass the Bechdel test.
Adric seemed to be at his best when he and Doc were alone, but with Nyssa now taking the clever role and Tegan being the feisty one, Adric has nowhere to go from here and becomes somewhat superfluous (Leon: insert snide comment here).
The new Master seems an incredibly jovial chap, he seems to find all sorts of things amusing, but at least he’s the one betraying his ally this time and not the other way around.
“Well he’s a Time-Lord! In many ways we have the same mind!”. We touch very briefly on a really interesting idea, that is then never looked at again.
This serial seemed a little thin on plot and the Watcher seems inserted to add mystery where there isn’t any, but it’s main job is building to Tom’s departure (which presumably the viewers knew about at this point); he plays this whole serial with barely restrained tension, sensing his time is nigh. This slow-build of unease and tension needed 4 episodes to work, unfortunately, there weren’t 4 episodes worth of story.
Listening to his co-stars, Tom comes across as simultaneously the most charming and yet, most infuriating person to know but, he will deservedly be forever remembered as the iconic incarnation of the Doctor.
“Logopolis”; or, “Funereal complexities in monochromatic maroon”
“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang – but a whimper”
TS Eliot, “The Hollow Men”, 1925.
Except it isn’t a whimper, is it? It’s a mournful elegiac Moment in time, a small gesture of observance at the foot of a radio telescope tower (yes, we remember you, “Terror of the Autons”) as the broken body of this largest and longest-serving of all Doctors passes into the form of that of a new, young man after battling his oldest enemy (well, one of), the entire universe having been at stake, and after untold billions have been consumed by the creeping void of Entropy. This is when this Fourth Doctor stood up one last time as the cosmos’ greatest hero – only to fall in having to pay the ultimate price to save it.
That brief sequence at the very end of “Logopolis” is a haunting, dying note of a fugue played out over four symbolist episodes, evoking not a straight-forward story but a mood piece, drawing not so much on recognisable narrative structures and elements as imagistic impressions of these arranged in bricolage from the fraying ends of an era now coming at last to a final close.
This is where we say our goodbyes and pay our respects for the last time to the tall, curly-haired man with the boggle eyes, a big smile, and an even bigger scarf. And it couldn’t have finished in a more perfect way.
I love Mr. Baker playing the goofy Doctor as much as anyone. But this story is proof that it’s nothing compared to serious Tom. It’s almost the perfect story to end his run. Tom once again dominates every scene he is in. That is, until the Master shows up. Anthony Ainley is not Roger Delgado, but he is a perfect successor, and he too draws all eyes to him when on set. He’s chaotic and cunning, so different from Tremas, and 14 steps ahead of everyone, though less maniacal laughter would be cool.
Welcome Tegan also, who is the typical Earthling companion, yet she’s so different from everyone prior. Smart, resourceful, yet emotional and impulsive, she’s far beyond refreshing.
The story itself builds rather slowly, yet it doesn’t drag at all. When there’s no sense of dread or curiosity about characters, there’s technology whizzing over your head, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Logopolis the planet is a little bland, but that’s fine. At least we get to see an entire alien city. Finally, this story brings together so many past threads and starts so many others to come.
Rewrites? The universe is only temporarily stabilized at the end, and well, you’ll see how well that’s addressed, if at all in the next episode. There’s also too many happenings ignored right over someone’s shoulder. Too many bushes on a dead world.
Still, I’m impressed. After countless re-watches Logopolis never fails to fascinate me. The numbers totally add up to a mathematical 4.3
Logopolis always has been one of my favourite classic episodes. It was also the first regeneration that I can remember (the 9 months between this and Castrovalva felt like the longest ever). The updated and cleaned up effects of the Blu-ray just on this story are worth paying the price of that season’s box set alone. Some of them can be viewed on YouTube.
But that regeneration….splendid. The line “It’s the end…but the moment has been prepared for…” is almost up there with the Rani bursting into the TARDIS, on a newly regenerated Sylvester McCoy, and camply demanding, “Leave the girl……it’s the MAN I want.” Brilliant
Then, the Doctor and The Watcher merge, and Peter Davison emerges, face coated in white…. like the most popular guy in a bukkake competion……the resemblance to a plasterer’s radio was uncanny.
Brilliant – and an end of possibly the most defining era in Doctor Who history. 4.5 Out of 5.
I like this story, but I don’t love it. Tom Baker was leaving the show and the BBC was trying to give him a magnificent send off with a complex story, great sets, and a lot of location shoots, but they just don’t quite pull it off. The story is deliberately obscure without the depth you see in Warriors Gate, the sets feel very sterile and unengaging, and the location shoots are random (unless you find actors standing by the side of the road exciting). I see what they were going for but they just didn’t make it.
Also, the introduction of Tegan continues the slide to the least likeable cast in all of Classic Who (more on this next episode!).
In all, more effort was put into this regeneration story than any prior Doctor. They worked very hard, with a season long arc, new characters, the return of the Master, and some spiffing scripts, but… it just doesn’t quite land. 3.7 for effort if not execution.
‘It’s the End….’
After 7 seasons and preceded by 168 episodes over 40 stories (discounting the untelevised Shada, sorry), we reach Tom Baker’s final story. But let’s cover the story at hand first before we focus on the end.
While the plot is a bit sluggish in the first half, it gets going and provides some answers to other parts of the season, particularly the purpose of the CVEs into E-Space. There is a funeral-like atmosphere to much of this with the rather effective music by Paddy Kingsland, while it carries on the themes of decay (State of Decay, Warriors’ Gate) and renewal (The Leisure Hive, Full Circle, The Keeper of Traken). The Master in his quest for power caused the destruction of a fair chunk of the universe. The universe in Doctor Who is portrayed as a fairly populated place thus we can only guess at how many died as a result of the Master’s actions. Certainly more than enough for him to be plucked out of time and immediately sent to a vaporisation chamber by the timelords.
While the Doctor/Master team up has happened before, never has it been as needed and bleak as this and as predictable the Master betrays him. Facing death, we have flashback central with foes and friends from the fourth doctor’s era before that mysterious Watcher steps forward and so it begins again…
So, I feel the wonky start lets it down a little. 4/5 cameo flashbacks
‘…but the moment has been prepared for.’
Enjoying the podcast as ever. Here is my review:
This story gets a bad press, but I absolutely love it. It’s a fitting end for Tom Baker, and has so much going on. We get the cloister bell for the first time. We get the Master ingeniously using the police box disguise to trap the Doctor, causing the TARDIS within a TARDIS. The new Master, more sinister than ever then shrinks Tegan’s aunt. The regeneration is epic. Love the enigmatic Watcher – we never really know who he is and how he fits into the Doctors being. Impending dread creeps through the serial surrounding the concept of entropy which mirrors the Doctor’s demise. We get an influx of companions. Nyssa and Tegan cope with things pretty fast. Nyssa sees her Dad but its not her Dad, and loses her home planet. Some great acting by Sarah Sutton. Sad to see Tom Baker go – the classic series has an irreparable hole in it after this story but a fantastic send off and one of my favourite of all time. 4.9
Logopolis was a serial tasked with many things ; to introduce ANOTHER new companion, properly introduce a new incarnation of the Master, as well as ending Tom Baker’s run as the Fourth Doctor (it still baffles me that they decided to introduce three new companions in the last half of Season 18).There are a good amount of things to like – the score is absolutely brilliant and captures a really nice sombre tone, while the regeneration scene always gives me Goosebumps. However, a very convoluted and often boring plot lets the serial down in my opinion, and Anthony Ainsley gets very little to do in the serial as a whole, with his only real opportunities to sparkle coming in the last two episodes. Still, it’s certainly not bad… but I think Tom Baker deserved a more thrilling exit.
Watching Logopolis is like watching a funeral. The whole look is dreary.
After being the Doctor for seven years Tom Baker deserved to go out in style. Instead he went out on a rather dull story. The Doctor should have been the center of attention, we’re treated to the introduction of Tegan. I kinda wish the Master killed Tegan and had Auntie Vanessa as companion.
If this were a normal story I might have liked it, but as it was the last story of a Doctor (especially the Fourth Doctor) I find it to be very dull. Still, the flashback scene was very moving.
I’ll be nice and give it 2 Falling Doctors out of 5
So, here we are at the end of an era – Tom Baker’s final story! I remember watching this story very vividly, with The Watcher being especially creepy. Throw in the menacing laugh of The Master and it all led to a very scary story, at least to a 9-year-old me.
The Doctor is in very sombre mood, filled with a sense of deep foreboding and impending doom! Sadly, pretty much all the humour that so defined the Tom Baker era is missing and I’d loved to have seen him go out in a blaze of comic glory, but bearing in mind the whole universe is at stake I suppose a more serious tone is perhaps understandable.
Anthony Ainley is suitably sinister as The Master, although his schemes for domination have now reached universal scale, his actual abilities to carry it out are still no better than Roger Delgado’s incarnation.
Adric is ok, at least for the first couple of episodes, but then reverts to being a complete dick! It’s no surprise that according to Tardis Wiki – During one take of the regeneration, Tom Baker turned to Matthew Waterhouse and said, “Adric, you’re a cunt and you always will be”.
We are also introduced to 2 new companions – Nyssa from the last story and Tegan Jovanka, an antipodean asshat and all-round bossy boots. I can’t stand her in this story, I know she’s a popular companion so I’m assuming this will wear off.
John Fraser gives a good turn as the Monitor.
The costumes, models and sets all look good even if by modern standards some of the CSO shots look a bit obvious.
The Doctor and Master working together – did they actually save the universe? There’s a single line about stabilising the CVE and that’s it!
How does The Watcher bring Nyssa to Logogpolis? Does he have his own TARDIS? Or does he borrow The Doctor’s whilst he’s with the Monitor?
Doc’s plan is to land underwater and flush out the Master, why would that work? Surely The Master would simply dematerialise?
Overall, this is an average story with a keen emphasis on science, but sadly this often strays in to technobabble. It’s fitting that Tom Baker’s last story sees The Doctor save the universe, but couldn’t they have given him a more heroic death rather than falling from the transmitter dish. Why not have him saving his companions from The Master’s dildo gun or something? As a kid I was heartbroken by the Doctor’s regeneration, but now I’m just pissed at this mediocre story being Tom’s last. However, even this cannot take away from Baker being the greatest Doctor ever!
I award this story 2.6 electro-muscular constrictors out of 5
Logopolis marks the end of an era, an end which is perhaps overdue. Whilst Tom Baker makes a superb Doctor when he is on top form, it’s clear that he is growing tired, and was by all accounts (including his own!) a bit of a nightmare to work with behind the scenes.
The relationship between the Doctor and Adric feels unusually close in this story, with the Doctor taking time to explain technical concepts and treating Adric almost like an equal. Adric also gets attention from the Watcher, who is willing to speak to him but not to Nyssa or Tegan.
I like the Master’s plan of subtly interfering with the block transfer calculations, resulting in the TARDIS shrinking, though as always it’s overly complicated and therefore ends up falling apart. I also enjoy occasions where the Doctor and the Master are forced to work together – a reminder that they have a similar background, even if they have taken opposite paths.
A few questions remain. Why does the Watcher take Nyssa to Logopolis? Why don’t the TARDIS team jump the Master when they outnumber him four to one? Why are there no women on Logopolis?
Overall, though it has its moments, I find Logopolis a bit bland and a slog to get through, though it still gets an acceptable 3/5.
Logopolis holds a great deal of personal significance to me, so I knew it had to be one that I provided a mini review for. (The 4th part aired on my 1st birthday, so I guess I might’ve been destined to feel connected to the story in some way)
The incidental music score is, by far, one of my most favourite from the original series. I only need to hear a cue and can undoubtedly identify what the scene is and who is involved.
The first police box exterior that’s shown on-screen is one that has particularly special meaning to me, to the extent that I own a specially customized 3-D printed version of it (complete with dangling phone & clipboard (from episode 2) inside).
Despite it being his last, this is easily my favourite 4th Doctor story. From the aforementioned music to the scripting, the pacing, and the story overall…I cannot oversell this one!
I’m glad that the final theory from the Keeper of Traken podcast regarding the Master’s ability to steal Tremas’ body was not only readily accepted, but matched the explanation we are given in this story for the change.
The enhancements done for the Blu-Ray release are fascinating and welcomed, because they DO “enhance” without feeling overwhelming.
I could gush about this story forever, but I’m going to stop here with my rating of 4.9/5 (because no story is absolutely perfect).
P.S. Keep up the good work, boys, see you in the Davison era!
Greetings WhoBackWhen team and listeners!
Logopolis is one of my favorite classic Who serials for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it was my first complete story I ever saw. All I had ever seen were a few isolated episodes of Ark in Space and Revenge of the Cybermen, so I was quite confused by most of it. This is not a good example of a show a first time viewer should watch, but i was hooked trying to puzzle it out. One big misconception I had was about the TARDIS was both the Police Box exterior and the console room interior. It took until the middle of episode two before I made that connection. Until then, I thought the console room was in a building or space ship, and the Police Box was like a capsule (sort of just a transmat, but I didn’t know that term yet.) I mistakenly thought it was like the control room in the Tomorrow People, the only other British Sci Fi I had ever seen, and I kept expecting Tim to start talking to the Doctor.
Aside from that, it is also one of my favorites because the Master is my favorite villain, and Anthony Ainley has great fun getting into the role, which will last through three more Doctors. Additionally, this serial, and the following one, are more hard science fiction, and deal with math and physics, which are close to my heart. And on top of that, both this story and the next partially take place within the TARDIS, and even introduce new rooms!
Logopolis begins with the Doctor so perturbed at himself for being deceived into thinking the Master’s TARDIS was an alien, he becomes obsessed with repairing the chameleon circuit on his own TARDIS. The Master has somehow predicted not only what the Doctor has planned, but when and where. The Master arrives first, and sets up a trap for the Doctor. Meanwhile, Tegan Jovanka is trying to get to her first day as a stewardess, and ultimately gets into both the Doctor’s and Master’s plans, and gets involved in a permanent sort of way.
I am sure you will do a fine job of reviewing the entire serial , so I will just add a few salient points.
Best line (you should soundbite this):
Tegan: “You can take me back to where you found me, Doctor Whoever-you-are. My Aunt’s waiting for me in her car.”
Doctor, realisation dawning on him: “Your aunt? Woman in a white hat, red sports car?”
Tegan, hopeful: “You’ve seen her?”
Doctor: “Well, a little of her.”
I like the concept of the Watcher, as a future version of the Doctor. like the Doctor said, “This has never happened before.” or since, but I thought they should have done.
Before the Doctor falls, we get to see some of his enemies from his era, and when the Doctor begins regenerating, we get to see past companions, all saying his name.
Fails: While I understand they have to give Tegan air time in part 1 so we can keep track of her, and the Doctor can’t find out about her until they leave Earth, it seems she has a lot of time just doing nothing or running around the TARDIS, lost.
When the Doctor falls, the three companions don’t follow him down at the same time, breaking the illusion.
Nyssa’s hand didn’t really look like it had a mind of its own, or that the Master was controlling it.
my rating: overall 4.6
Ben O’Neill aka Tanz Sixfingers
Summary: not amazing, but filled with pathos and foreboding. What a tenure. Surely the (second) greatest Doctor ever.
Rating: 3.1/5 dull Legopolians shrunk to tiny doll people – the most interesting thing that has ever happened to them.