Friday, January 20, 2012

You've Discovered Television (The Leisure Hive)

Tom Baker increasingly gets the sense that he's stayed in
this role a little too long.
It's August 30th, 1980. David Bowie is at number one with "Ashes to Ashes," a phenomenal song that I should probably just link to Chris O'Leary's phenomenal blog post on. A week later The Jam take over with "Start." Then comes Kelly Marie with "Feels Like I'm in Love," which holds the spot through the end of the story. Gary Numan, Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, ABBA, and Queen all chart.

Since Graham Crowden cracked up while dying and ignoring what we covered in the hypothetical during Shada, the Soviet Union has its first rock music festival, then kills fifty as a Volstok-2M rocket explodes on the launchpad. The US announces it will boycott the 1980 Olympics, and also does so. Riots break out in the St. Pauls area of Bristol. The origins of the riot are unclear, but the underlying racial tensions and anger over police racial profiling are searingly obvious. The US severs diplomatic relations with Iran and mounts a disastrous attempt to rescue the hostages held there.

Speaking of Iran, terrorists take over the Iranian embassy in London. the SAS retakes it five days later. Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division, kills himself. A month later Joy Division has its first charting single with "Love Will Tear Us Apart. Both The Empire Strikes Back and Pac-Man come out, one the day after the other. CNN is launched and, eight days later, gets to cover Richard Pryor immolating himself while trying to freebase cocaine. 1700 people die in a heat wave in the US. And Ronald Reagan wins the Republican nomination for President at a convention where, bowing to pressure from the Religious Right, the party drops its support for the Equal Rights Amendment. By legend copies of JG Ballard's story "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan" are passed around at the convention by people mistaking them as a serious study of Reagan's strengths as a candidate.

While during this story Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope run to raise awareness of cancer comes to an end when it turns out that his cancer has spread to his lungs. There's a military coup in Turkey, the Solidarity union is founded in Poland after weeks of strikes in Gdansk, and, um… not a lot else, I'm afraid, so let's move on to The Leisure Hive.

As I've suggested in several entries, the drama of the gap between the Williams and Nathan-Turner eras is in many ways a product of Nathan-Turner's own invention. There are many ways to frame this fact. Certainly what I've referred to as the fan-industrial complex plays in. This is visible even in looking at artifacts from the time period. What is now Doctor Who Magazine started in the closing days of the Williams era as Doctor Who Weekly and consisted purely of comics and lashed together text pieces on the history of the program. But as Nathan-Turner took over two things happened. First, the magazine changed to Doctor Who Monthly. Second, and more importantly, it started to actively engage with the program that was actually on the air.

Let's say that again, because it's a fact about the magazine that is absolutely crucial to everything that's going to happen over the next decade that is nevertheless almost wholly unremarked on. Durng the Williams era, which the magazine overlapped for a good few months, the magazine did not actually directly refer to what was going on in Doctor Who itself at all save for in its letter pages. It was purely a Doctor Who comic book with some text pieces. Then John Nathan-Turner took over and began implementing the obvious practice of actually connecting to the TV series. This started with a location report of the Brighton filming for The Leisure Hive, then continued with photo previews of upcoming stories, interviews with Nathan-Turner, the magazine's first ever review of a televised story (Jeremy Bentham's exceedingly congratulatory take on The Leisure Hive, which went out of its way to credit John Nathan-Turner with immediately improving the show's quality), an end-of-season retrospective with John Nathan-Turner, etc.

In other words, as of this story Doctor Who began historicizing itself even as it was made. The paratext (a term in literary criticism and theory that basically means "all the stuff about a book that isn't the actual string of characters constituting the book" - i.e. the cover, the advertising, interviews with the author, etc) of Doctor Who is, as of now, part of Doctor Who. And this is not something that has ever or will ever stop. From The Leisure Hive on any competent reading of Doctor Who has to remain aware of the paratext because the paratext is genuinely part of the storytelling. Things happen on screen that have dramatic resonance provided to them by what happens off-screen.

Last entry I suggested that there were techniques that were unique to television. This is one of them - an expansion of the principle suggested by the cliffhanger that has been invoked by this blog for some time. If we take the cliffhanger not as a momentary event but as a week-long process of interaction with the narrative then Nathan-Turner's approach of having a continual story of Doctor Who's production running alongside the show is an expansion of this. Doctor Who, from this point on, begins actively telling its story not merely through what happens on screen but through what happens off the screen and during the moments the show is not transmitting. (Eventually a paratextual model of film arises - it's central to the way that the "summer blockbuster" now works, with the actual release of the movie merely being the climactic event of an often years-long paratextual piece of storytelling - but it starts with television and Doctor Who is an early adopter.)

If we wanted to be cheeky, and we kind of do because that's just how we are, we could suggest that this, more than anything, is the real revolution of the Nathan-Turner years. Certainly it is a real revolution, and one that eventually proves to have a nasty, nasty downside for the program. The fan-industrial complex and all of its problems are, in many ways, simply a disastrous execution of this idea of using the paratext of television as part of the storytelling. To some extent this problem can be summed up as "it eventually gets to where the only way to follow Doctor Who is to be an obsessive fan." And, correspondingly, one of the successes of the new series can be summed up as "it figured out how to make much of the paratext a value-added extra instead of a prerequisite." (Though notably, some paratext is necessary to understanding the show at all. The new series requires that the audience know what a season premiere or a season finale is in a way that the classic series never did.)

But it's not. Even if the biggest part of the John Nathan-Turner revolution was in fact the announcement of the John-Nathan Turner revolution, it's not the only part. The nature of paratextual storytelling is that it tends to rely on a fairly complex linkage of events. First the John Nathan-Turner revolution is announced in the pages of Doctor Who Monthly. Then when the series premieres there are a host of superficial but visible changes. A new title sequence, new theme music, a new costume for the Doctor, and a new style to the incidental music all create a strong sense of change. None of these are huge changes to the show, of course. Several are things that have happened before without major comment.

But again you can see Nathan-Turner constructing a complex meta-narrative of Doctor Who. Changing all of those things at once, including something as inviolate as the theme music, which had remained virtually unaltered in its iconic (and most brilliant) Delia Derbyshire arrangement since 1963, makes a powerful statement of reinvention even if you don't do anything else at all. Combined with the bits of heraldry in Doctor Who Monthly you get a very effective performance of a revolution.

I don't mean this to suggest that the John Nathan-Turner revolution was all hype. It wasn't. What I mean to suggest is that the John Nathan-Turner revolution was stage-managed. It was a carefully designed event. Considerable time and effort was made to have The Leisure Hive appear like a big change. And this is where Miles and Wood's competing reviews on this story fall flat. Wood stages a cute little experiment of showing people a clip of The Leisure Hive and a clip of The Nightmare of Eden and asking which one was the "slick, modern" production, and takes the fact that Nightmare of Eden was said to look better as evidence that there was no Nathan-Turner revolution. Miles, for his part, goes to great lengths to show how anyone who was paying attention would have noticed the difference.

But neither of them bother to think about the fact that even someone paying no attention at all would notice that one of the most iconic theme songs in television history had changed. What happens after the fade to the Brighton beach is almost immaterial to this. You don't need to be paying attention. The series is screaming at the top of its lungs "I have been reinvented." That constitutes a reinvention. Anyone watching would have an immediate and tangible sense that something was different. The question is whether they could have articulated what beyond the superficial.

But in some ways it's best if they couldn't. This story and the next are often read as "false starts" for an era that begins in proper with Full Circle. But this attitude misses the point. Nathan-Turner is engaging in a savvier sort of television making than that. There are in effect two Nathan-Turner revolutions that go on simultaneously but at different paces. The first is the visible revolution marked by the paratextual material. The second is a still visible but much subtler revolution, which is slower. Part of this second revolution is the emergence of the paratext as part of Doctor Who, but there are other components of it as well.

These other components also help explain why this was a slow revolution. For one thing, they're considerably more complex - indeed, Nathan-Turner has some genuine problems with some parts of them, which is why both The Leisure Hive and Meglos are kind of weak as stories. For another, large parts of them are simply a matter of accelerating the changes that were already happening in the late Williams era - most obviously in Destiny of the Daleks and The Nightmare of Eden.

Simply put, Nathan-Turner wanted to change the show from being about comedy to being about visual science fiction storytelling. But he made this change over several stories. In this regard, the change is much like previous changes. Hinchcliffe didn't just junk the UNIT format and run off cackling in another direction. He engaged in a two and a half year steady separation of the Doctor from Earth-centric storytelling. Lloyd didn't just abandon historicals in favor of bases under siege in one week. Letts worked within the inherited UNIT structure for six stories before doing Colony in Space.

And Nathan-Turner started with a comedy script from David Fisher that he tried to do a better job with. This had mixed results. His decision to cut out all of the jokes was misguided, not least because it required padding like the absurdly bad sequence in excess of a minute and a half pan across beach chairs on an abandoned Brighton beach. (This also gets at what will eventually prove the more problematic aspect of Nathan-Turner's use of the paratext. He defended it in an interview on the grounds that they had to reintroduce the series and introduce Baker's new costume. Left conspicuously unanswered [and courteously unasked] is why the heck the fact that Tom Baker is wearing new clothes would need to be actively introduced or how 90 seconds of beach chairs accomplished any of this.) The result is a story that feels confused, as if it doesn't quite know what it wants to be. Which, to be fair, it doesn't.

But Nathan-Turner also takes a decisive step towards fixing another problem - one that is probably essential to the series surviving the season. Over the course of the Williams era Doctor Who very much became the Tom Baker Show. This is not inherently a bad thing. Tom Baker is a marvelous performer, his Doctor is understandably the most popular of the classic series Doctors, and the Tom Baker Show was reliably entertaining and often much better than anything else going on in an episode. But the Tom Baker Show has one major weakness that Doctor Who doesn't, which is that if Tom Baker leaves it's dead in the water.

Simply put, it's very difficult to imagine how Doctor Who could have survived under Graham Williams if Tom Baker had actually carried through on his frequent threats to quit. Not that Williams couldn't have done anything else - truth be told Williams probably would have made a better show with someone other than Baker starring in it. But that Baker was irreplaceable within the context of what the show was. And The Leisure Hive goes to considerable lengths to decentralize Baker. Sure, the opening - a 90 second boring shot that finally gives us Baker - is as flagrant an instance of "let's all cherish the leading man" as the show has ever engaged in, but by the end of the first episode Baker is being rent from limb to limb as he screams. And the end of the second episode dramatically hyper-ages the Doctor into a decrepit old man. It's a small thing, but it flags that the Doctor is vulnerable. He's not the narrative center of the universe. And misguided as it is, the reduction in the number of jokes plays at that as well. By removing the means by which Baker dominates the story and making him vulnerable, Nathan-Turner, from the first episode of his tenure, is working to make it so that the show can handle Baker's eventual departure.

And then there's the visuals. Which are markedly different. But for that it's probably necessary to have examples. So, since it's been a few months, let's do a video blog, shall we?


46 comments:

  1. I believe Andrew Cartmell is on record as saying that Nathan Turner's greatest talent was in editing the episodes once shooting was complete, which may be the biggest difference between the two extracts., although good editing can only occur if there's good material to work from.

    And the problem with contrasting Creature From The Pit with the Leisure Hive 's direction is that the director of the later went seriously over budget and over time in shooting all those camera angles and cutaway. While your point is taken, it must also be said that the stand by director of the first five years of the Nathan Turner era was Peter Moffat-- a director who if anything made Christopher Barry's direction positively kinetic.

    This was the beginning of what I'd actually call bad direction in Doctor Who-- far too often if the camera wasn't actually on a character, even though they were in a scene, they would simply stand there, not reacting and visibly waiting for their cue.Although there were exceptions to this rule-- but the metatext would then inform us that these directors regularly went over budget/time and that the more visually boring directors were far more reliable. In short, like many producers before him, Nathan Turners ambition was hindered by the practicalities of creating a tv show as technically difficult as Dr Who. Just like Williams. But the problem was, because Nathan Turner was concentrating more on the visual, the writing ended up suffering as a result. Could it be said that John Nathan Turner was the Bob Baker and Dave Martin of Doctor Who producers?


    Finally, like all things, there was a precursor to the idea of Meta-Text before Doctor Who Monthly: Malcolm Hulke and Terrence Dicks' The Making of Doctor Who, which was very much the prototype of trying to address the history of Doctor Who as a continual text and contrasting that with the story from behind the scenes. In the second edition, it even featured a cliffhanger by fittingly ending it's episode guide with the Hand of Fear and the news that the Doctor was being recalled to Gallifrey.

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  2. Well, I agree with much of what you say here, though I think some of it’s taken further than the reality would support (paratext making it impossible for all but the most obsessive fan to watch is an often-made claim that would surely imply an audience a tenth or a hundredth the size of even Who’s lowest ratings, while the series has previously had twelve-part stories or years-long-soapish strings that demand more engagement from the viewer than almost anything in the ’80s), but your central points about the “revolution” are persuasive.

    There’s one thing that I can’t resist leaping in on, though, and that’s the claim you just whizz by with only one tiny justification for – yes, I know, ‘It’s not a review blog’ – that The Leisure Hive is a weak story. Now, here I can see you’re in line with the mass of fandom as reflected in The Mighty 200, and I’m way out of step, so perhaps you just felt it was a given. I don’t think appeals to DWM’s The Mighty 200 vote are always that meaningful (your complaint a while back about the order in which three Key To Time stories were placed seemed to me insignificant when they were actually all between 95 and 109, meaning the order didn’t amount to much over ‘fandom as a whole says “Meh”,’ while I’d place all three at least 60 higher), but here your comment would roughly seem to agree with its placing of 149, while I’d put at about 90 places higher. At this point, I should say ‘And here’s one I prepared earlier’ and link to my own review, but unfortunately my greater lethargy means I’ve not got round to one yet. So I’ll just answer the one point you did make about why the story was weak, some of which I said on a forum last year…

    When you talk about cutting all the jokes being misguided, I don’t entirely disagree (though several do remain, such as the rigours of warp mechanics), but I think you’re quite wrong to assume it then “required padding like the absurdly bad sequence in excess of a minute and a half pan across beach chairs on an abandoned Brighton beach.” So, in that case, surely there would be many more such examples? But in fact most of the story (as you illustrate in your video blog) is far more tightly paced than almost any other Twentieth Century Who story – and it’s Lovett Bickford’s style that’s always been blamed for the subsequent underrunning of episodes (coupled with budget overruns, after which he was blacklisted), rather than the script (if only the pace had been kept up, as you suggest in your video blog, but Peter Moffat is just around the corner). The question is, surely, if most of the story has picked up the pace, why does it start with an awful longueur that would put everyone off? If that’s the only bit of padding, why put it up front where it can do the most damage?

    My answer would be that it was very much planned, and brave, and stylish, and though as with many brave and stylish things not everyone would get it, it’s also a joke – far from taking them all out – that, all right, not everyone gets, but that I’ve always thought very funny, and far from “a 90 second boring shot”. It’s a shame you don’t get it, but let me put it in context for you…

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  3. …When I was a boy, this time of year meant two things – going back to school, and the return of Doctor Who to our screens to sweeten the pill. And it’s not just Doctor Who’s scariness that can make it ideal as the nights draw in and you go back to school. It’s a handful of stories that deliberately reflect that ‘end of Summer holidays’ feel on screen. For me there are two you can’t beat in that sense – Horror of Fang Rock, because what could be more ‘British Summer’ than a trip to the seaside when the weather’s horrible with cold, wind and fog…? And, of course, The Leisure Hive.

    To complain about the “boring” beach is to entirely miss the point of it being broadcast on August 30th. Everyone who’s just got back from a dreary British holiday when it rained in the cold will cheer when they see the Doctor wrapped up on the beach, determined to stick it out like everyone’s Dad, and young Romana saying ‘But can’t we go somewhere more exotic and exciting?’ like all the kids. And then they do! And everyone who’s just been somewhere exotic and exciting will feel smug to start with, confirmed in their view that they made the right decision, then realise that however exotic and exciting their locale, the Doctor can still go somewhere that beats it, and be drawn in. For me, it’s always a stylish opening on its own, but in context it’s a perfect one.

    It always makes me think of a family photo of little me and my brother standing on Land’s End in the driving rain and bitter wind, in kagouls, holding ice lollies in our numb fingers because it was Summer, damn it, and we’d been told we were going to ‘enjoy ourselves’ on pain of frostbite and smile for the camera. The Doctor wrapped up against the biting wind but still sitting on the beach anyway was something a British audience would instantly recognise and enjoy.

    Then, of course, back in context, the beach scene was building up the anticipation, making you wait, but only after it had grabbed your attention with an explosive new title sequence and theme that nobody was expecting at all, which is a big tease.

    And just watching it at any time, rather than for the first time on August 30th, 1980, it’s still a brilliantly – almost insanely – audacious move to start the show with an unbelievably long panning shot, and I still love it.

    There’s just one thing wrong with it, where the director missed a trick: the camera pulls past a blue and white-striped beach hut… Which for an instant makes you think of the TARDIS. Unfortunately, though, there are several more to come, in different colours, before the suggestion’s realised. The TARDIS should have been the next one.

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  4. You're absolutely right to highlight the new title sequence and revamped theme tune. At the time it was terrifically exciting. To be honest, a lot of the time the theme tune was the most exciting part of any given Doctor Who episode, but here the show suddenly seemed fresh, glossy, reinvigorated, ready to outdo such sparkly fare as Buck Rodgers.

    The Delia Derbyshire arrangement remains the best, of course, but it's the Peter Howell arrangement that always takes me back to my childhood.

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  6. To add to Alex Wilcock's comment, the last Monday in August is a bank holiday, making this the Saturday after the long weekend at the end of summer when almost everyone is on holiday, and the beaches can be packed. I can't say I got the joke at the time. Perhaps I was on holiday and missed the episode. Regardless, the shot overstays its welcome.

    I don't know much about the history of DWM, but the people at "Vworp Vworp" do (www.vworpvworp.co.uk), and my understanding is that JNT found the independently-run magazine to be as much of an annoyance as a useful mouthpiece. Having said which, it clearly did contribute to the revolution in the public perception of DW just as you describe.

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  7. The Leisure Hive is the first classic story I ever saw. I left the copy around, and my parents watched it having never seen any Classic Who before, either.

    When I got home that night, they were furious at me for having left it around to view (the arugment that they could simply stop, or not watch it at all, is one that does not work with my parents). They hated it so very, very much, and I'm pretty sure that's understandable. It's particularly uncaring with its "people run in front of corrugated aluminum" aesthetic.

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  8. Alex Wilcock defence of that scene is delightfully smart. I dimly recall making my (late-teen)friends watch the show on a sunny Saturday evening- remarkably like my recent experience of the Matt Smith episodes.

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  9. I was 18 in 1980. And The Leisure Hive did something very important for me. It made me un-embarrassed to say to my friends, "Hey, did you see Doctor Who on Saturday?" In the months since The Horns of Nimon, a cheap kids' tv show - "Rentaghost" with cheaper costumes - had grown up and got stylish.

    Whatever else might be said about the later JNT years, the feeling of watching The Leisure Hive at that time, and at that age, was simply fantastic.

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  10. I have to say I do like the Peter Howell remix of the theme song. I like the jaunty, 1980s electronica sound of the thing and the starfield intro on all the Nathan-Turner intro sequences is pretty cool. Delia Derbyshire's original recording is of course timeless and irreplaceable, but I must admit I wasn't too keen on what it had become as of the 1970s. I think this is a case where you don't mess with something that was already perfect.

    Wish my appreciation for all things 1980s extended to what was actually on-screen though. It's like Phil points out: "The Leisure Hive" is basically screaming about how much of a revolution it is. To me though it comes off as incorrigibly, intolerably smug and confrontational. Never before in the history of the series can I think of a new production team going out of its way as much to overtly distance itself from and publicly deride the outgoing team as much as this one did and it shows in the story that made it to screen: Everything from doing a comedy script commissioned by the previous team with no jokes to laughing about possibly killing K-9 at the start just reeks of mean-spirited self-righteousness. Knowing that later in the season The Doctor and Romana's flirtatious banter gets drydocked by giving them an unbearably petulant and insulting surrogate son before Lalla Ward herself is finally erased from the picture makes it all the worse for me.

    The John Nathan-Turner era did make some important and useful changes to the show and will eventually go on to do some truly great things, but in my opinion you wouldn't know it looking at what it's doing now.

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  11. Now that we're at the start of the JNT Era, I'd like to share one of my favourite quotes from Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe. Brooker was talking about people who sneer at Paul Daniels, but I think his words are worth bearing in mind as we look critically at the next nine years of JNT Who:

    "Yeah, all he did was entertain millions of people. What have you done that's so fucking superior?"

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  12. Was JNT still entertaining "millions" at the end? I was under the impression that he presided over a rather catastrophic ratings collapse. Topic: I recently rewatched "The Leisure Hive" a few months back on Netfix and my impression was pretty much the same as it was when I saw this in the 9th grade. Everything seemed brighter, more vivid, more grown up. The plot seemed much more sophisticated than the previous season. The twist of the episode 3 cliffhanger was exceptionally well done. And yet ... something seemed off. Having read Phillip's post, I now see that what was missing was, well, the fun. Taking all the jokes in an effort to chain Tom Baker made the whole affair seem rather lifeless.

    Oh, and I hated, hated, hated Tom's new all-burgundy costume. My biggest pet-peeve about JNT's regime is his effort to "brand" the Doctor with those omnipresent question marks. I felt like he was trying to make the Doctor into some kind of superhero who wore a costume instead of just a dashing traveler wearing clothes that fit his personality. I felt the same with Peter Davison; the cricket gear was interesting, but they ruined it with that ridiculous coat that no one would ever wear in real life with or without celery. By the time we got to Colin Baker, I thought the costume department was being deliberately insulting to the audience.

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  13. Have to second Alan here. I daresay that while he entertained many people I doubt it was well into the millions, unless you count people coming back to the era after the fact. The initial ratings were not, if I recall correctly, terribly impressive.

    And Oh God I *hated* that burgundy outfit. Absolutely despised it. That's one of my least favourite costumes ever worn by any Doctor ever and I'm including Colin Baker's rainbow quilt and Sylvester McCoy's question mark jumper. At least they got better ones later on. One more thing that pisses me off about this season.

    Not only did Nathan-Turner take the fun out of this story, he took the fun out of the whole season and the show itself for quite some time. There's not a whole lot going on here for me to smile about at any rate.

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  15. A couple years have passed since I last watched this story, but I always thought it was quite decent. Fisher had become very solid by this point and keeping more humor might have salvaged some of the more absurd aspects. Nevertheless, I thought exploring a relatively affluent post-conflict society was an interesting idea, so too is the issue of tourism following a bitter war. Having recently returned from the former Yugoslavia, I find this episode actually contains some interesting ideas, even if not fully realized.

    But, on the subject of this season as a whole, it is my personal favorite along with Season 14. There are a number of strong scripts, particularly State of Decay and Warriors' Gate. The Keeper of Traken and Logopolis are also quite good. All four of those stories bring back an eerie mystique lost or abandoned during Williams' tenure. Adric was rather an abominable addition and Meglos is feeble, but overall I enjoy seeing Tom Baker on the ropes a bit once again. The stakes just seem a bit higher once again.

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  16. Of course JNT was entertaining millions. Is this even in doubt? Even his final season, which had the lowest ratings, still had viewing figures over four million. Four million people don't watch something just in order to hate it. It's only a few thousand hardcore fans who do that.

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  17. As someone who grew up watching Doctor Who via PBS stations in the USA during the 80s, I was completely divorced from all of the fandom in the UK. In fact, I was probably the only person in my school who regularly watched the show, and I can say without a doubt, that seeing this episode rejuvenated my interest in the show after having suffered through dreck like CREATURE FROM THE PIT, and HORNS OF NIMON. The odd thing from my experience was that the show used to be on several stations, which were all showing the episodes at different points in the show's history. As I recall, I ended up watching Pertwee through to Tom Baker's penultimate season, then I ended up jumping to Sylvestor McCoy (CURSE OF FENRIC, or TIME AND THE RANI, I think), which was quite a shocking change, no matter what you think of the McCoy years.

    It was exciting to see how much of the show had changed, but it was also kinda sad knowing that Tom Baker's Doctor was going to die at some point, and that I had not been able to see what happened to him.

    Then we jumped back to Season 18, and I was amazed by how funereal the atmosphere of the show had become. There was something almost melancholy about the whole affair: the Doctor's clothes were changed, the music (especially) had this weird, almost sad quality to it, and the tone seemed much more sombre. And then there was the knowledge that at some point the Doctor was eventually going to change again (keep in mind, this is pre-internet, so I had almost no way of knowing what was to come).

    I can't emphasize enough the role the music played in this; notable moments being the transition from the beach to Argolis, and the MARS: BRINGER OF WAR style of music used when Pangol starts making copies of himself (or so he thinks) as he orders Romana to be thrown out into the toxic atmosphere. It was dramatic in a way that the show just didn't do before.

    Even now, I find it weird to go back to the first few seasons of Tom Baker's reign knowing how it is going to end. It is an odd feeling to see the younger, more vibrant version of the Doctor, while knowing that he will eventually be staring at his future incarnation and confronting the knowledge of his coming death.

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    1. I can't emphasize enough the role the music played in this

      Very good point. JNT's dispensing with the services of Dudley Simpson was a big part of changing and updating the production.

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    2. ended up jumping to Sylvestor McCoy (CURSE OF FENRIC, or TIME AND THE RANI, I think), which was quite a shocking change

      I think the contrast between "Time and the Rani" and "Curse of Fenric" is as dramatic as the contrast between the whole McCoy era and the Tom Baker era.

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    3. keep in mind, this is pre-internet, so I had almost no way of knowing what was to come

      While I only saw Tom Baker in those days, I used to read Starlog regularly, and they used to carry stories about the show's history; I saw Hartnell, Cushing, Troughton, Pertwee, and Davison as the Doctor in its pages long before I ever saw them on screen.

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    4. I had seen so many episodes out of order that it is difficult to remember what I knew when. While I was watching Pertwee, I knew there was another guy with a scarf at some point (not sure how I reconciled that in my mind when I was not aware of regeneration). I must have seen a couple episodes when I was 4-6 years old, because I suddenly remembered parts of them when I saw them again later on (POWER OF KROLL, CITY OF DEATH, and -ugh- TIMEFLIGHT). I don't think I was aware of STARLOG as a kid (or I was unaware that it covered DOCTOR WHO), but I know that it took forever to find a place that even sold DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE where I live.

      I had no idea of what the fifth and sixth Doctors were like due to the jump from Tom Baker to McCoy, so I didn't hit the run of "bad WHO" until after I saw most of the good stuff. :) I think Hartnell and Troughton were the last ones I saw - I recall being surprised to see the Daleks were there as far back as the show's second story, and how little the TARDIS had changed.

      If I had seen Season 18 before jumping to (for example) TIME AND THE RANI, I doubt I would have found the difference as jarring (for much the same reason as shown in the video above - substitute the sequence with the Foamasi unmasking with the scene where Urak is first called in to stop the Doctor at the beginning of TATR. The music, the alien POV as he enters, etc) Heck, I was amazed that the show finally created an alien sky!) ;)

      I agree that there is a substantial difference between TATR and COF. I always liked the McCoy years - yes, even that first season - and I was surprised when I first saw how many fans disliked it. I'm sure we'll get to that discussion soon enough though.

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  18. I get that it's *supposed* to be funereal, especially once we get to the E-Space Trilogy and "Keeper of Traken", but unfortunately it's just never worked that way for me. I never get the sense of finality or of things coming to a head here like I do in, say, "The Tenth Planet", "The War Games" or even "Planet of the Spiders" and "End of Time". What I *do* get a sense of here is John Nathan-Turner bullying and mocking me for liking the Graham Williams era as he systematically dismantles everything I loved about it bit by bit. I'm sorry, as problematic as the Williams era was I still liked it, even if at times I was only liking the idea of it. I've never forgiven Nathan-Turner for coming along and so overtly attacking me for that. And it does feel like that to me: Like Nathan-Turner and his team are reaching through the TV screen and personally insulting me.

    Even when the show does manage solid pathos here, in things like "Keeper of Traken" and "Logopolis", it also tends to do something titanically stupid to kill the mood like have Anthony Ainlay dancing around. Even in the E-Space trilogy, which I read as the real end to the Tom Baker era, the show gives us Adric and his smug petulance who, I'm sorry, always just ruins everything for me. I'm sorry I have such a fixation on him, but he really is one of the primary reasons I can't get into this season or the next few. I really do dislike him *that* much.

    I won't go to the extreme and attack Nathan-Turner for being a terrible producer or blame him for killing the show or talk about how it's objectively bad under him or anything that sophomoric and hackneyed. What I will do is keep bringing up the things he did that made Doctor Who less enjoyable for me personally for a good while. I'll freely own these opinions as my own from my own history and positionality and nobody else's, but I do have them. He most certainly deserves a redemptive reading, probably more than anyone else involved with the show, but he still did some things that have never worked with me and probably will never work with me.

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  19. I will say this about Adric -- I had no problems with him at all in Season 18. I was the same age as he was written, and I thought his basic character concept (a brilliant but insecure boy, lost after the death of his only living relative, latches onto the Doctor and Romana as surrogate parents) was somewhat endearing. Then, in Season 19, everything went to hell, and JNT decided that Adric should turn into Scrappy Doo but without the wit and charm. In retrospect, I think the idea was that Adric was lashing out because his surrogate father (the Fourth Doctor) had died in front of him, to be replaced by a brash, impetuous older brother who frequently ignored him in place of the two girls who had invaded their home. Unfortunately, all of that subtext was completely lost on me at the time and I just thought he was a petulant little jackass.

    Needless to say, I was also unaware at the time of the real life issues Matt Waterhouse had with Tom Baker which have since been publicized.

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  20. Thinking back on Adric, I can't say that I ever really HATED the character, though I never particularly liked him either (unlike Tegan, which I downright despise). I did rewatch EARTHSHOCK some months back and was surprised to find that I didn't mind Adric at all, except I was still annoyed by the bit where he is typing on the keyboard while obviously expecting it to explode. I don't own many of the episodes with him in it, so I can't say how well he would hold up if I watched any of his other stories.

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  21. Really surprised that nobody's mentioned Chris Bidmead yet, either in the blog post or the article -- we got a whole blog post prepping us for Adams, but none for Bidnead?

    Not that I like him -- just felt it interesting, since he has so much of an influence on Season 18 from the get-go, and you can sort of see him get the hang of script-editing as we go along (same with Cartmel).

    It's interesting to note, however, that at this point, JNT and Cartmel are working with the only scripts they deemed workable (personally, I'd have put "Erinella", "The Doomsday Contract", and "Valley of the Lost" into that category, as well), but the second workable script wasn't "Meglos" (as they hadn't gotten it yet), but "State of Decay" -- going by production rather than transmission order, several interesting details pop up...

    [Cont'd..]

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    1. Monday's entry has a fair amount of Bidmead material. Mainly I don't think his influence shows all that strongly on The Leisure Hive. I mean, it's there, but it's not as clear as Meglos and the chronic hysteresis. And, of course, he'll crop up a lot later in the season when the show starts to more thoroughly reflect his vision.

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    2. True, but, again, if you watch the season develop in filming order, you can see Bidmead getting better and better at his job -- from merely taking out the jokes in "The Leisure Hive", to adding a new character and crafting a new climax with Terrance Dicks in "State of Decay" (many of his other alterations were reverted by director Peter Moffat), to crafting the whole "time loop" and "Science vs. Religion" angle on "Meglos", to helping develop "Full Circle" with Andrew Smith into what it became (the "three parts of one species" aspect was his idea), to realizing what a botch "Sealed Orders" might become and commissioning a back-up script just in case, then developing that script further with director Paul Joyce to become "Warrior's Gate", to finally doing such a thorough rewrite job on "The Keeper of Traken" (the original story was far too close to "Meglos") that, were it done under Williams, it probably would've been sent out under an Agnew byline.

      Of course, then we get to "Logopolis", but not every writer can cure his own problems, can he? :-P

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  22. Whoops; meant "JNT and Bidmead". Anyway...

    Not only does it appear that E-Space hadn't been fully fleshed-out yet at the time "State of Decay" was commissioned and put into production, but also that no one (not even Terrance Dicks) had a clue as to Adric's character and his motivations -- because, as with "Meglos", "Full Circle" had not yet been submitted.

    As a result, the production team had to created an Adric that was "mid-arc" (even if they hadn't the foggiest yet what that "arc" was) out of whole-cloth, and then foist it onto the inexperienced Waterhouse.

    As "State of Decay" is also Waterhouse's first performance before the cameras, you get (going by transmission order) a similar effect as watching Lalla Ward in "Creature from the Pit" after seeing her in "Destiny of the Daleks" and "City of Death". His acting abilities seem to literally atrophy between stories, when he'd actually taken the time off granted him due to his character's abscence from "Meglos" to try and improve them.

    Another thing influencing the show was Tom Baker's rather severe illness at the start of the season, as well as his often tempetuous relationship with Lalla Ward. You would think this would be the cause of his "funereal" demeanor, but, again, due to transmission and filming orders being at odds, you instead see him ill in "The Leisure Hive", finally getting better in "Meglos" and "Full Circle", and then suddenly right back in the doldrums of his sickness in "State of Decay" (so ill, in fact, that his hair uncurled and they were forced to perm it!), finally well again for "Warrior's Gate" and "The Keeper of Traken".

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    1. created an Adric that was "mid-arc"

      Because "mid-arc" is "M. Adric" scrambled. Nomen est omen.

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    2. ...didn't mean that, but clever. :-P

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  23. So adric was an id-arc? Or just acrid?

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    1. ...interesting that you say that, since that was JNT's original point in naming him; it was, according to the fantastically usefull Shannon Sullivan site, "an anagram of “Dirac” -- a tribute to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Paul Dirac, a pioneer in the field of quantum mechanics".

      ...of course, was that the point of you saying that? :-/

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    2. was that the point of you saying that?

      No, I hadn't heard that story. Though once I thought of "Dirac" I wondered whether that might have been the intended reference.

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    3. Well... since we've gotten physicist-related anagrams out of the way, Berserk, what do you think of my musings on Bidmead, above?

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  24. I missed Season 17 because I was in the Netherlands that year, so the first episode of The Leisure Hive was the first one I'd seen for some time, and when we were two or three episodes in I walked round the school playground with another friend of mine who liked the show and he explained how since the one set in Paris (which I couldn't believe had as bad a name as City of Death), Doctor Who had "gone to pot". I agreed with him at the time, and I still find it hard to be fond of The Leisure Hive, although the book does a much better job of getting over what the story was meant to be about.

    What Bidmead did was structurally well beyond taking out the jokes, though he clearly did that here. He took out the opportunities for Tom Baker to grandstand. Hardly any of the stories this season feature the kind of Tom-on-bad-guy action that seasons 12-17 are full of. In this story Pangol only turns out to be the bad guy near the end, I don't remember any Doctor/Meglos scenes in Meglos (though I don't remember Meglos that well), Full Circle has no bad guys, State of Decay has those scenes for historical reasons, Rorvik isn't a standard-issue villian, in Keeper of Traken the Doctor is unable to speak in the climactic scenes inside [SPOILER], and in Logopolis he spends as much time working with the Master as facing up to him.

    And this is a problem for the season on a number of levels. Firstly, and most obviously, this Doctor/Boss confrontation is one of the things Baker does extremely well given a good script, and it's a shame to deny the audience that pleasure no matter what's going on behind the scenes. Second, a morality play is at its strongest if Good gets the better of Evil in the argument, not just because Good has better weapons (this is a real weakness of the end of Harry Potter, for example). Third, considering this is the season that most of all is supposed to be about Nerd Pride, it's surprising that it blows the opportunities for nerd catharsis when the smartest guy in the room shows up the jock who thinks he's so cool. So it blows the opportunity to be great genre, it blows the opportunity to be great at its chosen specialised subject, and it blows the opportunity to use Tom Baker's strengths.

    Bidmead knows what he's trying to replace it with, and he takes us on a season-long journey about how finding out is a curse but also the only way through to the other side. He's all about inner journeys externalized, and it's hard to marry with the Doctor who has less of an inner journey than any of the Doctors before him.

    None of this is really about this story or this post, though, so.

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  25. I don't think the cliffhangers carry the weight you want to put on them. They're both fairly standard Doctor in peril cliffhangers, and neither of them very effective unless you're doing a lot of work that the serial itself doesn't. When I was 12, the episode 1 cliffhanger just looked like a bad special effect -- it was too clean to be someone being torn apart -- and the episode 2 cliffhanger was "so what? Time Lords can live a long time". The book, again, deals with the episode 2 cliffhanger much better: there's a great passage along the lines of "So this is what it's like being old, the Doctor thought. Everyone thinks you're stupid because you have trouble hearing and sometimes take a while to work out what you want to say."

    Which leads me to my main problem with the direction: Lovett Bickford may be a step up on the technical side but he's a giant backwards step in working out what to do with actors. The clip you chose illustrates one of the worst examples of this. The Foamasi walk like men in suits. Thousand-year-old Tom Baker walks like Tom Baker. The actors are maybe trying to sell the intellectual ideas of the story, but no-one's thought about how it feels to be there. Without that, all the technical expertise in the world can't produce a fully successful story. Compare this to the other auteur of Season 18, Paul Joyce, who filled Warriors' Gate with people and cared about every aspect of the experience.

    A couple of minor points on your review, both places where I think you're bringing in too much hindsight. As Alex highlights: "it eventually gets to where the only way to follow Doctor Who is to be an obsessive fan." Really? I mean, if your knowledge of what following Doctor Who was like in the 80s comes from fan memoirs, then maybe yes, but this amounts to saying that the only way to be an obsessive fan was to be an obsessive fan. I was not in fandom but thought of myself as a fan -- read DWM but rarely Dreamwatch, was excited that Robert Holmes was coming back, saw every episode -- so following, certainly, but obsessive? I don't know.

    And second: But the Tom Baker Show has one major weakness that Doctor Who doesn't, which is that if Tom Baker leaves it's dead in the water. (a) Dude, hindsight. If he leaves obviously the Tom Baker show dies, but Doctor Who reinvents itself. A couple of good stories with the new Doctor is all it takes. No need to overstate. (b) I don't think that taking out all the jokes and pissing Tom Baker off was a masterplan to ensure the show's survival, I think it was a series of tactical moves to solve immediate problems which could as easily have killed the show as let it carry on (and, arguably, did both).

    But he really was pissed off. I was listening to the commentary track on Warriors' Gate last week and although Lalla Ward and Chris Bidmead are by and large very polite to each other there are a couple of moments where she goes from polite to steely and all the wounds of thirty years ago are open again.

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    1. I neglected to mention this the first time 'round but re-reading you comment reminded me: One way to make "The Leisure Hive" a million times more entertaining is to watch it while listening to Lalla Ward MST3K-riff it to death on the DVD audio commentary track. It's hilarious and amazing. She should do RiffTrax.

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  26. A few follow ups on other people's comments:

    @Carey: (a) Love the icon! (b) Good point about Peter Moffatt too.

    @Alex: Yes, the episodes are clearly missing material, rather than being padded. As I say above, I think the problem with the direction is the lack of attention paid to acting (see Carey's comment). And I would say it's tightly cut but not particularly tightly paced. But I love your point about coming back from the seaside and how the opening shot is in many ways the perfect season opener.

    @Alan -- I basically agree with this assessment of Adric. He doesn't work so well in State of Decay, but of course he wasn't meant to be in it, but in the rest of Season 18 he's absolutely fine. Four to Doomsday is the one where he's really written as a dick.

    @Matthew -- I mentioned Chris Bidmead! Looking forward to this discussion as we go through the season, particularly since, despite all its flaws, I have a lot of time for Logopolis.

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  27. Alan:
    "And yet ... something seemed off. Having read Phillip's post, I now see that what was missing was, well, the fun. Taking all the jokes in an effort to chain Tom Baker made the whole affair seem rather lifeless.
    Oh, and I hated, hated, hated Tom's new all-burgundy costume. My biggest pet-peeve about JNT's regime is his effort to "brand" the Doctor with those omnipresent question marks. I felt like he was trying to make the Doctor into some kind of superhero who wore a costume instead of just a dashing traveler wearing clothes that fit his personality. I felt the same with Peter Davison; the cricket gear was interesting, but they ruined it with that ridiculous coat that no one would ever wear in real life with or without celery. By the time we got to Colin Baker, I thought the costume department was being deliberately insulting to the audience."

    YEAH. I didn't mind the vest, but when the entire outfit was a single color... and small as they are, the question marks are stupid. They actually say "It's me" rather than "Who's he?"



    Muad'dib:
    "on the subject of this season as a whole, it is my personal favorite along with Season 14. There are a number of strong scripts, particularly State of Decay and Warriors' Gate. The Keeper of Traken and Logopolis are also quite good. All four of those stories bring back an eerie mystique lost or abandoned during Williams' tenure. Adric was rather an abominable addition and Meglos is feeble"

    I do like Season 18 for the most part, yet it's got its own problems totally different from Season 17, which simply is more entertaining. Last time I watched (2 years back), I was shocked to find I liked all the stories, except "LOGOPOLIS", which somehow keeps getting worse on every viewing. Adric was a serious mistake, but "MEGLOS" is actually funny in parts, and "funny" can cover a sea of problems.



    Alan:
    "I will say this about Adric -- I had no problems with him at all in Season 18. I was the same age as he was written, and I thought his basic character concept (a brilliant but insecure boy, lost after the death of his only living relative, latches onto the Doctor and Romana as surrogate parents) was somewhat endearing. Then, in Season 19, everything went to hell, and JNT decided that Adric should turn into Scrappy Doo but without the wit and charm. In retrospect, I think the idea was that Adric was lashing out because his surrogate father (the Fourth Doctor) had died in front of him, to be replaced by a brash, impetuous older brother who frequently ignored him in place of the two girls who had invaded their home. Unfortunately, all of that subtext was completely lost on me at the time and I just thought he was a petulant little jackass."

    Adric really takes until "TRAKEN" to begin to live up to his potential. then, it's dumped with the next episode, and keeps going downhill. I think you're dead right about the in-story reasons. But as with almost the entire JNT era, he's trying to do a "soap-opera" format show (almost every story leading into the next one) but WITHOUT any believeable on-screen character development, thanks to lousy writing.

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  28. William Whyte:
    "I don't think that taking out all the jokes and pissing Tom Baker off was a masterplan to ensure the show's survival, I think it was a series of tactical moves to solve immediate problems which could as easily have killed the show as let it carry on (and, arguably, did both)."

    Actors leave-- more in the UK than the USA. It's a given. But you don't DRIVE them off a show. JNT did. He kicked 2 of the best characters the show ever had off-- and that, along with all the other interminable changes, inspired the lead actor to follow. Yes. I realized this week, DAMMIT, K-9 was never just a "prop", he was a CHARACTER, and one of the BEST the show ever had. I was reminded of how in an interview, Tom Baker said, a few weeks after Lalla Ward departed, that he suddenly couldn't imagine being without her. So, he quit, and they got married. I don't think he had to quit to get married, but the show was no longer "fun", so, why not leave then?


    "I was listening to the commentary track on Warriors' Gate last week and although Lalla Ward and Chris Bidmead are by and large very polite to each other there are a couple of moments where she goes from polite to steely and all the wounds of thirty years ago are open again."

    Seems a shame Bidmead didn't story-edit Peter Davison. HE could have used something, almost anything, to counter the near-total lack of, well, anything else. Someone suggested JNT & Douglas Adams might have made a good team, slicker production and more imaginative and entertaining stories. But JNT would have had to NOT have his contempt for humor for it to ever happen.

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  29. Watched it again last night. I've seen it, and every story from this period, SO many times, by now, I think it's safe to say I gave it every chance. Early-on, it seemed impressive. As for the story, I probebly figured, well, maybe I'm missing something. No. The story is what's missing. That, and the direction. And certain bits of the production.

    The long opening tracking was a neat idea, but, it's just about TWICE as long as it should have been. The visual editing tricks to get to Argolis, and later, when Mena is introduced, are clever. The long, long up-shot of the shuttles landing, where you can't see the shuttles, and they go on and on for so long (at least 3 times over the course of the story) are unforgivable. Saving money on actually building a shuttle, were we?

    The whole post-nuclear war thing, the conflict of promoting understanding vs. insane war-mongering, very good. Even the romance with Mena & Hardin, very much in line with different races being together in harmony. But there's not enough character development. And as someone at PageFillers pointed out, there's too many plot-threads, and NONE of them are developed properly. One might almost see this as a trial-run for (dare I say it??) "SILVER NEMESIS".

    And there's too damn many close-ups. Worst offended is when Hardin goes into the boardroom, looking for the fallen Mena, and the camera stays in close-up for over half a minute, instead of showing us the room, and her.

    I have no problem with the music itself, EXCEPT... it's TOO LOUD, especially in Part 4. This was where that crap started, and it only got worse as time went on. Loud electronic music is okay for silent mood establishing shots, but NOT when you have dialogue going on. this is such a simple, basic, obvious thing, it makes the director seem like he just got out of film school and this was his first job.

    Also, you now it's bad when such an "obvious" storyline as having THE MAFIA trying to move in and take over a place by repeatedly performing acts of sabotage, I never "got" until I read about it in the magazine after-the-fact. Just one example of many plot-threads not given enough screen time.

    And for THIS, we lost all the humor???

    Just crossed my mind today... they missed a bet by not having Baker try to "channel" William Hartnell when he got old.

    A fantasy of mine is, if I somehow ever found myself as producer of the show, the first thing I'd do would be reinstate the original 1963 theme song. and, I have someone build a TARDIS control room inspired by the one in "AN UNEARTHLY CHILD"-- only, with a real budget.

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  30. Just watched this again last night. I've seen every story from this period so many times I've lost count, so I think it's safe to say I've given it every chance. It was very impressive at first... but I always felt like I was missing something regarding the story. Not anymore. It's clearly the story that's missing something. Aside from humor, there's also character development. As someone at Page Fillers said, there's too many plot-threads, but NONE of them get developed enough. This includes the romance between Mena & Hardin, which should have been a wonderful extension of the whole "promoting understanding" theme of the science institute ("Hive"). And how about something so obvious as THE MAFIA trying to move in and take over via systematic sabotage-- something I never quite "got" until I had it explained to me via the magazine?

    The opening tracking shot is nice, but goes on at least twice as long as it should. However, the vertical "shuttle landing" shots are unforgivable. They all go on too long, there's at least 3 of them, and you never see the shuttle. Saving money on not having to build a model, were we?

    And what's with all the close-ups? The worst offender is the scene where Hardin rushes into the boardroom to find the fallen Mena, but the camera stays on his face for at least half a minute, instead of, you know, showing us the room, and Mena. This, and some of the transitional edits, make it seem as if the director just got out of film school, and this was his first job.

    And how about the music? IT'S TOO LOUD!!! Especially in Part 4. Impressive electronic music in otherwise silent scene-setting shots is one thing, but when you have dialogue and can't hear what's being said, that's rank amatuerism. It's a simple, basic thing that no "professional" should be getting this wrong, and this crap starts right here, and continues to get worse right to the end of the series.

    There was a decent story in there... before they gutted all the humor and otherwise messed with it for the sake of "style over substance". Tragically, as someone else at PageFillers pointed out, JNT never figured out that DOCTOR WHO was a character-based show. Perhaps the worst crime was deliberately driving off 2 of the best characters the show ever had. On TV, actors move on. More so in England than America. But you don't, you never drive them off. And that's what he did. And yes, I'm including K-9. He was never a "prop". He was a real character, and one of the best in the show's history. But with him and Romana gone-- plus all the other questionable changes-- it "inspired" Tom Baker, at a late date, to also go. Maybe that's what JNT had in mind anyway?

    I still find Season 18 very watchable. But the last time I did (2 years back), I was quite surprised to find I felt every story had some good in it-- except "LOGOPOLIS". That's when it all really went to hell.

    I have a fantasy, where, if I ever found myself as Producer of the show, the first thing I'd so would be resotre the 1963 theme song, and, have a TARDIS control room built that was "inspired" by the one on "AN UNEARTHLY CHILD"-- only, with a real budget.

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  31. I'm late to the party on this one (all right, very late), but it occurs to me that the opening shot might be explained in the context of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which was produced by the Beeb and shown during the winter of 1979 (beginning on 10 September and continuing over the public outing of Blunt as a member of the Cambridge Five), and opens with an excruciatingly slow and uneventful scene.

    I do wonder if this scene was perhaps in the mind of Who's prodution team, and if the row of empty chairs was a kind of oblique criticism or homage? Just a thought.

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  32. So this is way past original posting, and I apologize for the necro-posting. Ever since finding this blog (a few months after you started it, I think, maybe less, you were still in Hartnell), I've been motivated to go back and watch all the Classic Doctor Who I had never seen, Which was basically all of it, which is why I'm just now getting to The Leisure Hive. My general process is to watch the episode blind and then read the entry on 'A Brief History of Time (Travel)', followed by your post about that episode (or the relevant entry from your books, on occasions where I've fallen pretty far behind).

    Anyway, the point is, as much as I expected the Nathan-Turner era to be a pretty mild transition, because other than maybe the Troughton/Pertwee divide most season to season or doctor to doctor change overs have been pretty clearly the exact same show with a change or two. The Leisure Hive practically -screams- I am all-new, all-different, welcome to the 80's everyone. Which of course you mentioned in your post, but I imagine it's easy for most long term fans to forget just what a difference it is.

    Note I don't say better, for all the changes it's basically a story Doctor Who has done numerous times before, but the camera work, the background music, the editing, the new credits, it all feels very different from the previous season. And although it's not any shorter than previous episodes, the more modern editing and composition make it feel a bit faster, I think. It's inherently modern and familiar in a way Doctor Who has rarely been previously (the main exception, in different ways, being City of Death). You'd basically have to have never seen Doctor Who before this not to notice how hard it's trying to appear different.

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