Wednesday, January 6, 2010

5R1 - Full Circle 1

Season 18 of Doctor Who is, without a doubt, pound for pound, the least Earth-centric season ever made. Only two stories, The Leisure Hive and Logopolis, feature scenes set on Earth, and even then, only the opening scene of the The Leisure Hive is set on Brighton beach, and less than half of Logopolis takes place on our world.

As much as I've always enjoyed Season 18, this lack of Earth familiarity did make it a slightly distant and aloof season, far away from the cares and concerns of those suffering through the first throes of Thatcherism in the UK in the early 1980s. Full Circle starts Doctor Who's furthest trip from Earth. Not only far from Earth, but in a different universe altogether - E-Space.

Even the problems faced by the Alzarians in the opening episode of this story have nothing in common with any Earth-type sensibilities. Deciders, Mistfall, Outlers....Adric - there are very few parallels drawn between our world and Alzarius. This is an approach that would be sternly frowned upon by Russell T Davies today, but in 1980, and especially with the writing team that put together this story, it is perfectly in keeping with what this revamped series, under the stewardship of John Nathan-Turner.

Andrew Smith, who turned 18 during the production of his only Doctor Who, and was probably like most other nerdy, teenaged Doctor Who fans who wrote fiction - he set his story on a far and distant world in a story that was relatively free from cliche or influence from outside sources because he simply had not enough life experience to knowingly reference any known works or themes. Add in Christopher H. Bidmead's pedantic love for deadly accurate scientific dialogue, and you have a way out story that should be crushed under the weight of its own technobabble.

The fact that Episode One of Full Circle doesn't collapse, but is actually one of the more intriguing opening episodes seen in some time, is, given the circumstances, remarkable. Many seeds are planted (sometimes literally) in this episode to flower in the rest of the story, and is nothing short of brilliant. Well, Matthew Waterhouse short of brilliant.


Post a Comment