1-story disc
Region 1

for North America
3-story box set
Region 2

for the U.K.
VHS Video
(Doctor Who Story No. 116, starring Tom Baker)
  • written by Christopher H. Bidmead
  • directed by Peter Grimwade
  • produced by John Nathan-Turner
  • music by Paddy Kingsland
  • 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Developing plot-lines from season 18 are brought to a close. An attempt to repair the TARDIS's chameleon circuit and "run a tighter ship" brings the Doctor and Adric into another deadly encounter with the Master, as the action moves between England and a clerical society on the planet Logopolis that lives and breathes computations. Janet Fielding debuts as Tegan Jovanka, and Nyssa returns to round out the emerging TARDIS crew. Tom Baker gives his unforgettable final performance as the Doctor.
New Beginnings
3 DVD boxed set NTSC Region 1

for North America

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by actors Tom Baker (The Doctor) and Janet Fielding (Tegan), and writer Christopher H. Bidmead.
  • "A New Body at Last" 50 minute documentary on the making of Logopolis and the transition from Tom Baker to Peter Davison,
    with Tom Baker, Chris Bidmead, Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Adrian Gibbs (The Watcher),
    Peter Davison (the next Doctor), and series directors Peter Moffatt and John Black.
  • "Nationwide" interviews with Tom Baker & Peter Davison (8 min.)
  • "Pebble Mill at One" Peter Davison interview (12 min.)
  • BBC News Reports on Tom Baker's wedding & departure, and Peter Davison's arrival (1 min.)
  • Isolated Music Score by Paddy Kingsland
  • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
  • Photo Gallery music montage (5 min.)
  • DVD ROM .pdf files: 1982 Dr. Who Annual, Radio Times, & BBC Enterprises literature

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

Season Eighteen goes out with a very satisfying bang, albeit perhaps one less accessible to casual viewers of the show. Written by this season's script editor, Christopher Hamilton Bidmead, "Logopolis" draws on the threads of earlier stories from the season and knits a compelling tapestry of the Doctor's universe.

The introductions opening this story really don't seem designed for new or casual viewers. Whether you assume the police box by the road is the infamous TARDIS or just an ordinary telephone device, the effect playing out on it is far from self explanatory, and most likely forgotten by the time some clues slip through a later dialogue scene. Once again, the sound effect is your best clue to what is happening in this sequence, if you're versed enough with the show to recognize that it doesn't quite belong to the Doctor's machine.

The actual TARDIS itself is presented from the inside out during this opening, starting so deep inside that even regular viewers may have to make an effort to recognize where the Doctor and Adric's first scene is taking place. All in all, not a bad scene, nicely introducing the entropy theme that becomes central to the story.

The cut back to Earth to introduce Tegan and her Aunt is also nicely set up.

Bidmead's noble aim of bringing out Adric's enquiring mind doesn't really seem on the surface to be doing anything more than fulfilling one of the primary traditional roles of the Doctor's companion: to ask questions about the plot for the audience. Many times in this story, it seems a parrot could have done the job better. Adric's unfamiliarity, and subsequent endless bland questioning, of Earth culture begins to slow the story down, demonstrating that it is a mistake to allow the companion to fall far behind the audience. Without a stronger line of humour, its entertainment value is seriously questionable.

A more serious problem is at its absolute worst in the Doctor and Adric's second scene in the cloister room, where Bidmead's thought patterns with their strong mismatching tendencies are allowed to produce a line of questioning for Adric that takes us farther from the ideas Bidmead is trying to get across instead of closer. Added clarity this is not! Bob Baker and Dave Martin often got hung up like this on previous scripts. As a mismatcher, Bidmead will probably be expert at correcting himself once he realizes this method is not to anyone's advantage.

Tom Baker adds extra solemness and foreboding to his portrayal of the Doctor, which is a wonderful touch for this particular story. The mysterious Watcher character is also a very successful element adding to the emotional weight of the piece, which Tom is able to play off of brilliantly. It's also a very unusual element for a Doctor Who story, helping to keep the narrative fresh.

The sequence of Tom peering out of the TARDIS door in episode one is very good for establishing some clarity about the TARDIS for new viewers, as is the TARDIS landing beside the police box before surrounding it, and all the dialogue surrounding the view from the scanner screen. Indeed, it's hard to imagine anyone coming to the end of the story "Logopolis" without knowing far more about what the vehicle is and how it works than they may ever need to know.

Motivating the Master

At this point, it is worth repeating something I noted back in the very first Master story "Terror of the Autons" (story no. 55):
          The Master is a difficult character to motivate properly, as his
     TARDIS provides him with all he needs for his material survival and
     gives him the freedom of all time and space.  That freedom in fact
     keeps him separate from any society he might wish to dominate.  What
     really is his life-style of choice?  Ruler of the universe surrounded
     by minions in a command structure, or self-centered loner wandering the
     galaxy by TARDIS?  Well, lots of people don't really have the issues
     in their lives all neatly sorted out, and villains should be no
     exception, particular those who miss their objectives as often as
     the Master does with the Doctor on his tail.  Still, in order for the
     Master character to work well in a script, he either needs a
     particularly grand ambition to deviously work towards, or he needs
     to be in some form of trouble causing him to work to regain what
     he originally had.  Ideally, both ideas should be in play.  Revenge
     is yet a third possible motivational factor, but I find it to be
     the weakest in terms of creating quality entertainment, and insufficient
     to sustain a complex character like the Master over the long-term,
     and "Doctor Who" is definitely a long-term sci-fi adventure series.
The Master's main ambitions work well in "Logopolis", and are particularly well-anchored to his character flaws. Digging deeper to look at the details of some of his more minor actions, however, enough holes appear to rank this as the least successful of Tom Baker's three excellent Master stories.

All the best Master motivations are in play: He is still regaining what he had before, corporeally speaking. He has a grand ambition, to discover the secret work taking place on Logopolis and develop a plan to use it to his personal advantage, although even he cannot fully anticipate how grand the scope of this will become. Thirdly, his vengeful sparring with the Doctor also continues on the side, where it belongs.

The Master's final scheme in this story really emphasizes his lack of having defined a clear lifestyle of choice for himself. His biggest issue is laid out more clearly here in "Logopolis" than anywhere else.

The excessive but enjoyable shenanigans of the Master's TARDIS finally reach a high point when its ever-changing disguise becomes that of a Greek pillar - the most definitive and widely used form his TARDIS has ever taken on the program, making its debut here in Logopolis. Right on!

The Master's weapon of choice, the Tissue Compression Eliminator, also returns in this story. Having only appeared briefly in Robert Holmes' Master stories "Terror of the Autons" (story no. 55) and "The Deadly Assassin" (story no. 88), it now becomes a much more staple device for Anthony Ainley's era as the Master. As before, it is demonstrated more through evidence of its effect on its victims than with any satisfying visual beam effects. A bit disappointing, but directed well enough in spite of this.

Logopolis itself is an interesting idea of a place, brought well enough to the screen. There is a certain lack of entertaining social complexity amongst the inhabitants, and the sets seem to have been designed with priorities other than any real aesthetic value, so it does seem advantageous that the screen time spent there is limited.

With only John Fraser's compellingly dignified performance to represent the entire Logopolitan guest roster, the focus of the story remains on the growing regular cast. Nyssa's re-entrance to the series late in episode two seems like a very arbitrary last-minute addition, but from episode three on she becomes an essential part of the story, especially helping to establish the antagonist. Here Ainley puts his stamp on the recurring role he will be most remembered for on Doctor Who, making the Master into a worthy and enjoyable adversary for the adventures of my favourite Doctors. Excellent.

Janet Fielding also debuts as Tegan Jovanka, naively over-projecting her performance in a manner more appropriate for the stage than the small screen. Having become accustomed to her character throughout her more experienced portrayals in season 19 before seeing this story for the first time, I was perfectly willing to accept her character in this tale.

It is interesting to note how the plot and the action have deviated from the traditional monster-story formulae laid out in the Troughton and Pertwee eras, embracing more of the sci-fi mystery story beats made popular by Robert Holmes, Douglas Adams and Bob Baker and Dave Martin during Tom Baker's era, and in the case of this particular story and its fascination with TARDISes, producing an action plot that is uniquely Whovian. Even if it is less accessible to the masses, and a bit slower than would be ideal in the first half of the story, it has the power to captivate regular viewers of the show and deliver a sci-fi mystery of mythological impact to the show.

The entropy theme also nicely mirrors the idea of this being the end of Tom's era, and both ideas are developed with appropriate emotional gravity.

Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that, in the tradition of the best hero myths, the final heroics are left to the Doctor alone. Although more time and money might have resulted in improved blocking and effects, not to mention extra takes, director Peter Grimwade maximizes his editing choices and gets great emotional value from his footage, not to mention the extra boost from some of JNT's ideas, making Tom Baker's finish possibly the best any Doctor has ever had. (Patrick Troughton's "The War Games" [story no. 50] still takes the cake for best final story, in my view.)

As with many other potential spoilers, I shall save the discussion of the Watcher for the In-Depth Analysis version of this review.

Much of the mood of the story must be credited to Paddy Kingsland's very versatile and thematic score. One of his very best ever, it is surprising to note how much of it is composed of short little stings and stabs, with only a few cues of decent length. Themes for Logopolis and the Watcher are excellent, as is a three-note motif for the Master that develops into a more definitive five notes by the third episode and carries over into the next story. A variety of lively action cues and some darker ominous pieces complete a lovely emotional range for the score. And the nice bit of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony in the final episode is also an enjoyable touch. Well done.

In the end, Logopolis is one of the best Doctor Who stories, if a little unusual, ranking only slightly behind "The Keeper of Traken" (story no. 115) for season eighteen, and having a more emotionally satisfying conclusion to boot. It is certainly not to be missed by anyone seeking to go through the mythological highlights of the series.

Season Eighteen Rankings:

Best Story:

  1. The Keeper of Traken
  2. Logopolis
  3. State of Decay
  4. Full Circle
  5. The Leisure Hive
  6. Meglos
  7. Warriors' Gate

Best Writer:

  1. Johnny Byrne
  2. Christopher H. Bidmead
  3. Terrance Dicks
  4. Andrew Smith
  5. David Fisher
  6. John Flanagan & Andrew McCulloch
  7. Stephen Gallagher

Best Director:

  1. Peter Grimwade
  2. John Black
  3. Peter Moffatt
  4. Terence Dudley
  5. Lovett Bickford
  6. Paul Joyce

Best Music:

  1. Meglos (Howell/Kingsland)
  2. Warriors' Gate (Peter Howell)
  3. Logopolis (Paddy Kingsland)
  4. State of Decay (Paddy Kingsland)
  5. Full Circle (Paddy Kingsland)
  6. The Leisure Hive (Peter Howell)
  7. The Keeper of Traken (Roger Limb)

Best Lasers & Other Electronic Effects:

  1. The Keeper of Traken
  2. State of Decay
  3. Meglos
  4. Warriors' Gate
  5. Logopolis
  6. Full Circle
  7. The Leisure Hive

Logopolis has become available on DVD and VHS video.

Single Story versions:
DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.:
See boxed set below.
VHS Video
NTSC in the U.S.
PAL for the U.K.

3-story boxed sets:
(Story Nos. 115-117: The Keeper of Traken, Logopolis & Castrovalva.)
New Beginnings
3 DVD boxed set
NTSC Region 1
in the U.S.
in Canada
New Beginnings
3 DVD boxed set
PAL Region 2
for the U.K.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "Castrovalva"

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