for North America
for the U.K.
|(Doctor Who Story No. 112, starring Tom Baker)
- written by Andrew Smith
- directed by Peter Grimwade
- produced by John Nathan-Turner
- music by Paddy Kingsland
- 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: After dropping through a freak hole
in space, the Doctor, Romana, and K9 find themselves
on the planet Alzarius in a pocket universe known as
E-space. The planet's bizarre orbit has taken it into
a transformational period known as Mistfall, when Marsh
creatures rise from the swamp, and atmospheric changes
force the local humanoid population back into their
colony ship from the planet Terradon. Aided by
Adric and his rebellious teenage gang who sense lies
in the old legends, the Doctor soon uncovers a trail
of secrets about the Alzarians, but can he piece the
puzzle together and save the Alzarians before the
Marshmen overrun the ship?
DVD Extras include:
- Audio commentary by
writer Andrew Smith,
script editor Christopher H. Bidmead, and
actor Matthew Waterhouse (Adric).
- "All Aboard the Starliner" making-of featurette (24 min.),
with Smith, Bidmead,
Lalla Ward (Romana),
John Leeson (Voice of K9),
George Baker (Login),
Bernard Padden (Tylos),
film cameraman Max Sammett,
and vintage interviews of the late director Peter Grimwade.
- Music Only option
- "E-Space - Fact or Fiction" featurette (14 min.)
on the science behind "Exo-Space"
and parallel universe theory - highly recommended!
This is as good as
"What the Bleep Do We Know?" or
- Photo Gallery music montage (6 min.)
- Pop-up Production Note Subtitles for main feature AND THE PHOTO GALLERY.
- "K9 in E-Space" featurette (4 min.) with Ward, Leeson, Smith, Bidmead, and
writer Terrance Dicks.
- Matthew Waterhouse on "Swap Shop" (8 min.)
In-Depth Analysis Review
by Martin Izsak
WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for
those who have already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers,
read the Buyers' Guide version instead.
At last the quality of Doctor Who content picks up with this
fascinating and generally well-written story. Add to the mix a
great director, the interest of introducing a new regular character,
plenty of excellent location work establishing the setting, and
a very thematic and enjoyable score, and we have the best story
that the season has offered so far.
This is the season's first true sci-fi mystery, which when resolved
presents concepts unique within the series. The tale deserves honourable
mention for that alone, and still has plenty more going for it. The cast
of characters are all real, likeable, understandable people as well,
and there is no hard-core villain in the piece either, which makes the
ensuing conflicts quite organic and natural.
In many ways, the Marshmen fill the typical role of a race of
Doctor Who "monsters", but they are nicely reminiscent of many of the
adversaries that Malcolm Hulke created in the
Jon Pertwee days. They become
worthy of our sympathies, and the Doctor treats them with as much respect
and first-contact etiquette as he does the more human-looking characters.
Indeed, he seems ready to go to bat for either of them, as the situation
and his principles dictate.
Employing Adric, K9, and the Doctor...
I've always been surprised at the amount of flak that the character
Adric receives from many vocal fans of the series, since I rather liked
the character myself, and often found myself empathizing with him. Perhaps
a key clue to this phenomenon can be found in Matthew Waterhouse's statement
that he decided to play the character rather "shut-down" emotionally,
a fair interpretation which can have the side effect of not offering the
audience as much charisma and charm as they want from a regular character.
Perhaps it is also significant that I formed my first impressions of Adric
from Season 19 before I saw anything of him in Season 18. Some of
Adric's moments are not too pleasant to watch, particularly in
these first stories of his, but that is the case in real life
sometimes as well.
I think Adric is also woefully mislabeled as the idiot of the
emerging new TARDIS crew. He actually has an unmatched capacity for
technical science, mathematics, and more of a knack for piloting the
TARDIS than any other companion before or since, and it's not too much
of a stretch to believe that that came at a cost to his social development.
Indeed, such a character seems more appropriate in science fiction than
in any other genre, as a means of connecting with your core audience
if nothing else, although I suspect this works better in print than
in film or television, where charisma speaks volumes to everyone.
Nonetheless, Adric's first inadvertent piloting of the Doctor's vehicle
here is less than helpful.
K9 often gets left in the TARDIS when the Doctor and the rest of
the crew go out exploring in the first episode, but there is a nice reversal
here as the Doctor takes K9 with him to investigate Mistfall and orders
Romana and Adric to stay inside instead. K9's luck does not hold though,
as he goes to pieces and remains out of action for most of the rest of the
story. John Nathan-Turner really seems to have it in for the little guy,
and I was most upset to see K9 being repeatedly given such a wimpy showing
when I first saw this season. The lack of any laser beams (from K9 or
anything else) was another source of great disappointment for me back then,
but of course seems far less important these days.
The Doctor is better involved in this adventure than in any other
season 18 story so far. He brings us viewers to the new planet and
engages our curiosity about the place, thus prepping us nicely for
all the exposition of the guest characters that then takes place without
his presence, which is the right sequence of doing things in my book.
Adric then gets most of the focus of the first episode, which works
since he's an important character being introduced. The Doctor then
shifts from his investigation of the phenomena that the TARDIS went through
and embarks on a different line of exploration and investigation, beginning
Adric, Mistfall, and the marsh creatures, and continuing with the Starliner
and the customs of the people living in it. He also proves as interested
in Dexeter as in the scientist's experiments. His trip back to the cave
keeps things moving literally, and begins to cement his working relationship
with Adric. And of course, he is quite busy in the final episode resolving
most of the story's challenges, amidst quite a bit of a type of action
that shouldn't be as a-typical for the show as is usually the case in
Peter Grimwade's directing is also the best the season has seen so
far. He seems just as capable of being creative like Lovett Bickford,
yet has a far greater ability to use that creativity to serve the story
and pace it appropriately.
Paddy Kingsland's musical score is quite good, and very enjoyably
melodic. Although it seems that both Romana's and K9's theme aren't
substantially different enough from the theme for Adric & the Alzarians,
perhaps these are simply meant to be variations on a general theme for
the entire story. And perhaps it is only strange in retrospect, as the theme
became so strongly established as Adric's in later stories like
"Earthshock" (story no. 122) and
"Terminus" (story no. 127).
I love most of Kingsland's trademark instrument sounds,
particularly the synthetic "flute", although I often imagine he had
a secret desire to be a rock-star in bringing the electric guitar so
boldly into the mix all through this particular story. I love Adric's
theme and many of the mysterious & transitional cues in this story,
but the electric guitar bits are some of my least favourite cues of the
season, which probably says more about my personal tastes than the
quality of Kingsland's work.
The complete Musical Score by Paddy Kingsland
is available on:
Special Sound by Dick Mills
from this story is available on:
The story is blessed with some very moving performances as well,
particularly in the Alzarian elite.
James Bree is at his Doctor Who best in this story, making the burdened,
partially antagonistic character of Nefred very sympathetic. George Baker
is also outstanding as Login, a very balanced touch-stone character
amongst the Alzarian population. Decider Draith and Dexeter are delivered
with great performances as well, while the rest of the cast do an excellent
job of supporting them.
The Marshmen costumes seem a bit dated by today's standards, and the
spiders are a bit too cheap in many shots. But the director still manages
to get some good stuff across with Marshmen performances and the odd
surprising spider effect, keeping the whole thing engaging nonetheless.
"Full Circle" has given this season its first glimpse of excellence.
Thankfully, the excellence is far from over....
This story is available on DVD and VHS video
as the first adventure of the E-Space Trilogy.
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for pricing and availability:
|DVD NTSC Region 1
The E-Space Trilogy
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|DVD PAL Region 2
The E-Space Trilogy
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The E-Space Trilogy
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Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact
the author from this page:
Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story
in the E-Space Trilogy:
"State of Decay"