Sunday, 13 September 2020

534 The Leisure Hive: Part Three

EPISODE: The Leisure Hive: Part Three
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 534
STORY NUMBER: 110
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 13 September 1980
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Lovett Bickford
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive

"Despair is the death of hope, and all our hope died years ago."

The aged Doctor is taken to a cabin by Romana, where Pangol has their movements restricted, arguing that the Doctor is still on trial for murder. Mena hints that technology once held hope for the Argolin before. Pangol reveals to Mena that the experiments were faked. The Doctor ponders why Pangol is the only young Argolin. He and Romana deduce the Tachyon generator has a second function. Hardin asks the Doctor & Romana for help as the Doctor wonders if the Recreation Generator isn't a Re-Creation Generator. Pangol rejects the Foamasi offer document and reveals to Brock that he is the child of the generator. The Doctor distracts the Argolin so Romana can examine the Generator. Pangol detects their presence and sounds an alert. Romana is rescued from the Generator by a Foamasi who shows the Doctor a device they found within the Generator. Seeing someone on the monitor the Foamasi hurries off followed by the Doctor & Romana . Reaching the boardroom it attacks Brock, ripping his face off to reveal a Foamasi underneath....

I'm struggling with this story anyway but there's a obvious problem in this episode: Tom Baker's performance is not old enough. It's almost the same as usual, just a little slower in places and a little more subdued and doesn't match what we see on the screen in terms of the aged Doctor makeup.

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OK then: Masque of Mandragora establishes the Tardis translates speech for the Doctor and his companions (and us?) so why can't Doctor understand the Foamasi?

Lots of revelations this episode. We already knew that Hardin's experiment was faked and that now gets revealed to the Argolins. The real surprise here is the true purpose of the recreation generator:

MENA: Your West Lodge can raise that much money?
BROCK: Easily.
PANGOL: We don't need it. I have something better than money.
BROCK: A novel concept.
PANGOL: Manpower.
BROCK: Excuse me for reminding you that this is a sterile planet. There haven't been any Argolins born here since the war.
PANGOL: Which was forty years ago. But how old do you think I am, Mister Brock?
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MENA: No, Pangol! No!
PANGOL: It's time you understood, Mister Brock. You must be more stupid than you look. Mena is not my mother.
MENA: No, Pangol! You've said too much already.
BROCK: You mean you're not an Argolin?
PANGOL: Of course I'm an Argolin! The first of the new Argolin. I am the child of the Generator.

BROCK: You mean the Argolins donated cells from their bodies to this Recreation Generator and cloned themselves? There's a flaw in your story. Where are all the others?
MENA: The theory was still primitive. There were many failures.
BROCK: And yet he survived.
PANGOL: For twenty years a moratorium was declared on the technique, until I came of age, a thoroughly proficient tachyon engineer. There will be no more disfigured mutants in our next reduplication programme.

PANGOL: With Mena's death, the future arrives. The Children of the Generator will rise to claim their inheritance!

Then we finally get to see the creatures we've seen sneaking round the Leisure Hive: They're revealed as the Argolins ancient enemy the Foamasi which leads to the episode's final revelation that Brock is another Foamasi in disguise!

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One thing I loved about this episode, and the whole story, is the fabulous music within. It's been issued on CD, but sadly is long out of print, but thank the Lord the DVD has an isolated music option!. So I'm sitting here listening to the music for the episodes as I write this.

Douglas Adams, for all his marvellous qualities, may not have been the best script editor the show has ever had. (For my money that's Terrance Dicks.) I think he did a decent job fleshing out whatever Terry Nation gave him for Destiny of the Daleks (your mileage may vary with that statement) but even there he missed a vital error in the plot that the Daleks aren't robots. Gradually as the season went his attention was drawn elsewhere and as a result when new producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Christopher H. Bidmead took over the script cupboard was bare of usable scripts. The first two stories into production this year were The Leisure Hive, from an idea David Fisher had had about aliens running a holiday camp, and State of Decay by Terrance Dicks, which had effectively been sitting on the shelf for three years since when it had been cancelled while it was known as the Witch Lords.

The stories for the first half of this season were made in this order:

5N The Leisure Hive
5P State of Decay
5Q Meglos
5R Full Circle
But their order on transmission was somewhat different:
109 The Leisure Hive
110 Meglos
111 Full Circle
112 State of Decay
Apart from these two stories recorded first all the writers for this first new season of Doctor Who are new. The evidence seems to suggest that this is a conscious "new broom" choice by the production team as no director that has previously worked on the series gets used this year either. Terrance Dicks will return in a few years time as will another former script editor Robert Holmes. Similarly of all the directors used on the series before the Leisure Hive director only one ever returns and that's Pennant Roberts, who directed the unfinished Shada that closed the previous season and returns to take charge of Warriors of the Deep and Timelash

Sunday, 6 September 2020

533 The Leisure Hive: Part Two

EPISODE: The Leisure Hive: Part Two
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 533
STORY NUMBER: 110
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 06 September 1980
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Lovett Bickford
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive

"His scarf killed Stimson!"

The Doctor escapes from the Tachyon Generator, what Romana saw having been just a Tachyon projection. The Doctor is taken to meet the newly arrived Hardin & Chairwoman Mena: he is persuaded into assisting the scientist Hardin. Mena explains to the Doctor & Romana about the 20 minute war that devastated her world and how the hive was set up to give them shelter and promote understanding between species. Another fault occurs, leading Mena to explain that there have been a number of recent faults and they suspect sabotage. She tells them that the Argolins are sterile as she herself begins the process of dying. Hardin refuses to demonstrate his process for Brock and tries to keep the Doctor & Romana away from the equipment. When Romana tells Hardin the equipment could be used to save Mena's life he confesses that his experiments don't work and he had been forced to pretend otherwise by backer Stimson. Stimson seeks out Brock, but finds a skin suit of Brock's lawyer, Klout, hanging in the cupboard. Stimson is killed by an unseen creature. The Doctor interrogates the Tachyon Generator's computer before being summoned: the Argolins have found his scarf wrapped round the neck of Stimson's corpse. Hardin's modified equipment struggles even with Romana's modifications. It temporarily runs back an hour glass but once unobserved it explodes. The Doctor is tried for Stimson death. Pangol is suspicious of Hardin's work and the Doctor volunteers to test the modifications to the Tachyon Generator having a couple of decades shaved off his age. Romana finds that the test failed but is too late to stop the test the Doctor is involved in: when the Tachyon Generator is opened the Doctor is incredibly aged.

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The aged Fourth Doctor is a very good cliffhanger shock and a decent bit of make up!

That ticked along nicely while I watched it but now a few hours later there's little that stands out. Yes the business with the scarf is quite funny, but it sticks out in the new, humour depleted version of Doctor Who:

Brock: His scarf killed Stimson!
The Doctor: Arrest the scarf then!
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However coming in at 20m50s, that's quite a short episode! Especially when you consider that there's 30 seconds of opening titles at the start, another minute of recap, 10 seconds of repeating the shuttle shot for the third time, and that end titles crash in 1m20s from the end. So just 17m50s of new footage!

Joining new producer John Nathan-Turner is script editor Christopher H. Bidmead (who you can follow on Twitter). Nathan-Turner and Bidmead both wanted a much more serious version of Doctor Who, feeling that in recent times it had all got a bit too silly. While the appearance of the Major Bloodnok's Stomach sound effect in Horns of the Nimon is a step too far, I don't think the humour in general was too much. I certainly don't think that the Nathan-Turner/Bidmead version of Doctor Who was quite what the public were looking for at the time. In fact, in the wake of the summer's release of The Empire Strikes Back what I think they wanted was spectacular space battle. And, as we saw last episode, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was serving that up on the other side and had nicked a further 0.9 million of Doctor Who's viewers between last week and this.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking against Bidmead and Nathan-Turner this early just for the sake of it. In fact three of my favourite Doctor Who stories make up the tail end of this season. I'm just not sure they were making the right choices to start with, so not giving what the public was expecting, IE The Tom Baker show, and indeed what they really wanted, dramatic space battles with lasers. If anything I think ESB was more of a game changer for Doctor Who than Star Wars was. Following Star Wars, Doctor Who had 3 very successful years. Following ESB it got destroyed in the ratings, couldn't do sci fi humour because Douglas Adams was doing it with Hitch-hikers, couldn't do the effects to Star Wars standards because it didn't have the money did and, partly as a result of loosing it's family audience to Buck Rogers & partly through wanting to be more serious, ended up appealing to a more niche fan market. Around this time Ian Levine's hanging round the production office and becomes the series unofficial continuity adviser, further moving the show into the fans territory and out of the area of family drama appealing to the general public. This will cause problems further down the line the root of which are some of the decisions being made here. But, given where the new production team find themselves, they aren't necessarily the wrong decisions at the time....

We mentioned Nigel Lambert's role as the narrator of Look Around You when his very similar voice over unintentionally spoiled our viewing of episode one. Again if you've not Look Around You, or don't own a copy, then buy one now as it's fabulous. You can see his character Hardin clearly for the first time this episode - he was only vaguely visible in a video in the previous episode. He has a lengthy CV and is one of those actors I keep spotting in odd places: he was in the surviving first season Out of the Unknown episode Come Buttercup, Come Daisy, Come......? as the Milkman and you can see that on the Out of the Unknown DVD Set. He's got two appearances in The Avengers to his name in The Master Minds as Lt. Hardcastle and The £50,000 Breakfast as the 2nd Doctor. He can be seen in UFO as a Moonbase Operative in Computer Affair and is in the first episode of Blake's 7 The Way Back as the Computer Operator.

c4 Hardinc7 Stimson

David Allister plays he ill fated Stimson. He returns in The Trial of a Time Lord: The Terror of the Vervoids as Bruchner. He#'s got an Out of the Unknown on his CV too playing Fuller in the missing fourth season episode The Uninvited. However the complete audio for this episode exists, one of the few Out of the Unknown episodes for which this is the case, and is also on the DVD set.

Adrienne Corri plays Mena: she was in the UFO episode The Square Triangle as Liz Newton.

c1 Mena c2 Pangol

Mena's son Pangol is played by a young David Haig. His career isn't that old but he's already appeared in Blake's 7 as Forres in Rumours of Death. Nowadays he's a familiar face on television but is probably still most recognisable as playing Bernard, the Groom at the second wedding, in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Brock, who spends most of his brief appearances this episode with his back to the camera, is played by John Collin. You can see him in The Sweeney as Parish in Contact Breaker.

c5 Brock c6 Klout

His silent assistant Klout, whose skin appears to be hanging in Brock's wardrobe, is played by Ian Talbot who was in The Silurians episode 4 as the technician Travis. According to IMDB he was awarded the O.B.E. in the 2008 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to drama as the former Artistic Director of the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park in London.

Roy Montague plays an Argolin Guide but I've not seen him in anything but there's more Argolin Guides from this episode onwards that we do know:

Kenneth Sedd had been a Wheel Crewmember in The Wheel in Space, a Bi-Al Member in The Invisible Enemy and should have been a Young Scientist in Shada. He returns as one of the Airport Management in Timeflight and a Guest Gambler in Enlightenment. He's also in Doomwatch as a Man in You Killed Toby Wren, Flight Into Yesterday, The Inquest & The Logicians, a Barman in High Mountain and a Man in Club in The Killer Dolphins. He appears in our favourite Adam Adamant Lives! episode D for Destruction as a TA Soldier and in A Sinister Sort of Service as an S.S. Guard. He was a long term associate of comedian Benny Hill appearing frequently in his programs.

Mary Rennie was a Kitchen Hag in The Time Warrior, a Villager in Planet of the Spiders and a Peasant & Traveller in The Masque of Mandragora. She returns as a Traken Citizen in Keeper of Traken, one of the crowd in the Marketplace in Snakedance and as a Citizen/Unbeliever in Planet of Fire.

Mike Reynell was an Exillon in Death to the Daleks, a SRS Bouncer/Officer/Audience member in Robot, a Scientist in Genesis of the Daleks and a Council Member in Face of Evil. In Blake's 7 he was a Prisoner in Space Fall while in the The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin he was a Restaurant Patron in Elizabeth's New Admirer. He accomplishes a rare treble by appearing in all 3 Sweeney productions: In The Sweeney (Television series) he was a Customs Officer in Golden Boy, in the first Sweeney! film he was a Detective, a role he repeats in Sweeney 2. In other films he appears in Carry On Abroad as a Holiday Maker, The Empire Strikes Back as an Imperial Officer, the Roger Moore James Bond film Octopussy as an Auction Patron, Morons from Outer Space as the Policeman Collecting Matteson and A Fish Called Wanda as a Man in Street.

There's two voices heard in this story: The voice of the Generator is Clifford Norgate who provided the voice of the Nimon in the previous broadcast story The Horns of Nimon.

Harriet Reynolds is the Tannoy Voice: you can see what she looks like in A Very Peculiar Practice: A Very Long Way from Anywhere where she plays the chancellor's wife Deirdre Hemmingway. She's also in Jeeves and Wooster as Harriet in Bertie Takes Gussie's Place at Deverill Hall. IIRC this was the story that the BBC had a complaint for for their use of the word Tannoy due to it being a registered trade mark!

Sunday, 30 August 2020

532 The Leisure Hive: Part One

EPISODE: The Leisure Hive: Part One
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 532
STORY NUMBER: 110
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 30 August 1980
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Lovett Bickford
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 5.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive

"I don't think much of this Earth idea of recreation. Why can't we do something constructive?"

A shock at the start gone is the familiar titles, replaced with something new, and a revamped version of the theme tune!

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The Doctor is trying to catch the opening of the Brighton Pavilion, but they've arrived on Brighton beach in the middle of winter. K-9 is damaged trying to fetch a ball from the Sea and Romana insists they go elsewhere, to visit the Leisure Hive on Argolis, built by the Argolin survivors of a nuclear war between Argolis & the Foamasi. The Leisure Hive is struggling financially and it's chairman Morix is dying. Their Earth agent Brock has had an offer to buy the entire radioactive planet from the Foamasi. Outside the Leisure Hive several creatures attempt to tunnel their way in. The Doctor & Romana arrive to see a demonstration of Argolis' Tachyon science from the youngest Argolin Pangol. His Mother Mena arrive on Argolis to take over the chairmanship from the deceased Morix. An accident occurs during Pangol's demonstration of the recreation generator, killing a visitor. The Doctor investigates and is taken for the Earth scientist Hardin, who has been conducting experiments for Mena. The Doctor & Romana accidentally see the recording of the experiments and are convinced they're faked. They attempt to leave, and return to the Tardis, but he Doctor's curiosity is piqued by the Recreation Generator and he is trapped inside. A figure manipulates the controls and Romana sees him being ripped apart on the Generator's viewscreen.

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Where do you start with this? Well I think the first thing it's necessary to do is point out that the show has a new producer, John Nathan-Turner. He'd started working on the series during Patrick Troughton's last year as a floor assistant eventually becoming production manager at the end of Tom Baker's third season. In that role he had masterminded the trip to Paris to film City of Death abroad and had become Graham Williams preferred choice to succeed him. Williams' superior, Graeme MacDonald. had preferred the experienced George Gallacio, the previous production manager, so as a compromise Barry Letts returned to Executive Produce the series over John Nathan-Turner, in his first job as producer. Gallacio, meanwhile, went on to produce the highly successful Miss Marple series which is great fun for spotting Doctor Who cast members in.

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Nathan-Turner arrived with a list of things he wanted to change and he most obvious is the title sequence: we big goodbye to the Tunnel sequence that's been with us for six years (and in a slightly different form for a year before that). Instead we get an animated sequence involving moving through a starfield, with the stars forming first the Doctor's face then the new logo. Thematically it's similar to the previous sequence with the idea of travelling being common to both sequences and the going towards concept of the opening titles and the receding from with the closing titles. This titles sequence, with a couple of modifications, will be with us for the next six years.

Alongside the new titles a new version of the theme music was recorded, whose end version now permanently includes the middle eight which for the last few years has only been heard on the six part stories. I'd never heard it before and was shocked by this new piece of music suddenly appearing in the middle of the Doctor Who music. I love this version of the theme and think it's aged wonderfully well. The theme was re-arranged by Peter Howell of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the Radiophonic workshop now become responsible for the incidental music for the show with John Nathan-Turner dispensing with the services of the series regular composer Dudley Simpson, who he felt was producing scores that all sounded the same. Oddly I hear the Leisure Hive score now and immediately think of the music for The TV version of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the Radiophonic Workshop's Paddy Kingsland, who'll score four of the eight stories this season.

Then we have the opening of the episode.... a long tracking cinematic shot over Brighton Beach, the only location filming for this story and coincidentally close to the new producer's home! I timed the shot and it lasts from 00:37-02:16, so 1 minute 39 seconds, and an attempt to screen capture it took 15 pictures! That's an awful lot of a 25 minute episode used up in one shot.

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There's another peculiar shot in the episode, and that's used twice: The shuttle coming into land. The only way you know what's going on is the voice over telling you the shuttle is landing: the visuals show an object moving towards you but there's no way you can tell what it is! But apart from these oddities the episode isn't bad. Yes it looks & sounds different, and perhaps it's a little slow & talky, but it wouldn't be the first episode of Doctor Who to be like that!

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Sadly there's one moment in the episode that totally takes you out of it now, but it's something that wouldn't have been an issue at the time.

HARDIN: Now, in this experiment we propose to explore the temporal anomaly inherent in the tachyon.
BROCK: What is he talking about?
MENA: The tachyon travels faster than light. We always knew time mechanics was theoretically possible. Watch.
HARDIN: The device is now activated
The time experiment demonstrating is narrated by Nigel Lambert, in his role as the scientist Hardin, and it sounds *exactly* like the narration he uses for the first series of Look Around You. If you've not seen this, or don't own a copy, then buy one now as it's fabulous.

Barely visible on screen in the video is Nick Joseph as Hardin's Aide. He had been a Bandit in Creature from the Pit, He returns as a Cricket Player in Black Orchid, a Lazar in Terminus and a Miner The Mark of the Rani. In Blake's 7 he was the Android / Muller's Corpse in - Headhunter and an Animal in Animals. He's an Armoury Officer in The Spy Who Loved Me and features in the closing scene of Star Wars as a rebel office now called Arhul Hextrophon.

The Old Lady in the Holo Demo is Eileen Brady had been an Aztec Lady in The Aztecs. She returns as a Citizen in Keeper of Traken and she's in Blake's 7 as the Harpist in The Keeper.

demo 1 Old demo 2 young

The Younger Version of the Woman in the Holo Demo is Julia Gaye

Also seen only in this episode is Laurence Payne, as chairman Morix, who was Johnny Ringo in The Gunfighters, and will be Dastari in The Two Doctors.

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Making his first onscreen Doctor Who appearance as one of the Zero Gravity Squash Players is actor Graham Cole who would later go on to find fame as PC Tony Stamp in The Bill. This is his his first broadcast Doctor Who appearance, but he should have been seen last season as a young scientist in the cancelled Shada. He returns in Full Circle as a Marshman, Keeper of Traken as the Melkur, Kinda as a Kinda tribesman (there's two other Bill cast members in that one!), Earthshock as a Cyberman, Time-Flight as Melkur, The Five Doctors as a Cyberman, Resurrection of the Daleks as a Crewmember & Duplication Body and The Twin Dilemma as a Jacondan.

The other Squash Player is Mitchell Horner who later plays a Cricketer/Spectator in Black Orchid, a 1977 Schoolboy and a Mutant in Mawdryn Undead, and a Vanir in Terminus.

The victim of the Tachyon Generator, Visitor Lomon, is played by Fred Redford who returns as a Foster & Citizen in Keeper of Traken, a Male Passenger in Time Flight and in Snakedance as a Ceremonial Attendant Demon.

C8 Loman 1 Body Parts

His Body Parts, severed by the generator, are portrayed by different actors:

Martin Clark had been a Soldier in Masque of Mandragora and a Time Lord in Invasion of Time. He returns as a Rebel in State of Decay, a Brown Time Lord in Trial of a Timelord: Terror of the Vervoids and The Ultimate Foe and a Husband at Garden Centre in Battlefield. He was also in Blake's 7 as a Native in Horizon and The Black Adder as Sir Dominick, Prique of Stratford, in Born to Be King.

Joe Phillips had previously been a Extra in Robot, had been a Coven Member in Image of the Fendahl. He also is one of the actors playing a Holidaymaker in this episode. He returns as a Peasant in Village Centre in State of Decay, a Patient in Frontios and a Schoolboy in Mawdryn Undead.

Brian Massey also plays Lomon Body Parts & a Holidaymaker in this episode.

Similarly when Pangol's limbs are detached in a generator projection, they are are also portrayed by different actors:

Timothy Oldroyd is on his Doctor Who debut and is later seen as one of the Pangol Army in episode four. He returns as a Rebel in State of Decay, a Kinda in Kinda, a Passenger in Time-Flight, a Vanir in Terminus and an Officer in Enlightenment. In Blake's 7 he was, like Graham Cole above, one of Gerren's Associate in Games.

Doug Roe was a Guard & security Guard in Seeds of Death, a Military Policeman and Prisoner in The War Games, a UNIT soldier in The Ambassadors of Death, a globby Axon & Unit Soldier in Claws of Axos, and a Technician/Guard/Citizen in Pirate Planet. He too is later seen as one of the Pangol Army in episode four. He returns as a Foster in Keeper of Traken and one of Striker's crew in Enlightenment. In Blake's 7 he was a Federation Trooper in Seek-Locate-Destroy, Project Avalon and Blake.

Reg Woods had been a Palace Guard in Androids of Tara, a Bearer in Creature from the Pit, and would have been a Krarg in Shada. Likewise he is later seen as one of the Pangol Army in episode four. He returns as a Guard in State of Decay, has his role as Policeman at Station cut from Black Orchid, and then returns as a Security Guard in Timeflight and a Member of Striker's Crew in Enlightenment. In Blake's 7 he's a Scavenger in Deliverance, a Rebel in Voice from the Past, a Menial in Ultraworld, a Space Rat in Stardrive and a Space Princess Guard / Passenger in Gold. He's also in The Professionals episode Black Out in what IMDB describes as "Bit Part" and the Fawlty Towers episode The Kipper and the Corpse as a Hotel Guest.

The Doctor also gets his limbs detached in the episode's finale. The actors used there are familiar names who all later play Pangol Doctors in episode 4:

Derek Chafer was a Saxon in The Time Meddler, a Greek/Trojan Soldiers/People in Square in The Myth Makers, a Guard in the Massacre, a Settler in The Gunfighters, a Cyberman in The Moonbase, a Guard in Fury from the Deep, a Cyberman in The Invasion, a Miner, Issigri HQ in The Space Pirates, a Military Policeman & a Unit Soldier in The Silurians, a Prisoner in Mind of Evil, a Primitive in Colony in Space, a Guard in Curse of Peladon, a Warrior in the Mutants, an Exillon in Death to the Daleks, a Guard in Monster of Peladon, a Soldier, Armourer & Brethren in Masque of Mandragora, a Levithian Guard in Ribos Operation a Gracht Guard in The Androids of Tara, and a Skonnan Elder in Horns of the Nimon He returns as a Gundam in Warriors Gate.

David Rolfe was an Exxilon in Deah to the Daleks Guard in Monster of Peladon Astronaut in Planet of Evil Courtier in Masque of Mandragora He's in The Young Ones: Sick and in Jeeves and Wooster plays Butterfield in Sir Watkyn Bassett's Memoirs.

Roy Seeley was a Noble in Androids of Tara. and a Skonnan Elder in Horns of the Nimon He returns as a Logopolitan in Logopolis, a Time Lord in Trial of Time Lord Mysterious Planet & Mindwarp, and a Crimson Time Lord in Trial of Time Lord Terror of the Vervoids and The Ultimate Foe. In Blake's 7 he's an Arbiter in Death-Watch. In Star Wars he was a stand-in for Peter Mayhew who played Chewbacca.

A number of actors play unnamed Argolin Guides:

Derek Suthern first appeared as a Path Lab Technician in The Hand of Fear returning as a Mentiad in Pirate Planet, a Gracht Guard & Zadek Guard in The Androids of Tara, a Mute in The Armageddon Factor, a Guard in The Creature from the Pit, a Mandrel in Nightmare of Eden and a Skonnan Guard in The Horns of Nimon. He would have made a fourth appearance as a Krarg in Shada if that hadn't have been cancelled. That also deprives him of appearances in five consecutive Doctor Who stories with this appearance! He returns at the end of that season as PC Davis in Logopolis part one followed by playing a Cricketer in Black Orchid, a Policeman in Time-Flight, and a Man in Market in Snakedance. In Blake's 7 he was a Federation Trooper in The Way Back, a Scavenger in Deliverance, a Federation Trooper in Trial & Countdown, a Customer / Gambler in Gambit, a Hommik Warrior in Power and a Space Princess Guard / Passenger in Gold. He appears in the Roger Moore James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me as an Atlantis Guard and is in Fawlty Towers as a Hotel Guest in both The Germans and The Psychiatrist.

Maurice Connor is making his Doctor Who debut here and returns as a Gundan in Warriors' Gate and a Foster in Keeper of Traken. He was also in Blake's 7 as a Space Princess Guard in Gold and appears in Gerry Anderson's Doppelgänger / Journey to the Far Side of the Sun as a Suit Technician. Several of the actors and props from this later reappear in UFO.

Douglas Stark had been a Sorenson Monster in Planet of Evil and a man in Image of the Fendahl. He returns as a Cricketer in Black Orchid one of the Management in Time Flight, a Soldier in Caves of Androzani, Mercenary in Dragonfire and a Pallbearer in Remembrance of the Daleks.

Annet Peters had been an Operation Golden Age Woman in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, a Citizen in The Pirate Planet and a Passenger Nightmare of Eden She returns as a Lazar in Terminus. She's got a couple of decent sitcom appearances to her name as Mrs. Wareing in the Fawlty Towers episode A Touch of Class and as a Woman in Restaurant in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin episode Hippopotamus.

Jenny Roberts was a Passenger in Nightmare of Eden.

Martin Fisk, plays the only named Argolin Guide, Vargos. He was previously in The Sweeney episode In from the Cold as Eddie Jackson. He's also in Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: The Moving Finger as Owen Griffith.

c3 Vargos Guides Holidaymakers

LOTS of Holidaymakers in this episode:

Huntley Young was a Ghoul/Audience Member/Stagehand/Doorman (Fred) in Talons of Weng Chiang and a Slave in Destiny of the Daleks.

Inga Daley was a Movellan in Destiny of the Daleks.

Norman Bradley had been a Skonnan Guard in Horns of Nimon and would have appeared as a Young Scientist in Shada He returns as a Cyberman in Earthshock and a Guard in The Five Doctors

Ranjit Nakara returns as a Gaztek in Meglos, a Male Escapee & Duplication Body in Resurrection of the Daleks, and a Resistance Fighters/Alphan in Trial of a Timelord: Mindwarp.

Maureen Stevens returns as a Castrovalvan Woman in Castrovalva.

Hi Ching Returns as a Gaztek in Meglos. He's also in Agatha Christie's Poirot as Chow Feng in The Lost Mine and Alien³ as a Company Man.

Ling Tai returns to Doctor Who as one of the Sea Base Personnel in Warrriors of the Deep and as Shou Yuing in Battlefield. She was a Crackerjack! co-presenter in 1984. She played Lin in the Mornin' Sarge episode I Blame the Parents.

Ina Claire returns as a Female Onlooker at the Junkyard in Remembrance of the Daleks.

Also playing Holidaymakers are Anna Van Karina, Emmanuel Josiah, Pauline Lewis, Patti Patience, Ansley Pollard, John Salpeas, Willow Wipp, Sarah Gardner and Pearl Graham.

This is the episode where John Leeson returns as the dog's voice, after a year off. OK, this is the only episode of the story K-9's in but his original voice artist is still back!

When we join the story things aren't going well for Argolis. Having rebuilt the ruins of their planet from a war with the Foamasi, constructing the recreation centre called the Leisure Hive, they now have financial troubles:

BROCK: I must tell you that even those based on optimum exploitation predict a serious financial down run. That is the optimistic scenario.
PANGOL: You won't believe this. Brock looks like backing out.
BROCK: However one fact is absolutely clear. Argolis is suffering from an escalating negative cash flow.
PANGOL: What's that mean in plain language?
BROCK : Bluntly, Argolis is headed for bankruptcy.
MORIX: This Leisure Hive is expensive to maintain. Bookings last year were bad.
BROCK: And next year looks catastrophic
You wonder don't have t wonder why for long though .....
PANGOL: Over the years, visitors have been interested in the tricks it is possible to play with these solid images. So by way of a preface to the scientific analysis that follows let me demonstrate some of the more spectacular possibilities.

PANGOL: A tachyon field can therefore be made to arrive at point B, that visidome, say, before it's departure from point A, the Generator. For the next hour and a half, we will examine the wave equations that define the creation of solid tachyonic images.

If that's the Argolins' idea of recreation/leisure, no wonder their holiday camp business is in trouble!

However after this episode aired Doctor Who was in trouble recording a rating of just 5.9 million viewers, lower than the lowest rating for the previous season. By contrast Horns of Nimon episode 4 had 10.4 million viewers. The same night the first episode of The Leisure Hive aired ITV was showing (thank you Encyclopaedia of TV Science Fiction) the first episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Planet of the Slave Girls shown in the UK as a single 105 minute episode. Yes I know The Awakening is the first actual episode of Buck Rogers: ITV showed this on first. Buck Rogers was networked by ITV: all the ITV stations in the UK were showing it nationwide at the same time and this has a crippling effect on Doctor Who's viewing figures for the first five stories of the season. I can remember watching the original airing of Buck Rogers: by contrast I had no idea a new season of Doctor Who had started and the first I saw of it was a small amount of one of the Full Circle episodes, and then picked up watching regularly from Warrior's Gate.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

531 Shada: Part Six

EPISODE: Shada: Part Six
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 531
STORY NUMBER: 109
TRANSMITTED: Unbroadcast (planned for 23rd February 1980)
WRITER: Douglas Adams
DIRECTOR: Pennant Roberts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Douglas Adams
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: Unbroadcast
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Shada

"We will return to the carrier ship. From there a fleet of small craft will take each one of you to selected centres of population, and then the great mind revolution shall begin!"

K-9 fires at the Prisoners, driving them back but he is thrown aside by a Krarg. The Doctor, Romana & Clare grab K-9 and flee to the Professor's Tardis. Romana reminds the Doctor that his mind is inside Skagra's machine too. Skagra returns to the Tardis and tells the former prisoners that they will return to the carrier ship and be distributed through the universe to further his revolution. The Doctor follows his Tardis in the Professors, capturing it in a force field, and has himself placed into the Time vortex. The Doctor begins crossing to his Tardis, but his journey appears in vain when an accident occurs in the Professor's Tardis deactivating the forcefield, throwing the Doctor into the vortex. The Doctor finds himself in a room in his Tardis and starts building a helmet shaped device. The Professor's Tardis arrives on the carrier ship, as the Doctor reveals himself and struggles for control of the joint mind. Romana deactivates the Krarg generating equipment, tipping the gas contained within out and using it to destroy the Krargs. Skagra flees to his ship, but is taken prisoner by his ship's computer who has now decided to serve the Doctor. The Doctor promises to return the prisoners to Shada and summon the Time Lords. The Doctor returns both his and the Professor's Tardis to Earth, confusing the college Porter who returns with a policeman to find the room now back in it's usual place and the Professor taking tea with his guests.

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As a dramatic production very little original 1979 material exists from episode 6, just the scenes in the Professor's room/Tardis, Skagra's ship's brig and the brief college exterior. The climatic battle in Shada itself is completely absent and without it on the VHS version you're relying on the narration which works better here than at any other point in the story. So the animators for the 2017 DVD version have had to do a lot of work here. They've had a bit of fun too: the shelves in the Tardis store room are loaded with goodies from previous stories and other shows: I can spot the time disturbance detector from The Time Monster, a Laserson Probe from Robots of Death, Polyphasavatron from Pirate Planet, a Movellan gun & Dalek bomb from Destiny of the Daleks, Blue Crystals from Metebelis 3, Erato's communication device from Creature from the Pit and the Trilogic Game from The Celestial Toymaker on one set of shelves while on the top of the others is Orac from Blake's 7!

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I do have to question the choice the animators made of where Skagra materialised on his ship: he's in a set that looks just like the ship's brig and it's easy to think he is in the cell when you first see it:

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Why go to the trouble, and money, of animating this and confusing people when they could have just used the ship's bridge seen in earlier episodes?

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Their Tardis is nice, evocative of the era, but a little too dark on the walls and bright on the roundels. I would have dearly loved the original Tardis scenes to be filmed, they might have pushed what remained into a much more coherent narrative flow.

The 2017 version does have a special little treat for us right at the end with a present day Tom Baker appearing in costume as The Doctor in a brief console room scene!

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One of the choices made for the 2017 version is to present is as a Movie length version, I suspect to conceal the uneven episode lengths! As such we don't get to see the end titles until the very end of the DVD. I found them difficult to look at: after the actors have appeared normally as captions which replace each other the rest of the credits are presented as upwards scrolling text over a background which is scrolling in. The resulting movement contrast did bad things to my head!

The material filmed in 1979 throws up a nice little deviation from the script by Tom: a "space time mystic in the Qualactin Zone" becomes a "space time mystic in the Quantocks", producing a nod towards Planet of Spiders' Buddhist community headed by an elderly Time Lord.

We also get to see one new actor this episode: John Hallet John Hallet plays the Police Constable that the Porter Wilkin calls to investigate the disappearance of Professor Chronotis' room. Hallet had previously appeared in Survivors playing Barney in Starvation, Spoil of War & Law and Order.

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I am led to wonder why the production took him on location for one brief scene? Surely it would have been easier to book him for the studio and set all his scenes in the corridor outside Chronotis' room!

We return to Douglas Adams' fifth novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Set in St Cedd's College Cambridge it features a Professor Chronotis who has been living in the same rooms in Cambridge for 300+ years which also double as his time machine. He's got problems with his memory and likes to tease visitors with how many lumps of milk he'd like in their tea. I think we can see where Douglas sourced that from! And, as we pointed out during City of Death, the backbone of the plot involves an alien race who's spaceship tries to take off on prehistoric Earth kickstarting the process of life leaving one of their number to try to reverse the situation. Essentially Dirk Gently's is a "Cut & Shut" job on two of Douglas Adams Doctor Who stories, albeit one with a considerable amount of work done on the detail. I re-read it in the run up to doing these particular stories and was astounded at the similarities but I also found it one of the best of his novels, right up there (for me) with So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish.

So what do we make of Shada? From what I can gather from the script & remaining video it's not quite up to Adams' previous works for the series, Pirate Planet & City of Death, both of which are personal favourites. Doing Shada for the blog has given me a better feel for the story but even then it does rather vanish at crucial points. The first two episodes on the VHS version feel like proper Doctor Who episodes but after that it feels more like a jumble of bits..... which is essentially what it is! The script book, which I'd never read before my previous viewing, did help to fill in the gaps and you can hear Tom speaking some of the dialogue which would have added a sparkle to something that, in all honesty, seemed a little flat especially compared to the two Douglas Adams stories that went before it. It's only really come alive for me as a complete story with the 2017 DVD edition. The gaps are filled in adequately. This is probably the best animation since The Invasion and in both cases they're animating something for which no known photos exist which helps avoid comparisons to surviving photos and telesnaps. As I said previously, using Tom Baker & Lalla Ward to provide the voices for The Doctor & Romana adds a lot to this production and for me makes the 2017 DVD the definitive version of Shada and now I can see it as a full length story I think it probably would have made a fitting climax to the season that otherwise runs some six episodes short of the usual length.

This is the last episode of Doctor Who written or script edited by Douglas Adams. As Season 17 had progressed so the success of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy had grown. A second radio series was in the works, a record was on the horizon as was a TV series. Plus the novel of Hitch-hikers had sold by the bucketload..... Douglas Adams went on to write 4 more Hitch-hiker's books, 2 Dirk Gently novels and several other works. He emigrated to America, where he died of a heart attack on May 11th 2001.

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This is also the last episode of Doctor Who produced by Graham Williams. He left the BBC in the 1980s going on to produce television shows for ITV including Supergran. In 1985 he had submitted a story to the then production team entitled The Nightmare Fare, and featuring the Celestial Toymaker, which was in pre-production at the point the series was "put on hiatus" for 18 months by the BBC. In the late 1980s he left the television industry to run a hotel in Tiverton, Devon, which was where he was killed in a shooting accident on 17th August 1990.

Regular Doctor Who composer Dudley Simpson was scheduled to write and record the music for this episode but in the event he performed no work on the story. Along with many other long term creative personnel his services were dispensed with by incoming producer John Nathan-Turner and he didn't work on the program again. The music for the VHS version provided for the VHS version by Keff McCulloch wasn't similar to the style used on the series at the time and has been widely criticised over the years so the 2017 version features a new score by Mark Ayres in the style of Dudley Simpson and owing a debt to some of Simpson's contemporary work on the show, notably City of Death. Simpson himself died in 2017 and a caption tribute to him appears on the 2017 DVD:

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Of all the directors who worked on Doctor Who before John Nathan-Turner became producer, this story's director Pennant Roberts is the only one to return to the show in later years taking charge of 1984's Warriors of the Deep and 1985's Timelash.

Two days after this episode was planned to be broadcast the Blake's 7 episode Rumours Of Death was shown.

In 2017 M'learned colleague Mr Richard Bignell listed the running times for the material recorded in 1979 for each episode of Shada, including title sequences, for Roobarb's DVD Forum and came to the conclusion that

"approximately 56% of Shada was completed back in 1979"
I've been noting the proximate points at which each episode has finished on the 2017 version and the comparison is interesting. Note that on the 2017 version only the first episode has the opening titles, only the last episode has the closing title and the first episode includes a bonus BBC globe. Effectively you could add another minute onto the first and last episode and two minutes onto the middle four episodes to make them into a broadcast episode with titles on the start and finish:

Episode
  1979  
  2017 
1
20:00
28:00
2
15:45
21:00
3
15:00
15:00
4
11:55
27:00
5
10:05
20:00
6
10:45
22:00

Again, from Mr Bignell:

"If you take the ideal BBC-specified episode length of 24' 30" as the norm, the total running time for a six-parter would be around 147 minutes."
The 2017 DVD times in at just over 2h17m, which is 137 minutes.

As we have previously said during episode 5, Shada was finally novelised in 2011 by Gareth Roberts. The recorded sections were released on video in 1993. The Doctor Who Legacy DVD boxset uses the VHS version along with new bonus material and pairs the story with the 1993 documentary 30 Years In The Tardis and was released on 7th January 2103. In 2017 the BBC announced a new version marrying the existing footage to new animation with the voices provided by the original cast where possible. This was released on DVD on 4th Decemeber 2017, but unfortunately the DVD version contains a framing error where the new material is pillarboxed in 16:9 rather than being in the original 4:3. The same day a Blu-Ray of the same title was released alongside a limited edition steelbook Blu Ray containing both the new 2017 release and the previous 2013 version.