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An Adventure in E-Space with the Marshmen
We now come to what is considered to be an interesting stage of Season 18 of ‘Doctor Who’. For you see, this is where we begin the first set of stories set in a pocket universe. It’s also the first set of stories where we meet the first of three incoming companions in ‘Doctor Who’. Change is in the air!
In January 2009, a special DVD box set of ‘Doctor Who’ was released called ‘The E-Space Trilogy’. I purchased the DVD box set when I was in Cardiff town with my parents. I recall being pretty excited to watch these classic ‘Doctor Who’ TV adventures on DVD that were originally transmitted in 1980.
‘The E-Space Trilogy’ is of course three adventures set in the pocket universe called E-Space. They are ‘Full Circle’, ‘State of Decay’ and ‘Warriors’ Gate’. There have of course been more adventures made within E-Space set during Tom Baker’s seventh and final season of ‘Doctor Who’ during his era.
So naming the trilogy as ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ makes it redundant, doesn’t it? But still, like I said, this set of ‘Doctor Who’ stories introduces us to a new companion in the series. That is of course, Matthew Waterhouse as Adric. Whether you like him or not, Adric makes his TV debut in this story.
He joins the Doctor, Romana and K-9 on their adventures in time and space, well within E-Space at the moment, via these three TV stories. It’s interesting how Adric becomes a ‘Doctor Who’ companion in these stories and how Matthew Waterhouse got that dream job of a lifetime in youth.
This set of ‘Doctor Who’ stories is also the last to feature Lalla Ward as Romana in the series as well as K-9, voiced by John Leeson. Lalla Ward and K-9 didn’t leave in the best of circumstances, which is a shame. But that is something I will get into more as we progress through these Season 18 reviews.
I enjoyed watching ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ when I first saw it on DVD. Like I said, more stories have made it become ‘The E-Space Season’ with the likes of ‘The Invasion of E-Space’ and more Big Finish tales starring Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, Matthew Waterhouse and John Leeson, which sounds exciting.
From watching the original TV stories in ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ DVD box set itself though, I was intrigued by how things had changed in ‘Doctor Who’ during the 1980s. This is especially when the show started reformatting itself with radical changes by producer John Nathan-Turner in Season 18.
Anyway, let’s talk about ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ itself. ‘Full Circle’ is the first story and is a great one to start off ‘The-E-Space Trilogy’ very well. It is a four-part adventure by Andrew Smith, who like Matthew Waterhouse, was a young ‘Doctor Who’ fan at the age of 18 when he’d written ‘Full Circle’.
In the story, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 are summoned back to Gallifrey, which was established previously at the end of ‘Meglos’. I liked the opening scene in Romana’s bedroom aboard the TARDIS between her and the Doctor when he checks in on her. Romana is upset about returning back home.
She shares with the Doctor how much she doesn’t want to go back to Gallifrey after all her adventures. Romana was only meant to help the Doctor search for ‘The Key To Time’. It’s very intriguing how her character journey has progressed through both her two incarnations in the series.
But on their way back to Gallifrey, the TARDIS slips through a Charged Vacuum Emboitment or a CVE into E-Space. I found that scene pretty thrilling and suspenseful when the Doctor and Romana wondered what was going on and K-9 seemed to have lost control of the TARDIS going into E-Space.
Thankfully, the TARDIS lands and the Doctor and Romana think they’re back home. But instead of Gallifrey, the Doctor, Romana and K-9 find themselves on the planet Alzarius. Investigating what’s going on and find they have problems with the TARDIS’ image translator, they receive an odd visitor.
This happens to be Adric, a young boy with a mathematical brain. He claims that Mistfall is happening and soon the Doctor, Romana and K-9 face the menace of Marshmen. Will the Doctor, Romana and K-9 be able to cope with the menace of these Marshman as Mistfall begins on Alzarius?
With Adric be able to help them? The Doctor soon meets the other Alzarians on their Starliner as they prepare to take a journey back to Terradon, their presumed home planet. But as the Doctor and Romana, they find that more is at stake and that it’ll take a while to get back to their home universe.
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Full Circle’ signed by Matthew Waterhouse and writer Andrew Smith at ‘The Capitol II’ convention at the Arora Hotel, Gatwick, May 2017. I’m very pleased to have met the two chaps and to have the DVD cover signed by them for their debut contributions to ‘Doctor Who’.
Before submitting ‘Full Circle’, Andrew Smith submitted several story ideas to the ‘Doctor Who’ production office. It’s interesting how Andrew’s journey to become a ‘Doctor Who’ writer progressed from submitting to script-editors like Robert Holmes; Anthony Read and Douglas Adams.
Eventually Andrew’s storyline for ‘The Planet That Slept’ got accepted by script editor Christopher H. Bidmead for Season 18 in 1980. I think it was good of Chris Bidmead to take on board Andrew Smith as a new ‘Doctor Who’ writer as they worked together on making the story that became ‘Full Circle’.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Smith at conventions and find him to be a very nice chap. The first time I met him was at the ‘Big Blue Box 2’ event in Tunbridge Wells, March 2013 before I got to meet him again at the ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ event by Janet Fielding in Slough, August 2013.
Andrew Smith became a police officer after doing ‘Full Circle’ before he returned to do ‘Doctor Who’ in the Big Finish audios. He’s written plenty of Big Finish ‘Doctor Who’ audios such as ‘Vengeance of the Stones’; the aforementioned ‘The Invasion of E-Space’; ‘The Star Men’ and ‘The First Sontarans’.
But of course, Matthew Waterhouse makes his debut TV appearance as Adric. Though surprisingly, this wasn’t the first ‘Doctor Who’ story Matthew recorded in production order. His first ‘Doctor Who’ story was ‘State of Decay’. Interesting how he recorded that first before doing his debut story.
Like Andrew Smith who wanted to be a ‘Doctor Who’ writer, Matthew Waterhouse was another young ‘Doctor Who’ fan who wanted to be in the TV series. It was interesting to discover how Matthew found the progression of having his dream come true from reading his book ‘Blue Box Boy’.
‘Full Circle’ is a great introduction for Adric’s character in my opinion. Adric happens to be a boy genius with a mathematical brain. The idea behind Adric was to make him an Artful Dodger-type character with a mathematical brain. Interesting idea not properly executed by John Nathan-Turner.
As I said before, Adric runs into the TARDIS and becomes a helpful ally to the Doctor and Romana in stopping the Marshmen. It’s interesting how Adric seems to be an outsider among his people, including the rebel group, the Outlers, of which his brother’s a member of. I did like Adric’s first scene.
Adric seems unsure about what his future is, but he knows it’s not with the Alzarians aboard the Starliner or with his brother among the Outlers. He knows that it’s out there, somewhere else, whatever it is. When Adric’s aboard the TARDIS, he seizes the opportunity to stow away on the ship.
There’s no denying there are problems with Adric’s character especially when he stows away to join the Doctor, Romana and K-9 at the end. His character development was shoddily handled throughout his time in the TV series. That is something to be discussed as we go through Season 18.
Tom Baker delivers a terrific performance as the Doctor in this adventure. It’s interesting to see Tom’s Doctor at this stage of his character where he seems sombre and not as bonkers eccentric as he used to. There are times when Tom was in a foul temper and you can see that in his performance.
In this story, the Doctor assists the people of Alazarius as he works out what’s going on with this mystery about the Marshmen. He strikes up a good friendship with Decider Login and learns of how the Deciders and the Alazarians seem to be this constant loop of maintenance work on the Starliner.
Lalla Ward is pretty good as Romana in this adventure. As well as her not wanting to back home to Gallifrey, it was interesting to see her reaction to being on Alzarius in E-Space and how she meets and interacts with Adric. From what I gathered, Matthew Waterhouse did not get on well with Lalla.
For whatever reason, Lalla seemed to resent Matthew’s presence whilst they worked together in the TV series. That could be due to the tension in her relationship with Tom Baker at this point as well. It was disturbing once Lalla got bitten by a marsh-spider and seemed possessed with veins on her face.
Incidentally that cliff-hanger ending to ‘Part Two’ was terrifying when Romana tried to throw a river fruit at the spiders in the cave before it hatched and a spider bit her. I did find it funny when Romana ignored the Doctor as he enquired about her well-being and she did not seem to know who he was.
I enjoyed K-9, voiced by John Leeson, in this adventure. K-9 gets pretty abused badly here. As well as having trouble controlling the TARDIS, K-9 has to chase the Marshmen through the boggy ground. Like Chris Bidmead, I did wonder how K-9 was able to trudge through the boggy ground really easily.
Mind you, there is a ditch that K-9 has to trundle around which gets even more confusing. There’s also a moment when K-9 gets beheaded by one of the Marshmen which did upset me. As I understand, Andrew Smith was not a fan of K-9 either when he wrote him in this ‘Doctor Who’ story.
In the story, there are the Outlers who are really rebel teenagers on Alzarius. They include Richard Willis as Varsh, Adric’s brother as well as Bernard Padden as Tylos and June Page as Keara. It was interesting how these teens believe they can cope and survive away from the Alazarian community.
There’s also this obsession with water melons and river fruit with the Alazarians, especially when the Outlers try to steal them. Seriously, do the Alazarians only eat water melons and river fruit? Adric has a go at trying to steal river fruits, bringing in his Artful Dodger character, but it doesn’t work out.
There are also the Deciders, who are the leaders of the Alazarian community. There are three of them and they don’t live to their titles of being Deciders since they are very indecisive. It is amusing how that turns out in the story, especially when Login, a former community member, becomes one.
The Deciders are James Bree as Nefred, who is First Decider; Alan Rowe as Garif and George Baker as Login. James Bree has been in ‘Doctor Who’ before in the story called ‘The War Games’. Alan Rowe’s also been in ‘Doctor Who’ before in the stories ‘The Time Warrior’ and ‘Horror of Fang Rock’.
I was delighted to see George Baker in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. I’ve seen George before in an episode of ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’. I know he’s done other things in his career including a James Bond movie, but the ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’ episode is what I most remember him for.
Login comes across as being a likeable and noble character of the Alazarian community. It’s so intriguing how he gets to be a Decider in this story. It’s also interesting how he gets concerned about his daughter Keara when she’s out there during Mistfall and how he forms a respect with the Doctor.
The story also features Leonard Maguire, a former First Decider who comes to a sticky end after chasing Adric in ‘Part One’. There’s also Tony Calvin as Dexeter, a scientist who’s interested in the Marshmen and performs an unorthodox experiments on them to which the Doctor strongly objects.
I did find the Marshmen to be pretty daft in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. I did like the first shot of them when they came out of the water at the end of ‘Part One’. But looking at them in close-up, they are clearly guys in rubber masks and costumes which were not very convincing for me to watch.
It would’ve been better if the Marshmen had mouths that we could see moving, instead of the actors being covered up head to foot. Marshmen with mouths opening and closing would’ve been terrifying. The evolution of the Marshmen and the Alzarians seemed intriguing if confusing to watch.
‘Full Circle’ happens to be Peter Grimwade’s first ‘Doctor Who’ adventure to do as a director. He would go on to direct more ‘Doctor Who’ stories like ‘Logopolis’; ‘Kinda’ and ‘Earthshock’ as well as pen some TV tales in the Peter Davison era like ‘Time-Flight’, ‘Mawdryn Undead’ and ‘Planet of Fire’.
Peter Grimwade does a pretty good job in making the action sequences look exciting and I did enjoy the location scenes of Alazarius as it was filmed in Black Park in Buckinghamshire. The Starliner’s interior design was interesting as we go through the corridors and the Deciders’ Great Book Room.
The original DVD special features were as follows. There were audio options including a stereo sound audio mix option for the story; a DVD audio commentary with Matthew Waterhouse, writer Andrew Smith and script editor Christopher H. Bidmead as well as an isolated music option by Paddy Kingsland. There was also an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There was the ‘All Aboard The Starliner’ making-of documentary with behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews; a ‘K-9 in E-Space’ featurette and a ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Matthew Waterhouse. There was also an ‘E-Space – Fact or Fiction?’ science featurette; BBC continuity announcements of the story; a photo gallery of the story with an info-text option and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story. There was also a ‘coming soon’ DVD trailer for ‘The Rescue’ and ‘The Romans’ with William Hartnell, William Russell, Jacqueline Hill and Maureen O’Brien.
On Disc 3 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 18’ Blu-ray, the stereo sound audio mix option for the story; the DVD audio commentary; the isolated music option; the info-text commentary option; the ‘All Aboard The Starliner’ making-of documentary; the ‘K-9 in E-Space’ featurette; the ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Matthew Waterhouse; the ‘E-Space – Fact or Fiction?’ science featurette and the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF can be found on there. The BBC continuity announcements and the photo gallery (without the info-text option) for ‘Full Circle’ have been updated for 2019 on the Blu-ray.
The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Full Circle’ with Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor); costume designer June Hudson and John Leeson (K-9) as well as Wendy Padbury (Zoe); Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa). There’s some mute studio footage of ‘Full Circle’ and an enjoyable special documentary called ‘A Weekend With Waterhouse’ where comedian Toby Hadoke has a weekend with Matthew Waterhouse who played Adric in the TV series. There’s a BBC News Report announcing Peter Davison as the new Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ (taken from the ‘Logopolis’ DVD) and a ‘Nationwide’ interview with Peter Davison (also taken from the ‘Logopolis’ DVD).
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents and scripts for the story. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that.
‘Full Circle’ is a great story to start off ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ in ‘Doctor Who’. It’s well-written by Andrew Smith and features a good introduction to Adric as the new companion in the TV series. It’s also a great start for the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9’s journey in the pocket universe of E-Space.
Things would become more exciting as Season 18 progressed with its new sets of stories set in the pocket universe. Would the Doctor, Romana and K-9 get out of E-Space? Will they discover that Adric has stowed away aboard the TARDIS? They’ll need all of the help they can get to return home.
‘Full Circle’ rating – 8/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – FULL CIRCLE’
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The Planet That Slept
Here we have come ‘full circle’!
This is the Target novelization/audiobook of ‘Doctor Who – Full Circle’ which I’ve enjoyed immensely. I purchased the audiobook at a WHSmith’s whilst on holiday in Chichester, April 2015. I purchased the novelization afterwards from Amazon.co.uk as I wanted to read/listen to the novelization/audiobook at the same time.
‘Doctor Who – Full Circle’ was published in 1982. It was novelized by Andrew Smith from his TV story called ‘Full Circle’, which was the first story in ‘The E-Space Trilogy’ shown in 1980. I like ‘Full Circle’ and it was good getting to know more about the story’s background and the characters featured in the book.
The book ‘Full Circle’ is divided into 12 chapters and it opens with an exciting prologue, not shown in the original TV story. Each chapter title in the book is taken from a quote spoken by one of the characters. I recall reading and listening to the book with the audio on some summery days in 2015.
The audiobook is a 4-disc CD set and it is read by Matthew Waterhouse, who played Adric in the original TV series of ‘Doctor Who’. I enjoyed Matthew’s reading of the story and how he interprets the characters. Matthew also gets to be joined by John Leeson, who does the voice for K-9 in this adventure.
I’ve had the CD cover of the ‘Doctor Who – Full Circle’ audiobook signed by Matthew Waterhouse at the ‘Bournemouth Film and Comic Con’ in August 2015. I had a nice chat with Matthew about him reading the book and about his Big Finish audios as Adric with Peter Davison; Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Smith at conventions too. ‘Full Circle’ was Andrew’s first contribution to ‘Doctor Who’ when he was 18 in 1980 and novelizing his TV story was his second contribution. Nowadays, Andrew writes some Big Finish audios for ‘Doctor Who’ which I’ve also enjoyed.
The Target novelization is greatly enriched in detail and provides more information about the world of Alzarius; the Marshmen; the supporting characters and introducing Adric. I’ve always been fascinated by ‘Full Circle’ and was keen to discover more about how Alzarius worked as an alien world.
The prologue was interesting to read and listen to. It details the Starliner’s crash-landing onto Alzarius and how the survivors coped with settling on a new planet. It also depicts the survivors being attacked by the Marshmen on the Starliner, setting things up very well for the rest of the story later on.
There is also a poem after the prologue which was written by the First Decider called Yanek Pitrus of the Tenth Generation Starliner. This poem crops up now and again in the book as it forms the mythology of Alzarius. “When Mistfall comes, The giants leave the swamps, The Marshmen walk the world…”
As I said before, I enjoyed Matthew Waterhouse’s reading of the ‘Full Circle’ audiobook. Beforehand, I listened to Matthew’s reading of another ‘Doctor Who’ audiobook called ‘Doctor Who and the Visitation’. Matthew reads his introductory story as Adric well, since this is how it began for him in the TV series.
It’s fitting that Matthew should be reading his introduction as Adric, since he knows the character inside and out. His narration is reasonably clear and it is easy to follow when reading/listening to the novelization/audiobook. Matthew provides some interesting voices for the characters featured in the story.
I liked Matthew’s interpretation of Tom Baker’s Doctor in the audiobook. It’s an interesting interpretation, since it isn’t the booming voice as I was expecting. What Matthew gives is getting Tom’s rounded tones in the Doctor’s voice that makes him sound pretty believable and amusing to listen to.
Matthew’s voice for Romana sounds pretty good, as it is soft and lighter when doing Lalla Ward. His voices for the supporting characters are equally good including Varsh; Tylos; Keara, Login and Garif. His voice for Nefred sounds exactly like how James Bree would have sounded in the original TV story.
But of course it’s Matthew’s voice in recreating Adric that stands out pretty well. Matthew tries to make Adric sound younger than he is when he was doing the TV series back in 1980. It’s something Matthew has done recently when he returned to play Adric in ‘The Fifth Doctor Box Set’ by Big Finish.
I was delighted to hear John Leeson voice K-9 in the audiobook for ‘Full Circle’ with Matthew. It was amusing when K-9 cropped up now and again, as he’s speaking in certain scenes of the story. K-9’s role isn’t as big in the story, since the current production team were determined to get rid of the robot dog.
K-9 mostly features on the first two discs of the audiobook, before returning for a final appearance on the fourth disc. K-9 reads the titles of chapters from ‘quoted lines’ in the audio which took me by surprise. It was amusing when K-9 squiggled and squeaked after he was beheaded by a Marshman.
I liked how Andrew Smith develops the supporting characters of ‘Full Circle’ in the book compared to the TV story. I like how Login’s anxiety is developed upon when concerned for his daughter and becoming a Decider. Also Nefred and Garif’s incompetence as Deciders gets touched upon and explored here.
It was interesting how Andrew developed the routine aspects of the Alzarians and how they keep on ‘the work of maintenance’ aboard the Starliner. It put me in mind of these people going around in circles and it infuriates the Doctor when the Deciders can’t decide and go by procedures all the time.
Adric’s character gets an interesting development in the book compared to the TV story. Adric is torn between loyalties to his brother Varsh and the Outlers, since he refuses to help them to take over the TARDIS and threaten Romana. I found Adric less annoying in the book compared to the TV story.
I took note that the names Nefred; Garif and Login were surnames for the Alzarian characters in the story. Their full names happen to be Ragen Nefred; Jaynis Garif and Haldrin Login. Keara’s full name turns out to be Keara Login. Strangely Adric and Varsh aren’t given a surname, which is odd for me.
I like how the Marshmen get developed upon in the book compared to the TV story. They’re more convincing and ferocious as monsters compared to the TV story. They’re also more threatening, since they happen to have a rage and a dislike for the Alzarians which gets developed later on in the story.
The interior of the Starliner’s design is well-detailed in the book and is described well by Andrew Smith. The settings are visual, including the corridors and the Great Book Room. An interesting moment is when Nefred directly links telepathically to the System Files, not shown in the TV version.
I was expecting there to be an epilogue at the end of novelization/audiobook of ‘Full Circle’. But as I discovered from the sleeve text, Andrew Smith had inserted an epilogue originally but it got deleted at the insistence of producer John Nathan-Turner. Why this happened, I’ve no idea and it is a shame.
There is an additional scene at end of the story where the Marshmen retreat to the swamps and are in telepathic communication by their Marshleader. They consider what to do when rising up from the swamps again, setting things up for the Big Finish audio sequel ‘Mistfall’ with Peter Davison’s Doctor.
‘Doctor Who – Full Circle’ has been a great novelization/audiobook to read and listen to. I’ve enjoyed Matthew Waterhouse’s narration of the story and John Leeson as K-9. Andrew Smith enriches the world of ‘Full Circle’ greatly and I have enjoyed exploring more of the story with the Marshmen and Mistfall.
‘Doctor Who – Full Circle’ rating – 8/10
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