Doctor Who episode 554: Castrovalva – Part One (4/1/1982)
‘If escape were that easy Adric we could all be free of this nasty world.’ While previous regenerations have picked up from the end of the previous story, this is a straight continuation of Logopolis 4, with the amazing vanishing security guards reappearing to menace the new Doctor and friends, the Master having come up with yet another plan on the fly, and references to block transfer and the Logopolitans. This makes sense as a follow up to The Five Faces of Doctor Who, which concluded with Logopolis in December 1981. The plus is that it provides immediate jeopardy directly connected to the Doctor’s regeneration.
The downside is that we don’t get any real sense of the fifth Doctor. ‘The regeneration is failing,’ he says in a tremulous voice as he runs through impersonations of his predecessors. True, when he gets into the Zero Room there’s a hint of how Davison will play the role – mind darting about, always vaguely distracted, with a slight catch in his voice – but, unlike the post-regenerative party pieces of the past (Troughton’s semi-sinister clowning; Pertwee’s comedy; Baker’s spikiness), this is written to avoid showing what he brings. There would be some method in that had this been recorded as Davison’s first serial and he was still finding his way – but it’s his fourth, and there was really no need to be quite this coy about introducing us to the new lead.
I suppose it gives Bidmead the opportunity to establish a team thrown together in haste like a Pop Idol band. The Doctor assigns roles to each of his companions (Tegan, the coordinator, Nyssa the technical genius, Adric – someone he’s met) which bears almost no relation to how they function in practice. Even Bidmead’s script doesn’t really pick up on this – Tegan’s less a coordinator and more the “school of life” type to Nyssa’s theoretical knowledge. The overall impression is a lot of young people running round in a flap while the Master watches, laughing. Carmine Seepage would be my drag name.
Next episode: Castrovalva – Part Two