Those of you who care will have noticed that I’m working my way through classic Who in vaguely historical order; so since I finished the first three Doctors last year, I’ve been gradually ticking off the Tom Baker stories. The result of this has been that I am now least well versed in the Davison era, so I have been compensating a bit – Logopolis, Tom Baker’s last story, ends with Davison’s first though wordless appearance in the role, and Kinda and Snakedance are an interesting pairing, featuring the only returning monster of the Davison era (guest appearances in The Five Doctors aside). Also, all three stories are, in a deep sense, weird, trying to fit a lot more intellectual concepts into the Who format that usual, with varying degrees of success.
But the two million viewers who gave up on it between eps 2 and 3 were mistaken. Things I liked about it: the Watcher works really well, even though we never really find out the details of how he works. It generally looks fascinating – the nested Tardises, the streets of Logopolis. John Fraser as the Monitor is great. Nothing that the Master does actually makes sense, but it’s a great debut story for Ainley who does some high-class evil laughter. Nyssa may pop out of nowhere but it’s good to have her back (and out-acting Adric almost instantly). The music is super – the theme for the Watcher suggesting that he is not the Master (as Adric assumes) but something else, and that final chord sequence as it transforms into the Doctor Who theme.
The biggest problem I have with it now is that the Master’s grand plan simply doesn’t compute. How can he have known that the Doctor was headed for the Barnet by-pass? Or would then head for Logopolis? And how quickly will his message to the peoples of the universe reach them, indeed how will the radio telescope, sending messages at sluggish old light-speed, be able to affect the CVE in time? (And since Logopolis is out of commission, who will do this in future next time there is an entropy crisis?) We’ll leave out the fact that the Third Doctor survived a much longer fall in The Paradise of Death, since that story is of dubious canonicity.
Logopolis is not one of the great regeneration stories – there are four of those, and they are The Tenth Planet, The War Games, The Caves of Androzani and Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways. But it is no way as bad as either Planet of the Spiders or (stretching a point as there is no regeneration) The Ultimate Foe. Good watching, with emphasis on watching rather than trying to understand what is going on.
The DVD is almost worth the cover price alone for the documentary on the transition between Doctors, “A New Body At Last”, featuring interviews with Davison, Baker (as hilarious as ever) and numerous other cast and crew.