Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy (Full Circle / State of Decay / Warriors' Gate)
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Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy - Full Circle/State of Decay/Warriors' Gate (Stories 112-114)
The E-Space Trilogy is a well-regarded trio of stories from the tail end of Tom Baker’s tenure as the Doctor (and the show’s 18th season), and find him lost in a parallel universe full of alarming new foes; the trilogy also serves as a farewell to one of the Doctor’s best-loved companions, Romana (Lalla Ward) and an introduction to one of his most controversial, the teenaged Adric (Matthew Waterhouse). The TARDIS enters the alternate universe--known as Exo-Space or E-Space in 1980’s Full Circle, which finds the Doctor and Romana charting a course for their home planet of Gallifrey but instead finding themselves on the planet Alzarius, where a small band of humanoids find conflict within their number as well as from menacing, reptilian Marshmen. One of the humanoids, a teenager named Adric, stows away aboard the TARDIS and accompanies the Doctor to a new planet in State of Decay; there, they discover a medieval-like society in the grip of three lords who demand sacrifice from the population. The true identity of the lords lends an air of Hammer-style horror to the story, which is perhaps the most engaging of the set. Finally, an escape route from E-Space is revealed in Warriors’ Gate, but first, the Doctor and his companions must contend with a slave ship and its cargo of lion-like creatures called Tharils. Though the Doctor is eventually freed from E-Space, his departure does not come without its costs, as revealed by the final fate of Romana and fan favorite K-9 Mk II.
Though by no means among the best of the Baker episodes, the E-Space Trilogy delivers plenty of thrills in its three stories. Fans may find areas to quibble over--especially in regard to Adric, whose presence pales in comparison to Baker’s previous companions--but they bear up well in regard to solid plotting and consistent entertainment, especially when compared to the lighter tone of the previous season, which was overseen by Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame. Baker and Ward are once again the anchors of the show, and her departure is an unfortunate one (the Doctor would struggle to find an equally strong companion in the years that followed); Baker of course, remains a pleasure as the Time Lord, though one can occasionally perceive his growing dissatisfaction with the role (he would depart the series at the end of the season). And perhaps that’s the reason why he is absent from the set’s wealth of extras, leaving Waterhouse to contribute the majority of the commentaries, though Ward weighs in on Warriors’ Gate. Archival footage from UK TV chronicles Waterhouse’s debut on the series and preserves the original continuity announcements from the BBC broadcasts, while featurettes cover everything from Ward’s stylish wardrobe to the making of each episodes. One of the most interesting extras is “Leaves of Blood,” a 20-minute examination of vampires in literature and history, and featuring comments by such noted authors as Ramsay Campbell and Kim Newman. Deleted scenes and an isolated score option round out the supplemental features. -- Paul Gaita
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Top Customer Reviews
Full Circle: In Adric's debut story, the Doctor and Romana go through a CVE (Charged Vacuum Emboitment), en route to Gallifrey, and land on the planet Alzarius. The planet is experiencing Mistfall, a bubbling of the mists that bring out the Marshmen.
Adric is caught between sides. On one hand, he feels stifled by the conventions of society, but the Outlers, led by his brother Varsh, see him as part of the establishment. Naturally, there is only one place for him, as the viewer will see at the end.
The paralysis of the Alzarian "Type D Oligarchy" is painfully aware, as the Deciders have enforced a policy of deliberate ignorance on its citizens, and are guilty of "willful procrastination." As Login says: "A little patience goes a long way." The Doctor replies: "Too much patience goes nowhere." The strongest supporting character is George Baker who plays the decisive Decider Login, the most respected member of the community, who in the end gets something done. Second place goes to June Page as Keara, Login's Outler daughter, who would have been an ideal companion, but Nyssa came along in Keeper Of Traken.
This is a story with a mystery that is gradually revealed bit by bit, and it works effectively to that effect. Clues include Decider Nefred's pained reaction on seeing the system files, Draith's dying words: "Tell Dexeter we've come full circle," and the pain shared by the Marsh child, being dissected by Dexeter, and Romana, who has an alien protein injected in her from a spider bite.
The Doctor's carelessness of leaving the Starliner door open leads to the Marsh child's entering the Starliner, subsequent capture, and death. Surprising for his character.Read more ›
Tom Baker's Doctor and Lalla Ward's Romana are the ultimate gypsy Bohemian couple, travelling the countryside in a souped-up RV with their dog and minimal responsibilities. Their on-screen chemistry is flawless, and they're a cute couple besides. These serials also introduce the character of Adric, who was probably well conceived in the story meetings prior to his introduction. The character is hampered, however, by the ho-hum acting of the very young and inexperienced Matthew Waterhouse, whose screen career ended after only one other role.
The first episode, "Full Circle," features the TARDIS crew getting stranded in a pocket universe, E-Space. The story provides the characters the chance to get oriented to the setting and introduces Adric. The most organic and free-standing of the three serials, this is easily the strongest in the boxed set.
Second is "State of Decay," in which the characters leap to another planet and tangle with vampires. Every supporting character, especially the vampires and Adric, are saddled with stock poses and forced line readings that don't bear out. Set design and limited location work create a good atmospheric feel, but as for story and execution, this is easily the weakest episode in the set.
Finally, "Warriors' Gate" plays off the whole stranded motif, placing the characters at the juncture of the two universes. As this was Lalla Ward's final episode, a big, dramatic sendoff was devised for her.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Classic Tom Baker. Excellent score. Gets rid of the lesser Romana!Published 6 months ago by M. Hatfield
I can't wait for this to be released. 3 great Tom Baker stories for 1 great price. Although, I love all 3 of these stories, I am most looking forward to Warriors' Gate. Read morePublished on March 9 2009 by Stoner5189
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