Full Circle (1980)

Full Circle is the third story of Tom Baker’s final season but more importantly it’s the first story of the E-Space trilogy. Three adventures taking place in E-Space which have negative co-ordinates but visually the only difference is that it’s slightly green. After the horrors of Meglos and the disappointing feeling I got watching The Leisure Hive, this is the first story of the 1980/81 series that felt like proper Doctor Who. Written by Andrew Smith (The Invasion of E-Space), this story sees the Doctor and Romana arrive on Alzarius where there is a Starliner that is going back to Terradon however things aren’t always that simple (when are they ever!) and the colonists are being bothered by Marshmen. I liked the idea that people are replacing parts of the Starliner that are perfectly fine and they could have taken off centuries ago but the deciders don’t know how to pilot the Starliner. The best part is that the Starliner hasn’t been of Terradon for 40 generations but more like 40,000 generations. Essentially the Marshmen and the colonists are the same.

The problem with this story is Adric. I really can’t stand him and he has to go in my top two worst companions (tied with Dodo). In the first episode he faints in the TARDIS and his actions lead to the death of a decider. Matthew Waterhouse wasn’t quite right for the role and I think that had another actor being cast then we would think quite differently of Adric. There is a scene where he twists Keara’s arm and is suppose to act aggressive but just fails. Tom Baker and Lalla Ward put in fine performances and there isn’t a much of Baker’s comedy in this despite a disparaging line about the Marshmen when Baker say “I usually get on so well with Children”. Apart from that he’s on good form.

Despite being Deciders, they aren’t very good at deciding. They put a lot of faith in the manuals, thinking that they are helping them but in fact they are hindering them. The line that the Starliner had been there for 40,000 generations helps makes the fact that no one knows how to pilot the Starliner believable. Alan Rowe and George Baker are two very good actors and are very good in this. The great thing about the deciders which these two show is that despite being in a position of relative power, they don’t abuse it like you would expect in any other story. Alan Rowe previously appeared in Horror of Fang Rock as well as The Time Warrior and has a fantastic on-screen presence. The Outlers are quite good even with the inclusion of Adric. I thought that despite them being fairly rubbish in trying to steal some melons they were still entertaining and were suitable opposite the deciders.

Full Circle is a good start to the E-Space Trilogy. I think that as a stand alone story it’s got some interesting characters and the Marshmen are very well realised. Peter Grimwade does a good job directing and is by far a better director than writer. All the location work is minimal but is still very good. As part of the trilogy it’s better than Warriors Gate but not as good as State of Decay (only just).

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