Monday, 12 November 2012

Review: Doctor Who Classic: Full Circle

The Marshmen are the Alzarians' ancestors.
Doctor Who - Season 18, Story Three - Full Circle
Written 16/8/12

As I a child I always wanted to see this story, for the simple reason that writer Andrew Smith shares my name. The first fan-written story, Full Circle was commissioned to introduce new companion Adric and to begin JNT's first arc, the E-Space trilogy. What does having a fan-writer mean to the serial? Well, there are a few problems here or there, but fundamentally it's much more interesting and well-done than you'd expect. It's a story of tolerance, of trust and of the dangers of ignorance. And about stealing river fruit.
     On their way back to Gallifrey, the Time Lord Twosome encounter a spacial anomaly which, despite the TARDIS telling them they're in the right place, has sent them to a green-tinted parallel world. They land on the planet Alzarius, where the human-like natives retreat from the Mistfall into their spaceship, which they believe carried their decendants from the planet Terradon. A young Alzarian called Adric ends up encountering the TARDIS, and together they enter the ship and witness an attack by the native Marshmen. The Doctor discovers that the Alzarians are run by an oligarchy known as The Deciders, who have been hiding information from the public concerning their inability to actually run the ship. Looking at DNA samples of the crew and the Marshmen, The Doctor discovers that the Alzarians are in fact the Marshmen's decendants, and he finds the way to deter them. Having finally set the ship on its way, The Doctor and Romana go forth to try and find the exit to this world - not knowing that Adric has stowed away onboard.
     Adric, named after an anagram of revolutionary particle physicist Paul Dirac, is pretty much an accidental author-insert for the at-the-time teenaged Andrew Smith. Adric was supposed to be an effort by JNT to represent the show's key demographic, and it's perhaps unfortunate that the result is a character less identifiable and more irritating. In a few words, Adric is pompous, arrogant, incredibly assuming and yet ridiculously incompetant in all walks of life besides Mathemathics. He's fine with Tom, for the most part, but his real moments of annoyance come here and later in Season 19.
K-9 was used well this week.
     Season 18's high-concept sci-fi themes continue here, and for me this is the first one that really works - a highly adaptable species that is able to evolve into different forms over the course of only a few tens of thousands of years. The Marshmen look awesome, and their humanoid appearance lends credence to the idea that they are the Alzarians' ancestors. I also loved the idea of the Deciders and their endless bureaucratic procrastination, which evolved not out of their human failures but simply because they weren't in fact decended from the ships' original inhabitants. I wish that there'd been a few minutes more focus upon the overall arc story, but I get the feeling that this trilogy is a lot more loose than JNT's other arcs.
     Full Circle was a great 100 minutes. While it did unleash Adric upon the world, it also had a lot of interesting ideas and the interactions between characters were good fun. At the end of the day it probably wasn't very memorable, and that's an issue that so far has been plaguing this season, but the first part of the E-Space trilogy was a brilliant start and I'm looking forward to the last two parts of my look at JNT.

Thanks.

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