Retro ‘Doctor Who’ Reviews – Vol. 4.13


The three serials covered in this volume make up the ‘E-Space Trilogy’, an over-arching story that sees the Doctor and Romana trapped in an alternative universe.

Full Circle

Full_circle_uk_dvdRomana is upset when her and the Doctor receive a summons from the Time Lords to report back to Gallifrey. She knows that this means an end to her journey with the Doctor and the TARDIS, and she’s developed a taste for adventure over continued studies. This summons, however, becomes the least of their troubles when the TARDIS passes through a rift and find themselves in the alternative universe called E-Space. They land on a forest planet and the action shifts to the local humanoid population.

The small group of humans who sustain a civilisation on the planet are from a different planet, and arrived on a giant starship that has remained grounded for generations. Soon the periodic ‘mistfall’ is expected to arrive and threaten the peoples ability to survive in the open, forcing them into the ship where they will continue their repairs and eventually take off. There’s a small group of youths who deny the ‘Deciders’ warnings that danger is imminent and make their way stealing goods. Among this group is Adric, a young boy who is a mathematical protégé.

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When the deadly mistfall does arrive the youths manage to steal the TARDIS in their attempts to survive the appearance of giant spiders and Marshmen. The Doctor, meanwhile, has found his way onto the spaceship and suspects that there’s something being hidden from the general population. Most suspicious is that the Marshmen share DNA with the humanoids of the settlement.

Full Circle

Quite a good introduction to the longer ‘E-Space Trilogy’, which serves to conclude Romana and K9’s time with the Doctor. The DNA link between the people and the creatures that stalk them is an interesting one and makes for a good reveal. A large portion of the episode is given over the to introduction of Adric, the new companion. Such a young character is a change of pace from who the Doctor had been travelling with over the past few seasons, but a character of such mathematic ability is always going to keep pace with the Doctor.

State of Decay

State of DecayThe Doctor, Romana and K9 continue to search for an escape from E-Space, unwittingly carrying Adric as a stowaway, with they land on what appears to be a feudal period planet. A small group of villagers live under the thrall of Zargo, Camilla and Aukon, the three lords who dwell in the tower above the village. What confuses the Time Lords is the discovery of highly advanced technologies that have been abandoned. On a more sinister note they discover an annual ‘selection’ ritual where young villagers are chosen to disappear into the tower.

As Adric is exploring the village (with the Doctor and Romana still oblivious to his presence) he is taken by Lord Aukon and deemed suitable of becoming a chosen one. As the mystery unravels they discover drained corpses and come under attack from bats and it becomes clear that they are dealing with vampires. In a departure from the standard mythology it is found that tower was once a spaceship and the vampire are mutations of the original crew, who have taken to feeding off the colonists who live below.

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Although there is some rich imagination at the backbone of the episode it doesn’t stand out as especially unique. The colony starting ark evolving into something more sinister and unusual provides food for thought, and the classic vampire tone are both good, but they don’t quite mesh as well as you’d want it to.  It also feels strange with Adric operating independently from the rest of the crew as he’s still being introduced yet isn’t given room to get established. State of Decay is, in-part, thought provoking but remains filler.

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Warriors’ Gate

Bbcdvd-espace-warriorsgateWhen the TARDIS crew find way to escape from E-Space and return to N-Space they wind up trapped in a white void between the universes. At the same time another spaceship, piloted by Commander Rorvik, becomes trapped in the same realm. Their navigator, an inhuman prisoner named Biroc, escapes from the ship and warns the Doctor that Rorvik cannot be trusted. While exploring the void the Doctor finds a stone gateway occupied by decaying robots who were built by slaves to start a revolt.

Whilst the Doctor is occupied the crew of the Rorvik require another time sensitive being to navigate their ship. They kidnap Romana from the TARDIS and force her into this role. While the empty void begins shrinking, Adric sets out to rescue Romana and the Doctor learns the truth behind Biroc’s people and how they came to be slaves to the humanoid time travellers.

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This is a big episode. Although the void itself doesn’t use up much of the set budget the human ship, built from dense dwarf star alloy, is a very well designed piece that genuinely looks like a working class ship. The mirror world that exists through the stone gateway is also a good concept and is worked well into the script.

Like the previous episode the opportunity for Adric to develop a banter with the Doctor is skipped over while the youngster adventures about on his own. To be fair this is more Romana’s story, as at the end of the episodes she chooses to remain behind and assist the time sensitive Tharils to liberate the rest of their people. She’ll certainly be missed, having a brilliant energy with the Doctor (Lalla Ward and Tom Baker would later be briefly married) and stood apart as a more independent character than most companions.

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