Full Circle – 1980 – S18 – E3/7

image Number : Season 18, episode 3 of 7.

Which One : Meet Adric.

Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Romana : Lalla Ward
K9 MK-II : John Leeson (voice)
Adric : Matthew Waterhouse
Draith : Leonard Maguire
Nefred : James Bree
Garif : Alan Rowe
Login : George Baker
Dexeter : Tony Calvin
Varsh : Richard Willis
Keara : June Page
Tylos : Bernard Padden
Omril : Andrew Forbes
Rysik : Adrian Gibbs

Written By : Andrew Smith

Produced By : JNT

First UK Broadcast : 25 October – 15 November 1980.

Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.

Plot : On route back to Gallifrey to drop Romana off. The Doctor accidentally pilots the Tardis through a “charged vaccuum embointment” (space portal) into an alternate universe, called ‘E-Space’. They visit the planet Alzarius where the local inhabitants are building a spaceship to escape Alzarius and the oncoming mistfall; when they are attacked by marshmen and spiders from the swamps.

Whats good : Original story. Impending tension. Mistfall. Marsh-men.

Whats bad : Adric. Some of the SFX. Some of the Acting. The pseudo-science waffle.

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Review With Spoilers : Full Circle marked the beginning of three linked stories, called the ‘E-Space trilogy’. Following the Doctors attempts to return the Tardis to regular ‘N-Space’. Full Circle was also the introduction of a new companion character – an Alzurian boy genius called Adric.

The setup and payoff in Full Circle is good aswell. Visiting the planet Alzarius, the Doctor finds stranded Terradon Colonists; who are attempting to rebuild and repair their spacecraft, so that they can leave Alzarius.

Amongst other reasons, to escape the regular 50-year phenomena of “mistfall”, when marsh-men and spiders leave the swamps (and rampage over the land). Forcing the Terradons to use their ship as a barricade, to keep them out.

The Doctor is more than sympathetic to their plight – initially. Even offering to help fix their “broken” ship – which actually seems strangely flight ready. The Doctor begins to suspect all is not as it seems. Until he meets the Tarradonian heirachy called “The Deciders” – who have been withholding an almighty dirty little secret – from their people.

That the spiders, marsh-man and Terradons are all evolved from the same DNA branch and the Terradons didn’t crashland on Alzuria but have always been there. The ship was alien and did crash at some point but must have been overran by Marshmen, who eventually evolved into the current people.

It is a great twist on proceedings. After we have spent most of the story, buying the ‘stranded colonists lark’ from The Deciders. Naturally, this information comes as a bit of a bombshell and after dealing with the deciders, the Doctor pliots the ship so that the Terradons/Alzurians can leave Alzuria and start again – somewhere else.

We are also introduced to a new companion, Adric – who stows away on board the Tardis when the Doctor leaves Alzarius. Adric is the most controversial character in the history of Who and split the fandom right down the middle.

Written as a cross between Einstein and the Artful Dodger, he was extremely precocious and genius in his understanding of mathematics. The problem with Adric was: he wasn’t very likeable or relatable.

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“That’s what the Decider said in the marsh. His last words. ‘Tell Dexeter we’ve come – ‘full circle!’ “. Adric

He frequently bickered with his other companions and the Doctor – and like Star Trek‘s Mr Spock, could even be persuaded to betray his new friends with a strong logical argument, such as in Four To Doomsday.

Full Circle is an original script with plenty of memorable set-pieces; not least the part 1 cliffhanger, when the marsh-men begin rising from the depths. It also has an impending air of tension hanging over it, with the coming of mistfall and the dangers in the swamp.

The marsh-men are well designed and effective, apart from the obvious looking wetsuits the actors are wearing. Nevertheless, they are especially effective when partially obscured by the mist, in the scenes involving their exit from the swamps and stalking through the jungle.

If any area lets Full Circle down, its usually down to the execution of the script. The Terradon’s bizarre multi-coloured clean dress sense – looks really dated and obviously borrowed from the Beeb’s medival dept. It’s just not in keeping with the believability of a group of stranded survivors, even if they have nice clean mulricoloured clothing.

The obvious Alzurian spider props, especially when Romana gets attacked in the cave is laughable, if they couldn’t make them look convincing – don’t show them in all of their glory – keep to fleeting glimpses.

Some of the acting is not upto spec – either, especially amongst the teenage members of Adric’s gang – Keara, Tylos and Adric’s bro – Varsh. It’s more Grange Hill than desperate survival situation. A bit of directional context – or quality control; wouldn’t have gone amiss here, when they were filming.

Full Circle was written by a first time Who writer, called Andrew Smith – who sent the script in to the Beeb in the hopes of being picked up by the producers. All the more remarkable was, that Smith was only 17 years-old!

I would love to see this script remade in the new series – as a tribute, with a bit of money and modern special effects to really compliment an excellent script.

Some of the execution in Full Circle is bad or even a bit laughable – in places. It feels uneven, due to some excellent moments interspersed with bad SFX or poor acting. However, Full Circle is an excellent story on paper and should be appreciated, for this fact – alone.

🔵🔵🔵🔘⚪ (3.5/5)

Old Doctor Who


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