Number : Season 18, serial 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 PageTylos : 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 episodes.

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’. There, 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. Adric’s kid gang. Some of the SFX. Some of the acting. The pseudo-science waffle.

Review With Spoilers : Full Circle marked the beginning, of three linked stories, called the ‘E-Space Trilogy’. Following the Doctor’s 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. 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 that all – is not as it seems. Until meeting with the Tarradonian heirachy, called “The Deciders”; who have been withholding an almighty dirty little secret – from their people.

The spiders, marsh-man and Terradons – are all evolved from the same DNA branch and the Terradons didn’t actually 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 Doctor Who.

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 simply: he wasn’t very likeable or relatable.

“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 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 episode one 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. Especially, 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) multicoloured dress-sense, looks really dated and (obviously) borrowed, from the Beeb’s medieval dept. It’s just not in keeping with the believability of a group of stranded survivors, even if they have clean, multi-coloured clothing.

The obvious Alzurian spider props, especially when Romana gets attacked in the cave – is laughable. As a rule low-budget shows, if they couldn’t make them look moderately convincing. Then 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 Doctor Who writer; called Andrew Smith. Smith sent the script into the BBC, in the hopes of being picked up by the producers. All the more remarkable, was the fact that Smith, was only 17 years-old!

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 it should be appreciated, for this fact – alone.

🔵🔵🔵🔵⚪ (4/5)

Old Doctor Who

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