Number : Season 18, serial 4 of 7.
Which One : E-Space vampires.
Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Romana : Lalla Ward
Adric : Matthew Waterhouse
K9 MK-II : John Leeson (voice)
Zargo : William Lindsay
Camila : Rachel Davies
Aukon : Emrys James
Ivo : Clinton Greyn
Marta : Rhoda Lewis
Karl : Dean Allen
Tarak : Thane Bettany
Habris : Iain Rattray
Kalmar : Arthur Hewlett
Veros : Stacy Davies
Roga : Stuart Fell
Zoldaz : Stuart Blake
Written By : Terrance Dicks
Produced By : JNT
First UK Broadcast : 22 November – 13 December 1980.
Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.
Plot : The Doctor, Romana and Adric – search for a door to escape E-Space. Instead, they end up on a medieval planet – ruled over by technological vampires.
Whats good : Strong Terrence Dicks script. The Giant Vampire/Time Lord war – backstory.
Whats bad : The Giant Vampire – awakening SFX, is not that great.
Review With Spoilers : State Of Decay is the second serial – in the E-Space trilogy, following Full Circle. It is here, that the overriding 18th season tone of decay and entropy – is most pronounced.
The first noticable thing about State Of Decay, is – in look and feel; it is a complete harkback to the Hinchcliffe era; with its bold (repurposed for sci-fi) gothic horror overtures.
This is helped – in part by a script, which is by Terrence Dicks. Dicks knows a thing or two, about writing a convincing blend of medieval horror – and contrasting space fantasy.
Also running through this story, is a clever subplot. Regarding the Time Lord’s war, with a race of giant space vampire-bats and how Rassilon built huge bowships, which fired huge stakes, to kill the vampiric threat.
One remains though, which escaped into E-Space and to this unnamed planet and buried itself beneath the black tower. It’s influence can be felt all over the planet. Which is suffering as a society, which once had technology but has since fell into a “state of decay” (you get the idea!).
The super-vampire controls three underlings, who rule as lords over the peasants of the land – Zargo, Camilla, and Aukon. These lords regularly select the healthiest peasants, who are taken to the tower and drained – of all of their blood.
“They swarmed all over the universe. And they were so strong that one single vampire could suck the life out of an entire planet. Anyway, according to the story, we Time Lords, hunted them down across the universe in a war so long and so bloody that we were sickened of violence forever!” The Doctor
The tower itself, turns out to be a former rocketship called ‘The Hydrax’ and the Doctor learns, that the Astronauts who crashed here; eventually evolved into the current feudal society. With vampires, at the top and peasant foodchain; at the bottom.
We also get some more backstory into the Doctor’s past, who mentions his youth and his former tutor – K’anpo (or Cho-Je). Who was first mentioned, in The Time Monster and seen in Planet of the Spiders; when the Third Doctor regenerated into the Fourth.
The only real letdown on offer here, is the Giant Vampire SFX which come across very Thunderbirdsy. Even Kroll in The Power Of Kroll looked better, than the Vampire-Bat which (as a special-effect) looks like it was rushed.
JNT era – is punctuated by a number of so-so stories and average yarns. Generally speaking though, the ones which were written by the old guard of Dicks and Holmes are generally speaking; among the best.
State Of Decay is a period piece but with the extra layer of vampire horror. This raises it to an above-average Who period effort. As a result, it’s remembered, as another strong story in the E-Space trilogy. Along with predecessor Full Circle and so far, two out three ain’t too bad.
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