Just watched this again last night. I've seen every story from this period so many times I've lost count, so I think it's safe to say I've given it every chance. It was very impressive at first... but I always felt like I was missing something regarding the story. Not anymore. It's clearly the story that's missing something. Aside from humor, there's also character development. As someone at Page Fillers said, there's too many plot-threads, but NONE of them get developed enough. This includes the romance between Mena & Hardin, which should have been a wonderful extension of the whole "promoting understanding" theme of the science institute ("Hive"). And how about something so obvious as THE MAFIA trying to move in and take over via systematic sabotage-- something I never quite "got" until I had it explained to me via the magazine?

The opening tracking shot is nice, but goes on at least twice as long as it should. However, the vertical "shuttle landing" shots are unforgivable. They all go on too long, there's at least 3 of them, and you never see the shuttle. Saving money on not having to build a model, were we?

And what's with all the close-ups? The worst offender is the scene where Hardin rushes into the boardroom to find the fallen Mena, but the camera stays on his face for at least half a minute, instead of, you know, showing us the room, and Mena. This, and some of the transitional edits, make it seem as if the director just got out of film school, and this was his first job.

And how about the music? IT'S TOO LOUD!!! Especially in Part 4. Impressive electronic music in otherwise silent scene-setting shots is one thing, but when you have dialogue and can't hear what's being said, that's rank amatuerism. It's a simple, basic thing that no "professional" should be getting this wrong, and this crap starts right here, and continues to get worse right to the end of the series.

There was a decent story in there... before they gutted all the humor and otherwise messed with it for the sake of "style over substance". Tragically, as someone else at PageFillers pointed out, JNT never figured out that DOCTOR WHO was a character-based show. Perhaps the worst crime was deliberately driving off 2 of the best characters the show ever had. On TV, actors move on. More so in England than America. But you don't, you never drive them off. And that's what he did. And yes, I'm including K-9. He was never a "prop". He was a real character, and one of the best in the show's history. But with him and Romana gone-- plus all the other questionable changes-- it "inspired" Tom Baker, at a late date, to also go. Maybe that's what JNT had in mind anyway?

I still find Season 18 very watchable. But the last time I did (2 years back), I was quite surprised to find I felt every story had some good in it-- except "LOGOPOLIS". That's when it all really went to hell.

I have a fantasy, where, if I ever found myself as Producer of the show, the first thing I'd so would be restore the 1963 theme song, and, have a TARDIS control room built that was "inspired" by the one in "AN UNEARTHLY CHILD"-- only, with a real budget.

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Been awhile since I watched this one - I seem to recall finding it oddly disjointed, somehow.  I never noticed until it was pointed out to me that "Foamasi" was an anagram of "Mafiaso".

The next one that season, "MEGLOS", always got a bad rap as the least of the 7 stories that year. Yet, I found the on-screen storytelling 10 times better. On closer consideration, I realized that both scripts had serious troubles and needed more work. This is the reverse of most of Season 17, where they had mostly very good scripts, but sloppy production. It's like they exchanged one set of problems for another. Someone suggested a good team would have been JNT as producer and Douglas Adams as script editor... but this wouldn't have worked, unless JNT put aside his irrational dislike of humor.

Watched this again yesterday, a few thoughts...

 

1)It had never really occurred to me before that this was the first show with JN-T as producer and Christopher Hamilton Bidmead as script editor - I somehow had also never made the connection that this was the first show with the re-vamped credits sequence and the Howell theme tune and incidental music. The commentary track on this DVD is entertaining, with Bidmead and director Lovett Bickford genially blaming each other, as well as writer David Fisher, and JN-T for why this story isn't what it should be, while Lalla Ward contents herself with coyly badmouthing Tom Baker - one occasionally gets the sense that there's still a whole lot of bitterness on her part coming out of that relationship.  The one thing that Bidmead and Bickford both seem to agree on was that JNT had a perfect talent for picking the wrong sort of stories for the series to do.

 

2)Yeah, that panning shot across the beach does seem to go on forever, doesn't it?  Onme starts to wonder if Bikcford was trying to be Bergmanesque.

 

3)I did like Romana's "bathing" outfit. On the other hand, we get the Doctor's new outfit, which is like his old outfit, only less interesting.

 

4)Ward talks about how JNT hated K-9 - I think having him electrocute himself to get him out of the story was a bit much, makes them all look like idiots.

 

5)Never was wild about the look of the Argolins.

 

6)All this business about tachyonics was apparently part of a move to get back to more "realistic" science.

 

7)They went through all the rigmarole of putting the control collars on them, and then took them off two scenes later and forgot about them for the rest of the story.

 

8)Interesting that the TARDIS translation function doesn't translate Foamasi.

 

9)Hardin knows the Vulcan neck pinch, apparently.

 

10)Some fun quotes:

  • "You know how dangerous it is bypassing the randomizer." Well, it didn't take them too long to get rid of that. It's not as though he ever knew where he was going, anyhow.
  • "His scarf killed Stimson." "Arrest the scarf, then."  Apparently, they didn't get all the "humor" out.
  • "You couldn't hang a hat on that."
  • "I'm the Foamasi government."  Really? The whole government?
  • "Don't cross your bridges before they're hatched."
  • "This time I must try to bring him up properly."
  • "Have a baby."
  • "The Black Guardian's a real threat."  "Some galactic hobo with ideas above his station. The cosmos is full of them."  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

 

11)Cliffhangers:

  • Part One: The Doctor is trapped in the machine!
  • Part Two: The machine has aged the Doctor!  (It occurs to me that this woud have been a good story to hang a regeneration on, had he been leaving at this point.  Also, the "age" make-up on Baker looks good - much better than they ever did on Dark Shadows!)
  • Part Three: Brock is unmasked as a Foamasi!
  • Part Four: The Doctor and Romana leave without the Randomizer!

 

Overall:

There's the germ of a good story in here, I think, but it could've used a fair bit of polishing.

I’ve been working my way through the Tom Baker era lately (seasons 13-17), and I’ve just started season 18 (Baker’s seventh and John Nathan Turner’s first). I wish I had been keeping track of all the bits from the original show that have since been re-imagined on the new show; I’ve noticed at least one aspect from every serial. It could be just my imagination but, for example, I think the Foamasi were “re-imagined” by RTD as the Slitheen.

What do you think?

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