Thread: S18@ 30

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  1. #1
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    Default S18@ 30



    30 years? My how time flies!

    Yes, 30 years ago today Doctor Who burst back onto BBC 1 with a new theme arrangement, a new costume for the Doctor and a new team behind the scenes.

    I know I bang on about the season every so often, but it is my favourite to this day and marks the turning point from casual viewer to fan for me.

    But has it aged well? Do you like it? Or is entropy taking its toll on the old thing?

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  2. #2
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    I've always thought that Season 18 was a funny thing, particularly coming straight after the Graham Williams era.

    I can't help but feel that Season 18 is best looked at in contrast with the previous season. The difference between the two is absolutely astounding. Where Douglas Adams' Season 17 was extremely humourous and rather fantasy-driven, this has a more serious tone, and is often-doom laden.

    Of course, we've all heard the reports about how bloody awful Tom Baker was to work with at this point in the series, regardless of their source. It's clear that we are watching a man who was used to getting his own way, but has been reigned in. He's noticeably more serious and cranky. At times, it is plainly obvious that you are watching a man who wanted to leave the role, and this gives the Fourth Doctor a new edge - he comes across as a character who knows that he is going to meet his demise soon. But unlike the Tenth Doctor in Series 4 and the 2009 specials, this does not come across as at all contrived.

    Yet, all these changes make for an excellent season of Doctor Who, with only one real misfire (Meglos. Ugh.) What I really like is the doom-laden atmosphere of the entire season. It's not gratutious, it's not over-emphasised, but it's there. Unlike the previous season, this season gives me the impression that it's building up to something - someone (JNT and Chris Bidmead) has a vision of where to take the show.

    Then, there's the excursion into E-Space. The finest trilogy of Doctor Who stories that has ever been written. Yes, even Warrior's Gate. These side-steps into another universe provide for a convenient exit for Romana and K9, the depature of the latter being in part thanks to JNT's vision for the show.

    This season has the underlying theme of entropy. However, this season is also about New Beginnings. Whilst we see the departure of the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K9, we also see three new companions introduced, the Master steals a body and rejuvenates himself, and of course, the season culminates with the introduction of the Fifth Doctor. Behind the scenes, we have a new Producer, with a new Script Editor, new electronic music and a new title sequence.

    I, personally, am firmly of the opinion that Season 18 saved Doctor Who, sending it in an exciting new direction that would continue until Peter Davison left the role three years later.

    Ant x

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    I had a feeling that Mr Hart would be starting this thread today...

    As I've banged on about before, at the time (ie, this day 30 years ago) I didn't like the new series much at all - they'd got rid of the title sequence & music I loved!! That's my main over-riding memory of part 1 of The Leisure Hive from the time... that, and the great cliffhanger. In fact there are some great cliffhangers throughout The Leisure Hive (good old David Fisher).

    But that cranky childhood trauma aside, I love season 18. As Ant says, there's a sense that the season builds to a climax - arguably, the show never really did that in the old days except season 18 and even as a kid I can remember really getting excited when, for example, the CVE from earlier in the run became important in Logopolis.

    Ah yes, Logopolis - quite by coincidence I watched the last episode this morning. It's still soooo potent and atmospheric after all these years, and that's what I'd say about the whole run. True, I'm not a huge fan of Warriors Gate, and I think State of Decay goes after the boil after its first two episodes; but in general, season 18 has a real feel, a genuine sense of atmosphere and mood to it. The radiophonic scores, the older Doctor, the sense of change in the air, it's a great run of stories and although it's dated in terms of production values, they're still very watchable and enjoyable.

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    Paris had a strong ethos, but Season 18 had a spirit all of its own.

    Season 18 is my favourite season because no other season, new or old works so well as a whole. There's a progression, a movement towards something new, dominated by the cast changes but coming down from JNT and Christopher Hamilton Bidmead, making this a coherent whole. From The Leisure Hive to the last episode of Logopolis, this is one long story leading to the last days of the fourth Doctor and the brighter future of his younger successor.

    Lots of fans don't like it for the doomy atmosphere and the long shadow that the ill and unhappy Tom Baker casts over everything, but I find it intriguingly different to the previous season (which I love too). For me, as I've said before, this is the definitive Fourth Doctor, capturing all the aspects of the character fromt he previous six years, alien, eccentric, moody, witty all mixed in with a growing sense of doom that this isn't going to be his for much longer. People think Tom gave up this year. If he had I doubt we'd have the few much needed moments of humour he works in or had the bits where he acted everyone else off the screen- the outrage at the Dexter's vivisection of the Marshchild, the filling of the mug of wine at the Tharils feast that he knocks over in anger, that tremendous scene where he sees the Watcher for the first time.

    Lots have been written about the changes to production this year. Objectively it's probably not much different to Season 17- perhaps its more colourful and the desgn work is a bit better, but the effects suceed and fail about the same. The radiophonic scores give it a totally different feel though. I'm unashamedly a fan of them and it was a canny move that saved money and gave the programme a new atmosphere. Yes they've dated but the show needed to try something new after years of Dudley Simpson.

    It's the season I keep coming back to. When I think of Tom it's always his Doctor lost in miles of burgundy scarf.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    For me the season really 'clicked into place' with Full Circle. Whether that's coincidence, or whether it's because my perception of the show was affected by the news of Tom leaving, I don't know - but I do vividly recall watching from then on with a new sense of interest and excitement. And I agree absolutely with what you say about Mr Baker, Si, he gives as good a performance as ever in his last year - as I say, I've been rewatching Logopolis this past few days and part of why it works so well is because of how compelling the Doctor is, and how Tom makes it all seem so horribly real.

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    Given that I wasn't initially hugely impressed by S17 (a season which I really enjoy nowadays), I'm one of those who was tempted away from the series by ITV's flashy big budget series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Of the early part of S18, I only ever saw small clips (during adverts or when broadcast times varied a little bit) It was really only during Full Circle that I came back to the series, it was a story which captivated me and combined with the news that Tom was leaving, I was determined not to miss another episode (and I didn't, until I gave up during S24). It was a number of years though before I ever got the chance to see The Leisure Hive, Meglos and State Of Decay - the latter was the only one which I thought had been worth the wait, and to be honest I've never given the first two stories a second viewing to this day. Not that they were particularly bad, there had been many worse stories, but just not particularly good either. Maybe I should one of these days.

    If you take those first two stories out though, the remainder of S18 is one of the strongest seasons ever produced. I love it these days almost as much as the Hinchecliffe years, and although I feel that the title sequence/theme was never the same again from this point on, it certainly freshened the series up just when it was desperately needed.

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    I've never been a fan of seasons 15, 16, and 17 so after the mostly dross of these 3 seasons season 18 is like a Renaissance every thing especialy the opening/closing had become stale but season 18 was like throwing the window open to let in some much needed threash air.

    I love the new music and Tom's all burgundy coloured outfit is by far my favourite that he wore but for me the most interesting thing about season 18 is comparing Tom's Doctor to his season 12 performance. When he first hit our screens Tom, was a manic bulging eyed ball of energy yet with his sombre doom laden performances in season 18 it's almost like watching two different actors

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    My initial thoughts about season 18 was that I didn't like new opening titles or rearrangement of the theme. I remember watching it in glorious black and white and rushing out into the living room where our main tv was to see the titles in colour.
    I did however notice a big difference in the production of the series and Tom's brooding, sombre performance, as Si pointed out earlier about this particular series, a coherant whole, a story arc if you like from Argolis to The Pharos Project on Earth and Logopolis, and a Doctor who knows that his days are numbered.
    When Meglos appeared though as the second story of the series I did begin to wonder if we'd gone back to season 17 which I've stated before, is not my favourite season, and I despaired of stories like Meglos and The Horns of Nimon. However, when Full Circle began my faith was restored and I enjoyed the rest of the season despite my old black and white tv, which by now was getting old and irreparable, its tube was on the way out and by the time of Logopolis it was taking ages to warm up and I watched most of that story on a narrow screen that looked almost like a letterbox format film. By episode four I was fed up with it and watched in colour in the living room, consigning the old tv to the bin. I remember its sad, sickening thud as the binmen crushed it and its tube exploded deep in the bowels of the bin lorry. That tv had taken me from Metebelis 3 and almost to Logopolis, and I was sad to see it go.
    Time does fly, 30 years seems like yesterday sometimes. I watched the first two episodes of The Leisure Hive just last weekend, the DVD sure looks good, and there are some interesting extras on it. Over the course of the next six months I shall re-visit the rest of season 18 and post my thoughts along the way. Like the rest of Tom's series before it it will awaken some long forgotten memories.

  9. #9
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    Time does fly, 30 years seems like yesterday sometimes. I watched the first two episodes of The Leisure Hive just last weekend, the DVD sure looks good, and there are some interesting extras on it. Over the course of the next six months I shall re-visit the rest of season 18 and post my thoughts along the way. Like the rest of Tom's series before it it will awaken some long forgotten memories.
    I'll be interested to read what you think of it Stephen. Does anyone else fancy a Time-Team-esque trip through Season 18 over the next couple of months? It'd be interesting to see what people think if we all watch the same thing and post on it...

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SiHart View Post
    I'll be interested to read what you think of it Stephen. Does anyone else fancy a Time-Team-esque trip through Season 18 over the next couple of months? It'd be interesting to see what people think if we all watch the same thing and post on it...
    Why not!?

    Ant x

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    Great- that's three of us then!

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SiHart View Post
    Great- that's three of us then!

    Si xx
    Oh yes, great idea, in real time. I'll make a point of posting.

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    Good idea Mr H!!

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    Well it was Mr M that inspired me, so I can't take all the credit.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    Good idea Mr M!

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    Glad to be of service.

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    Since it's looking increasingly likely that Meglos will be out on DVD in the very near future, perhaps we should wait until it has been released?

    Ant x

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Williams View Post
    Since it's looking increasingly likely that Meglos will be out on DVD in the very near future, perhaps we should wait until it has been released?

    Ant x
    Not out until the end of December though is it! We could have done that, Full Circle and State of Decay by then.

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    OK, it was a nice suggestion, but maybe we should go ahead while the momentum and interest is here. We could always pop back and do Meglos later on if there's enough demand for that...

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    by the time of Logopolis it was taking ages to warm up and I watched most of that story on a narrow screen that looked almost like a letterbox format film. By episode four I was fed up with it and watched in colour in the living room,
    Didn't the tv in the living room have a color knob? Couldn't you have just turned the color all the way down to watch it in B&W?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
    Didn't the tv in the living room have a color knob? Couldn't you have just turned the color all the way down to watch it in B&W?
    D'you know, I don't remember. It was a rediffusion set, and the signal came from an ancient cable system, so maybe not?????????

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    Season 18 is one of the rare seasons in Doctor Who in which the series changed fundamentally within the tenure of one individual Doctor. You could argue that Season 4 could be another, though really the ‘big change’ started with The War Machines from the previous Season. I suppose Season 23 would be the only other candidate.

    But out of those three, Season 18 had by far the most impact. The only thing it shares with the previous Season is that Tom, Lalla and K9 were still there; everything else is different. I can’t for the life of me recall what my reaction was to it at the time; I certainly recall bits and pieces of the previous Seasons, and The Leisure Hive and Logopolis are amongst my most vivid memories of the time. But as an eight year-old I’m sure I didn’t have a considered and rational opinion on how it differed from Season 17. Now, of course, it’s much easier to see. And to hear. And even to feel. And that’s it, really. In contrast to the Williams era it’s almost like watching a different TV show.

    It’s very difficult not to talk about Season 18 without comparing it to its predecessor. In isolation it’s not the best season ever, but it’s also not even close to being the worst. I think has something in common with Season 7 in that it treated its audience far more as adults than as children. It has serious science behind it, not unintelligible gobbledegook which some writer dreamed up whilst sweating over a typewriter. It’s also terribly contemporary for its day; it embraced modernity in both its visual and audio style, as well as the scientific angle. And as Si Hart said, it was a truly engineered Season; it wasn’t just a collection of stories. And aside from the E-Space trilogy, it managed to do this without employing a sledgehammer story arc which we’re used to these days. We often describe it as being ‘moody’, most of which is down to Tom Baker, but this feeling is also carefully crafted by JNT and CHB. We start with the brash, colourful Leisure Hive and end with the bleak and doom-laden Logopolis. And in between we have the gradual transition from one to another. In a way, it’s a vehicle to get from the silliness of the Williams era to the fresh face of Peter Davison, and I think it does it with aplomb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SiHart View Post
    We could always pop back and do Meglos later on if there's enough demand for that...

    Si xx
    Surely we have to keep acting out the whole of Meglos until the DVD actually comes out and repeats what we're doing at a different point in the cycle
    Bazinga !

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    Oh that's easy...

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    I'll join in with you if I can, provided I manage to transfer my video copies of The Leisure Hive and Meglos to dvd in time (and provided those copies are watchable). If not I'll join in from Full Circle onwards. I can't promise that I'll be able to keep up to date with my posts, though.

    S18 is unusual for me in that it's one of the few that I've never watched as a season, if you know what I mean. It would be nice to rectify that!