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CASTROVALVA


Chase - Posted on 12 June 2009

I admit I cheated a bit. I watched the first ten min of CASTROVALVA. It still amazes me. JNT did a great thing with this story and with the change over. It is why I liked him and why I still remember him fondly...for season 18 and 19 mostly...and why I felt so betrayed by him later on but that's another story...

What I mean is that anyone who lived in the US was living with perpetual reruns of Tom Baker as the Doctor on PBS and on regular TV. On LI we had channel 9 WOR which ran it on Sat Mornings back to back, sometimes two and sometimes four episodes with the silly narration by a good voice actor (who also did the narration/host to Radio's MYSTERY THEATRE in the 70s and 80s) Howard DaSilva. Anyway all we knew was Tom Baker and when we got new episodes it was the Romana eps up to maybe HORNS OF NIMON or possibly LOGOPOLIS. It was the only Doctor we knew. Of course those of us who read, found out about the rich history of  the show and that the Doc could regenerate and that three others had played him before and one more new guy was replacing Tom...

but that didn't stop the feel of anxiety and excitement and thrill when we saw it happen before our eyes and kept it going in CASTROVALVA. It was very exciting to see it all transpire. Remember we never saw any of Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee (although in our area, a cable station was transbeaming cable channels from far up north and also from Conn or somewhere else, possibly even Canada at one time and we saw VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA and during that show, we saw ads for Pertwee's Doctor Who...but that never got aired in our area, just a small tease for it really). So to see a new Doctor with companions that had been with the Doctor in the last story and to have Adric with the new Doctor...how would he react to him ? To Nyssa? To the Master? To Tegan? Would this Doctor last? Would he meet the Daleks? What was his personality be like? Would he run as long as Tom Baker did? Would he be funny?

And then to have the Doctor in a regeneration crisis the entire story, pretty much...a brilliant idea to do and acted greatly by Peter Davison throughout. It was a strange time and I guess no one, not young DW fans, nor NEW SERIES fans, can grasp what it meant to have a new Doctor after so many Tom stories and no others here in the US. Not to mention Video was just catching on and we could video tape Tom's old stories and Peter's new ones. Catch things we didn't before.   DW was changing: something it hadn't done in the US EVER BEFORE this. Even getting the first three Doctor stories didn't rival the excitement of this story and the new Doctor and his first story and first season. It was SO exciting. Or maybe I was the only one who felt that way.     

1

Well that was fun. Peter's very good in this episode, finding his way. I still think it might have been better or at least made FOUR TO DOOMSDAY better if they filmed this first. I mean and I'll discuss this later maybe, in FOUR TO DOOMSDAY they were all at each other's throats wehreas in LOGOPOLIS and by the end of CASTROVALVA, they were pretty much a well oiled machine although to be fair, Adric hadn't settled in with the new Doctor so maybe FOUR was just trying to cause some friction between the foursome...badly. They brought in the whole Adric is jealous thing and that's maybe why they can explain away his acting like a prat, brat, moron in that. I mean here he is the main traveler with the Doctor and then this new Doctor comes along and seems much more interested in the girls than in him. I guess a teen would be miffed. In addition, other theories abound as to why the Doctor ignored him in favor of the girls...was he trying to prove something to himself and everyone else? Or was he just too hetero as David Tennant would have us believe, to deal with a 15 or 16 year old boy. It was fine enough for him preNyssa and Tegan and in fact...well more on that later...

In any event, making Adric the prime target is okay but in fact, it is the start of "let's treat this character badly" by the writers, actors, and characters. And it's a wasted chance to make something really great out of Adric. But even all that can't really stop him. Here, Matthew does a good job being the wraith image of Adric and someone said that he obvisouly hangs to the left but I can't see anything really.

What's all this crap about Tegan being the coordinator...she could'n't coordinate a one car funeral. And what's all this shitola about Nyssa being this big science person? She was handing out flowers to Melkur two storise ago and deigning to Adric in both her previous stories. Give me a break. In an effort to squeeze more out of his female companions, someone, JNT? Bidmead? gives them more to do but making the TARDIS travelers more like a crew...is that a good idea? Maybe trying to sell it to the US made them think they should STAR TREK it up. Bad move.

Davison, as mentioned is good. He imbibes the new Doctor, for a few moments with a calm not seen before...or even from him later on. He's friendly enough and picks his uniform...which I'm not sure really works. A note about when I first saw this. I was just so happy to see this...to be seeing this because back in the 1980s, PBS had pleadge drives to make u think that you'd never see this unless you gave large sums of money in donation to the station. I consquently thought I'd never see all of Davison...or the FIVE DOCTORS which the US got BEFORE England! Anyway I was so happy to see these stories which I had been reading about months or even a year before they came here in FANTASY EMPIRE and STARLOG that I was overjoyed to see them. Davison does a good impression of Pertwee,Hartnell, Tom Baker, and Troughton. He also does in pain or "gotten to" really well. When he first is brought into the console room, he does a very similar wide eyed move VERY similar to Hartnell just as he's being rescued from the Cybership and brought back to the TARDIS console room just before he regenerates. It might even be the same mugging he does that Hartnell did!  

The Zero Room: it really works until the whole floating effect ruins it. It seemed calm enough and one could almost smell the roses...again the floating is a nice idea but the effect is one of the poorest I've ever seen in DW...in fact, throughout all of the Tom Baker time in the show I don't think anything matches up in awfulness.

Tegan in the console room: I don't know whether to be disturbed by her bits or charmed. At times, sometimes within moments, she can annoy and irritate but seconds later, she's charming and witty and funny and sensitive and Fielding almost but not quite pulls it off. Nyssa just seems like a know it all  and yet at times there's real warmth there such as when she tries to calm Tegan down, "None of knows what's happening to the Doctor..."

Adric once again distracts police or guards to help the feeble minded (Tegan, Nyssa) get away and in foreshadowing, at the sacrifice of himself.

Ainley is not as good as he was in the previous story but he's not got much to do yet in this ep or this story but he's sort of quickly becomes the man in black that ties girls to railroad tracks or young teens to spider webs that are supposed to be sticking through his body but even that effect is not realized well. Matthew does a good job of being in pain, probably better than Davison does.

Chris Bidmead wanted  to put ideas in the show and clearly he has and some original thought provoking ones, too. That said, I don't think the science he puts into the galaxy creation is really correct. Inrush of  hydrogen? Is that how it really happened? Whatever, it makes a great threat and this time, the end of the world we are watching seems terribly urgent unlike in KEEPER of TRAKEN's windstorm. The lipstick is melting? The cliffhanger is sutiably but a bit overly dramatic. Still, not the poorest cliffhanger and at least they still had good cliffhangers. I liike that we saw more of the TARDIS and while it makes more sense than the rooms in INVASION OF TIME I prefer the differences of INVASION OF TIME's TARDIS rooms than the same static roundel bearing walls we see here over and over and over....it was less boring in INVASION OF TIME. 

Despite all my criticisms, I enjoyed this episode and this story overall. I think things were coming together.  Nothing seemed easily solved in this episode or in this story and to me, when I first saw this, I wondered if this was what DW was like all the time, pre Tom Baker.  Certainly for going for three companions, bickering, and a dip right toward the creation of a galaxy they were harking back toward Hartnell's beginnings with EDGE OF DESTRUCTION and the THE UNEARTHLY CHILD before that with three companions.  

2

 

I honest don't know what to make of this episode. I like it. It's nice, humble, and quaint. It has GREAT music once the girls set out for finding Castrovalva, which it's nice to be told IS A CITY not a planet. There's more of Adric in the Master's web with his bulge, more plotting by the Master (really he almost seems to want to fail) and more crap from Tegan and Nyssa, although Janet does a great job of feeling and looking tired on the rocks after climbing up a few boulders on the rock face...I've done this and it is tiring. Nyssa seems a know all, Tegan's become a brash, bore who thinks she can fly the TARDIS....that's a bit negative. Not like me at all is it? Well anyway, I've always loved  this story but the truth is that after seeing all the Tom Baker's in one go...it's a bit boring really, and part two was down in rating for almost a million or more. I can see why. It's boring. Tom was wild looking, and watching him was just amazing. He was interesting and the plots were outlandish, out there and interesting. This...is a big blue box on a few scanner screens, a few scanner screens showing a planet, two girls wrestling with a white box, a yellow haired man acting old (and doing a great job of acting like an old man---but still an old man is an old man!), and a lot of forests with jungle sound effects.

The effect is like putting on a tape to make you go to sleep. And for that is almost succeeds. Peter's Doc is boring compared to Tom's but at the time I never really thought that or realized that. There wre so many other factors involved. He was different. He was younger seeming. He seemed more vulnerable and there were younger people to be relatable (well one anyway was, yup, Adric! and he was sidelined in this story pretty much.) ANd Adric does seem to side with the Master, for the first time he sides iwth the baddie, this time to save his own neck, it would seem anyway.

The woods tribe is almost a menace, the photography throughout nice and I like some chunks of episodes taking place on the TARDIS but this is just...as I said...slow moving really but never really that bad. The tension never really caught on as a dramatic bit but the effects were okay and the idea of jettisoning rooms is a good, but disturbing one. Peter does a passable Jon Pertwee for a few bits...would have liked to have seen more of that...but it harkens back to, again, a more interesting Doctor. Once Pete Doc stablizes he's not as nearly interesting as the others and nowehre more interesting than he was as the unstable regeneratiing Doctor buit never mind...

I still like this story but I must admit, I do miss Tom Baker and perhaps tha'ts the point. Perhaps missing him clouds this story so much that I 'm not really looking at it. I love teh atmopshere of smple dwelling, a "adventure" set among the lush green forest, and the lake, stream whatever. It's just that....nothing much really happens here. They esacape, land, are watched, and Nyssa loses some of her outfit and the Doc leviates and then vanishes...       

3

This gives away the ID of the Master!

 

 

 

This episode, I don't know why maybe it's because I know what's going to happen, starts out slow and gets slower and slower and slower. I guess when I first watched it I was excited by all the possibilities it had: savage war party, strange strangers in a strange place with a hint of menace by at least one or two of the Castrovalvans and the strange way the city was built plus the odd ways the city was filmed and the way the people moved through it, including Nyssa, the Doctor and Tegan, even before the cliffhanger lead up. And I defy anyone to tell me that they knew the real identity of the Master as the Portreve. That was a brilliant move. Then we have lunch or whatever dinner maybe and the Doctor discussing Ogrons and Daleks and that it is nice to have the universe not thought of as filled with nasty creatures. Indeed, this is a nice change. The entire episode is nice and finishes almost nice. There is something subtle going on and it's a bit unsettling. The Adric wraith stuff is well done and again, I'm sorry, but Waterhouse does a great job of acting during thse short pivotal scenes. Davison is still not fully regenerated or settled in and during some of this ep, isn't sure who he is! That's great! He's doing a good job but  I must admit on this viewing, if not the first few times, I was having Tom Baker withdrawal. I miss his Tomisms and Davison, while he tries to quote a few things and has a few Doctorisms, isn't really up to TOm Baker's type. He also...and I think the celery thing is stupid, even if I didn't think of it then--gets his celery. There's little tension, real tension here but there is a bit of mystery building. And the last scene of the trio trying to escape Castrovalva...is very cool as they keep returning to the same place and never really get anywhere, "We're caught in a space time trap!" Of course, just like the cliffhanger resolution at the start of this ep ("The Doctor must have walked out.") next week it doesn't seem like much of a big problem at first. Fielding does a bit better here in acting. Sutton is good too, especially when she has to shut up and just look out a window. The music is still lovely and the little girl and the Doctor interact nicely. A good, NICE episode but...where is Tom Baker? :)  

4

 

That was bloody brilliant. I have a feeling this may be one story that is best watched all in one go with all four eps at one time. Sutton and Fielding do a great job especially when confronted by the Master. Their looks say it all: the fear, the hatred they feel for him and the utter inability to stop him. I love Nyssa's near bluff to the Master. I also like how the whole history of Castrovalva was fake and why did'nt the Master realize the books should not chronicle the history up to the present day? Also: the Master pretty much fooled me with his diguise. I didn't know for a second he was the Portreve.

Ainley goes a bit overboard with "MY WEB!" in the end but he was utterly fascinating as the Master at least to me. Davison seems heroic enough for now and even gets a few Davison isms in but again, he's no Tom Baker. But it was all suitable and the ending was good, again, Adric saves the day.

I don't understand how the Master and Adric weren't on the Master's TARDIS or was that black room with the Hadron web, the master's TARDIS? if so, wtf?

Anyway there's one strange scene where Tegan says NO to Shardovan carrying the Zero Cabinet...and then...he's carrying it iwth one of the other Castrovalvans?! WTF? Then Tegan comes running from behind and says she repsonsible for the Doctor and she starts carrying it. As if no one knew about the scene before! I also wonder why the cliffhanger reprise had to be over two minutes long. Tha'ts long!

This climax is very watchable, entertaining and well acted by all involved. I love the ending where Tegan is dissapointed and the Doctor seems optimistic about who he is. Well done. Now the team seems finally together, happy with each other, saving each other and caring for each other as shown when Tegan saves Adric or wants to anyway... so the next story should have them working as  a well oiled machine, right?      

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