Saturday, 23 January 2016


As we enter into our final month of the year, I thought I'd take a break from the dry didactic stuff I've been writing and indulge in a series of personal opinion pieces. I believe I mentioned in a previous essay that I'd like to, someday, list my top ten favorite Who stories of all-time. I've decided that now is the time to do it. 

Here's the thing: I created my "Book of Lists" category because I was looking at some postings in a fan group that were asking people to list their top 10 favorite Who stories. An endless stream of comments ensued. No doubt, fans loved showing the world what stories they loved best. I found it boring, though. Because a simple list of stories was not enough. I wanted to know why these were their favorite stories. To me, the whole posting would've been far more interesting if the fans had written reviews explaining why these particular tales ranked so highly in their personal preferences. 

So that's what I'm doing, here. Most of the reviews have been written for some time, now. So I will release them every couple of days throughout the month. Reaching my Numero Uno All-Time Fave as we come to the end of 2015. 

Hope you all follow along... 


There are many things that make Logopolis wonderful.    But, oddly enough, perhaps the best way to explain its qualities is to compare it to another story that tries so hard to duplicate it but doesn't succeed.
As we learnt of David Tennant's desire to finally bow out as the Tenth Doctor, a great chill began to run through the Body of Fandom.    He was, to many (but not, necessarily, me!), an intensely popular incarnation of the Doctor.   In fact, he holds the record of being the only actor to "outshine" Tom Baker's legacy in the popularity polls.    Which meant, of course, that he needed just as grandiose of a send-off as Doctor Four had received way back in the early 80s when he had finally decided to step down and make way for someone new. And so, RTD penned a tale that was of such epic proportions that he dared to call it "The End of Time".   It was meant to be an incredible adventure in which Doctor Ten struggled with his foreknowledge of his own personal demise whilst, at the same time, fighting against his greatest foe who is accidentally causing the universe to unravel (sound familiar?).
The biggest problem with the End of Time, however, is not that it tries too much to imitate Logopolis.  That's not an entirely bad thing to do when you're sending off an actor as popular as Tennant.   With a challenge like that, Logopolis is a good blueprint to work from.  Its problems lie, moreso, in the fact that it concentrates too greatly on the sense of occasion that a Doctor is dieing and throws aside that All-Important Prime Cardinal Rule of Good Writing:  Story First.  Logopolis, though fully cognizant of the fact that an immensely popular actor who has portrayed our favourite Time Lord is about to shuffle his mortal coil, refuses to make the same mistake.  
Probably the first thing out of the mouths of any hardcore fan who discusses Baker's Finale are the two words:  "funeral atmosphere".   And it is true, that particular sentiment is in great abundance throughout Logopolis.   Most of it conveyed through Tom Baker's portrayal.    Even before the fateful meeting with the Watcher on the bridge during Episode Two, Baker plays the part with an edge of grimness that tells the audience that bad things are soon to come.    But this is never taken too far.    Whereas End of Time frequently comes to a huge screeching halt so that Tennant can lament over and over about how his life is coming to an end and he knows it.  Moments with Wilfrid Mott in cafes and spaceships are beautifully-written and well-portrayed - but they come with too great of a frequency and go for far longer than they should.    Whereas Logopolis creates similar moments (those little snippets where the Doctor spots the Watcher).   But they come less abundantly and last for much shorter periods of time.     
In essence Doctor Four never allows his sentimentalism to get the best of him.  Whereas Doctor Ten's final outing seems to be about nothing but sentimentalism.   
The other huge contributor to that notorious funeral atmosphere is the music of Logopolis.   It creates some beautifully haunting moments.   Particularly during Episode One.   When the Doctor looks across the motorway to see the Watcher for the first time.  Or the TARDIS materializes around what it believes to be a perfectly harmless Police Box.   Pay close attention to the soundtrack during those moments and you will get some serious chills.   But that's the beauty of the incidental music of  Logopolis.   You have to pay serious attention to it to feel its effects to the fullest.   It never truly gets in the way of things.  It simply enhances certain moments beautifully.
Whereas the music of Murray Gold has already been discussed throughout fandom on several occasions.  Most of us agree that, in many ways, he is a great composer.   But subtlety is hardly his strong point.    So the over-indulgence that End of Time is so guilty of becomes even more obvious in his hands as he gives us music that is way bigger and broader than it ever needs to be.
 As has already been pointed out, Logopolis and End of Time share similarities beyond: "being the last story of a popular Doctor" .   In both cases, in order to truly give the Doctor a climactic swansong, the fate of the entire Universe is at stake.   And this is where we truly see the Story First Rule respected by the Former and all-but-ignored by the Latter.    While plenty of time is still devoted to mourning the loss of Tom Baker - Christopher H. Bidmead still remembers that the Doctor needs to legitimately be doing something at all times.    At first, he's simply trying to repair the Chameleon Circuit.   Then he embarks on a quest to deal with the Master (something that also occurs in End of Time).   Then he gets so wrapped up in trying to stop the entire cosmos from rotting away that he actually seems to, more or less, forget that he's soon to regenerate.  
Let's examine that last point just a bit more closely before I ramble on much further.    As we fly into Episode Four, it really does feel like the Doctor doesn't care anymore about his ensuing doom.    This is one of the finest qualities of Logopolis.   And the character of the Doctor, in general.    He often reaches a point in the plot where his own needs become superseded by the needs of the Greater Good and he completely forgets himself.    It's a form of heroism that few of us rarely achieve, ourselves'.   We're almost always fearing for own hides as we attempt to do a noble deed.    The Doctor somehow seems capable of letting self-preservation fall to the wayside during the most critical of moments.   And that last episode of Logopolis exemplifies that quality to its fullest.   Only as the final battle on the radio telescope begins, does Baker seem to start showing a fear for his life, again.    He recalls, just instants before he's about to fall to his death, that this moment has been waiting for him the whole time.   And he becomes sad again over what's to become of him.   But forgetting about his fate and focusing on fighting evil never seems to happen for the Doctor in End of Time.   The Tennant Incarnation seems to be always wallowing in his impending doom.   Even as the story dives into high gear - Tennant maintains that attitude.   That sadness that he must pass and a new man must walk in his place, that disappears for a while in Logopolis.  But a moment like that never occurs in Tennant's finale.   Which shows that Bidmead has not only maintained the Great Story First Rule, but has also remembered to display the character trait we love most in the Doctor just before we lose this latest version of him.     This is, perhaps, the greatest success for Logopolis.   It is also the greatest failing for The End of Time.   Because Time seems to forget that the Doctor needs to act in a truly selfless manner if he wants his audience to fully regret his death.    And when we don't get this,"I don't want to go..."  becomes horrifically less effective than "It's the end.   But the moment has been prepared for..."
Ultimately, Logopolis wins out over End of Time because it remembers to be both nostalgic and economical.    The sadness is dolloped out in small portions and we're able to be more mature about this whole solemn moment.    Just compare the one minute series of villain and companion flashbacks that Baker has to the fifteen-minute farewell scenes that Tennant wallows in.   It's all over the place, really.  Logopolis always makes the smarter choice to "hold back" rather than "let loose".  
When both Doctors finally died, I shed a few tears.   But the crying I did over Tom's passing was far more sincere.   Because everyone responsible for Logopolis earned my sympathy.    Whereas the End of Time team kept desperately trying to wring that sympathy out of me during every minute of transmission time rather than just let it happen of its own accord.    And because it is trying so consciously to do this, it ultimately fails to deliver any of the impact Logopolis had all those many years ago.  
Because of the wise choices it makes, I not only appreciate Logopolis  better than End of Time. This particular tale also beats out about another two-hundred-and-forty-or-so stories that currently make up the Doctor Who canon.

For me, it's the definitive regeneration story.    And I don't think any other Doctors' passing will ever be able to beat it.     

Now that the countdown is complete, here is the full list of links: 

#9 -

#8 -

#7 -

#6 -

#5 -

#4 -

#3 -

#2 -



  1. You hit it right on the head. Logopolis is SO much better than End of Time! If only others could compare the two and see what so many other fans of the classic era recognize.

  2. I think, now that we've mourned the loss of Doctor Ten and realized that the show can go on without him, we see that End of Time was a bit too much spectacle and not enough story.


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