Doctor Who: Full Circle (parts three and four)

This story is even better than I remembered it. There are unethical scientists and forbidden knowledge, and, in a very nice change, no villain at all. It’s just ordinary and badly flawed people in a bad situation without the resources or imagination to change it. “Full Circle” drops in some surprises and curve balls, and while some of these are telegraphed, the actors are so good that they don’t give any tells. I like how George Baker just casually mentions that it will take generations to get their ship up and moving again, as though of course the wise, travelling Doctor knows all about how people just naturally spend a century or more getting spacecraft ready. Our son really enjoyed it, as well. This has all the ingredients for a perfect story for under-tens, with enough for grown-ups to appreciate, too.

A few words about the music and opening credits: conventional wisdom has always grumbled that the neon tube logo, the starfield credits, and the 1980 arrangement of the theme tune are all combine to make the program’s weakest and least imaginative titles. I’ve always agreed. It’s a science fiction show, so “stars” is the theme, yeah? But darned if our kid doesn’t completely love them and has started dancing – at least, he claims it’s dancing – to the music. The incidental music within the show’s a different matter. Most of it is composed by Paddy Kingsland or Peter Howell at this stage and I have always really enjoyed it. Kingsland will end up letting me down badly with one score in a couple of years, but I really like how he introduces recurring motifs and even incorporates the Who theme into the background music in a couple of places. Everybody loves the musician Dudley Simpson for all the great work that he did in the seventies, but at least so far, it really seems like John Nathan-Turner was right to move on. The music is fresh and new, and especially with the much more energetic direction by the newcomers, the show is looking and feeling like it has more life in it than it had over the previous few years.

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