Doctor Who - New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva) [DVD] 
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Box set of Doctor Who adventures from the Tom Baker / Peter Davidson years. In 'The Keeper Of Traken'(1980), Baker's penultimate turn as the Doctor, he and Adric, fresh from E-Space, are summoned to the peaceful planet of Traken. Dark forces are at work, and, as usual, the Doctor gets the blame. The Trakenites would do better to look to the Melkur statue in the Grove, in reality the base for the Master. In 'Logopolis' (1981) the Doctor (Baker in his final adventure) and Adric become caught up in a plot by the Master to gain control of the Universe via the Logopolitan art of block transfer computation. Instead, he releases the forces of entropy, causing the fabric of Space to unravel, and the Doctor must join forces with his deadliest foe to prevent the destruction of the entire cosmos. 'Castrovalva' (1981) is the debut adventure for the fifth incarnation of the intrepid Time Lord. The Doctor's (Peter Davison) regeneration is failing; with Adric kidnapped by the Master and the stable environment of the Zero Room jettisoned, it is up to Tegan and Nyssa to pilot the TARDIS to Castrovalva, the only planet in the Universe tranquil enough to aid the Doctor's recovery. But all is not as it seems on Castrovalva, and the Doctor must act quickly to save himself and his companions from the Master's space/time trap.
A good value boxset that unites a loose trilogy of stories of varying interest from the back catalogue, Doctor Who: New Beginnings maintains the high standards set of late by the shows catalogue releases. Beginnings is the underlying theme, with the stories following the introduction of the late Anthony Ainleys take on The Master, the swansong of Tom Bakers Doctor, and the debut of Peter Davison in the title role.
The first story, "The Keeper Of Trakken", tells of a living statue that poses a threat to Traken World. Its quite a good tale, introducing Nyssa to the Doctor Who Universe, but more worryingly for the Doctor it also plays host to a resurgent Master. And its he too who plays a crucial part in "Logopolis", Tom Bakers final story in the title role. Its the best story in the New Beginnings boxset, as the Doctor battles both The Master, and the potential end of the Universe when the mathematicians of Logopolis are threatened. Along the way, he also adds Tegan to the crew of the TARDIS for the first time, with the first appearance of Peter Davison as the Doctor, too.
Davisons first full story though, "Castrovalva"", is the weakest link of the set. Again it features The Master, and it follows the newly regenerated Doctor--in a very shaky state--as he heads for the supposedly peaceful retreat of the title, only to find, as youd expect, that all isnt as it seems. Sadly, the premise isnt really realised, resulting in one of the more tepid stories of Davisons reign.
Ultimately though, Doctor Who: New Beginnings delivers two very good stories. Yet this being Doctor Who, each is backed up by enough extra features to paper over even the most telling of cracks, and theres plenty on offer to justify the asking price.--Simon Brew
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Generally, there are a number of problems that beset all of the productions. Firstly of course: the effects, though not ALL of them fall flat. For instance, after the poorly staged struggle between the Doctor and the Master on the Pharos project gantry, the sequence at the climax of LOGOPOLIS where Tom Baker's Doctor regenerates into Peter Davison's version works extremely well. However, this is one of the few exceptions. The fake eyes painted on Kassia's lids when she's possessed in THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN, the risible model work in LOGOPOLIS and the cheesy visual representations of the recursive trap in the citadel in CASTROVALVA aren't exactly high points.
Secondly, despite what I'm going to say about the acting later, it has to be said not everyone deserves a BAFTA. For example, Sheila Ruskin is well cast as the zealous, obsessive Kassia in THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN. But for my money she overplays certain moments. Witness her stagey collapse after the murder of Seron in episode 2.
This though is nothing compared to Anthony Ainley's Master in CASTROVALVA. Either he or the director seemed to think that his commendable underplaying in the previous tales was a bad idea, and he often relishes his part just a little too much. Take a look at the moment in episode four when he cries out: "My web! MY WEB!" All seriousness instantly evaporates. OK granted, it's a dreadful line to which an Oscar winner might have difficulty supplying credibility. Certainly his earlier, well-judged performance as Tremas suggests that he was capable of better.
Matthew Waterhouse's Adric too is a liability. In the huge shadow of Tom Baker's stellar performances, we don't notice him so much and he's less irritating. But he has this odd bouncy walk that suggests he's not comfortable in front of a camera. Called on to have a big emotional moment he makes an absolute pig's ear of it. In CASTROVALVA, he and Ainley in the Master's TARDIS have a competition to see who can be the most appallingly OTT. It's hard to say who wins.
Despite all this, I confess I love these stories. TRAKEN's pace, fairy-tale and mythological resonances, its detailed, opulent set designs, Shakespearean characters (not to mention dialogue) and sting-in-the-tail ending make it the best of the set. Spellbinding.
LOGOPOLIS might look cheap, but there's no denying the grandeur of the ideas and the emotional power of the 4th Doctor's swansong. Ainley's Satanic Master is genuinely creepy here and he would only be this good again 8 years later in his final story, SURVIVAL. Tom Baker's moody, brooding performance is a haunting thing of beauty. Paddy Kingsland, my favourite of all the 1980's DR WHO composers provides a rich, funereal and melancholic score.
Peter Davison gives a likeable, well-acted debut in CASTROVALVA, though his Doctor is so fragile and unstable for much of the time, it's anyone's guess at this stage how he's going to turn out. Luckily, this allows Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding's companions to shine. Tegan is rarely more sympathetic than here, and one can see the unused potential of the practical Nyssa. The large multi-levelled sets of the citadel are effective, and there is much to admire in the production and script.
As usual, the extras on the discs are excellent and a massive selling point. Photo galleries, commentaries, contemporary trailers, interviews and news items are all present. Most fans will want to see BEING DOCTOR WHO in which a mostly enthusiastic Peter Davison discusses his approach to the role. But best of all are the moments in the documentary A NEW BODY AT LAST where Tom Baker is surprisingly candid about how difficult he had become to work with and how this led to his leaving the show. A lot of the studio footage from the time would seem to bear this out. Far from ruining one's image of the man, one has to admire his honesty and self-awareness! 26 years later, the man is still a hero.
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