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on 5 April 2009
We all really enjoyed this trilogy of episodes from Tom Baker's era. It was good to find out where Adric came from in Full Circle although the biological facts behind it sound unlikley to me.

I particuarly loved State of Decay, although found it a bit scary initally watching it on my own (even though I am grown up now). The actors playing the King and Queen vampires in particular gave a fantastic performance which really makes this episode special.

Warriors Gate is rather confusing, and probably over ambitious for the time, but enjoyable and it was nice to know what happened to Romana.

There are a good selection of special features on the disks, and I particuarly enjoyed the one about Lalla Wards wardrobe.
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on 13 June 2013
OK, we're in a multi part thing again, so to deal with the thing in multiple parts...

Circle: Clever idea. Very clever idea. Well done, Smith; take a half-holiday and a gold star - just like Adric's.

I found Adric difficult to like, and even Matthew Waterhouse admits he doesn't come across like the Artful Dodger in this (or in much else to be honest); excellence in mathematics is a very good thing, but it doesn't endear you to many teenagers, or grown ups come to that. And I'd have thought that he'd have learned that - with big brother's older, cooler mates - keep quiet about the star.

That said I'm not sure about the Outlers either; Varsh is very good, but I can't believe Keara isn't his girlfriend, nor that Tylos isn't jealous. Apparently this was considered at one point, but why not adopted as obvious? Teenagers without sex? Don't be silly.

That's my problem with it; I'm inclined to believe Dexeter, I believe that the whole society is run by three really quite dull men, and I believe that they are all basically marsh creatures under varying amounts of evolution, and it niggles me because I'm being asked to believe all that, while I cannot believe that Varsh and Keara don't have something going.

So there we are, it looks great, it's got a great concept, and the shot of the Marshmen emerging from the swamp is brilliant, but the one thing I could engage with emotionally, I'm not allowed to. 3/5

What a State to get in: Vampires Dr? Are you sure?

You've got to feel for Terrence Dicks; he does the Frankenstein one and Robert Holmes re-writes it, then he does the Dracula one and CHB tells him to re-write it. As it is Peter Moffat refused to direct the CHB version, and we got this one. I'd like to see what CHB did with it, because this is dull!

The villagers are flat, the rebels are plodding, the vampires lack vamp, and even Emrys James is ponderous; someone in The Making Of talks him 'giving it a bit of hoyle as we say in Wales' - that'll mean 'acting in a not particularly interesting way', then?

The story is unremarkable; in the end it depends on finding out that the Time Lords had the whole vampire thing sewn up ages ago, and that all the tools for sorting it now are still lying around now. Not a lot about the Human Condition to learn from this one.

The key failure is that it's dull - in a story about a huge batty thing consuming humans, the humans are drawn so faintly as to be barely worth our care. This, of course, may be what's meant by 'The Wasting'. Waste of something, that's for sure. 2/5

That Gate - I don't fully understand Warrior's Gate, but I do like it. My befuddlement has a lot to do with the science that CHB seems to have been so keen on, but that's OK because Clifford Rose and Kenneth Cope are eminently watchable, and the two clowns are great fun, and I love the Gundan robots, especially the scene where they smash up the banquet, and it looks great - even the bits in the white void - especially the inside of the ship, even if part of it is the Vogon ship from HHGTTG. And even if I don't get the science, I do get the story - cruelty. oppression, slavery, greed and stupidity - good Dr Who story stuff.

The monochrome stills of Powys Castle as Romana's new home work really rather well too. My only puzzle with WG is 'If so much of it's shot on green screen, where did all the budget go?' 4/5

The Making Of stuff is interesting - if only to learn just how badly certain people were behaving while all this lot was being made. Certain people just didn't *deserve* to be making Dr Who.
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on 3 October 2009
Firstly, I'm not a great fan of Tom Baker's final season as the Doctor, so you may be surprised to find a 4* rating for these stories. The new producer, John Nathan-Turner (JNT) got a great deal wrong with Doctor Who: changes for change's sake, such as exorcising Tom's humour and ad-libs; badly miscasting the new companions (more on Adric later); and the ridiculous approach of creating a "uniform" for all the costumes, which the characters wore irrespective of circumstance or conditions; and introducing the silly "?" on the Doctor's costume, like a marketing brand. In the context of these stories, however, these changes become niggles rather than major flaws.

Full Circle is one of my all-time favourite Tom Baker stories. Most remember this story for the introduction of Adric, but to remember it solely for that is to do this excellent fan-written story a huge disservice. For a season that smugly sought to exercise the humour and exchange it for "sound science", here it actually works very well.. As the TARDIS falls into another universe, the Doctor is unable to work out why the co-ordinates clearly show those for Gallifrey, his home planet, yet the scanner shows an alien planet. The TARDIS has landed on Alzarius, which happens to have the same (negative) co-ordinates as Gallifrey. He meets a young Outler called Adric, who warns the Doctor of the approaching "Mistfall" - an event feared by the locals: as Marshmen rise from the swamp and attack the local populace, who take refuge in a crashed Starliner. The locals believe themselves to be descendants of the original crew of that doomed ship, when in fact the original crew were wiped out by the Marshmen themselves. The Starliner inhabitants are actually evolved species directly from the Marshmen and evolution on this planet occurs at a phenomenal rate. Of course, the Doctor is able to deduce this but the journey there is very enjoyable...

There's some utterly beautiful location filming, with an attention to detail rarely seen in the classic series: the flora and fauna of Black Park are subtly lit with unusual colours, giving the location a distinctly alien feel. There are scorch marks on the grass around the dematerialised TARDIS; and dry ice bubbling underneath the surface of the lake, which makes the shot of the Marshmen rising out of the mists positively cinematic. The large number of extras in their unusual constumes really gives the location filming a really epic quality. Both leads give wonderful performances, especially Tom in his shouting match with the Deciders. Matthew Waterhouse, ever the most popular companion with Who fandom (said with more than a hint of mischievous Tom Baker irony) actually isn't too bad in his debut story and it is made more agreeable by the fact that his brother, Varsh, is both a more likeable character and better acted

State of Decay would not look out of place in Tom's earlier stories, being a dark, Gothic tale about Vampires. Penned by Terrance Dicks, it was written much earlier for Season 15, under the title "The Witch Lords" but was shelved when the BBC bosses decided it might be seen as a send-up of their costume drama "Dracula", so the script re-surfaced in season 18 as "State of Decay". This story has all the elements I love in Doctor Who, with the added bonus that Tom is dark and brooding (whether deliberate genius or simply art imitating reality: he had an on-going spat with Lalla Ward during filming and hated also working with Matthew Waterhouse). In addition, it is around this time the couple became engaged, and their lines "you're wonderful really" and "yes I am, I suppose I've never given it much thought" is a wonderful mirror of what was happening in their private lives. Whilst the story is enjoyable, here you start to see the deficiencies which had crept into the production under JNT: the appallingly bright lighting in the studio - unsuitable for a dark Gothic piece; the horrendous electronic incidental music, which is completely inappropriate for the setting, and the dreadful acting of Matthew Waterhouse, for which both Tom and Lalla fail to conceal their contempt, even on screen. For these reasons, this is the least enjoyable story of the trilogy, as the production is nowhere near the levels attained of the other two.

Warriors' Gate is the most esoteric story that Doctor Who ever did in its classic 26 year run. It's like David Lynch does Doctor Who! After multiple viewings, you're still not sure you've quite got it, and don't expect the answers purely from the dialogue. The TARDIS lands in a mysterious white void with zero co-ordinates. Also trapped there is a large ship called the Privateer, led by a vicious mercenary called Rorvik, containing a feline-like race of Time-sensitives slaves called Tharils. The Tharils once used to rule E-Space themselves, but have now become the slaves. The whole story is a visual feast, with some stunning black and white photography filmed in Powis Castle, Wales, as well as a strong message too: "the weak enslave themselves" and the slaves become rulers and the rulers slaves. There is so much going on in this story (and so little explained) that it really does take multiple viewings to fully admire it.

The story is also historic too, as it's the farewell to both Romana and K9. If ever there was an appropriate send-off for a companion that perfectly fitted their character, here it is: played in a subtle, understated way. .I think there has been too much emphasis with emotional farewells in the new series. Here Romana leaves the Doctor with a witty farewell from him "you were the noblest Romana of them all!" - no tears, no fuss. Romana becomes the female version of the Doctor in the opposite, negative Universe - E-space, alongside K9, to help the Tharils free themselves. Has there ever been a more fitting departure?

A highly recommended trilogy.
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on 3 January 2012
Another collection that you must have if you want to understand very well the Doctor Who History, specially one of the last great serials of the Fourth Doctor.
A lot of people already commented about the plot here, so you already know, but you have to watch it for yourself to experience the very taste of all details. Believe me, you won't regret it.
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on 25 May 2014
Full Circle, State of Decay & Warrior's Gate.

Tearing my hair out with ambivalence.
The Tom Baker era is the most frustrating; the change in producers and the wildly varying vision for the programme, the change in Tom Baker the human, the pointless robot dog, the giant top-heavy burgundy costume from which Mr. Baker only just seems to be able to gasp for air. Urgh... Those bloody question marks!!!

Yet these stories are interesting, marking as they do the gradual procession toward Logopolis.
Here comes Adric, there goes Romana. The Doctor as galactic buffoon is suppressed for a calmer, subdued persona. The aura is beige and the music is electronic.

I don't like any of these stories; the science of Full Circle is laughable, the giant vampire of State Of Decay is embarrassingly realised and Warrior's Gate barely understands itself.

BUT, there is a charm to the eighteenth season, the new look/sound/atmosphere is refreshing, the gradual changes before the introduction of Peter Davison are interesting to follow, and the pay-off is the largely successful sequence of stories; Keeper Of Traken, Logopolis and Castrovalva.

And there are always positives; in particular Warrior's Gate is a most intriguing story which constantly throws up interesting imagery, it's such a disappointment that the tone is confused, there's no lack of ambition in terms of direction.

Buy this and watch it within the context of the other season 18 stories. Watch it because, even though Baker is lessened, he's still an amazing presence performing at time when the show was trying to leave him behind.

Interesting episodes if not good ones.
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on 12 February 2009
These three stories are the undoubted highlight of Tom Bakers final season of Doctor Who. First story "Full Circle" is probably the best serial of the season, demonstrating an even balance between the shows older monster stories and Christopher Bidmeads hard science approach to the stories. It doesn't put a foot wrong, with each of the four episodes perfectly paced with incident and hints to the final twist. Second story "State Of Decay", by old hand Terrance Dicks, is the most traditional story. With it's Hammer Horror like depictions of vampires and terrified villagers (minus heaving bossoms of course) its a very old school Who story that wouldn't be out of place in any of the preceding seasons. Final story "warriors' Gate" is probably the best example of the Bidmead era in it's purest form. It's a complex story of time sensitive lion-men, collapsing universes and the rise and fall of empires built on the work of slaves. All in all three very different but equally good examples of the show.
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on 27 March 2010
These three stories are from Tom Baker's final season as the Doctor, are linked together by the fact they're set in E-Space, a place outside the known universe.

Full Circle takes place on a planet where the locals live in fear of mists and the marshmen who appear during the time of the mists. There's a homage to "The Creature From The Black Lagoon" here somewhere, though I'd hardly say the plodding rubber beasts here are anything as striking as the one in that film. The story introduces Adric, initially planned as an artful dodger. Perhaps someone should have told the script-writers of their plans. Adric is whiny, irritating and easily the least endearing of the teenage gang he belongs to when surely he should be the one we feel sympathy with. The story is moderately entertaining. Though rather slow-paced it contains George Baker (Tiberius in "I, Claudius") as a spaceman and some hilarious rubber spiders. The second story, State Of Decay, is the best of the three by a long way. This is mainly due to the fact that it avoids the swotty "real sci-fi" common in early 1980s Dr Who and returns to the mid-1970s stylish horror tales. It involves a village of people ruled by vampires. The sets look great and there are some genuinely chilling moments. The third story, Warrior's Gate, is something of an enigma. It involves lion-faced beings who can cross the barrier between universes via a mirror. The story has its moments, but it's all a confusing jumble and the "companion is leaving" scene at the end is irritatingly contrived.

All in all, this set is worth the reduced price for State Of Decay and for the interesting extras. These include documentaries about the history of vampires, the way blood is used in films and Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) looking back at his time in the show.
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on 27 April 2010
I'll start with a caveat. I hate what John Nathan Turner did to Dr Who - so much of his "vision" was just naff. That said, I was much more impressed by this set than I had expected to be. These three are genuinely very good stories, all are well scripted and well acted. The story ideas are thoughtful and do not descend to "creature of the week".
"Full Circle" is a fine story with good characterisation, intelligent scripting and a well-judged sense of pace. That it introduces Adric - the assistant everyone loves to hate - may be a negative in the minds of some; but I always felt Matthew Waterhouse suffered from trying to portray a character that had been very carelessly conceived. I'm not wholly convinced by the apparently breakneck rate of evolution suggested by the story, but the conviction in the acting carries it.
"State Of Decay" is, in my view, weaker than the other two stories, but it remains an intelligently plotted, well constructed, well-performed piece. I'm not thrilled by the stylised actions of the three vampires, or by the effects at the end of the story, but these did not spoil the overall effect for me.
"Warrior's Gate" is a hugely ambitious story. Using minimal set and avoiding long speeches explaining the nature of the space in which the story takes place, Warrior's Gate lets the characters and the dialogue tell the story and is all the more effective for it. Romana's departure is a little rushed, but otherwise this was first-class.

Thoroughly recommended
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on 22 December 2013
This was bought as a Christmas gift for my son who requested it. He said it was a great set and enjoyed it very much. It arrived on time and was well packaged.
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on 3 May 2011
This trilogy of stories from the alternate reality of E-space shows up how inconsistent the original series of Doctor who could be. Though they are strung together, they really don't share much.

Full Circle is some ecological mumbo jumbo with advanced space farers killing off the marshmen they fear, but the marshmen just want to be left alone. Unconvicing alien suits don't help at all.

State of Decay is much better as the Doctor uncovers the truth behind the vampire myths that exist on every planet. The production values may not be superb, but there is a real feel of decay and entropy about this particular story.

The jewel in the crown, though, is Warrior's Gate which needs more than one viewing to understand what the hell is going on. There's trapped spaceships, ruined gateways and ghosts from the past. The series was rarely so obscurely challenging again.
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