Sue: Bloody hell, he’s still Tom Baker.
Me: We’ve never had a recap like this before.
Sue: Yes we have. We get them all the time.
Me: Not before the opening titles we don’t.
Sue: Oh yeah, I forgot about them.
Give me strength…
The Watcher merges with the Doctor.
Nyssa: So he was the Doctor all the time.
Sue: It doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s a very disappointing regeneration. And it’s not nice seeing the Doctor with white gunk plastered all over his face like that.
The titles kick in…
Sue: Peter Davison! Isn’t he lovely?
The story title appears.
Sue: Castrovalva? I’m guessing that it’s either a planet or a Spanish restaurant.
The story picks up where Logopolis left off. The newly regenerated Doctor and his companions are attempting to escape from the Pharos Project, but they are apprehended by some security guards when the Doctor collapses. The guards drag Adric, Tegan and Nyssa away to be interrogated.
Sue: Yeah, that’s right, just leave the injured person to die alone in a field.
An ambulance arrives. Adric tries to explain to the authorities that he is an intelligent alien life form.
Sue: Adric always has his hands in his pockets, doesn’t he? It must be his age.
Tegan and Nyssa steal the ambulance – with the Doctor inside it.
Sue: It’s turned into Charlie’s Angels. You go, girls!
Unfortunately, the incidental music leaves Sue cold.
Sue: I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in Dudley’s house when this went out. He must have been mortified. I know I am.
A stone column materialises in mid-air.
Sue: It’s the Master. I don’t need to ask.
Inside his TARDIS, the Doctor is busy unravelling his scarf.
Sue: That’s sacrilege! They’ll never be able to sell it on eBay now.
Tegan is frustrated, too.
Sue: What has Tegan got against rabbits?
Me: It’s a Doctor Who swear word. Farscape had ‘Frell’, Battlestar Galactica had ‘Frak’, Doctor Who had ‘Rabbits’.
The Doctor’s regeneration isn’t going very well…
Sue: He’s pretending to be William Hartnell, isn’t he? He should have rabbited up his lines – it would have been more authentic.
Tegan and Nyssa wish the TARDIS data banks had an index file.
Tegan: If. I F! Stands for index file!
Sue: As if!
Me: Is that supposed to be a joke?
Sue: Bloody hell, Peter Davison’s Patrick Troughton is terrible! I could do a better impersonation of him than that! He’s got the clenched fists right, but that’s about it.
The Doctor: The regeneration is failing.
Sue: What does that mean?
Me: It means we get Colin Baker in ten minutes.
Nyssa tells Tegan not to worry – the TARDIS is on a preprogrammed flight.
Sue: I used to have a muff like Nyssa’s.
Me: OK, let’s not go down that road again.
Sue: It’s true. I also had a red velvet jacket and red velvet chords. Actually, there was a time when I probably looked like a blonde Nyssa. But without the tiara.
Me: Oh, that makes it alright, then.
Speaking of clothes, the Doctor has found himself a new jacket…
Sue: So his new costume is just waiting there for him? He doesn’t get to choose one? That doesn’t seem fair.
The Doctor stares into a mirror.
The Doctor: That’s the trouble with regeneration. You never quite know what you’re going to get.
Sue: I wouldn’t complain if I were you. It’s a massive improvement on Tom. I’d be chuffed to bits if I were you.
The Doctor picks up a recorder.
Sue: NO! PUT THE RECORDER DOWN AND STEP AWAY FROM THE INSTRUMENT!
He plays a little tune (badly) and then he puts it back again.
The Doctor: No.
Sue: Thank rabbit for that.
The Doctor changes into his new costume.
Sue: He needs some white underpants.
Sue: His pants. They’re black. You can see them through his trousers. Look.
Me: Oh yeah. I’d never noticed that before.
Sue: Don’t worry, I’ll keep you right. You just need to stare at Peter Davison’s arse a little bit more.
The search is on for the Zero Room…
Sue: Why have we never heard of a Zero Room before? And why is it so far away from the control room? You’d think it would be next to the loo, or something convenient like that.
When he finally reaches the Zero Room, the Doctor is able to levitate.
Sue: That’s impressive – his jacket isn’t hanging down, either. That must take some extra effort.
The Doctor gives his companions roles to perform during his difficult regeneration.
Sue: So it’s basically Tegan’s job to serve the drinks and keep them all in peanuts. That makes sense.
Meanwhile, Adric is trapped in…
Sue: A sex dungeon.
The Master is using Adric to generate a simulated projection of himself. Or is it stimulated? I forget.
The Master: Well, my dear young man, it’s your own computational powers that made the block transfer possible.
Sue: Oh no, not that again. I still don’t understand what that’s supposed to do.
Nyssa is reading from the TARDIS data bank. They are heading for Event One. Tegan is more worried that the TARDIS’s air conditioning might be on the blink.
Nyssa: You’d better read this.
Sue: Just tell her! There isn’t enough time to read Wikipedia!
Sue guesses that they are heading for the Big Bang, long before Nyssa does, and Sue is rubbish at science (especially bioelectronics and telebiogensis).
The episode concludes with Nyssa stating the bleeding obvious while the Master laps it up.
Sue: What a strange episode. I didn’t follow most of it – there’s a lot going on – but I’m sure it will settle down eventually.
Me: What about Peter Davison?
Sue: It’s far too early to say. I know I’ll like him – I love him in All Creatures – but I still don’t know how he’s going to play the part. He’s all over the place at the moment, but that’s all part of the plot, I guess. We’ll just have to wait and see.top
Sue: Nyssa must be roasting in that muff…
The Master appears on the TARDIS scanner screen to gloat.
Sue: (singing) The Ace of Spades! The Ace of Spades!
The Doctor leaves the safety of the Zero Room but he quickly collapses again. A roundrel dispenses some medicine for him, and then a motorised wheelchair appears out of nowhere.
Sue: The TARDIS is looking after him. You go, girl.
The Doctor pulls himself into the wheelchair and quotes Hamlet.
The Doctor: Go softly on!
Sue: Which ****ing Doctor is that meant to be?
Meanwhile, in the Master’s sex dungeon, Adric is still being tortured. At one point, the Master raises the platform he is standing on so he can taunt his victim more effectively.
Sue: (as the Master) Just wait there while I move this up to crotch level.
Suddenly, I feel Sue tugging urgently at my sleeve.
Sue: Pause it. Quickly. Pause now. No, go back a bit. There. Yes, pause it. Look! Adric has a little stiffy.
I quickly hit the Play button again.
Sue: How embarrassing.
Me: It wasn’t that small, was it?
The Doctor comes up with a plan to jettison a quarter of his TARDIS. His companions are worried about losing the console room in the process.
Sue: Just use the other one, then. You’ve got two! Half of them should hide in the mahogany one, just in case.
Tegan prepares to play Russian roulette with the TARDIS’s architecture.
Sue: I hope they don’t get rid of the room that stores all the spare K9s.
The Master discusses his nefarious plan with Adric.
Sue: This makes no sense whatsoever. Where are they? How can there be two Adrics running around? How can he do all this stuff?
Me: Block transfer computation.
Sue: Rabbit off. Whoever wrote this script was tripping on something.
The Master is the proud owner of a trap behind a trap.
Sue: It’s nice to see him planning ahead for a change. I like that.
The Zero Room has been jettisoned, so the TARDIS crew search for an alternative. The TARDIS data bank provides the perfect solution:
Nyssa: Castrovalva. Where’s that?
Sue: It’s the new tapas bar next to the marina. If we hurry up, we might make it in time for happy hour.
The Doctor becomes hopeless again.
Sue: Why does the Doctor always have bad regenerations? You never see the Master or Romana fannying on like this.
Me: I think it happens if you don’t plan your regeneration and you just fall into it. Literally, in his case. Remember how David Tennant slept through the first half of his first story? This is nothing compared to that. Even Pertwee spent his first episode flat on his back.
The TARDIS hovers over a planet…
Sue: A pink planet. I’m not going to saying anything but JNT, right?
Nyssa constructs a Zero Cabinet out of the remains of the Zero Room.
Sue: I’m impressed. The sliding panel is a very nice touch. Nyssa has really gone up in my estimations. She has all the makings of a good carpenter.
The TARDIS arrives on the planet at a cockeyed angle (which amuses Sue a great deal), and then the crew set out to find Castrovalva.
Sue: Eh? I thought the planet was called Castrovalva. I’m confused now.
Nyssa and Tegan balance the Zero Cabinet on a wheelchair.
Sue: This is what it looks like in IKEA every Sunday afternoon.
Nyssa falls into a river.
Sue: Was that an outtake and they decided to leave it in? And why are they so keen to help the Doctor anyway? They hardly know him. They are putting a lot of trust into a man who turns up in their lives just before members of their immediate family are killed. They are very trusting, considering.
They finally reach the place they’ve been searching for:
Sue: Are you sure? It might be the Italian next door.
They explore the rock face for an entrance.
Sue: It’s a lovely location. The birds are getting on my tits though.
Me: Oh, I don’t know. They’re doing their best.
Sue: I meant the birdsong, you idiot. It’s too loud.
Suddenly, some locals appear in the undergrowth.
Sue: Who the hell?
Tegan and Nyssa return to the Zero Cabinet but the ground is covered in red liquid.
Sue: Oh no! Not more lipstick spillage!
Not only that – the Doctor has vanished.
Sue: The plot thickens. Come on, let’s stick the next one on.top
Sue: Why does every episode of 1980s Doctor Who have to sound like a level from Zelda? Why?
When Nyssa and Tegan discover the empty Zero Cabinet this time, Sue tuts.
Sue: It looks like someone has fly-tipped a fridge into a hedge. I hate it when people do that.
The Doctor climbs the rock face that leads to Castrovalva, but when he looks down, he has a panic attack.
Sue: Is the Doctor afraid of heights because he just fell to his death from a great height? That would make sense, I guess. It also means Tom Baker must have been frightened of spiders.
Tegan and Nyssa follow the Doctor.
Sue: Could Tegan be more inappropriately dressed for mountaineering? I bet she can’t wait to be let loose on the TARDIS wardrobe.
Me: Unless they jettisoned it, of course.
Sue: Well, they should land on Planet of the Shops and stock up on some more, then. How long has Adric been wearing his outfit, now? It’s a bit silly, isn’t it?
A local hunting party surround the Doctor.
Sue: They look like paintballing Ewoks.
The Doctor is taken to Castrovalva to meet Shardovan.
Sue: Shada van? Did he just say Shada van?
Sue: I have this image of Ian Levine driving around in an ice cream van, but instead of selling ice cream, he’s trying to get people to watch his version of Shada.
Me: Thank God you are hopeless at block transfer computation.
The Doctor waits patiently on a stone bench as Shardovan inspects him.
Shardovan: I trust you’ve brought us something more edible than this lifeless unfortunate?
Sue: Are they cannibals?
Me: No, he’s just having a little joke with him.
Sue: That’s a shame. Cannibals were very big in the 1980s.
The Castrovalvans are preparing for a feast.
Sue: That looks like a real pig on that spit. I hope they aren’t hungry – that’s easily a two-day job.
Castrovalvan fashion doesn’t really do it for Sue.
Sue: Why is he wearing a wastepaper bin with gaffa tape wrapped around it? How long did it take for the designer to come up with that?
The Doctor is invited to dinner.
Sue: Ah, so they are the nice guys after all. That’s good. For a minute there, I thought we were supposed to be frightened of them. Phew.
The Doctor bites into a stick of celery.
Sue: I ****ing hate celery.
Me: Then you have something in common with Peter Davison. He hates celery, too.
Sue: Really? He’s such a good actor, I never would have guessed that.
The Doctor is introduced to the Portreeve.
Sue: Bloody hell, his wastepaper bin is very elaborate. He must be the top dog with a wastepaper bin like that.
Luckily, she is too wrapped up in the Portreeve’s wastepaper bin to pay any attention to the face of the man who’s wearing it.
Sue: I love the floors. Very Tuscan. The sets are great, actually. They’ve done a very nice job.
Meanwhile, Adric is still tied up…
Sue: So Adric is making this up? Is that basically it?
Me: Yes. It’s block transfer computation.
Sue: Complete bollocks is what it is. It might as well be magic.
The Master chortles to himself as his plan continues to mature like a good cheese.
Sue: The guy who plays the new Master…
Me: Anthony Ainley.
Sue: He’s not very good, is he?
The guy who plays the Portreeve, on the other hand…
Me: What about him? Is he any better?
Sue: He’s alright, I suppose. I wish he’d speak up a bit, though. Actually, he’s very familiar. Yeah, he’s definitely famous.
The Doctor forgets about Adric.
Sue: How could you possibly forget about Adric? He’s the best companion you’ve got right now.
The Doctor gets lost in Castrovalva’s impossible architecture.
Sue: It’s like Escher.
The Doctor and his companions go round and round in circles.
Sue: It is Escher. Hang on a minute…
She points to her left, where a framed print of M.C. Escher’s Relativity hangs on our living room wall.
Sue: Hang on… I thought you bought that print because you liked the artwork.
Me: I do!
Sue: No you don’t! It was just an excuse to sneak a Doctor Who reference onto the living room wall without me knowing about it, wasn’t it? Be honest.
Too late – the episode is racing to towards its hyperventilating conclusion.
The Doctor: Recursive occlusion. Someone’s manipulating Castrovalva. We’re caught in a space-time trap!
Sue: So Castrovalva doesn’t exist, and neither do all the people who live in it. This is getting interesting, now.top
Sue: The special effects are a bit crap but the idea is sound. It reminds me of Inception. They should do this again on a decent budget for the 50th anniversary story. The TARDIS should land on Castrovalva and we could meet all the ex-Doctors. You can do anything with block transfer whatsit, and it would be a nice nod to the fans.
Me: So you accept the concept of block transfer computation, now?
Sue: Now I know it’s basically Inception, and they are in Adric’s head – sort of – it makes more sense to me. I just find it hard to believe that Adric could imagine all these details. Why does he imagine some of them as beekeepers? What’s that all about? And why doesn’t he just use his powers to confuse the Master instead?
Me: The Master is torturing him.
Sue: Are you sure? It looks to me like he could be enjoying himself.
She can’t let the Inception thing go.
Sue: Do you think Christopher Nolan watched Castrovalva?
Me: It’s possible, I guess.
Sue: Just stick some Hans Zimmer on this and you’d be away.
The Doctor uses a mirror to shield himself from the recursive occlusion.
Sue: Why is the Doctor hugging a mirror? It’s a bit vain, isn’t it?
The Doctor realises that the inhabitants of Castrovalva are unaware of their predicament and for them, life is always like this.
Sue: They don’t realise they are figments of a teenage boy’s imagination. This is getting a bit deep, actually.
Sue goes very quiet at this point, as she tries to keep up with the story’s frantic final act.
Sue: Hey, it’s him! It’s the ****ing Master!
Yes, the Portreeve was the Master all the time.
Sue: Why is his trap so complicated? Why didn’t he just kill the Doctor when he was having a nice lie-down earlier on? Why does he always have to make life so complicated for himself?
Shardovan takes a leap of faith…
Sue: It’s Adam Ant.
…and the Master’s plans are brought to a grinding halt. The renegade Time Lord escapes in his TARDIS.
Sue: He’s very clever when it comes to making a quick getaway, but he’s completely useless when it comes to just about everything else.
The projection folds in on itself. The Castrovalvans are doomed.
Sue: I feel sorry for them, even though they don’t exist.
Their screams would suggest otherwise.
Sue: It’s horrible.
Adric finds the way out.
Sue: Adric must be the most powerful boy in the universe if he can do all that. He’s incredible. The fans are just jealous.
The Master gets his just deserts when his creations turn against him.
Sue: He’ll be fine. He’s real. He won’t disappear. He’ll be back. Hopefully with a better actor.
The Doctor’s gang march back to the TARDIS.
Sue: Adric looks ill. Then again, imagining a whole society must have taken it out of him, the poor thing.
Me: He’s hungover. In real life, I mean.
Sue: Out on the tiles with JNT again? At least his expression suits the emotions his character would be feeling.
Me: It’s some of his best acting.
The Final Score
Sue: I loved that. Actually, I loved the second two episodes; I wasn’t that keen on the first two. I was really impressed with the concept. Once I realised it was basically Inception, and Adric was imagining everything, I could go with it. It was quite profound in places. And it helps that I have some eye candy to look at.
Sue: I also like the way the story drew on the threads of the last one. In fact, this story almost redeems the last one. Almost.
The experiment continues…
Next update due: Saturday 15th September (the recent DNS outage has put us behind schedule a bit).
Just to let you know we’ll be putting together a podcast similar to the one we did for The Pertwee Years at the end of the Davison era. So, if you want to send us a song (yes, I know that makes us sound like crazed egomaniacs) or something else in the audio format (say, an insane rant about us not doing Shada, just to balance things out), the deadline will be approximately six weeks from now. I’ll firm up my intentions nearer the time.top
If you don’t own this story, why not buy it on DVD? If you use the link below, we get a small cut, which will help pay for the site’s running costs. Many thanks for your support (UK residents only).
(51 customer reviews)