Nowadays it seems old hat and very dull and even slow moving but in 1980 or so, when this burst on the scene with the new theme and the new opening sequence, it was just...magnificent. If you've watched all the Doctor Who's up to now...you know the theme song was just brilliant but for Pete's Sake, it's been in over 100 stories and gosh knew how many eps---400?--or so and it was time for a fresh change. This music and opening sequence was it. The end credits and music there was good too. The incidental music...not so much. DW has never had the greatest incidental music, certainly STAR TREK, the Irwin Allen shows, The OUTER LIMITS, TWILIGHT ZONE, and THE FUGITIVE all beat DW hands down for indicental music but this new theme song...
True story> I used to work at an amusement park and I ran many rides there after two or three years there. There was a ride called THE BLACK HOLE and in it, a tape deck. I used to run the ride and to the this new theme playing. It just fit. Dork right?
Anyway the theme I used was from THE LEISURE HIVE part one's ending.
Another thing is that I saw this theme opening and heard the song long before I should have. For some reason, some cable channel ran THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN part one instead of THE RIBOS OPERATION part one. And WOW! I loved KEEPER so much. Unfortunately, the next day was RIBOS ep 1 again. The comparision was immediate. I couldn't wait to see the 4th Doctor with a young man, a teen even who I could relate to more than Romana. As much as I liked RIBOS, back then KEEPER shone in comparision and was so much more dynamic and alive. I had to wait until they went through Romana 1 and Romana 2 back to THE LEISURE HIVE and MEGLOS and FULL CIRCLE and on...I pictured this Doctor having many grand adventures with Adric...but this was not to be...
If you watch the extras, Chris Bidmead and JNT came in and wanted to stop the jokey bit and slow down the comedy and do more sci fi...unfortunately they started with this story where the Doctor gets aged (a sci fi mainstay done in LOST IN SPACE, STAR TREK, and who knows where else) and gets to save all by cloning himself...and his clothing and...it's all very silly by the end and oh, there's a lizard mafia. Then they follow this with...MEGLOS. But sit back and see if things really changed other than cosmetically. I think the JNT era doesn't really start until the excellent FULL CIRCLE but whatever ....
Okay they wanted to get rid of K9...that much was obvious but in such a stupid way? He goes right into the water? Why? Doens't he know better? And Romana doesn't know better than to stop him? Right there was a stupid, overly silly scene that had no humor and was quite grim for poor K9. K9 was an asset to the show and the new regime didn't know or understand that. Fine. Then they go and get rid of him in just about every story but like this? Really stupid. I thought they were trying to make it more serious.
They did bring back John Leeson so that's cool as he was the better voice of K9, not that David is as bad as everyone says he was. Destroying him on Brighton Beach was most likely a plot by JNT and Bidmead to finally get rid of K9 once and for all even if alot of money was spent on him previously.
The second thing to notice is how interminably long it takes for anything to happen. Yes, they set up a fairly alien culture and civilization and costumes and design. It is an alien world. SO they succeeded on that level and it is filmic and very cinematic...at least on the beach. It looks like A DEATH IN VENICE and yet...on the beach nothing happens that is good or has to do with the story except Romana tells the Doctor about the holiday planet...and he falls asleep....which is almost what I wanted to do.
It takes them ages to get into the story and the set up is long and quite frankly the chractes involved, boring. We have Brock and his aide and Pangol and his father and a few other aliens. ANd a dusty, nuclear war torn planet...it all smacks of something good but truthfully it hasn't gotten underway.
More on ep1 later as it's been a tough day...
By the way the new site is not working for me so here goes…
It was easy to get caught up in the gloss of the new theme song, the new outfit for the Doctor, the new and slightly different incidental music, the new opening, etc. But easily seen nowadays is just how bad this story really is.
Ep1 ends with a strange scene. The Doctor for some reason ties his scarf around a red dummy. Why are there dummies there? Romana, for some reason isn’t as his side. For some reason he enters the device…while being pursued (at a leisurely pace by the way, pun?) by aliens and seemingly earth men. And for some reason the Foamasi…we only see bits and pieces of it makes the Doctor split apart…someone once said how dangerous this made the show seem, this ending. I guess that’s true but it looked so fake, it could only have been fake and the pace of the series has slowed from what it was last season.
This episode is even worse. The Doctor and Romana watch a murder and their intrusion into it and Lohman’s entire death and their involvement is just so poorly written and scripted and even acted, it’s amazing anyone could think this story is an improvement over any story from last season. Then we have the third time a space ship docks. Now if this were SPACE: 1999, UFO, or any Irwin Allen show, I’d say okay it’s nice to look at but here it’s a hole in a hole ever slowly going into a hole. We also are treated to stock footage of an Argolin walking down a hallway. In fact, there’s a whole lot of walking down hallways. The chase scene should be called a walk scene not a chase scene. The Doctor is found and brought to Mena, and he and Romana slip away. Then they are found again, then they walk away but are caught right away…then they are brought to Mena, who talks to them amiably. All the Doctor wants to do is leave. Romana, too. Hardin, a likable fellow later on, is introduced. We again see just bits and pieces of the monsters…and in a story like THE SILURIANS, it works. Here’s it’s just draggy and boring. Romana is supposed to know about the experiments but she makes a mistake, forgetting something. Yeah, she forget to stay and watch her experiment to the end. The cliffhanger is classic as the Doctor emerges ver old…yet it’s not enough this time to keep me interested. This episode is just so slow and boring. The second murder is foreshadowed and not particularly interesting either. Lots of talk of Romana, the Doctor, Harding, Mena and the like all discussing things we aren’t really privy to and a great deal of techno babble which is not explained but for brief bits. Lots of experimenting and some good camera work of a colorful lab. A nice planet. Gosh, this is what they thought was better than last season…where we had movement, action, funny jokes, fast pacing and, like here, time experiments. Mysteries. Here, it’s all just mundane…and it’s quite transparent now after years of hearing the “new” and improved (it truly is but it has been said to be dated now by RTD and others and maybe just maybe they are right) theme song. This was a step in the wrong direction. Also note that early in ep 1 and 2, almost nothing the Doctor or Romana say or do makes sense from a story stand point or a background stand point. At one point, they roam through a needless paddle ball or squash anti gravity game and it looks so awful and the dialog is so bad. At another, while watching the demonstration, Tom seems to be picking his nose or rubbing it. Truly a big step back back back to almost THE CHASE!
More unbelivable badness. More talk, talk, talk, more walks through corridors, and more slow plot points and one disenablement of a guard or scientist by ...what? Making him look at some warp drive equations written on the Tardis by the very old Fourth Doctor? That made no sense. The Doctor and Romana are to be limited in their movements...again...and then...they are allowed access to some areas.
Notice how long it took me to get through just three eps of LEISURE HIVE...almost took me as long to get through the entire seasons 16 and 17. To be clear, they're more entertaining, more fast paced, and the ideas...as good as anything here...are evenly paced throughout the stories. This just goes on and on.
On display are some good ideas...Tom, despite fan rumor or behind the scenes stories that he hated being made up old (and who wouldn't?) does a fab job of acting old and does some Doctor-ish things but older older and older. That is the good part of this entire story. The Pangol mystery seems to deepen and that's good but it seems that the pay off might be...stupid and silly...or just seem a great idea without the pay off yet and by now some payoff would be great.
The Foamasi costumes range from great to poor in whatever scene they are in. In many ways the Doctor in a device that ages him or changes him or something like that harkens back to THE SAVAGES and maybe even the last ep of THE TENTH PLANET where the First Doc is put in a chamber aboard a Cyberman ship...from which he never seems to fully recover and has to regenerate soon after...
The Foamasi with their reptile life forms and body and their spaceships and their skin suits remind me of...Slitheen or whatever that race is called. As I recall the Slitheen is a family...of offshoot aliens... just like the offshoot Foamasi here. Perhaps RTD has an earlier fan story in mind with Foamasi invading Earth and he just tweaked it to be ALIENS OF LONDON/WORLD WAR 3. Who knows? In any event much of these aliens and of this story seems to find a way into NEW DOCTOR WHO, the aging of the Doctor ala LAST OF THE TIME LORDS as well as ALIENS OF LONDON. Even the Mafia thing smacks of Slitheen and businness dealings also smacks of Slitheen. Greatly.
Wouldn't it have been nice (on both accounts of both poor stories, this one and LAST OF THE TIME LORDS) if the Doctor could have been aged in the middle of a really grand, really good story. What if this happened to him in the middle of WAR GAMES or DEADLY ASSASSIN or SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE. Certainly there were oppurtunities to do that in THE TIME MONSTER, INVASION OF THE DINOSAURS, maybe even in the superior CITY OF DEATH and others. Truth is here: it's kinda of wasted a bit as all we see the Doc do is spout more tech babble, do a few jumps as an older Fourth Doctor...and sorta hide from guards and stuff.
The cliffhanger is fairly poor, possibly the only poor cliffhanger in the entire Tom Baker run. Nice to see at least one monster alien race not trying to kill humans...or so it seemed until the end...
Truth is there is no sense of urgency in any of this, possibly, again, for the first time in all of the Tom Baker run. Pangol's plan is unknown but there's a sort of threat with his "children of the machine" thing. No one knows why the Doc and Romana are helping the Argolians to just gain 12 more years to their lives. And the politics seem so muddled or boring that...I don't care.
Unbelievably worse than I thought it was.
DVD extra info
As an aside, Christopher Bidmead on a dvd extra says something like the fact that JNT believed he had a good sense of story strcucture and character. In Chris's opinion, JNT did not. This holds true because while JNT had Barry Lett's looking over him and was surrounded by creative people like CHris and TOm Baker, you noticed the stories from say FULL CIRCLE to --and I'll be stretching this on Chris's account because he left by the time of EARTHSHOCK---to Earth shock, the stories were okay. Once Eric Saward (who wrote two good stories) is script editor and once TOm and Chris are totally gone, the story strcuture goes far downhill and we end up with something like ATTACK OF TRHE CYBERMEN, THE TRIAL OF A TIME LORD, TIMELASH, TIME AND THE RANI, etc.
So in a sense, that's true. JNT had no idea of story or character although and this is another HUGE debate/posting, he did create what to me is probably the best, most realistic character and the first teen on Doctor Who in Adric. Of course, once he created Adric neither he nor Eric knew what to do with him, a cmoplex character so they relied on the female sterotypes to "draw in the dads" and scream alot. Companions after Leela and Romana tended to be less strong, less of fighters or in comparisio to Romana, less intelligent. ALmost everyone from Nyssa to Mel were helpless screaming types who couldn't fight. Then we had Ace. Then we had more helpless ones at least in a fight: Rose, Martha, Donna were all good characters but they couldn't help in a brawl (true any one of them could shoot out a window in a space rocket to get a demon posssessed crewmemeber out and into a black hole but that;s another thing). Only Cpt. Jack, Ace, and...Mickey were good in a scrap really. And not even Mickey much.
But I digress. THe thing is even if all of that is true: Chris and Barry were around for LEISURE HIVE and MEGLOS, two stories that are among the worst of the Tom Baker era (there's only really four bad Tom Baker's: ANDROID INVASION and INVISIBLE ENEMY and the two I just mentioned). Tat's not a bad track record esp cmopared to ALL the Doctor's that followed him except Chris (who wasn't around long enough to have more than one bad story--that second one with Adam was his first, the machine in the forehead one).
Barry and CHris were around for LEISURE AND MEGLOS so what's their excuse or are they gonig to blame JNT? I am.
Of course I don't like to speak ill of the dead. JNT also did some great things for DW. In fact, the music, the promotion, the gloss, and SOME of the guest stars were great. He also tried to get new writers (FULL CIRCLE) and for a time he surrounded himself with good people like CHris who had some good ideas and knew some science. Of course, the promotion soon outweighted the program. And I can say more bad about JNT but truth is, he kept the show on throughout bad times (for better or worse) and had some very good stories (most of them between MEGLOS and not counting MEGLOS and TIMEFLIGHT and not counting TIMEFLIGHT). I think he did what he believed was good for the show although at times I did suspect him of trying to get it deliberately cancelled so he could move on to other things...but that's just stilly.
You know I used to think LEISURE HIVE better than MEGLOS but just having come from watching the first ten min or so of MEGLOS ep1, I must say it's off to a more promising start.
This ep of LEISURE HIVE is essententially one long climax...and long being the operative word. More people walking down corridors endlessly. It would help if we, the viewers, were privy to the thoughts of Pangol's followers...or are they followers? What are they thinking? Do they agree with him? I'm not even sure what Mena's thinking. At one point she seems joyous that (yeah even while dying) Pangol has perfected the machine and is going to use it for war or conquest or is it for her own rejuvenation.
And why should the Doctor be first one in and first one out and that be the real Doctor? How is that a telling point? And why does Mena and Pangol's image mix and then they come out as two separate beings?
Another thing to notice is how Tom plays OLD in some scenes but not in others. In the beginning to this and the end of the lsat ep, he seems almost to be the Doctor wearing old make up but in the scenes in the alien lab, he is playing old old old and that's how it should be. Glad he stays old for a long time but not long enough and not playing it the same throughout. Obviously the scenes on one set were shot at the same time so when we see the lab stuff, he's the OLD fourth Doctor but otherwise he's just the Fourth Doctor looking old but not playing or acting old. And why does't Romana or Hardin notice the Doctor missing for a long time? And why does the Doc go it alone? To protect them? Why doesn't anyone else see the Doctor hiding in such plain sight? Are Argolin's lacking periphery vision?
Why does Pangol take or allow Mena in with him? As in HORNS OF NIMON they seem to be trying to give a feel for Pangol (Soldeed in NIMON) to have a huge following like Hitler but of course they can't show that effecitvely. In NIMON it's played up by Soldeed acting so...off the wall. Here, Pangol is a 20 something acting evil but not really feeling it. Of course Soldeed goes way over the top but at least it's entertaining and not boring there. Here it's just a bog standard villain.
Thre's more to complain about too. Tom Baker, pre JNT era, once told an interviewer for STARLOG (probably around the time of SPACE: 1999) that SPACE: 1999 ..."why don't they just do adventure stories! They need to tell adventure stories..." or something like that. Well, I"m here to say that ANY episode of both seasons of SPACE: 1999 is more adventurous than this episode. Part of the problem is that we do not have a fighting hero. Even Leela would enliven this. Romana is basically an intellectual heroine who...has her intellect fail her several times during this story. She can't beat off a rag tag army of JDs if she had too, let alone an army. She can't even try. Alll she can do is scream and rant and get carried away and yell loudly.
What the story needs are some action sequences and a heroine like EMMA PEEL of the AVENGERS or MAYA of SPACE: 1999. The music doesn't help either. The music in the 1960s AVENGERS and 1970s SPACE: 1999 (mostly the actoin music of season two), like it or not (who can't like the music of THE AVENGERS?) would enchance any action story, especially the climax. What we get in LEISURE HIVE is the continuous trying to emulate or incorporate the theme song into the incidental music and ...it doesn't work at all.
Oh and Hardin seems to knock out an Argolin by lightly squeezing the back of his neck? Huh?
Nothing here seems terribly bad (as in later JNT stories) but nothing seems terribly good either. And as far as calming down Tom Baker: bad move. At least his quips and puns and stuff enlivened even the most boring scenes, here he has very little to say or quip about and if he were let loose I'm sure this would have been that much better. If this is what they mean about reigning him in, then I say it was a mistake.
ABOUT TIME talks about a survey done when people were shown this and NIMON and asked which came first, which was better, etc. Guess which one they chose? Me, too.
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