Logopolis: Part 4
First Broadcast March 21st, 1981 @ 5.10pm (6.1m viewers)
This episode marks the end of an era. Tom Baker’s seven seasons as the Time Lord still remains the longest continuous on-screen tenure in the lead role. During that period, Baker cemented himself as the ultimate representation of the Doctor, his iconic long scarf and curly hair making him the most recognised incarnation. American show ‘The Simpsons’ for example, occasionally referenced Doctor Who featuring Tom Baker’s Doctor. More so than any other actor before or since Baker brought an ethereal otherworldly quality to his portrayal which still resonates. His long period at the helm of the TARDIS saw a number of absolute gems not just of Doctor Who but of drama generally, such as ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, ‘The Robots of Death’ and the ‘City of Death’. Whilst companions and viewers have come and gone, Tom Baker remained but with Logopolis the winds of change blew like a hurricane, taking the programme in a vibrant new direction.
Logopolis is a very interesting story, built around a concept of universal entropy and it has an epic scale which doesn’t quite come across on the screen. Writer Christopher H Bidmead grounds the plot in scientific theory, a deliberate departure from the most fantastical tales of previous seasons, with mathematics and computer programs capable of controlling pathways between universes. He also introduces a new take on the regeneration process with an apparition of the Doctor’s future self-observing events and putting the pieces in place, namely reintroducing Nyssa, for the next Doctor. The story also marks the introductions of Anthony Ainley’s reinterpretation of the Master and Janet Fielding’s Australian air hostess Tegan, both of which would become significant contributors to the show for the next few years. However, quite rightly the conclusion of this episode belongs to Tom Baker.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
It’s the end… but the moment has been prepared for.
Whilst Part 4 begins with the Doctor and the Master joining forces, it is no real surprise when the Master reveals his malevolent intention to control the universe, a maniacal insanity which would later be recaptured by John Simm’s portrayal. To defeat his nemesis the Doctor must simply pull out a cable but it works well dramatically, the tussle between the two also mirroring the imagery of Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty fighting at the Reichenbach Falls in ‘The Final Problem’ and culminating in the Doctor’s fall from the telescope. Tom Baker’s final moments are very touching, subtle and quiet, with no grand overtures of flamboyance. It is a respectful exchange, with the melancholic atmosphere that permeated throughout the rest of story reaching a crescendo. Recalling his previous companions the fourth Doctor then departs with a teeth-filled smile and Nyssa neatly completes the exposition.
For many Tom Baker remains the ultimate Doctor triggering deep emotional reactions from fans at his eventual reappearance in the show for 2013’s ‘The Day of the Doctor’. But whilst Logopolis Part 4 marks the end of his tenure as the Doctor it also marks the beginnings of celebration and gratitude for the wondrous nature of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor.
Doctor Who – Tom Baker
Adric – Matthew Waterhouse
The Master – Anthony Ainley
The Doctor – Peter Davison
Tegan – Janet Fielding
The Monitor – John Fraser
Nyssa Sarah Sutton
Security Guard – Christopher Hurst
Director – Peter Grimwade
Executive Producer – Barry Letts
Producer – John Nathan-Turner
Writer – Christopher H. Bidmead