Doctor Who – Full Circle

Doctor Who Story 111 – Full Circle

Written By

Andrew Smith

What’s It About

The Doctor and Romana accidentally travel through a CVE and fall into E-Space, a realm that exists at inverse co-ordinates to our own. As they attempt to return Romana to Gallifrey, they arrive on a planet with an Edenic society which lives in fear of Mistfall.

Of Course I’m Better Than You. I’m Elite.
Source: Wikipedia.
Source: Wikipedia.

I’m not sure where it originated, but analyses of season eighteen tend to center around entropy. Without a doubt, this theme is present. And since I have spent the last few reviews pondering the re-definition of Doctor Who that Jonathan Nathan Turner has been creating, I can’t help but view entropy through the lens of Doctor Who as a program. Essentially, the thematic entropy is a criticism of the Graham Williams era of Doctor Who, something I slightly disagree with, but given the output of Williams’s era and the propagandistic historical revisionism JNT engaged in, the argument can be made. JNT wished to return Doctor Who to its pre-Tom Baker glory. This is the difficulty when a single actor portrays the Doctor for nearly a decade in an age when VCRs were not the norm—viewers forget what came before.

In this way, “Full Circle” becomes an interesting critique of fandom . . . or at the very least, viewers. The older people on Terradon remember Mistfall. The younger people don’t. Or, in this case, the older viewers remember Pertwee, Troughton, and maybe even Hartnell. The younger viewers do not. How much more the gap between fans of the new series and fans of the old? By and large new series fans do not need to watch Doctors 1 – 8. If they choose not to, they can easily check Wikipedia for Doctor Who mythos, or they can ask a friend who may be a fan of the old series. But Doctor Who mythos (for this is a better word than “canon”) is a tricky thing, and explanation of it is filtered through fan opinion. And, like the people of Terradon, fans of the new series must take the word of those who have access to the archives (DVDs, in this case). Thus, the old series becomes mythology, and the new series fan may take it or leave it as they wish.

And, to return to “Full Circle,” something similar is happening here. This story marks as much of the redefinition of Doctor Who as is possible without bringing in a new Doctor. This is the first story to fall firmly under script editor Christopher Bidmead’s control (previous stories having been left-overs). This is a story written by a fan, and a young one at that. This is a story that sees a fan actually hired to play a lead in the show. With “Full Circle,” Doctor Who is evolving into a show that is firmly aware of its legacy, and the mythologizing of Doctor Who begins here. In “Meglos,” Zastor shared a gospel of the Doctor. In “Full Circle,” fans are vindicated in Andrew Smith and Matthew Waterhouse (with admittedly mixed results). And it is somewhat telling to me that at the very end of JNT’s long era, the Doctor achieves implied apotheosis. (And then, in the new series, the Doctor is actually called a “lonely god.”)

None of this matters, however, as “Full Circle” is a great story that is only marred by a few bad performances (well, one in particular). And I’m glad, because my interest in the classic series was waning. Much as I enjoy Tom Baker, I’m ready for him to leave. In a few more stories, I get my wish.

My Rating

4/5

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