commentary by Judy Harris

visit my home page

or E-mail me at

index of all Tom Baker WHO stories:

#42: LOGOPOLIS (4 Parts) ORIGINALLY AIRED: 2/28/81 to 3/21/81
WRITTEN BY: Christopher H. Bidmead DIRECTED BY: Peter Grimwade
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead

While I never saw the last William Hartnell story, in which the concept of the Doctor's regenerating into an entirely new person was introduced, I have seen the final shows for all of the other Doctors--Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker and Peter Davison. With one exception, those final shows were regular rousing DOCTOR WHO stories, and not until the last minute did the sadness of the actor's leaving overtake the plot.

The exception is Tom Baker's farewell. The entire story has an air of doom hanging over it, which is underscored by the funereal music. The normally ebullient Baker is melancholy from his first appearance and things only get grimmer as he gets a glimpse into his future and learns what is preordained (something all the other Doctors have so far been spared).

It's ironic that Tom Baker's last show should address something so important to the Doctor's mythos, namely the TARDIS' chameleon circuit. This had been covered in the shows of his predecessors, but never before in the 7 years Baker was the Doctor.

LOGOPOLIS seems written by someone who has known the frustration of computer programming; it is chockful of computer terms, such as registers, subroutines, and machine code, but used in a symbolic way, as Robert Holmes had used the British tax system in THE SUN MAKERS.

The model work of the planet Logopolis is very good; and the design of the miniature is interesting and different, and blends well with the full size set.

On Barnet's Bypass, a highway route to London's Heathrow airport, a bobby uses one of the last remaining police boxes. A TARDIS materializes around the police box, but the bobby doesn't notice because the time capsule is in the shape of a police box. The bobby is drawn into the police box by an unseen someone who laughs diabolically.

The Doctor paces back and forth in the cloister of the TARDIS. Adric tries to talk to him, but he asks not to be disturbed unless it's urgent, in which case Adric can ring the cloister bell, "a sort of communications device reserved for wild catastrophes and sudden calls to man the battle stations."

The Doctor tells Adric the second law of thermodynamics is taking its toll of the TARDIS. "Entropy increases," the Doctor says, as he touches a crumbling wall; "The more you put things together, the more they fall apart; and that's the essence of the second law of thermodynamics; and I never heard a truer word spoken."

Entropy is the degradation of the matter and energy of the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity. Let's face it, we're all getting older.

The Doctor has noted the time column has lately been wheezing like a grampus. He doesn't want to go back to Gallifrey and face the bureaucracy of explaining why Romana stayed in E-space.

"She has broken the cardinal rule of Gallifrey; she has become involved in a pretty permanent sort of way. I think that you and I should let a few oceans flow under a few bridges before we head back home," the Doctor decides.

Instead, he wants to take Adric to his "home from home"--Earth.

Somewhere in Britain, Tegan Jovanka, a spunky Australian, is getting ready to leave home for her first day as an air stewardess. Her Aunt Vanessa has volunteered to drive her to the airport. The license of her red sports car is LJJ19OB.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Adric the mathematical model of the TARDIS exterior is based on a British police box. He wants to go to Earth to measure a real British police box so he can take the dimensions to Logopolis, where they will perform block transfer computation. This is a way of modeling space-time events through pure calculation, transcendentally, creating solid objects through pure mathematics. (The Doctor must have forgotten this when, in THE LEISURE HIVE, he said unreal transfer is the only way to manipulate solid objects).

The cloister bell rings.

En route to the airport, Tegan's car gets a flat in its right front tire.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Adric, "It's only the exterior of the TARDIS that exists as a real space-time event," mapped onto one of the interior continua. Theoretically, he can change the exterior into anything he likes because "the outer plasmic shell of a TARDIS is driven by the chameleon circuit."

En route from the cloister to the control room, the Doctor passes Romana's room and looks in, saying, "I suppose we're going to miss Romana."

He admits to Adric the TARDIS' chameleon circuit stuck in the shape of a police box at Totters Yard, a reference to the opening sequence of the very first DOCTOR WHO show, AN UNEARTHLY CHILD. "She was on Gallifrey on repair when I borrowed her," the Doctor explains.

He gets under the console and pushes some buttons, which make a keyboard pop up. The Doctor punches in some data in machine code and the scanner draws a pyramid. If the chameleon circuit were working, the exterior of the TARDIS would change into a pyramid, but instead the scanner redraws the police box.

The TARDIS materializes on Earth next to a police box near where Tegan and her aunt have pulled over to fix their flat tire. The Doctor says he's 2.6 meters off-target. He dematerializes and rematerializes around the police box, which appears in the control room.

The Doctor's been meaning to take these dimensions for centuries and asks Adric to write them down.

Across the highway from Tegan a figure all in white, including his ghostlike face--the Watcher--peers at the TARDIS.

Adric can't believe there are so many dimensions to the TARDIS. He's already written down 37, including the back surface, which is 3.67 meters normal.

The Doctor explains the Logopolitans will convert his data into a precise mathematical model to overlay it on the TARDIS. "The actual working out's incredibly tedious--lots of fiddly computations--much better to leave it to the Logopolitans. They do it standing on their heads." They don't use computers; they use word of mouth--they intone the computations.

There's an instrument failure on the control panel caused by a gravity bubble. The Doctor goes outside the TARDIS to investigate and sees Tegan and her aunt, and--in the distance--the Watcher. He comes back into the TARDIS to find Adric has picked the lock of the police box with the star he won for mathematical excellence.

The Doctor goes inside this police box and finds himself in another TARDIS, identical to his own, with a police box inside it.

Tegan decides to roll the flat tire to a garage, but spies what she thinks is a police box. It's door swings open, so she walks in and discovers the TARDIS control room. The police box inside it dematerializes, and the TARDIS' door shuts, locking her in.

In the second TARDIS, Adric opens the second police box, and they go through to find another TARDIS and police box. They hear the cloister bell.

In the Doctor's TARDIS, Tegan hears the cloister bell and sets off to find help. Her aunt goes looking for her in the police box and backs away from a laughing someone who frightens her.

The Doctor feels they are getting near to the nucleus of the gravity bubble, caused by another TARDIS which materialized around the police box before his did.

He goes through the next police box and finds himself back outside. A Detective Inspector asks if Tegan's car is his. He brings the Doctor to the car and shows him the miniaturized bodies of Tegan's aunt and a bobby. The Doctor knows the Master has somehow escaped from Traken.

The police want to take the Doctor in for questioning. Adric stages a diversion by pretending to hurt himself in a fall off a bike. When the police go to check, the Doctor and Adric race back to the TARDIS. The police box inside the control room is gone. The Doctor tries to dematerialize but the TARDIS is sluggish; it requires more power to carry the added burden of the Master's TARDIS still inside it somewhere.

The Doctor finds the architectural configuration button, which controls the interior allocation of space, and jettisons Romana's room. This provides the additional power and the TARDIS dematerializes.

Adric goes to answer the cloister bell, but it stops before he gets there. Tegan has reached the cloister and sits down bewildered. A police box-shaped TARDIS materializes next to her.

In Adric's absence, the Doctor has had a message from Traken. Tremas has vanished. The Master must have had a second TARDIS hidden away somewhere. The Doctor thinks with the lingering powers of the Keepership, the Master has taken over Tremas' body to renew himself.

In order to flush out the Master, the Doctor decides to materialize the TARDIS under water and open the doors. Surely the Master's TARDIS would have the same external defenses as the Doctor's and this wouldn't hurt his TARDIS at all. Nevertheless, the Doctor and Adric shut down everything. They fold back the omega configuration, halt the exponential crossfield, close the pathways to conditional states 7 to 17, and end the main and auxiliary drives.

Aiming to materialize under the Thames, the Doctor leans against the TARDIS doors, warning Adric the water pressure could send them both flying. The doors open and nothing happens. The TARDIS has landed on a dock, not in the water.

On a bridge, the Doctor sees the Watcher, who signals for the Doctor to come to him. "Nothing like this has ever happened before," the Doctor says, heading off to speak to the Watcher.

Tegan becomes frightened by the evil laughter coming from the police box in the cloister and runs away, but becomes confused in the multiroomed TARDIS and winds up back in the cloister again. The police box dematerializes and reappears as a bush.

The Doctor returns to the TARDIS and tells Adric, "I just dipped into the future. We must be prepared for the worst." Something serious is afoot--"a chain of circumstances that fragments the law that holds the universe together." The TARDIS dematerializes, heading for Logopolis.

As the TARDIS materializes on Logopolis, Tegan finds her way back to the control room, and introductions are made. The bush-shaped TARDIS in the cloister dematerializes and rematerializes on Logopolis.

The Doctor, Adric and Tegan exit the TARDIS and are greeted by Monitor, who says Logopolis is honored by the Doctor's visit. The Doctor tells Monitor his problem is extremely urgent, so Monitor takes him directly to the Central Register.

The bush-shaped TARDIS changes to a column-shaped one and dematerializes.

The Doctor gives the police box dimensions to Monitor, who intones them, recreating the TARDIS. All through the city, the Logopolitans bend over abacus-like machines, compiling the code.

The Master miniaturizes one of the Logopolitans with his tissue compressor.

Monitor gives the Doctor a sheet of paper containing the code to restore the chameleon circuit. The Doctor suddenly recognizes the room he's standing in is a near replica of the Pharos computer room--a perfectly logical copy. Tegan explains Pharos is ancient Greek for lighthouse. It's a famous Earth project which transmits signals to remote planets, in the hopes of eliciting responses.

Monitor explains, "Structure is the essence of matter, and the essence of structure is mathematics." The Logopolitans can model any space-time event in the universe.

On the way back to the TARDIS, the Doctor asks if Monitor will look after Adric and Tegan, saying, "What lies ahead is for me; not for them." Entering the TARDIS, the Doctor says, "I hate farewells," and closes the door. He punches in the computation on the TARDIS' console.

Nyssa arrives on Logopolis, brought by an (unseen) friend of the Doctor's.

The TARDIS starts to shrink. Monitor says there must be a fault in the computation, which is unheard of. The TARDIS is carried to the Central Register, passing the laughing Master on the way.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor tries to dematerialize, but nothing works; he has fallen to the floor and is unable to get up.

Monitor says the fault is in the dimensioning routine. He gives Adric a printout of the machine code to read to him as he checks the external registers. Monitor tells Adric block transfer computation can't be done with computers because the manipulation of numbers directly changes the physical world. The computations themselves would affect a computer--change its nature--cause it to malfunction. Only the living brain is immune.

The Logopolitans put sonic projectors on either side of the TARDIS, creating a temporary zone of stasis around it, arresting the dimensional spiral. Inside the Doctor is now able to stand.

Monitor and Adric find the computation error and 3 miniaturized Logopolitans. Monitor says interfering with the workings of Logopolis is the most dangerous crime in the universe.

The Doctor has also reasoned there is an error in the dimension subroutine and struggles to find it.

Monitor and Adric return to the TARDIS to tell the Doctor he must reprogram block 4 of the dimensioning routine. Tegan holds up the corrections so the Doctor can see them on the scanner.

"The cheeseboard is the world, and the pieces the phenomena of the universe, as my old friend Huxley used to say," or is it chess board? the Doctor muses. He feeds in the new figures. The TARDIS returns to its normal size.

Adric takes Nyssa to see the miniaturized Logopolitans. She thinks the Master added his own voice to the numbers to corrupt the Doctor's code. She becomes separated from Adric and runs into the Master, whom she mistakes for her father. She tells him he looks younger but cold. He puts a bracelet on her wrist and asks her to tell no one she's seen him.

The Doctor exits the TARDIS and tells Tegan her aunt is dead. The Master miniaturizes two more Logopolitans.

Nyssa sees the Watcher and tells Adric that's the man who brought her from Traken.

The Master enters the Central Register and threatens to bring Logopolis to a complete halt. He hooks up a machine which emits a sound cancelling wave, suspending activity on Logopolis.

Monitor tells the Master he's eroding structure, generating entropy, but the Master doesn't believe him. The Doctor, Adric and Nyssa arrive. The Doctor tells Nyssa this isn't her father; Tremas is dead--murdered by the Master.

Monitor says Logopolis is the keystone. If it's destroyed the whole causal nexus is unraveled. "You're interfering with the law of cause and effect," the Doctor warns.

Adric tries to disconnect the Master's machine. The Master pushes a button, which causes Nyssa--controlled by the bracelet--to start to strangle Adric. The Master says the bracelet is an electromuscular constrictor.

The Doctor tells the Master "Logopolis is crucial to the whole of creation. This could mean the end of the universe," so the Master switches off his device. But it's too late. Local disruption of structure is now irreversible. Logopolis is dead. Nothing is solid now. Entropy has taken over. Everything has wasted away. The numbers were supporting the whole system. The degradation is random, but it finally hits the Master's equipment, and Nyssa is able to tear off the electromuscular constrictor, which crumbles.

Monitor predicts the unraveling will spread out until the whole universe is reduced to nothing. The block transfer computations were holding the fabric of the universe together. Monitor reveals the universe long ago passed the point of total collapse, if it had remained a closed system.

The Logopolitans adapted the Pharos project to open the system by creating voids into other universes--charged vacuum emboitements. But now the voids will be closing.

Deciding he can't choose the company he keeps, the Doctor suggests he and the Master pool their resources to save the universe. "As Time Lords, you and I have special responsibilities," the Doctor says.

The TARDIS arrives, piloted by the Watcher. Adric and Nyssa get in and it dematerializes. Tegan sets off to find the Doctor, hopeful he'll somehow get her back to London airport.

Back at the Central Register, Monitor gives the Doctor a copy of a program the Logopolitans had developed to hold back the entropy--a series of data statements to keep the charged vacuum emboitements open of their own accord.

Monitor tries to realign the aerial to beam the program out to space, but it's too late. Entropy has reached him and he disappears.

The Master has a plan to withdraw to a position of temporary security, reconfigure his TARDIS and the Doctor's into time cone inverters, and create a stable safe zone by applying a temporal inversion isometry to as much of space-time as they can isolate.

The Doctor thinks the plan would work, but the Master runs off when he sees Logopolis disappearing--eaten away by the Nothing, as in THE NEVERENDING STORY. The Doctor and Tegan open the Monitor's computer and remove its bubble memory, which is nonvolatile. "Remove the power and the bit patterns are still retained in tiny magnetic domains in these chips. The research team's final project is still here," the Doctor explains.

They set off, carrying the bubble memory cards, and find the Master. A rock has fallen on him. The Doctor lifts it off.

In the Doctor's TARDIS, the Watcher disconnects the entire coordinate subsystem. As the TARDIS is taken out of time and space, everything goes negative and recedes to a pinpoint of light. The TARDIS hovers outside space and time.

The Master's TARDIS, still in the shape of a column, materializes on Earth inside the Pharos computer room. The Doctor and the Master exit and hide from a technician. The Master gives the Doctor his lightspeed overdrive to accelerate the signal from the transmitter.

The Master tries to miniaturize the technician, but the Doctor pulls him out of harm's way, accidentally knocking him out in the process.

In the cloister of the Doctor's TARDIS, the Watcher speaks to Adric, who takes the TARDIS to the Pharos project on Earth, in sector 8023 of the third quadrant.

The TARDIS' scanner shows the whole universe--a milky star studded swirl. Entropy is already overtaking it, but Earth's galaxy has a few more hours left. Traken and the whole of Mettula Orionsis is blotted out.

At the Pharos project (actually shot at the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope in Cheshire), the Doctor realizes the program hasn't been fed into the computer core, so he and the Master start again.

The Doctor's TARDIS materializes on the lawn outside the Pharos project. Adric and Nyssa exit and hide from the security guards.

As the Doctor, Tegan and the Master head for the antenna control room, the security guards spot them. Adric and Nyssa draw the guards away, claiming to be what they, in fact, are: alien intelligences responding to the Pharos project invitation.

The Doctor reaches a gantry leading to the antenna control room and starts to climb up, while the Master returns to the Pharos computer room. When the Doctor reaches the control room, the Master is already there--he arrived in his TARDIS. The CVE is in line with the constellation Casseopeia--coordinates 3C461-3044.

The Master tosses the lightspeed overdrive out the door; it was a fake. He has the real one. The Doctor hooks up the cable and the antenna is realigned. The data reaches the CVE, which stabilizes. The universe is saved, but is still hanging by a thread. A single recursive pulse down the cable and the CVE would close forever. The Master broadcasts this threat to the peoples of the universe.

The Doctor climbs outside on the gantry to detach the cable, so the Master will be unable to transmit the recursive pulse. He stretches his scarf across the platform, tripping the Master. They struggle high overhead as Tegan, Nyssa and Adric watch from below.

The Master goes back into the antenna control room and pushes a button which detaches the gantry. The Doctor unplugs the cable, but loses his balance and falls. As he dangles from the cable, he sees the faces of many of the enemies he's defeated, including the Master from THE DEADLY ASSASSIN, a Dalek, the Captain from THE PIRATE PLANET, a Cyberman, Davros, a Sontaran, a Zygon and the Black Guardian.

He loses his grip and falls. The Master enters his TARDIS and dematerializes.

Nyssa, Tegan and Adric run up to the fallen Doctor. He also sees the faces of Sarah, Harry, the Brig, Leela, K9 and both Romanas.

He smiles, saying, "It's the end, but the moment has been prepared for." The Watcher approaches and merges with the Doctor; it was a projection of himself in his next regeneration. The newly regenerated, younger, blond Doctor--played by Peter Davison--sits up.

There is some precedent for this projection. In Jon Pertwee's last show, PLANET OF THE SPIDERS, a Time Lord named K'Anpo projects an image of himself, named Cho-Je. When K'Anpo dies, he immediately regenerates into Cho-Je.


Adric Matthew Waterhouse
Nyssa Sarah Sutton
Tegan Jovanka Janet Fielding
Master Anthony Ainley
Monitor John Fraser
Aunt Vanessa Dolore Whiteman
Detective Inspector Tom Georgeson
Security Guard Christopher Hurst

Anthony Ainley, who plays the Master, played Tremas in THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN. As with several upcoming shows during the Davison era, that character's name is an anagram of Master.

Tom Georgeson, who plays the Detective Inspector, played Kavell in the Tom Baker story GENESIS OF THE DALEKS.

internet tracking stats