I originally wanted to dump this, but a friend found it quite amusing, so I've left it in. I was promised a piece on the E-Space trilogy from a previously reliable person. I even asked Mark to provide a piece of artwork. Needless to say, the article never turned up. In an attempt to save the article, I was offered a review written in the eighties. It was (a) too short and (b) rubbish. So I decided to write it myself. I present this as an example of what happens when someone who (a) last saw State Of Decay three years ago, (b) hasn't seen the other two stories since the original transmissions, when he was an eight-year old (c) is unable to get hold of the videos to watch and (d) is tremendously pissed off with the whole fanzine situation, sits down and tries to write a review. It's a blatant exercise in waffling and padding, which wasn't funny at the time I was desperately trying to get a fanzine finished by the end of the month, but is quite amusing now. Enjoy.
Two of the three stories are often remembered by the pieces of merchandise that they spawned. Full Circle for the accompanying Viewmaster 3-D reels (the Marshmen rising and the starliner both looked absolutely amazing in three dimensions) and State Of Decay for the audio book narrated by Tom Baker. Tom is obviously bored out of his skull while reading what appears to be an abridged Target novelisation, not even bothering with any amusing impersonations of the type that so enlivened his reading of 'Gremlins'. (Tom's terrifying American accent is one highlight, and I suspect he'd had a few drinks beforehand and I don't mean ginger pop!)
The trilogy wasn't advertised as such at the time, and in all honesty it doesn't really seem like one. Okay so all three stories take place in E-space, and all three stories deal with stranded spaceships of some sort, but it feels as if it wasn't really intended to be a trilogy (unlike the Master or Black Guardian trilogies of the next couple of years) but just sort of fell together. The idea for a trilogy came from then script-editor Christopher H. Bidmead, who wanted some sense of continuity between adventures.
Full Circle was the first time that a fan's script was commissioned for production (the other being Marc Platt's Ghost-Light), whilst some set-pieces had echoes of the past (creatures rising from beneath the water, giant spiders), at the time most of has hadn't seen The Sea-Devils or Planet Of The Spiders, indeed, a lot of us had probably never even heard of them, so it was all new to us. The story also introduces Adric. Whilst the idea may have seemed different and interesting at the time, a rebellious teenager with his rapid healing and his mathematical skills, it fell flat on its face. The maths was obviously part of Bidmead's attempt to bring science back into the program (his name was even an anagram of famed mathematician Dirac), he started out as an annoying git who you wanted to smack in the face and went rapidly downhill from there. In State Of Decay he's reduced to arse-kissing the villains, expecting food and board wherever he goes and being a twat. Earthshock couldn't have come soon enough. I vote for a Celebrity Deathmatch between Adric and Wesley Crusher, with a guest appearance b ythat annoying kid from that Thunderbirds episode with all the flashbacks.
My main memory of the story (apart from the Viewmaster 3-D reels) was the Marshspiders. Around this time there was a kid's toy called something like 'Beware! Boris!', in which a big plastic spider crawled along a mat towards you and you had to shoot it between the eyes with a light gun in order to force it back. Having seen photos, it didn't actually resemble a Marshspider that much, but to my eight-year-old mind they were one and the same.
It's a well known fact that State Of Decay was originally written for season fifteen under the title The Vampire Mutations, but was dropped to avoid clashing with a BBC Drama production of Dracula already in production. Because of this, it doesn't quite feel right. It sort of feels like a Hinchcliffe era story, but with the Season 17 cast and a last minute addition of a new companion and being shufted into a trilogy. Despite all this, it's still a really good story. I'm a sucker for (a) Hammer movies and (b) vampires, so it's no surprise that I enjoy this. There are quite a few additions to the (uurrrgghh) 'mythos' in this story. Bow-ships, Gallifrey's war against the Great Vampires. A lot of this has been picked up and used in original Who novels such as Time's Crucible, The Pit and So Vile A Sin. Terrance Dicks himself has penned two conflicting sequels to the story in Blood Harvest (top work fella!) and The Eight Doctors (bunch of arse, mate!).
Favourite bits of the story - the conversation between the Doctor and Romana in the cell, and Tom getting hit in the face by the cell door and missing his cue (I've heard people (Dave Owen in DWM actually) say this was deliberate, but it doesn't look like it!). And I certain people are reading a bit too much into the episodes to claim there are lesbian overtones between Camilla and Romana.
Just a side note, have you seen Lalla Ward in Vampire Circus? Isn't she just gorgeous? Ahem, sorry...back to the point.
Warrior's Gate was summed up by a friend of mine with just two words - "It's white." Actually it was green and the white was CSOed on, but he didn't know that so I let him off. I once read a piece in Cosmic Masque by Stephen Gallagher in which he claims to have submitted a proposal for a story in which the Doctor assumed the identity of Judas Iscariot, but was told not to even bother submitting it as there was no way it would ever get made. Whether this story is apocryphal or not, I have no idea.
Many people point to the E-Space trilogy as when it all went wrong. When it started we had the team supreme, the 4-2-9 formation that could take on the world, Tom (Doc 4), Lalla (Romana 2) and K-9. By the end, we had a clearly manically depressed Tom and Adric. A fair exchange? Bollocks!
Can any parallels with C.S.Lewis’ books be drawn? We have the Lion (Tharils) and the Wardrobe (the TARDIS) and I suppose Camilla could be describes as a Witch (one of the original titles of State Of Decay being The Witch-Lords!) but to be honest, I'd be talking a load of cobblers. Next thing you'll be telling me there’s overt lesbian overtones in Survival with all the talk of sisterhood etc. Or that Kinda was written by Tori Amos. Or that Timelash is a good story.
So we come to the most important question.
What does the H in Christopher H. Bidmead’s name stand for? Horatio? Huggy? Horny? No Hamilton, which leads us to Hamilton Academicals, a football team which like Bidmead's stories, are boring, over-technical and a bit crap. Will that do?
(Is swiftly carried off by two-suited men and places in the back of a Securicor van.)