The defining and most effective moment of the story for me has always been that little moment when the Doctor emerges from the TARDIS, having escaped the Master's little recursive trap, to spy the Watcher standing by the fence on the other side of the Barnett bypass. The haunting look on his face is a tour de force on the part of Baker and the lovely little bit of sad incidental music from Paddy Kingsland frames it so well. Brilliantly, because the story was filmed in the fall, you can see the Doctor's breath which is the symbolic icing on the cake.
It also struck me how different the show felt from The Leisure Hive to Logopolis. The domestics between Tegan and Auntie Vanessa is light years away from the otherworldly discourse of the Doctor and Romana.
And to paraphrase Alice I try to believe 6 impossible things after imbibing a bottle of red wine:
- That you can flush out your evil nemesis by materializing your TARDIS under the Thames and opening the door.
- That the Doctor would fall for that phony Light Speed Overdrive trick; I mean couldn't the Master materialize inside the control room and THEN take the damned thing out.
- How exactly were the peoples of the universe suppose to respond to the Master? Was there a 1-800 number? Were they supposed to text STOP or UNCLE?
- Why didn't the Doctor and Tegan just allow Nyssa's rogue arm to strangle Adric. Think of all the grief that could have been avoided!
- Retroactively, was the 4th Doctor particularly fragile when he fell from that telescope? After all the 10th Doctor managed quite the impressive skydive in The End of Time.
Trying to block out viewing time each week was also a challenge. This was a solitary viewing experience and while it became essential viewing, it was just watching the same old, same old Doctor Who to my partner, family and friends. It certainly helped to open that bottle of wine every week, mind you. All good ritual must have its accoutrements. I will certainly miss wandering through the aisles of the Summerhill LCBO, marveling at the hundreds and hundreds of vintages and table wines. I always felt a rush when I found a selection that perfectly complemented a story.
And of course there is always that bittersweet feeling when doing a rewatch that I might be watching a particular story for the last time. I encourage any Doctor Who fan to take the plunge and do a sequential rewatch. Feel free to use my reflections as a jumping off point or better yet, go out and buy yourself a copy of Running Through Corridors by Toby Hadoke and Rob Shearman. Heck, when their second volume comes out I'll probably be tempted to do the whole thing over again.
Viva la 4th Doctor, may he live forever!
Original viewing date: December 31, 1984
Wine: Black Tower Dornfielder Pinot Noir
Music: "Missing You," by John Waite