The Final Tom Baker season.. yikes. I know I’ve seen the latter serials, not sure about the first half of the season, though. Let’s find out. (Let’s hope they’re better than last season.)

Episode 1:

New opening sequence, score. It’s a good one, though I think I somewhat prefer the previous sequence – this score is probably my fave of the opening themes, though.

We open on a beach resort/boardwalk setting. The wind blows and there aren’t any people in sight. Some chairs and changing tents are there, but no people.

As the camera pans to the right, slowly, we see more and more chairs, tents, fabrics flapping in the wind. Then, we hear snoring.

And the TARDIS is amongst the tents, The Doctor sitting in one of the chairs, having a nap. K-9 moves along, going on about different planet(oids), apparently recreational ones. Romana complains that she’s bored, she’d rather do something constructive with her time.

Frustrated, she throws the beach ball into the water, yelling at K-9 to fetch. Stupidly, she walks off as he stupidly goes after the ball into the water. As soon as he hits the water, there’s an explosion (really?)

Romana recovers him and brings him to The Doctor, complaining that he got everything wrong – the century, the season and K-9’s sea water defenses.

They discuss bypassing the randomiser (hey, I kinda forgot about that), Romana saying how dangerous it is, The Doctor saying he can’t spend the rest of his life “running from the Black Guardian”.

Romana says she wants to go to Argolis, the first of the leisure planets. He asks her to tell her about it and she begins telling him about some war and the survivors building a recreation center called “the Leisure Hive”. As she talks, we see the scene inside a small circle, surrounded by a starfield (the opening sequence stars)… and then The Doctor begins snoring.

Well, that’s not promising for a reduction of inanity.

The setting changes, and we see an alien man instructing a group of people that the atmosphere outside is deadly. Over the PA, a voice summons Guide Vargos to the boardroom. Vargos is the man speaking and he departs, telling those he is speaking to to enjoy the view of Argolis.

The people mill about, a variety of human(oid)s in different styles of dress. There are others like Vargos (Argolians?) present, too.

Vargos makes his way to the boardroom, where a meeting is in process; several of Vargos’ people sit about a table. In the center of the table is a pyramid screen, with a man talking. One of Vargos’ associates says that Brock is backing out.

Brock says Argolis is headed to bankruptcy. He explains that the competition from other planets is too much. One of the Argolians, Pangol, argues, but Brock turns down the offer to invest. Pangol cuts off the communication abruptly, and his elder chastises him, saying there must be no aggression on Argolis and that if they need reminding, they only need “look at me” to know that.

An exterior shot shows a compound on a hostile planet – the terrain is all sand and rock, and strange gases swirl about. An Earth shuttle arrives.

Pangol argues with the elder, who apparently is is father as well as chairman. Pangol’s mother is next in line for that position, and the chairman advises Pangol to wait for her return. As they argue, Brock is announced and enters.

Brock is startled to see how frail Morix (the chairman) is. Pangol tells him to “have a look, it’s the way we Argolins die.” (Okay, Argolin… doesn’t really work, but it’s official, so we’ll go with that from now on.)

Morix asks Brock to forgive Pangol’s behavior and looks to the man who accompanied Brock. Brock introduces his lawyer, Klout… and says that he’s decided to accept the directorship. (Okay, so… time has passed since the previous scene, more than remotely made apparent. This continues to be a big flaw with the writing of this show.)

Brock says that he’s not yet investing, but that may not be necessary. He says another group has made an offer to buy them out, the whole of Argolis. Pangol protests, but he is called away for a demonstration of the Tachyon Recreation Generator.

(I know I’ve seen this, but it’s been so long, I have no idea.)

Pangol speaks to a crowd of tourists, showing them a visual of non-gravity squash and talking about their technology. The TARDIS materialises in the hall and the Time Lords exit. The Doctor says it must be done through “unreal transfer”, but Romana says that technology isn’t discovered in this part of the galaxy until the year 2386. He asks how it is done, then, but she says she does not know.

Pangol steps into a vertical ring. He assures everyone, “Everything is under control,” but then his head separates from his body, and he quips, “or nearly everything.”

Morix is horrified that Brock is suggesting they sell Argolis to the Fomasi, the race they fought against in the war. As they talk, Klout stalks back and forth, very much like a predator. It seems that the Foamasi are reptilian and could live on the radioactive surface of Argolis.

Suddenly, Morix has a spasm of pain and a little ball drops off the… bone spur protruding from his head. He recovers and goes on to say that to sell the Foamasi their home would be the ultimate defeat.

Klout looks out the window at the exterior and the camera pans out, across the ground. We hear hissing and see silhouettes of claws bipeds, presumably Foamasi.

Pangol’s head dominates the ring/screen as he talks about tachyonics, the science that Argolis invented and is proud of. As he talks, the Time Lords discuss how Earth never did anything with their theories about the tachyon. Pangol’s body moves about in the screen, his arms and head separate from the rest of the body, all moving independently.

(I do recall this and what happens shortly.)

The Foamasi cut their way into the Hive, setting up an exterior half-sphere to keep the Hive from being flooded by the atmosphere.

Morix insists that he will not sell. His speech and breathing are laboured and another of the little balls falls of the spur that rises from the crown of his head. He collapses and Brock sends Klout to fetch someone. Morix’s attendant enters, saying there is nothing they can do, “His time has come.” Morix’s face seems to glow in a negative fashion.

A Foamasi moves through the corridor, opening the door that leads to the hall where the Time Lords and others watch the demonstration of tachyonics. We see parts of the Foamasi; they have eyes like a gecko, scaly skin, thick tail and, oh yes, claws. It listens in/watches for several moments as Pangol’s voice can be heard going on about the development of tachyonics, and then closes the door.

Another Earth shuttle arrives. Mena, Morix’s wife, is greeted by Brock and another Argolin. She doesn’t demonstrate any emotion over her husband’s death, saying he did his duty and she assumes his duty and position automatically at the time of his death.

The Argolin asks about the Earth scientist, but she says Hardin will be on the next shuttle. She has brought a holocrystal of his first trial; it is mentioned that Pangol will want to see it, but Mena says leave him be – it seems that Pangol harbors jealously that Hardin has found “a better use for Tachyonics” than he has – she says that Hardin has learned to manipulate time!

After Pangol’s demonstration, he takes questions. One of the visitors, a man named Loman, questions that the demonstration may have been prerecorded. Pangol invites him to try it for himself. Loman enters the booth and Pangol activates it – it seems they project a “temporally coincident” version into the screen, allowing Pangol to “manipulate one without harming the other”.

He begins to work the controls, but when they separate Loman’s arms from his body, he screams. The Doctor bursts into the booth and says that Loman is “seriously hurt”. (Ya think?) Pangol and another Argolin learn that The Doctor is a scientist, and seem to think he is the Earth scientist, saying that Madam Chairman will want to see him.

(So, apparenly, Argolins are fairly non-emotional? Even Pangol – after all, he must know that his father is dead if his mother is the chairman now… are they just represssing their emotions? This was indicated by Pangol’s outbursts at the meeting earlier.)

The Doctor is led to meet with Madam Chairman. We see, in the background, the Foamasi watching through a cracked door that closes as we watch.

In the boadroom, Chairman Mena plays the holocrystal for Brock, Klout and some Argolins. In the recording, Hardin uses a device on an old woman to revert her to a much younger form. Mena says that Hardin has perfected a technique to rejuvenate living creatures.

The Doctor is brought in, but she says that he is not the Earth scientist, Hardin. The Argolin accompanying the Time Lords tells Mena that they were taking notes, but she is distracted when the medical center calls in to report Loman is dead. A visual of his body, arms and head comes up on the pyramid screen.

While she says there will be an investigation, the Time Lords slip out. She orders them brought back.

Romana mentions that the experiment they saw a glimpse of (Hardin’s) was a fake. The Doctor congratulates her for spotting that. They flee pursuit, passing through a non-gravity squash game. As they float through, the Time Lords discuss the hologram was spliced together and the woman’s necklace was different before and after.

Romana skulks back to the TARDIS, but The Doctor goes inside the tachyon booth. Inside, he opens a panel and sees… well, I’m not sure what he sees. It’s dark and swirly, but whatever it is, he finds fascinating.

Romanan bangs on the booth, calling out for The Doctor. Unbeknownst to her, a Foamasi hand reaches to the controls for the booth and activates it. On the screen, The Doctor screams as his head and arms and legs separate from his body… and the credits roll.

Fun so far, much better than the majority of last season. Nice cliffhanger there, too, even if it’s obvious that he doesn’t die.

Episode 2:

Brock and Pangol arrive and Romana tells them The Doctor is inside. Pangol tries to shut off the power, but it’s jammed. (No cord or power cell or shut off switch, really?)

The Doctor, who is outside the booth, suggests shorting the servo lock on the door.

Another Earth shuttle arrives. Earth scientist Hardin is summoned to the boardroom.

The Doctor explains that he got out of the booth through a hole in the back. When Pangol says there isn’t one, The Doctor holds up his sonic screwdriver and says there is now. The Doctor and Romana are then taken into custody.

In the boadroom, Chairman Mena questions if Hardin knows The Doctor, but he says he’s never seen him before. Mena remarks on the formality of tone and address Hardin takes with her, implying a more personal relationship. Hardin says he must respect her new position.

Mena agrees that her new responsibilities will put a distance between them.

Hardin says he would have to question The Doctor to learn how much he knows about tachyons and their instability. Mena is confused, believing the problems to have been solved. Hardin tries to cover his tracks, but before he can explain too much, the Time Lords are brought in.

The Doctor claims that he’s experimented with time, but only in academic ways that are of no interest. Mena says Hardin would like The Doctor to assist with his experiments. The Doctor seems enthusiastic, but Romana interrupts, saying Gallifrey abandoned tachyonics in lieu of warp matrix engineering.

Mena asks them to look at the experiments, saying they are unidentified visitors and their conduct will reflect on how they are dealt with. (But much more politely.)

The Doctor says they need to re-run the experiment, something that Hardin doesn’t seem too thrilled with.

A Foamasi fiddles with some controls somewhere.

Mena and the Time Lords look out an observation deck. She says that while the radiation decays quickly, the heavy metal dust renders the surface uninhabitable for three more centuries. Mena informs The Doctor that the war lasted twenty minutes.

They discuss the purpose of the Hive – Mena says it is to “promote understanding between life forms of all cuture and genetic type”. She says the games in the Experiential Grid are designed for people of different races to explore other environments and learn what it is like to be an outside. (Hey, heavy message in this serial and one that is more salient than ever to our world today.)

The Foamasi fiddles some more.

Mena takes them to the boardroom to show them a simulation on the pyramid screen.

The Foamasi cuts wires.

The screen goes down and Mena complains that there’s been too many faults, accidents and now the death of Loman.

It comes up during conversation that the Argolin people are sterile; there will be no further generations.

Mena suffers, suddenly, and one of the little balls on her bone spur falls off. Romana remarks that she seems older, and Mena explains that the war has caused this as well. Their metabolism is slow and steady for most of their lives, but then begins to deterioriate rapidly.

Hardin and Brock discuss the potential uses of his technology – for the Argolins, it could extent their lives, for the visitors, it could make them younger as well as wiser for their experiences on Argolis. Brock feels this could make Argolis profitable again.

Hardin explains that he cannot demonstrate it now, as it takes time. He’s obviously delaying, since the experiment is a fake. Brock says he’ll come back later, then.

Hardin’s associate says they can work it, but Hardin snaps, asking why he let him talk him into faking it. The assistant questions “fake?”, saying it is a breakthrough in tachyon technology. It seems he’s the financial backer for Hardin’s work and says they’ll do it his way while they’re using his funds.

At hearing about Mena wanting to bring in The Doctor, the associate says this could ruin them. He tells Hardin to keep the observers outside, to watch on the viewer.

Mena and her entourage, including the Time Lords, arrive. Hardin tells The Doctor that he cannot approach, claiming radiation concerns. The Doctor whispers to Romana and slips off, while Mena asks when it will be ready.

She is very weak and all but carried by her entourage. Hardin’s associate suggest they go “up top” to get a better view and the Argolins depart. Romana stays behind, asking if she can help and picks up a “wafer wave inducer”. She begins asking questions about it. He confesses to her that it doesn’t really work.

Mr. Stimson, Hardin’s associate, slips off during the conversation. He asks an Argolin about leaving for Earth immediately, but the alien says that all the shuttles are booked. The only way to get on would to get a dispensation from one of the directors.

Stimson knocks on Brock’s door. A Foamasi watches from around the corner as Stimson enters Brock’s quarters. The light inside is all green and dim, for some reason. Stimson opens a closet and finds what appears to be Klout’s dead body, though it has a bit of an artificial appearance to it. He touches it and then departs the quarters in a hurry.

In the corridor, his glasses fall off as he rushes down the hall. Behind him, a Foamasi steps on the glasses.

Stimson ends up in the Tachyon Recreation Generator chamber. It is dark. He hears a hissing sound and asks if anyone is there. The Foamasi attacks him.

Romana assists Hardin with the experiment. They have an hourglass that they’ve put in a field of temporal stasis. Romana says they’ve stopped time, but can they reverse it? When Hardin says it should work in theory, Romana says that if there’s one thing that The Doctor has taught her, it is to check everything once more.

She questions where The Doctor is. (I thought he told her what he was up to.)

The Doctor works a computer. While he does so, Brock and a group of Argolins enter. Brock hands The Doctor the end of his scarf, which The Doctor follows, finding the other end wrapped around Stimson’s throat.

The Doctor is brought before Mena for trial. She pontificates on the evil of violence and war and blah blah blah. She asks if The Doctor can swear his innocence before the Helmet of Theron (the one who led them into the war that all but destroyed Argolis.) He says he can and she asks for the facts of the case.

Hardin and Romana continue working on the experiment. She instructs him to begin recording and he does so. Under her instruction, he gradually increases the power. It still isn’t enough and she tells him to increase the power some more. He argues with her, saying it won’t work.

He acquiesces, bringing the power up some more. She tells him to push it just a little further. Still, nothing… not at first. But then, the sands in the hour glass begin going back up. Excited, they leave, leaving the power on and the project running, and the hourglass shatters and is surrounded in a green glow, maybe even something physical, gelatinous.

Brock presents the evidence, but The Doctor says a hat couldn’t be hung on that. Brock argues for finding the murderer, but Mena says justice is what matters. Pangol argues for trial by fire or water, but Mena says such superstitions of the past are not for them.

Hardin and Romana arrive, saying they have success. Mena says she is prepared to be rejuvenated, but Hardin argues there must be one more test. Pangol smiles, and murmurs, “a test”, looking at The Doctor meaningfully.

At the Tachyon Recreation Generator, The Doctor is assured by Romana that, at best, it would only remove ten or so years. He enters the booth and Romana goes to the lab to switch on the recording. Pangol isn’t impressed as his mother is at the gain – a few years for an individual.

Romana arrives at the lab to start the recording. She sees the hourglass, still enshrouded in greenness – it seems to be decaying within. She rushes out, concerned about The Doctor. (Yeah, what great scientific method these Gallifreyans have.)

When she gets back to the TRG room, they say it’s too late. The booth opens and an ancient man steps out, hair white, long beard… and the credits roll.

Nice cliffhanger, and one we’re ending this post with. Tuesday,, the second half of the Leisure Hive!