So, here we are, the start of the final season for the Fourth Doctor, and something seems a bit…different.
Apparently, a new showrunner came onboard for this final season for Tom Baker, and he wanted the show to be less silly and maybe increase the production values. Considering the BBC may have never increased the budget for the show to match inflation, that may or may not be all that likely.
But right away, there are a number of changes. The opening theme music is now much more electronic, the Doctor’s wardrobe colors seem a lot more muted, and even if K9 got his original voice back, the character is sidelined almost immediately by having him chase a beach ball into the ocean and exploding. Now, it isn’t unusual to sideline K9 from time to time with some excuse or other when the robot might not have worked too well, but this one might be really pushing it.
Granted, there is some dialogue from Romana to blame the Doctor messing with the dog to explain why he’d go into the ocean to begin with, but it still seems a wee bit weird. The Doctor apparently messed around with all kinds of things between serials to show he wasn’t hiding from the Black Guardian anymore, which means the Black Guardian and continuity may now be a thing on this show.
Regardless, going to Brighton in the winter for a beach holiday was apparently a bad idea. Romana suggests the Leisure Hive of Argolis, a planet that was almost completely destroyed during a war with another race, and what little wasn’t a radioactive husk was turned into one big recreational park.
Said park is also losing money despite all the fun of zero-g squash courts and a tachyon field that allows a person to be harmlessly pulled apart for the amusement of…somebody? Why would I want to do that to myself?
Regardless, someone wants to buy the whole planet, namely the reptilian race that nuked it in the first place. The Argolians say no, but they apparently can just drop dead of radiation poisoning at any moment, plus someone is sabotaging their equipment to kill a scientist from Earth who may be able to use tachyons to reverse the aging process. For a race that can rapidly age and die at the drop of a hat, that sounds like a good thing.
But the Doctor gets involved, as he always does, and the episode ends with the Doctor being pulled apart by a sabotaged tachyon machine.
That can’t be good.
Then again, the new theme scared the hell out of my cat, so draw your own conclusions.