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19x1. Castrovalva

Writer: Christopher H. Bidmead
Director: Fiona Cumming
Script Editor: Eric Saward
Producer: John Nathan-Turner

Synopsis: While a disoriented Doctor recovers from his regeneration, the Master attempts to set two separate traps for the TARDIS crew. First, he kidnaps Adric and creates a duplicate with block transfer computation, who puts the TARDIS on course for the moment of the galaxy's creation (where it would be destroyed). After that fails, he coerces Adric into using block transfer computation to create Castrovalva, seemingly a calm society where the Doctor could recuperate. When Adric is freed and ceases his calculations, Castrovalva begins to collapse, with the TARDIS crew just barely escaping.

Review: The last two post-regeneration serials took somewhat opposite approaches: "Spearhead from Space" temporarily redefined the premise of the series, while "Robot" focused on introducing the Fourth Doctor within an otherwise familiar setting. "Castrovalva" is probably more in the vein of the latter, in that the "hard sci-fi" world of TARDIS anomalies, Zero Rooms, and block transfer computation continues in the vein of Season 18. But what it doesn't do - and what both "Spearhead" and "Robot" did do successfully - is to start sketching out the personality of the new Doctor, because he spends most of the serial thoroughly out of sorts from the regeneration. Peter Davison does prove himself an able performer even if he isn't yet playing the role of the Fifth Doctor as we will eventually come to know it, but the serial does not establish the sense of wonder and mystery regarding the Time Lords and regeneration the way "Logopolis" did, nor does it tell a particularly engaging story in its own right. Tegan and Nyssa are established as competent characters who take the initative when the Doctor is out of commission, and there's a somewhat interesting point about how the individuals created through block transfer computation seem to have some degree of free will, but otherwise it's really just a story in which the Master sets traps for the TARDIS crew that eventually fail.

Rating: **1/2 out of four

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