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Castrovalva: Part One

Alexander is a lifelong viewer of videos and media pertaining to the Stars Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and additional movie franchises.


Castrovalva: Part One

Castrovalva: Part One is from season 19, episode 1, of the classic Doctor Who series. It is also the first episode to contain a complete story of the fifth Doctor. It is part of one of my favorite runs of the show.

The episode begins with fourth Doctor regenerating into the fifth. The special effects here are very charming, and the experience lifts the heart's spirits. This is all followed by a catchy show intro of the fifth Doctor at the perfect moment after said Doctor smiles on camera. Moreover, the music transition is awesome, to say the least.

The Doctor seems disoriented, likely from his regeneration. And, despite trouble, his companions help him back into his Tardis. The Master's Tardis shows up as a Greco-Roman looking pillar; perhaps his chameleon circuit got stuck as well, possibly showing that Tardis technology was rather buggy in this area. The incredible feats of Time Lord tech may have been so complicated that small problems could have easily surfaced in time. The more code a program has, the more difficult it is to find the bug. The same principle may apply to other areas of technology.

Official Season Trailer

The special effects for what may be a kind of electricity, or other powerful item, coming from the Master's Tardis looks like it could have been quickly made in the Windows XP version of Microsoft Paint (something that was not available at the time this episode was made). That's what I love about Classic Doctor Who - it had a low budget, and we, as audience members, feel like we are part in playing a young school-age or pre-school game. Children work with the toys they have, even if they do not perfectly match the game. Many children will use something like a stick for a bat or a sword, instead of a real or imitation sword or bat, or rocks for currency, etc. Kids work with what they have, and all children know that it is the acting and imagining of the game that are most crucial. In Doctor Who's classical period, which I'd say lasted until the tenth Doctor's end, the series depended on the writing and the acting more than expensive toys (e.g. special effects).

There’s something incredibly satisfying about seeing a classical Doctor Who Tardis interior. The simplicity of it, as well as the traditional science fiction atmosphere, is pleasurable to one’s eyes. The Zero Room is noted, which has a long history with the show. Searching for the Zero Room, the Doctor and Adric venture deep into the Tardis.

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Tegan finds a databank, which is a relief for the two companions who are alone in the primary room of the Tardis without the comfort of knowing much about what is going on, and likely feeling very uncomfortable without the direct presence of the Doctor. The screen the databank displays on does not appear to be in the best shape, which only adds to the massive charm of the series at this time in its history. I don't like how some science fiction only uses objects which look brand new, considering that items that serve a purpose will often, in real life, be heavily used.

The Doctor at one point goes “hmm?” which reminds me of the first Doctor. This relation was possibly very intentional, as regeneration can cause some strange neurological effects shortly after taking place. This may have to do with the mind adapting to a new body, which probably includes a newly shaped brain. As with a young child, the brain may be trying to make connections quickly, and to adapt to current circumstances.

Fifth Doctor Title Sequence

The Doctor continues to act in a very bizarre manner, as his brain tries to cope. He even mentions the Brigadier and the Ice Warriors; popular topics in the show. The Doctor finds a room in the Tardis with some clothes and a mirror. He finally gets to see what he looks like. The Doctor proceeds to pick up a recorder in the room, and he tries to play it, but he doesn’t do so well. His past incarnation as the second Doctor used to play the recorder. He then picks up a sport instrument, indicating that his regeneration would take a different direction than the person he was in the past.

We finally get to see the Doctor robe in his new style of clothing. We also discover that one function of the Zero Room is helping a regenerated Time Lord’s dendrites heal. Dendrites are a part of brain cells, thus the implication is that there was some brain injury following the regeneration. Based on other reactions post-regeneration, brain injury seems to be very common, and perhaps it is the reason that a Zero Room is included on the Doctor’s Tardis. We also learn another reason that the nervous system of the Time Lord needs to heal, although we must keep in mind that the Doctor does lie sometimes.

It is revealed that Adric was kidnapped by the Master. This is the same version of the Master that we note interacting within the timeline of other forms of the Doctor. This manifestation of the Master is one of my personal favorites!

The outro is perfectly timed, as it often tends to be. The music brings chills to the listener, as we await to witness what happens next.

The fifth Doctor is one of my all-time favorite Doctors, although I do love them all. The series, at this time in its development, had so much established, contained a charmingly humble budget, and had many memorable moments. This episode was truly amazing, and I highly recommend it to those who like classic science fiction television. It is, by far, the best show in the universe!

Classic Doctor Who: Season 19

© 2022 Alexander James Guckenberger

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