50 for 50 — The Greatest Stories in Doctor Who History — #36

Every top 50 list needs the odd controversial entry and it would be surprising if a few bemused eyebrows are not raised by the inclusion of a serial notorious for the introduction of one of the most ill-conceived, poorly cast and most unpopular companions in Doctor Who history, along with a few further examples of dubious acting and some dodgy spiders. However, putting the inexcusable crime known as Adric aside, we have in Full Circle a beautifully realized production of a thoroughly ingenious storyline, scripted by an inspired 18-year-old fan of the series rather than by any of the established writers of the period.

A thoughtful anti-vivisection message is powerfully conveyed through the shameful treatment of a captured Marsh-child and the themes of survival, deception and evolution are intelligently developed as the story unfolds. Full Circle also sets up an intriguing story arc as the concept of E-Space is introduced, the Tardis becomes trapped within an oblique and mysterious dimension and we discover that the Time Lords want Romana back.

Some of the exterior location sequences are visually stunning and the emergence of the Marshmen from the misty waters of Alzarius bring a tremendously atmospheric and memorable climax to the first episode.  The costume shortcomings of the rubber-suited amphibians only become noticeable during the interior studio scenes and Lalla Ward’s convincing shocked reaction to a Marsh Spider pouncing onto her face makes up for weakness in design of the creatures.

At the conclusion, there is a clever and surprising twist with the revelation that the inhabitants of the crashed starliner are not in fact 40th generation descendants of the original crew, but a race which has actually evolved from the Marshmen themselves. You may decide to fondly condemn Full Circle forever as the story which spawned the nauseating Adric, or you could choose to remember it for the excellent quality of its writing and production which I believe deserve recognition with a top 50 place.  — Alan

Andy’s #36 — The Fires of Pompeii
David’s #36 — The Keeper of Traken
Steve’s #36 — The Girl Who Waited

The last pre-series 7B edition of the Countdown premieres next week…