Recap / Doctor Who S18 E7 "Logopolis"

The Fourth Doctor meets a ghost from his future and realises his time is short before he hangs up the scarf and switches to celery.
"Never guess. Unless you have to. There's enough uncertainty in the universe as it is."
The Doctor

The universe nearly ends and Tom Baker leaves Doctor Who. We're not sure which is more important at this stage.

The Doctor and Adric make a pit stop in 1981 Britain, so that the Doctor can materialize right on top of a real police box and make hyper-precise multi-dimensional measurements of it, which he needs to take to the mathematics nerds of Logopolis so they can fix the chameleon circuit. (Just nod along, OK?) The Master, anticipating this, materialises his spare TARDIS (which he nicked from Goth that one time) around that exact same police box moments before. Which means that the Doctor's TARDIS now contains the Master's TARDIS containing a real police box. (Still following us?) Time and space get a bit wonky, so the Doctor and Adric investigate the string of TARDISes in the console room — all identical except for being progressively less well-lit.

Meanwhile, a plucky young Aussie named Tegan Jovanka is off to her first day of work as a flight attendant, when The Alleged Car breaks down on the way to Heathrow. Good thing there's a handy police box nearby, so she can call for help. But she hadn't planned on getting lost inside. She completely fails to be impressed by the fact that it's obviously an alien spaceship, and instead decides to go yell at the captain of the thing. Meanwhile, her aunt, who was driving her to the airport, has been murdered by the Master for no real reason.

The sonorous bong of the TARDIS's cloister bell (its Oh Crap! signal) makes itself heard, so the Doctor and Adric eventually find their way through the nesting TARDISes back to the outside world. The Doctor suspects that the multiple TARDISes thing is yet another devious trick of the Master, and dematerializes at once, bound for Logopolis. Tegan, by now extremely confused, finds her way back to the control room and demands to know what the hell is going on and to be put back in 1981 right now, please — rather angrily, true, but then again "Sorry I'm late, I accidentally stepped into a spacetimeship that looked exactly like a police box and ended up traveling the universe in the company of an alien with an enormous scarf and a swotty maths geek from another dimension" is, as excuses go, pretty lousy. Especially for one's first day on the job.

And while all that is happening, a white figure quietly watches. The Doctor goes to have a word with it eventually, and comes back in an extremely gloomy mood, telling Adric to prepare for the worst.

The TARDIS soon materializes on the dusty, cave-pocked planet of Logopolis, home of the maths monks. It is, we learn, an enormous analogue of a computer. A task is broken down into a series of calculations; each monk performs a single calculation and passes the result on to the next monk over. Operations are overseen by the Monitor (get it?) in a sort of large workroom. After reuniting with Nyssa, who is deposited on the planet by the mysterious white Watcher, the TARDIS crew finds the Monitor. He explains that the universe is actually well past its sell-by date, and is kept from flying apart into chaos only by the power of their mighty minds, as they use their "block transfer computations" to keep the universe together.

Of course, it's time for the Master to show up and start mucking about with things. He starts small, with such pranks as shrinking the TARDIS (with the Doctor inside) and throwing a spanner into the endless work of Logopolis. Unfortunately, Logopolis can't be restarted once it's stopped, resulting in a rather large problem for those who still want to, you know, exist. The Master hadn't really counted on accidentally deleting much of the universe. And while Tegan and Nyssa are both horrified at even having to be near him (Nyssa, of course, especially because he nicked her father's body), the Doctor reluctantly agrees to try and help the Master fix the spreading entropy.

Like any good computer installation, Logopolis has a backup system: it's on Earth, at a giant radio telescope called the Pharos Project. But it turns out the Master has double-crossed the Doctor (which has never happened before) and is holding the universe hostage to his demands by threatening to knock out the backup system. To show he's serious, he lets a fair chunk of the universe dissolve into chaos... including Nyssa's home world, Traken. While she watches. No class, Master.

After a chat with the Watcher inside the deepest parts of the TARDIS, Adric is able to follow the Doctor, and the ducklings cause enough of a distraction to allow the Doctor to muck up the Master's plans. Fortunately, this leaves the larger part of the universe intact. Unfortunately, the Master and the Doctor break out into a fight on top of the Pharos Tower. The Doctor sees visions of his worst enemies attempting to kill him. Clashing on the gantry, the two Time Lords wrestle to the floor. The Master gets up first and bolts to the controls of the telescope. He tilts the radar dish until the gantry completely flips over, which results in the Doctor falling all the way from the top of the Pharos Tower to his death, but not before he sees images of his various enemies. The cowardly Master runs away in his TARDIS after this cheap act of murder.

Dying, the Doctor has several soothing flashes back to his previous companions in that incarnation. The next thing he knows, he's surrounded by the trio of current companions who are quite worried about him, snapping him out of the daze. The Fourth Doctor simply gives them a serene glance and tells the group with an assuring smile, "It's the end... but the moment has been prepared for."

The Watcher approaches and merges into his dead body, and turns out to have been a time/space-transcending echo of his next incarnation all along. The Doctor regenerates into a young blonde gentleman, who greets everyone with a smile. The Fifth Doctor starts his first day almost drowning in the sheer amount of coat and scarf he's wearing, not to mention chased by some very angry security guards.


  • Artistic License Physics: Though the description of how the heat death of the universe would work is basically correct, the way it's depicted bears no resemblance whatsoever to the actual theory, and in fact is more similar to the "Big Rip" theory.
    • According to the expanded verse story (The Invasion of E-Space), CVE is (in that verse) the rarest of space-time events and almost undetectable, entities containing layers of highly charged quantum particles suspended in pockets of super-vacuums. They occupied the space between realities (possibly the void) and were so violent in their physics that when they formed they punched a hole between universes, pushing space aside to insinuate themselves into reality, releasing massive waves of energy in the process. (And since heat death means no more energy, the way they do so brings forth new energies to both universes.)
  • Call Back: It's revealed that the CVE the TARDIS fell through earlier in the season was actually one of many created by Logopolis to let the entropy drain away and prevent the universe from collapsing.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Oops. The Master didn't actually intend to destroy so much of the universe... including Nyssa's homeworld.
  • Dropped Him Off A Radio Tower: What causes the Doctor's regeneration.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Tegan gets lost inside the TARDIS, instead of being astonished by it, she goes and looks for someone to yell at.
  • Evil Hand: Nyssa's bracelet
  • Famous Last Words: "It's the end... but the moment has been prepared for..."
  • Finale Credits: Since Part 4 is Tom Baker's swan song, his face is visible during the Closing Credits for only the briefest of moments.
  • Foreshadowing: The novelization of this serial gives an early clue as to who the Watcher is. When the Doctor sends Adric and Nyssa away from Logopolis, he entrusts them to the Watcher. Aboard the TARDIS, the Watcher silently summons Adric alone and apparently has a dialogue with him. Afterward, Adric claims that although he remembers the Watcher's instructions, he can't quite remember what the Watcher's voice sounded like except that it sounded familiar.
  • Good with Numbers: Logopolis is this trope in city form.
  • Go Out with a Smile: We get one last glimpse of Tom Baker's big toothy smile before the regeneration.
  • Grand Finale: For Tom Baker's era as The Doctor.
  • Floating Advice Reminder: Happens twice in Part 4. The first time, while hanging on the Pharos Project's power cable, the Doctor is taunted by visions of the (decayed) Master, a Dalek, the Pirate Captain, the Cyberleader, Davros, a Sontaran, a Zygon, and the Black Guardian. Then after falling, the Doctor sees visions of his past companions from Sarah Jane to Romana II.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Doctor. Actually a realistic one, as his death isn't a direct cause of saving the day, but because he pulls off an incredibly risky stunt that he doesn't recover from.
  • The Master
  • My Brain Is Big
  • Mysterious Watcher: The Watcher
  • Planet of Hats: Their hat is genius, universe-maintaining mathematicians.
  • Reality Warping: The Logopolitans are seemingly capable of arbitrary reality warping by meditating on the equations that physically describe the universe, or objects within it.
  • Shown Their Work: Writer Christopher H. Bidmead seems to have done more reading up on computers than on entropy. The monks of Logopolis work and communicate in hexadecimal (base 16), just like real computers. At one point, the Doctor mentions "bubble memory"—which is real, and was the subject of a lot of research in 1981.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Master doesn't actually plan on wiping out part of the universe or destroying Logopolis. See also: Gone Horribly Right.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: the entropy spreads and consumes part of the universe.
  • Theme Song Reveal: The Watcher's ominous theme during his appearances. This is before the audience is let in on what he really is (although the Doctor obviously knows but isn't telling). However, in the final scene of the story, when the Watcher's true nature is revealed to everyone, the full course of the piece plays out with the last three notes being the first three notes of the Doctor Who theme song.
  • Wetware CPU
  • You're Insane!: Before their final confrontation, as The Master reveals his endgame, the Doctor utters with dread:
    Doctor: You're're utterly mad!