The Leisure Hive: Reptile gangsters and a holiday for The Doctor and Romana
When I first saw The Leisure Hive it was a bit of a shock that the opening title sequence for Doctor Who was different, even the theme tune had been given a shake up, but you could still tell that it was the Doctor Who theme tune. That was and still is my overriding memory of The Leisure Hive, the fact that it was so different in its feel, to any Doctor Who story that I had seen before. The incidental music had a different feel to it, the tone was different, it was more serious, less jokey then the last three Doctor Who stories that I had seen (The Creature from the Pit, Nightmare of Eden and The Horns of Nimon). And in retrospect I can see that the science has a more plausible feel about it. The Doctor's clothes had also been changed, (luckily the scarf was still there!) At the start of this story is a long opening shot where the camera pans along Brighton Beach for a good solid two or three minutes until you arrive at The Doctor, sitting on a deck chair. Even though that sequence was (I think) too long, it did set a nice feel to the first part of this four parter. Once the story shifts to the planet Argolis (which 99% or 98% of the story, I'd say takes place at) the story begins to develop into almost a gangster movie, with the Foamasi being used very much like the marfia, with there being underground Foamasi criminal gangs with The West Lodge being the main one. It's not stated if there are other Foamasi criminal groups. The Foamasi are a species of intelligent reptiles while the other main alien race in The Leisure Hive, the Argolins, who are an intelligent plant based life form.
The director of The Leisure Hive, Lovett Bickford's choice to shoot the story using single camera techniques,as opposed to using the more common multi-camera shooting style of the time, was a good choice because it made the story feel more filmic and it also made up for any faults in the design and construction of the Foamasi costumes. It did cause The Leisure Hive to go over it's budget, which is possibly why Lovett Bickford was never asked to come back to direct another Doctor Who story. I'm now going to focus on Tom Baker and Lalla Wards performances in The Leisure Hive. I think Tom Baker gives a first rate performance in The Leisure Hive, in this story The Doctor is a lot more sombre then he has been for the last four stories, in fact I hadn't seen The Doctor this serious since The Stones of Blood. I think that Tom Baker particularly did a great job of performing the scenes when The Doctor ages several hundred years, (I wont say how he gets back to looking like his old self in case you haven't seen the story before!) he makes it totally believable that The Doctor has aged several hundred years and makes you suspend your disbelief that it's just make-up. With Lalla Ward I felt that her acting was back to the standard that she showed back in City of Death. Lalla Ward is brilliant as Romana in The Leisure Hive, I really feel like we're reminded in this story that The Doctor and Romana are almost equal in their scientific knowledge, with Romana sometimes proving to be smarter in some areas and it's all because of Lalla Wards acting ability. I've chosen to not go too in depth in to the stories plot because I don't want to give all of what happens in The Leisure Hive away. On the whole I can remember liking The Leisure Hive the first time I saw it and I still do, if I had to give The Leisure Hive an out of ten score, I would give it a 6 out of 10. although I do think that it did have too much music.